“Hey, you better watch this show. Be a shame if a fire broke out…”
The last two episodes of Charlotte bring us to the end of this series that has looked great and been not-so-great.
Time to Wrap Up Some Plot Points
This is totally how you confess
The aftermath of the run-in with the terrorists is almost entirely handled with talking in Yuu’s hospital room. The episode plays out as, basically, a parade of the show’s characters into Yuu’s hotel room. Shichino, Medoki and Maedomori, Ayumi, Joujirou, Yusarin (and Misa), and finally Nao. The person who doesn’t come to his room, tho, is Shunsuke, who is being all mopey up on the roof. In general, everyone’s bringing good wishes to Yuu, who has quite the recovery that he’s going through. It’s really a trip down nostalgia lane for everyone, with callbacks to all the food that happened earlier in the show: Ayumi’s omurice, Yusa’s cream stew, Joujirou’s beef tongue curry. And there’s a lot of working out of old things left unsaid, including suggesting that Misa say goodbye to her parents.
Yuu’s descent into madness begins
That induced probably the only misty-eyed portion of the series since Ayumi was killed, as Yusa goes to her house for work, and Misa makes a brief appearance on her show, to let her parents know that she was there and that she appreciates them in a way she didn’t before. That leaves only two people for Yuu to talk to at that point, and Nao is the first of these two to show up. Yuu actually confesses to Nao here, explaining that he fell in love with her in the future, and wanted to confess now before he moves into the next phase of his life, which they both come up with: He has to “save” all of the ability wielders in the world by stealing their power, and then having his powers disappear as he gets older. And if he does that, the pragmatic Nao will be waiting for him to become his girlfriend. And yes, his confession had about that much impact. That just leaves Shunsuke to tell about the plan, who ends up supporting it.
And the long wait starts
Steal the Powers, Don’t Really Change Anything
The final episode follows Yuu as he hops from country to country taking power after power, getting more and more invincible, and losing more and more of his mind. Notable powers that he gets are to see where other ability holders are just by looking at a map, seeing where pre-emergent abilities are, and to identify what powers he is taking. Also notable is to be able to not sleep for a long period of time, which is good because when he does sleep after that, he wakes up to dirty clothes and carnage on the television. So he resolves not to fall asleep after that, with the predictable toll that takes on his body and mind. By the end, he’s barely coherent, can’t remember what he’s doing, and is only kept going by his attachment to the review cards that Nao made for him, even though he can’t remember her or anything about his past life.
And the last girl to save is Ayumi-2
And finally he finishes, relieving the last girl of her power as she tries to save him from a bounty hunter. And luckily, Shunsuke is right there to save him from the wounds he’s received. And finally Yuu wakes up in the hospital with Nao by his side, promising to be his girlfriend. Even though he doesn’t remember her. I’m guessing that Yuu’s powers were gone by that point, whether they kept him sedated until they were gone, or they were about to disappear anyway. They don’t tell us at all. And thus it all ends more or less happily ever after.
You don’t remember me, but I promised I’d be your lover
Oh, you had a good power that was helping people? Too bad.
As you can always expect from PA Works, Charlotte was a beautiful series, with terrific animation, nice consistent character designs, and their trademark gorgeous backgrounds and skies. Nobody does those better, making the world as animated be the world we wish we lived in. But for me, the problem with this series, such as it was, came almost solely from the other half of the much vaunted combination in the production of this series: Jun Maeda. And it’s not that it was particularly poorly written. There are ton of shows that are just awful writing. The problem with this show is that it’s a “Just so” story. Everything happens because it had to happen to fit the story they wanted to tell. When one crappy plan to send Yuu out by himself to save 3 people doesn’t work, they send him out to save ALL the people, by himself. And don’t try to reestablish contact after his phone is ruined. Just leave him to it, he’ll be fine. On top of that stuff, I could probably write 4 paragraphs nitpicking on all the eye-rolly things that happened in this episode, like the random english. But I don’t know if there’s any point, compared to the larger meta-problems that the show had.
Hey look, it’s Neo
Throughout the whole series, everyone went where they needed to be because the story told them to be there. This gave the whole series a very “on rails” feel. And while people say that Jun Maeda writes tear-jerkers, the linear feel of the story took just about all the emotional impact out of it. It wasn’t that much of the story was impossible or fantastical that it was hard to believe, it was just that it was so locked down that it flattened any impact. The hard to believe stuff was all in the last episode, with the easiest thing for me to believe in the whole episode being that Nao would actually want to be Yuu’s girlfriend, it’s something that actually fits into her character: Once she’s decided something, she’s going to do it.
The net result is a show that isn’t bad, that’s actually really good technically, but leaves you disappointed, giving it a worse overall rating in your head than it would deserve. This is unfortunate, because there were some really good parts of this show. But ultimately the story pushed the characters around, and the show ends up not being as good as it should have been, by enough of a margin that the lasting impression is, as I said, disappointment. Technically, it’s a great show. Overall, though, it’s not going to be on anyone’s rewatch list.