Charlotte: The Controversy

Surprises come when you least expect it.

I am shackled to this aspect of story-telling called ‘plot unpredictability’. The way it throws me in a loop and delivers yet another conclusion that is almost entirely unpredictable and unexpected thrills me to no end. Caught up in the adrenaline of the moment as my stomach drops, I throw away all inhibitions, all objectivity, and all logic, and I just let the excitement consume me whole.

I become but a slave to the story, as the control over my own evaluative, otherwise relatively discerning mind, slips from my fingers, dropping to the ground below with a clumsy ‘splat’.

Charlotte was that roller coaster, and its major plot twist was that split second you hover before you plunge down into the darkness, the words which had started to form in your mind dissolving into sheer exhilaration, a blinding flash of white.

Charlotte’s Controversy

If one were to compare Charlotte to a weapon, the first thing that would come to mind would be a katana blade. Riding on the tip of what was possibly the largest tidal hype wave into the Summer 2015 lineup, it sliced, thinly and sharply, a clean line between its fervent supporters, who propped up its sales and snapped up its merchandise like hotcakes, and its haters, who were equally as vehement and outwardly vocal in expressing their distaste. Demographically speaking, it would seem that as it was voted as the No. 1 Top Anime of 2015 in Japan, most of its ‘haters’ would hail from the international arena of anime enthusiasts.

It all started when it became known that the famed Jun Maeda was behind the set of Charlotte. Producer of the internationally and domestically loved KEY Works, of which Angel Beats and Clannad are arguably the most well known, his works are a prime example of commercial success without sacrificing depth, also achieving character development and the ability to induce ‘feels’. With this searing hot brand-name came the mountain-high expectations, so it was not surprising when the episodic form of the first half of the series generated some disappointed murmurs amongst the crowd of onlookers, serious watchers, self-important anime critics, and hype-train pouncers.

And yet, that was certainly not the end of it all. When Jun Maeda dropped his first bomb on his unsuspecting viewers, and subsequently proceeded to plunge the story what objectively, should be seen as a ‘trainwreck’ with a couple of smaller, but equally impactful ‘bombs’, the anime scene exploded. That was because Charlotte literally blew up its previous plot structure, character development, and its clearly directed efforts into smithereens.

The Fatality of its Impact

Charlotte’s flaws are nothing short of glaring. Even as an almost-blind supporter of ridiculous plot twists, there are so many loopholes by the end of the series that it becomes hard, even from a non-objective viewpoint, not to acknowledge their existence. By subverting the entire direction of the mainly episodic form prior to the Little Busters Refrain-esque plot twist, Charlotte not only ended up with an atrociously paced latter half of the series and a half-baked attempt of a resolution in steering back the series into normalcy. One criticism was that it also discarded what possibly are the most fundamental rules of story-telling by completely defying its audience’s reasonable expectations, introducing emotional conflicts that had no prior introduction or were a side-effect of poor foreshadowing. To top it all off, there were certain plot points which were never addressed or resolved in the end, leaving most to wonder whether the studio merely decided to chuck all their previous painstaking efforts of building character and plot all into the bin. The formulae that the audience were led to believe the series would follow were discarded without explanation, especially when previous characters thought to be ‘main characters’ were sidelined in the introduction of new characters that were integral to the surprise plot twist. In other words, Charlotte was a literal mess by the end with both the first three-quarters and the last quarter feeling like drastically different stories, and that was sufficient to set most of its audience off.

All of which was a pity given that even though its narrative structure was in dribs and drabs, barely held together by the end, Charlotte, true to its name, shone brilliantly in the managing to bring in the elements its audience loved most, making references to previous KEY works, famous characters from other works, and a combination of tropes that have shown to be prominently popular amongst the anime fanbase.

