Charlotte 12-13 [END]

Charlotte - Just start off threatening people

“Hey, you better watch this show. Be a shame if a fire broke out…”

winter15-highwThe 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

Charlotte - Totally the way to confess

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.

Charlotte - Losing it

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.

Charlotte - random pining

And the long wait starts

Steal the Powers, Don’t Really Change Anything

Charlotte - loony as a fruitbat

Lunatic time

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.

Charlotte - Saved by Ayumi-2

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.

Charlotte - Finally back together

You don’t remember me, but I promised I’d be your lover

Series Thoughts

Charlotte - You have a good power, too bad

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.

Charlotte - Neo time

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.

header-winter15-highw

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.

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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20 Responses to “Charlotte 12-13 [END]”

  1. skylion says:

    I think Meada conceives great emotional ideas, but gets lost in how to trick them out to fit a narrative. The narrative is on rails sure, but most stories are. Writers have got to erase the presence.

    So yeah, we gots some disappointment. Lovely show to look at. And even though it was a pretty “cheap” moment, part of me liked that Ayumi-2 saved the day. It could have been presented better, but there ya go. And yeah, lots of flack was given to the super-power of “courage”. But, you know, a power to remove fear has got to be a bit more useful than turning invisible to just one person…

    • Highway says:

      I don’t think it was a bad power at all. The sticking point for me about it is the same thing as the rest of the show: “Of course it is.” The more times you can say that during a show, the more disappointing it is to me. So it’s a bit of an indictment that that phrase went through my mind so many times during this series.

      I’ll be honest: I didn’t make the Ayumi-2 connection until it was pointed out to me afterward. And really, her contribution was pretty small. Yuu still got shot after she ran away. What, she stopped him from getting shot before he removed the last power, which wasn’t really something that dangerous in the first place? One of those fridge logic deals that doesn’t stand up to thinking about it. Unfortunately, a lot of the show was like that (and too often, you didn’t even get to the fridge).

      • skylion says:

        I didn’t make the Ayumi-2 connection until it was pointed out to me afterward.

        You’re welcome.

        Also, like you point out with the healer, what I felt is that they robbed us of an entire world. Trust me, I’ve been sucking up Marvel Comics like a Hoover the past seven months, this background had a great deal of original “umph” to it. But, so long as Nao get’s her boyfriend, it’s OK?

    • HannoX says:

      The “courage” power was ridiculous. Many people have courage without it needing to be a special power. Look at people who risk their lives saving, or trying to save, strangers in danger. And not just trained people like firefighters and police.

      • skylion says:

        I didn’t see the power as something that gave “courage”; it looked like the power, as I said, removed fear from the situation. If that’s ridiculous, then it’s as ridiculous as the concept of “liquid courage”…Also, the girl wasn’t trained in those fields, and the sorts of people people you mention, in extraordinary situation, are just that…extraordinary….

        • HannoX says:

          It is the situation that makes those people extraordinary–ordinary people who rise to the occasion. And that is exactly what the girl could have done without needing a power to do so.

          • Highway says:

            I dunno, I’m in the camp that thinks it’s a fine ‘power’. An ability to not be ruled by your lizard brain and stick your nose where you wouldn’t. I can especially see where a Japanese audience might think it’s a superpower. Could she have done that without help from an enhancement? Maybe, or maybe not.

  2. Foshizzel says:

    Ohhh boy Charlotte is finally over and compared to the past “hits” of Mr Maeda this falls under Little Busters for me and I generally enjoy his works, but this series was missing a few things and they could have easily skipped a few of those dumb filler episodes at the start and maybe spent more time developing that “romance” between Nao and Yuu which felt shoved in at the last moment at least it came off that way to me! Then again Maeda does love surprise romance…

    The final episode seriously should have just been a 1hr ova special because WOW it was so rushed and I have tons of issues! Like I get WHY Yuu went all nuts-o due to the overload of powers he was collecting and it didn’t help the fact that he wasn’t sleeping…

