Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Charlotte (Shārotto)

This has been a rough month for me, work-wise. Downright brutal, at times. It's been tough to really get up to any otaku shenanigans. However, I have managed to complete one kickass anime since my previous entry. 2015's Charlotte, brought to us by the heartbreakers at P.A. Works and Studio Key (who did the original visual novel), is the anime I wasn't expecting to define 2015.

And, no, 2015 isn't over and there a few more anime titles I can devour before the year ends, but it'll be tough to top the sheer spectacle of Charlotte.

Meet Otosaka Yuu, a guy that can possess another person's body for five seconds. The downside of his ability is that while he possesses another body his own becomes dull and lifeless until his five seconds are up. That and five seconds isn't really that long of a time. This might not sound like a special ability that can save the world, but he isn't out to save the world. He makes the most of his abilities while at school where he can cheat on tests and become the number one student in school. He also takes down bullies that give him grief, but he's certainly not out to save other people.

He seems like a poor man's Lelouch Vi Britannia or Light Yagami, at first. He certainly doesn't have a world-conquering initiative or a bit of true brilliance, but he's a dick that only cares about himself.

This is our main character? Great. This looks like a long 12 episodes, right?

Thankfully, his abilities get found out by a small group that want him to join a school of gifted but troubled students like himself. Basically a school not too different from Xavier's in X-Men, but this school is less about students learning to use those powers to fight and more about protecting the people with powers from the wrong people.

In Charlotte the powers disappear a few years after they appear and they only appear in young people so it's basically a suped up version of puberty. Adults don't have any powers even if they used to.

The student council is the group tasked with searching for young people with powers and Yuu is asked to become one of the student council.

Or not really "asked." He's more or less forced to become a member of the school and the student council so he can track down others like himself. This, the group hopes, will keep Yuu in line.

The rest of the series is more or less about his transformation from a selfish dick with no great aspirations to someone that could be a selfless hero that could save the world.

Honestly, this anime didn't seem special to me during the first few episodes. It had potential in a few key sequences, but sometimes it felt just like a normal anime. Watchable, but not compulsively so. Unless you're an otaku like me that watches shit just because of big cutesy eyes and moe.

Yet during those key sequences I knew Charlotte could be something awesome. 

At 13 episodes, I knew that if there was going to be a twist at some point it would be about midway, but if there wasn't some sort of twist or if the twist sucked then I'd more or less be disappointed. 

I don't think I've seen such a twist before, though. It knocked me over my head with a barbed wire-covered sledgehammer.

Although the quick change in the anime almost crippled it, too.

Our main character went from a guy that had a fairly lame superpower to someone that could just about do anything within a really short span of time and with very little in the way of training. It's the kind of super power up that would make Dragonball Z fans foam at the mouth. I know because I did.

At times it did strain logic. Yeah, it's "anime" and "real world logic" rarely fits into the world of anime, but this was a really well-built anime for the most part and what cracks in the story there were almost broke it and made it "normal."

Charlotte ultimately worked because it had an incredibly satisfying ending. And the time travel angle and the whole "this character is the strongest being ever" thing didn't actually destroy the established story. Excellent writing as far as that was concerned.

Otosaka Yuu's character growth is the meat and potatoes of this story and his evolution is handled remarkably well. Had his character been underdeveloped in any way I don't think the ending would have been as fulfilling as it was and I'd be tossing this into the pile of anime that impressed but failed to meet their potential.

I don't recall this anime being the best as far as the music is concerned. The animation had its moments of stunning beauty, but I'm not sure it managed to really distance itself that much from many of its modern day counterparts, either.

The story was fucking fantastic, though. For that alone I'd say it's a pretty damn good anime.

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