Defending Charlotte’s Flaws

Yet, even though the way the transition of one arc into another was callously handled, the upside to it all are the opportunities that are created to flesh out the true main characters of the series. In fact, it could be said that the wild goose chase the viewers were led on in the beginning deliberately served to show the multi-faceted sides of Yuu Otosaka’s fascinating character, and how flawed yet fundamentally human this character really is. From smart and lewd self-serving prick at his introduction, he is thrown into emotional turmoil which roughens him up, breaks him in every way possible, the process which is meticulously drawn out and shown over the course of one heart-breaking episode. Post plot twist, his first instinct is to run and hide, being the inherently self-preserving human being he is and is entitled to be, but is yet changed by the power of emotional connection and bonds of love to shoulder worldly responsibilities and to accomplish goals that are astonishingly admirable, given the less-than-desirable person he was at the beginning of the series. The establishment of a morally ambiguous and unlikable main character was a bold move that is unprecedented for both KEY works and Jun Maeda, who perhaps decided to take a leaf out of Sunrise’s book. However, it possibly yielded more room for exploration and development, even though it may very well be at the expense of plot coherence.

For detractors who argue that Charlotte is merely a poorly consolidated mish-mash of other works’ most successful elements (for example, the predominant use of baseball as a method of resolving conflictthe sisc0n-brocon complex, presence of pop idols with music as blatantly obvious commercial hooks, the hint of the supernatural at work), Charlotte ‘s saving grace in the emotional department probably still lies in how they are not at the very least overused as compared to the thousands other tropes that exist on the same plane. Even though this time, the series is no longer as successful as previous works on being tear-jerking, these elements, taken individually and as a whole, are almost trade marks of KEY in their combinative use that it still manages to be perceived as nostalgic references for some of its fans, rather than being received as dispassionately as other heavily used tropes. For the first (or few) timers of KEY’s works, these would likely not serve as much of an obstacle to the series’ enjoyment.

On a similar line of argument, the lack of cognizance between the pieces of Charlotte becomes less obvious as flaws in the light of a riveting (or otherwise continuously evolving) protagonist, a milder, rational female lead and a whole host of other themes and ideas introduced and squeezed into 13 episodes. An analogy could also be drawn to how Code Geass managed to get away with some of its loopholes and lack of further development of certain areas, though Code Geass certainly did a much better job at holding its fundamental structure together. Such an approach is certainly risky, and its mask likely to be unveiled on a more discerning second watch of the series, but it certainly delivers impact at least on its first watch.

Conclusion

Charlotte is not an easy series to recommend. While being a relatively good watch for those who do not see much value in evaluating their anime with objective criteria, it is likely to be the nemesis of those who highly prioritise the conjunctivity of plot progression and its logical sequence. Those, however who watch their anime with almost equal parts of brain and heart, are possibly the group of people who would end up the most divided and torn over how this series progresses and ends. Yet, it is possibly one of the more successful attempts of concealing plot inconsistency with its out-of-the-world twists, characters, and certain capacity to evoke emotions. Even so, Charlotte is interesting even for the emotional-logical paradox it presents to its viewers, and it could certainly serve as a test for those who have no idea which side of the fence they fall on.

As usual, thank you for reading, and feel free to read or comment below 🙂

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44 thoughts on “Charlotte: The Controversy

  1. – ‘Demographically speaking, it would seem that as it was voted as the No. 1 Top Anime of 2015 in Japan’

    If anime!anime!’s 1500 readers can be counted as representative of the whole of Japan. The series’ incredibly dismal sales speak otherwise. The statistic doesn’t carry much weight if it only comes from a specific readership, particularly considering how advertising functions in printed media.

    – ‘the lack of cognizance between the pieces of Charlotte becomes less obvious as flaws in the light of a riveting (or otherwise continuously evolving) protagonist,’

    who, though the plot’s loopholes, fails to assert a meaningful or supportable sense of character at the end. His entire purpose in the plot is entirely the product of time travel, and yet he treats time travel as an evil and refuses to use his healing power to heal his eye and save Kumagami. He slowly spirals into madness, but we should never have worried – the Deus ex Helicopter was there to save the day! His quest was completed mostly through convenience, and the only thing that kept him going was a book of phrases from Nao that had only been given to him last episode. He has no care for the human race insofar as he needs a promise from Nao to motivate him to attempt this ‘suicide mission’, having never considered that his power-stealing is the cure for the powers until his waifu prostitutes herself for him. His only setback at the end, despite Sala’s grand warnings, is memory loss, and considering how many hurdles of memory loss he illogically got through over the course of the plot, why worry about that? Nao has a whole camera roll of them together. We should worry more about the whole world now seeing him as a tyrannous freak – but the show doesn’t. He’s safe in plot-hole, character-reset heaven.