    The biggest issue had was why couldn’t Yuu just leave the healing power with that girl? Seriously she wasn’t doing anything evil with it even though I know a power like hers is extremely valuable and useful to the right people! Plus after getting the power why the fk did he not heal his eye? What? ARE YOU DUMB? JK I know it was a “pride” issue because his original goal was to collect the powers without abusing them so I totally understand I just found it to be odd and WTF is with the need to use Amnesia at the end? Sure I guess all those powers in his body screwed with his brain? Still WHY YOU DO THIS?! That is 100000% lazy ass writing or a convenient way to push for a possible season two; however if Charlotte got a second season people might be pissed cause they have been waiting for Angel Beats to get a full second season forever…

    Story wise time travel fked things up! I mean sure it is quite the omega level power that can be abused and I am happy there was a price to pay for using such broken power. While that is cool part of me seriously wishes that time travel wasn’t a thing in this series because certain events could have been more dramatic like with Yuu’s sister not returning because damn it made episode seven kinda pointless imo! Yeah I know that episode was more about Yuu changing and learning what NOT to do with his powers.

    Charlotte wasn’t a terrible series but it wasn’t that great either I loved the characters and all the powers minus COURAGE LOL what a dumb power idea but sure why not it works…

    6/10 Not enough sick cute girls in snow.

    • Highway says:

      Gotta collect all the powers. 8 fish sticks.

      I think there are plenty of ethical questions that they could have explored… if they hadn’t had to blaze through the entire world in a single episode. I think it’s also fairly odd that he had no compunction about using the other powers he looted to complete his goal, even ‘abusing’ them probably, but he wouldn’t heal his eye? Why is that a bridge too far? Because he could then go back in time? So the time travel would be fine… if he enabled it with the healing?

      That’s a lot of the problem with the series: It begs the question repeatedly / continually. The correct outcome, the ethical choice, the answer to the problem, they are all already made, and the show just goes along with it.

      I don’t know if the time travel to save Ayumi made Yuu’s growth pointless, but I do think that I’d have rather he not save Ayumi, and live on in that timeline. Yuu was still that better person after saving Ayumi, but I think something was lost there, primarily in his relationship with Nao. He knows how he got there, but she doesn’t, and that’s obvious in their interactions after that.

      Think about how much more impact the last scenes might have had if Yuu had come back to Nao… again. A Nao that has already saved him once. A Nao that I think was falling in love with Yuu while he fell in love with her, a Nao that had seen the changes he had made, had had her brother saved by him.

      Cutting all of that off changed this show fundamentally, and I think it was definitely for the worse. And there is no way there’s a second season. What would they do?

  3. JPNIgor says:

    Ugh… Hopefully, P.A. Works don’t work with Maeda.

    I mean, I did like Charlotte, but mostly for the animation and the lovable characters. I hate the multiple u-turns the story took, and I hate that I took the time to think about that last episode and found out that, jesus, the plot holes are real…

    The one plot hole that annoyed me the most is the fact that, if I remember right, the abilities weren’t perfect, and they always had drawbacks. What happened to the drawbacks? Suddenly, all the abilities are perfect, because if the abilities were still imperfect, Yuu would be fuc*ed before he reached his second country. Oh, plot convenience.

    • Highway says:

      I don’t think the abilities were perfect, he just knew how to use them within their limitations. And the drawbacks were not always something that affected their immediate use. Like Shunsuke’s time-travel power affected his eyesight with repeated use.

      I don’t know if there were too many plot ‘holes’. It’s more like there were a lot of plot pitfalls that were conveniently ignored. As in, there’s nothing to say that it couldn’t have worked out that way. But there was no examination of *making* it work out that way, as opposed to some other things happening.

      Unfortunately, I’m going to guess that this will end up selling a ton, at least way more than we might think it ‘deserves’ based on relative quality. I’ve noticed that pedigree seems to count for much more in sales of BDs than things like coherence, plausibility, quality of dialog… And unless a show does something to piss off the fanboys, a high profile one like this won’t really feel the pain. I could be wrong, but I would imagine that a show like this will (unfortunately, again) sell much more than a well-constructed, thought-provoking show like Glasslip, or a highly entertaining one like Shirobako, just because “OMG Jun Maeda!!!!”