    – ‘a milder, rational female lead’

    who becomes relegated to a Damsel in Underwear for one episode and then entirely his prize during the finale. She promises to love him unconditionally on the one condition that he saves the world; she warned him earlier that he could become a monster by doing that, but later she pressures him into that route. What kind of relationship is this?

    – ‘and a whole host of other themes and ideas introduced and squeezed into 13 episodes.’

    If you can point out a single one that isn’t undermined by the contradictions of theme, character and logic towards the end, you deserve Nao’s love more than Yuu does.

    I ‘defend’ Angel Beats! for its ‘flaws’ because I think they spring from dislike of characters rather than being the cause of it, and because the show works thematically like an iceberg. Charlotte’s more of a frozen lake. Dig down into the plot and drown in the inconsistency of everything you were interested in.

    This whole thought that we can spare a poor plot because of a perceived strength of character makes as little sense. Character /is/ plot. They are utterly inseparable, seeing as we only ever get to evaluate one through the experience and appreciation of the other. Theme, being a form of plot, is also very hard to separate from the narrative plot. Neither a theme nor interest in it remains stable once the narrative starts to forget about itself as Charlotte’s does towards the end.

    I love the idea of trying to defend Charlotte’s flaws, but this reads as just apologetics to fans who already ignore them; the argument as ‘haters’ would read it is unexemplified and unpersuasive.

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    • Going to split this up into paragraphs the way you did.

      – True that, though it was the only statistic I could find on how popularity is amongst its domestic audience. I don’t think Charlotte’s sales were considered to be extremely dismal, though it probably performed badly by past KEY standards, and definitely not enough for a second season. (http://www.someanithing.com/3852, and subsequent ones like http://www.someanithing.com/3885 ) Also, sales may not be the best reflection for popularity or even less, quality (seeing that the tops of these lists are frequently dominated by music idol-themed series). But I do admit your point. Though in any case, this was merely a side point that I brought up to introduce a little context, and was not used to further any argument about the merits or demerits of this series.

      – I can see how Yuu’s actions are a course of illogicality and protected by heavy plot armour, and I understand how that would make it impossible to empathise with any of his emotional predicaments and conflicts. It is, as a matter of fact, pretty obvious, especially on hindsight, how bizarre his character ‘changes’ have been and how the ‘obstacles’ to a picture-perfect resolution were readily resolved. However, my point, which I may not have elaborated clearly so I am going to do so here, is that the egregious amounts of loopholes may have to some extent been masked by how many things were happening with the protagonist. Perhaps it can be seen as a cheap tactic since that constitutes a ‘distraction’ of sorts, but Charlotte still produces enough of an emotional hook for those viewers who are content with buying it. And there is nothing wrong with that.

      – I agree that the ‘romance’ was contrived, but that seemed to have also happened in Angel Beats as well. In fact, my personal interpretation is that it probably was not as much as ‘romantic feelings’ for Nao that supposedly ‘pulled’ Yuu back from his ‘suicide mission’, but a bond to humanity, emotional support and to the people whom he cares for (whatever that means). At that point, she wasn’t really ‘pressurising’ him at that point, because the whole chunk of dialogue shows that Yuu (1) did indeed want to try this precise method himself even if he knew the risks which were spelt out by Nao, and (2) was going to do it anyway, motivated by the ‘love’ he has for Nao. The part that Nao seems to ‘pressurise’ him, was just one sentence that could be chalked up to the tsundere-like way of communication the two of them always had, and is not really a ‘condition’ for her love.

      I agree with the rationalisation of how plot and character are definitely intertwined. What you said certainly makes logical sense, but I don’t think that that is ever /always/ synonymous with a story’s entertainment value. Sure, there are people who are not able to enjoy a story precisely because they view plot and character as one inseparable whole, but my stand here is that it ultimately depends on what one is really looking for and enjoys in their anime.

      Charlotte is a little bit on the fence because even though its structure really turned out formless, and uses many convenient plot devices to prop up characters which may otherwise seem bland, which would /theoretically/ fail as a narrative – but there is at least sufficient emotional bait and hook for the less critical ones amongst us. In fact, Charlotte is definitely not the only one who has used this tactic (in its case, it didn’t even entirely succeed, unlike Code Geass for example), and I admit it is one difficult series to defend from a logical plane given its relatively more glaring defiance of logic.

      My arguments may not be the most persuasive, but I guess what I am trying to do here is also not strictly ‘defense’ – mainly highlighting that Charlotte may not be an entirely worthless piece of trash because it contains pockets of substance that can be sufficiently appreciated by some members of its audience. That is not to say that these people are necessarily less intellectual viewers, but that they carry certain subjective preferences that override their logic, and which are prevalent enough for Charlotte to strike bulls-eye with what it did. Hence, this is possibly why Charlotte’s reception is so divided.

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      • – Sales for Charlotte didn’t even top Jun Maeda’s last ‘mistake’, Little Busters. /Really/ bad by Key standards, but yes, it’s not much a point to evaluate
        – That ‘distraction’, that ’emotional hook’, unless it stems from a solid nature of plot or character, must be stemming from the spectacle around it, and that’s the least valuable asset of any tragedy (if we’re keeping Aristotle’s wise words about the genre). Emotional impact without a solid plot to cement those tears in something meaningful is something to criticise Maeda further for, not spare his work with. The sum of your argument is that pleasure from the show is shallow and requires you to be forgiving – ‘the less critical ones amongst us’ – or have problematically skewed perceptions – ‘certain subjective preferences that override their logic’.
        – I term AB! as an ‘iceberg’ because it’s sudden romantic conclusion makes complete sense /if/ you delve into what you watched over the series. The fact that she /literally/ has had his heart the whole time is the best starting point for appreciating why it isn’t contrived, but rather a powerful twist that, as long as you like the characters, almost forces you to try to get to grips with them more after the end, and the process of doing so is something I still find satisfying today, as I’m still trying to figure a few things out.

        An iceberg doesn’t look nearly as impressive on the surface, and neither does AB!. Maeda’s main flaw, I feel, is putting too much of his good stuff underneath characters that divide fans with their personalities. He’s often not the best advertisement of his themes.

        As for Yuu’s ‘care for humanity’, his willingness to level a building with people inside it and his desire to become God – the latter only stopped by his link to Nao – don’t make that feel prominent in his character. His character transformations, as Gigguk’s video on the finale nicely highlights, are also rather contrived versions of pre-existing popular characters.

        Nao’s ‘condition’ could be seen as more than that if she did anything else as a character after making it, but alas. That shot of her just waiting for him was terrible; we’ve spent the whole show building up all her dreams and ambitions (remember that ZHIEND music video?), but there’s no pursuit of them in the end. She and the show put it all aside because OP protagonist is OP and can do everything under his own plot-armoured steam. Can we really say it’s enjoyable to let that sink in, the thought of a fiery character like Nao becoming submissive at the end to the almighty power of one guy? Isn’t that the paradigm we’re supposed to shun in the media?

        Their romance before then was wonderful. I remember loving all the subtle touches and mysteries. It’s only the last few episodes that made all that progress between them feel like worthless, transient entertainment.

        On the whole, I’d never defend a show because the ‘less critical’ can enjoy it for its pure emotional value. If we have the insight to work out and agree what has merit and value and what doesn’t, we should use that – as professional reviewers do – to try to encourage people to watch things that will make them more active, perceptive viewers. /Everything/ can be defended if you believe that a show can have merit based on the ability for people to not put two and two together and ignore gaping issues that tear down constructions of character and theme. To say ‘there is at least sufficient emotional bait and hook for the less critical ones amongst us’ goes as far as validating porn – just replace one kind of ‘feels’ with another.