      • JPNIgor says:

        It’s not like it’s undeserving of some praise, but yeah, Shirobako and Glasslip are certainly a lot better than Charlotte. And the Jun Maeda’s plot twists are so known that they almost can’t be called a plot twist. Everybody came in to Charlotte expecting for this. Like, yeaaah… The little sister is gonna die. I’m not even sure why there are people who think Maeda is still one of the best writers out there, with his last few works being so similar in a lot of aspects.

  4. HannoX says:

    I thought the final episode really wasn’t necessary. We knew Yuu was going to steal all the powers (including ones that could help people like the healer girl? Really?) and that he was going to return to Nao who’d be his girlfriend. It seems the only reason for this episode was to try and ring some feels out of the audience. Oh, look, poor Yuu is going insane! And now he can’t remember Nao! But she tells him she’ll be his girlfriend!

    • Highway says:

      It could certainly have been handled differently. But that’s what this show did: Straightforward, brute force storytelling. This happens, then this happens, then this happens. On and on.

  5. HannoX says:

    Spammy.

  6. akagami says:

    Welp, just finished 4-13 in 2 days, and I’m not sure what I was really watching. Multiple different genres, each taking a turn. SoL? Check, next! Episodic? Check, next! Tragedy? Check, next! Dystopian future? And continue on with several more genres. It’s not even like they layered them together, like they had several versions of Charlotte and cut and spliced them together.

    I think that’s my biggest problem with the show, is that it was all over the place. Plot points were started, then abandoned, characters introduced, have their 5 seconds of fame, and then relegated to the extras or disappear altogether. Ayumi-2 and healing girl had nice character designs but only appeared for all of 10 seconds.

    To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Maeda Jun’s works… the only ones I enjoyed were Clannad (up until the not-best girl took over the story) and Angel Beats, which was decent.

    Overall a decent show, but I’m not sure who I would recommend it to. I enjoyed it despite the fact that the story couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, but I like most of the genres they jumped around in so in the end it was acceptable. However I can see people getting annoyed with that.

    Maybe it’s because the source material forced the path (I’ve never really played any VNs), but I felt like there was a lot of potential in the show, and well, it wasn’t executed well and went all over the place. I’m reminded a lot of Code Geass, with CG having more drama and suspense and Charlotte playing more with the emotional strings. But the end result is a trainwreck that you’d probably never want to watch again, even if it was sort of fun riding through the first time. Looking back, it’s just a huge pile of mess that you’re surprised you managed to get through.

    • Highway says:

      See, my interpretation of it is not really that it was all over the place, but that it followed a very specific path all the way through. I think you’re trying to think of it as separate genres too much. For instance, I wouldn’t say that even the bit with the research facility was a ‘dystopian future’. It was just an immoral research facility, with absolutely no bearing on the rest of the world. The show was all one thing: Tell Yuu’s story. And good and bad things happened to him.

      The only other Jun Maeda story I’ve watched is Little Busters! And if I’m comparing the two, I think Charlotte is better than LB, but that’s almost entirely down to it being PA Works vs JC Staff (and also not dragged out for two cours). But it feels like all of his stories suffer from a lack of authenticity. I repeated it again and again in my episode reviews: characters went places and did things because the script told them to. Side characters appeared when convenient and disappeared as soon as their usefulness to the plot was over.

      The show was well-made enough that it wasn’t really a chore to watch. But under the veneer of a good show was really just empty space and bad writing, which left it something that just gets less and less interesting in your head the more you think about it.

      • akagami says:

        I don’t know, even in the present a lot of the countries had the kids enslaved for war purposes.

        I recommend Clannad, although I didn’t like Nagisa so that dropped it a bit for me. But I would say it was well done and each of the characters were enjoyable in their own manner. Angel Beats is a bit of a mixed bag, some people really like it, some don’t. I’m somewhat mixed.

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