        Pure spectacle that falls apart the moment you think about it is hard to view as anything but a failure. I think you’ve evaluated really well why people like Charlotte, but on the conception of that argument I think we’ve lost the ability to say that these are reasons why people /should/ like Charlotte. Whether it’s a case of numbing or dumbing down your thought-processes while you watch, neither of those are things to advocate to anime fans.

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      • – My argument is that pleasure from the show can be shallow, and the importance of the show’s value lies precisely in that pleasure, no matter whether is a mere product of uncritical viewing, ignorance, or subjectivity trumping objective evaluation. While your criticisms are valid and that the amount of emotional impact that can be derived did suffer a huge hit from what it could have been – with a coherent plot – my suggestion is that that pleasure/enjoyment/emotional connection can be derived from the sum of the individual parts which were deliberately used in combination, despite the plot which transpired. The experience of a story is not always limited to the strict construct or context of the story itself, and at times it is a subjective judgment of how believable and conceivable a logical progression from a character’s actions, which can vastly differ from person to person. The limits of tolerance of illogicality in a narrative differs from individual to individual as well. The series could certainly do a lot better, and it certainly does not ‘require one to be forgiving’ – I am not advocating that all viewers should. All are free to criticise, and it’s a fair game for all because nobody is right or wrong when it really boils down to a subjective preference of the importance of each component one attaches to when one rates, views, and/or evaluates how much the story can be enjoyed.

        – AB definitely has better reasons for the presence and development of its romance, but the ‘romance’ in Charlotte did not entirely come out of nowhere either. All that Nao-Yuu interaction were meant to build some sort of a bond in the end, which was meant to convince the audience that it could become romantic (though I don’t buy into that transition, what happened prior to that had a purpose.)

        I don’t think Yuu is the most unique or refreshing protagonist ever either, and I presume that may perhaps be only for his ability to stand out amongst even more generic character stereotypes of the current anime generation. I agree that Nao’s development was also thrown away in the end, which was a real pity. Unfortunately, I don’t think gender equality is at the forefront of the directional agenda of most anime where its main goal is commercialization and/or popularity, so Charlotte is not the only victim of this phenomenon. Though, it is also a victim of trashy pacing that so many interesting plot points were never resolved, again another major flaw.

        I think we may very well have different conceptions on what ‘defense’ can mean. While you see the content of a defense as one which is confined to objective merits and demerits, I merely adopt a broader construction of the term – by seeing it as a way of introducing a perspective that considers and takes into account objective aspects of a show that lie beyond the realm of a work’s more common criticisms, especially when they are grounded in technical rules which may not spell out the same conclusion to all viewers, and even amongst the critical ones. Moreover, there are times when the merits and demerits of a work are not confined to those rules. What has value and what does not cannot be purely defined by theoretical underpinnings of what makes a ‘valid’, ‘good’, or ‘successful’ narrative, as each person’s takeaway is different. I certainly did not aim to encourage people to ignore these issues of narrative illogicality, but to let people see such a possibility – that despite failing to tick some of the important checkboxes, the series still has some residual value.

        Contrary to your views, my position is that the role of a reviewer does not necessarily involve prescribing a trail of thought processes of how viewers should watch and evaluate a show. A good reviewer would firstly have to acknowledge his/her possible subjective biases, set out any thought processes that derive from that basis so that the viewer is informed, and proceed to evaluate a work based on his/her criteria. It is then up to the viewer to decide whether he/she has the same preferences or biases, and if so, the review would be likely to influence his/her perspective in evaluating a series. If not, he/she takes what he/she agrees on, and moves on from there.

        I think the analogy of porn is not an appropriate one here, given that debate on that subject purports to dictate a certain type of moral judgment as to its content. The topic at hand is quite different.

        The point of my article is not to say that these reasons are why people should like Charlotte. I am merely saying that these are possible alternative views one can consider in evaluating the value of Charlotte as a viewing experience and how it is possible the audience’s psyche has been predicted and used to the story’s advantage, and not how these other factors should trump the failure of the narrative construct and/or its other flaws which must be acknowledged.

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      • If the alternative to disliking the show is finding ‘pleasure’ that is ‘shallow’, we haven’t argued in the show’s favour. We’ve established that, of all the subjective takes on Charlotte, the positive perspectives lie in the realm of the ‘shallow’. I have never seen that term used positively reviewing, and I’m not seeing it in a positive light here either.

        The analogy of porn was merely to prescribe another art form that deals purely in a shallow, thoughtless process. I am not the first to describe a show as ’emotion porn’, and I won’t be the last.

        As for reviewing, I always come back to it being a matter of persuasion. From book reviews in 19th century newspapers to blogs in the 21st century, you write your thoughts on art not to just put them out there, but to put them out in a way that catches attention and persuades someone to consider your views with or against theirs. You want people to take away what they /disagree/ with far more than what they agree on. Part of that, as you say, is about being sensitive to your own biases; that humanises your outlook. Another part, I believe, will always be an inevitable or conscious case of evaluating the merit of your opinions and others. You become far more persuasive when you embrace that. In many of my favourite reviews online, the reviewer is capable of taking an alternative viewpoint and putting it against theirs, using effective evaluation of the show to demonstrate why theirs is more solidly rooted in the show and the other more in subjective biases. Even the simplest literary critic has to know that there are ‘bad readers’, and it’s generally agreed that enjoyment of something that requires more subjectivity that objective evaluation is a ‘worse’ kind of appreciation. To argue otherwise is to say that a critic with decades of experience in the field is as good a reader as an English undergrad.

        Applying this to Charlotte, by noting how a positive viewing is an ‘alternative’ based on the ‘audience’s psyche’ to the flaws ‘must be acknowledged’, we have said that dislike of the show stems from a more objective viewing of it, which places the more subjective viewing of finding shallow pleasure from it lower in merit. It cannot be equal or higher in merit, as that would lead to advocating against the value of artistic construction and defeats the point of evaluating art as what it is. We could write anything in our reviews and read anything into what we watch and it would be as good a review. We know it doesn’t work that way. We know we strive to find what /in/ the show has given us enjoyment or displeasure.

        By establishing that pleasure from Charlotte is based in subjectivity from outside the show, contrary to the ‘failure of the narrative construct’, we have argued that positive viewings of Charlotte are less grounded in the ‘reality’ of what we’ve watched than negative reviews. The alternative perspective you’ve raised does not, in fact, take into account ‘objective aspects of a show that lie beyond the realm of a work’s more common criticisms’. Emotional fulfilment is the opposite of objective, as a feeling is always a form of opinion. Finding the cause of that feeling in the show reaches more towards the objective. If that feeling derives from less appreciation and correlation of the objective aspects, it reaches more towards the subjective. This is what we have to call a weaker argument, if we ever want to call one strong.

        No opinion is intrinsically right or wrong, but the very act of reviewing presents our opinion as a testable hypothesis that can be tested to be ‘right’ and argues to that effect, and thus implies contradictory viewpoints as, to an extent, ‘wrong’. If you say you’re not doing that, that you present your opinion as neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’, you must be saying nothing.

        But enough semantics. My ultimate point, which is all that really matters here, is that I think you’ve argued that Charlotte is even worse by claiming the pleasure derived from it can, to a large extent, only be shallow. If pleasure can be derived from a different evaluation of the narrative logic and character developments that views them as more coherent, that would be an alternative that offers a positive angle on the show. That is not what we have here.

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      • I guess, that is the difference between the objective of a review and merely stating one’s opinions about a show, where in the latter, nearly one would be entitled to make any kind of argument or even an unsubstantiated statement. I actually didn’t start out aiming to write a review in this piece, and merely wished to state my hopefully reasoned opinions in a post. But I admit I did not point it that out either in my post or in this entire line of comment, so its my bad in this case. What you said about the objectives of reviewing does make logical sense, and I agree that ‘shallow pleasure’ objectively places the series in a more negative light in actual fact.

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  2. I have mentioned this somewhere, but I am really an outdated anime otaku. So it gets me really curious now reading this post. I need to watch Charlotte soon so I can relate and react perhaps 😛 But I do worry as I watch my anime “with almost equal parts of brain and heart”. XD

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  3. Ah, here it is. Shiroyuni with Charlotte ~
    I honestly don’t have much to say, partially because I,like you, felt emotionally attached the entire time despite its clearly choppy writing. The other part is the statistics you mentioned – That stuff about Maeda’s popularity in Japan. That’s very interesting to see people follow his works so faithfully.
    While reading, I couldn’t help but draw conclusions to Charlotte (specifically Yuu) being a direct representation of humanity from birth to death to rebirth. At the beginning, Yuu was bratty; a cheater unable and unwilling to do anything himself, much like a selfish child. He grows into a teenager following the death of lil’ Otosaka; that’d be his bouts of lack of sanity and willingness to let darker emotions take over (see attempted drug use) are sad but true phases that happen in our lives. Last is his transition to adulthood; he accepted his role, his destiny, and took over by eventually rising to bear the burdens of others (taking powers). His final moment in the hospital could be interpreted as the final phase of life, a grandparent for him, or even as extreme as being reborn from the ashes of his former self – the diamond cut and shined Yuu on the inside that just took a bit to show its real glimmer.

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    • Yep, its here~~~ Maeda’s stuff really sells well in Japan – its more like a brand name than anything, though I certainly can see why he’s so popular :3
      That’s a very interesting way to see it! I merely thought of Yuu’s character transitions as just multifaceted (and deliberately wanting to cover almost the whole spectrum of arrogance, despair, and coming to terms with one’s responsibility) but the way you have analysed it sounds really plausible as well. ^^

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    • I like this reading of Yuu, but extrapolating it into the final episode draws a blank. Perhaps he ends in a kind of position of old age, but how he gets from adulthood to there makes no sense to me whatsoever. Him bearing the burdens of others doesn’t ring true when he has to take the healing power of a girl in a remote village. Nor does it work when we have to wonder why he doesn’t save Kumagami straight after. He then proceeds to level buildings with people in them.

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      • Chalk it up to being fed up with the adults that ruled his life, maybe? Or perhaps he just wanted to put an end to everything, which would mean taking all powers under his wing. This reminds me of a scene from Baccano when the leader of a mob kills one of his own men who received a special power just to put an end to all those related to the case. I don’t think I’ll ever understand Yuu’s actions in the final episode, nor can I find the otherwise justice in taking the healing girl’s power.

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  4. Hey Shiro!

    Glad to see you made this post! It is indeed a controversial series for sure. But I stand by the enjoyment I got from this show. Yes, upon critical review, this show is way messed up at times. But I perhaps see things in a different light. I don’t see this as one of my all-time-favorites. But I still loved the characters and the wildness of it all. How crazy an idea to travel the world and take on all the burdens of people granted supernatural powers? How crazy a turn of events form the playground-feel of the first episodes to the incredibly dark and conflicted emotions in the later half?

    Who knows what Yuu was thinking? Who knows why he acted as he did? But, in my view, he was sure about two things; making Nao his lover, and protecting other people from being hunted by scientists. And even though he methods may spark controversy, he did what he set out to do. Even if he can’t remember it…

    I don’t seek to enter a boxing match with anyone. I am not here to tell people if this show was good or not. I am simply here to support you, the research you did into your post, and also give my thumbs up to how fun and crazy this series was.

    Keep up the great work Shiro,
    Peace

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    • Hello Twice! I knew you were looking forward to this post 🙂 I also thought that it’ll be pretty likely that you would agree with me with regards to the way we look at Charlotte. I personally like watching my anime through a more critical lens, but I think Charlotte has its charm – despite how much it defies narrative logic, and perhaps precisely because of that reason.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and showing support for this endeavor. I really appreciate it 🙂

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  5. This is so interesting. I personally haven’t watched this yet, but I became more aware of “Charlotte” because a guest blogger will be posting his review about this on my blog. I’ve read his review and it made me very curious about this anime. Reading your post and learning that it’s been voted as the #1 anime in Japan for 2015 made me all the more curious. Hmmmmmm. Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I should try watching this.

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    • Hahaha I think you should! It is a polarizing series, and it has also spawned many different perspectives. Its also pretty enjoyable & unique, and I think even critics would acknowledge that at least for the front parts of the anime 🙂

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      • One of these days. I’m currently watching Code Geass. It’s your fault. Ahahaha. I started the first 5 episodes years before but didn’t really finish it. After becoming recently interested in Gundam, I decided to give Code Geass another try and lo and behold! I’m enjoying it. I can’t believe I didn’t finish it before. I don’t know whether I should blame or thank you. 😉

        So “Charlotte” has to wait a little bit more.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahahah yayyy you have no idea how happy I was to know that! ^^ I mean, its one thing if somebody picked up a series based on a recommendation, but another if the person actually dropped it before but picked it up again xD This is the charm of Code Geass, and I am glad it is once again working for you 🙂 No worries, Charlotte can wait for now. xD I can’t wait for you to finish Code Geass and know what your thoughts on it are! ^^

        Liked by 1 person

      • High-five! I’m still half-way the first season. Indeed, you’ll be the first one I’ll annoy with my impressions/thoughts about Code Geass. I’m really liking it now. I didn’t know that Sunrise produced it. Now I know why the mecha elements in it looked so good. I think I wasn’t that thrilled about the character design years before when I first watched it, but now I’m liking it. I read that they were designed by CLAMP? So interesting. Anyway, I’ll let you know when I finished the series. Thanks again. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nice. More epic things are to come. Huehuehue. Haha yeah, Sunrise always produces good mecha anime. Or rather, it always has that ridiculous, fast-paced angle to it which I love. Ah, its because the designs are all too ‘stick-thin’. Some people call them ‘noodle-people’ haha, and they are characteristic of CLAMP. Sure, feel free to tell me whenever you finish. You’re welcome, and cheers! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Noodle people? Ahahaha. I read some comments from forums calling Lelouche “slenderman”. Ahahaha. But noodle people is funnier. So far, I’m absorbed with the plot. I’m not done with the first season yet, so I can’t really form a clear opinion yet, but so far it’s really getting high ratings from me. I’m not that thrilled with the theme songs, but hey, the story is more important, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha yeah. That’s one of the many names people have for the art xD one of Code Geass’ most outstanding elements is how fast paced, and unpredictable it’s plot is. To me there’s also the characters as well though. Oh you didn’t like the OPs? I hated the second OP but I generally think the rest are quite fitting actually to the story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just finished the 1st season! Yay, yay! I’m taking a few days’ break before I watch season 2 because I have a feeling that it’s going to be bad for my heart if I marathon it at this point. Gosh. Ahaha. I can’t wait, but I’ll have to. For the sake of my emotional sanity.

        Well, I messaged you about the OP’s when I was just halfway the first season, so it was only the first and second OP that I heard. I didn’t like them at all. But the OP near the season finale was alright. Not that amazing to me, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha I agree with your choice of a few days break. Code Geass can be a very heavy series to watch. There’s often an information overload! Haha. And you’re right, it can induce a lot of emotions as well :p
        Ah I see. I didn’t have much of a problem with the 1st OP, but I really disliked the second. The third OP was a good one in my opinion. But my favorite is the last OP of the second season because it fits the story then. Maybe you can tell me whether you have changed your mind when you reach there 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Okie-dokie! I’m not finished yet. Will annoy you in the near future about my opinions when I do finish the whole thing. Anyway, thanks again for motivating me to watch this series. I’m really enjoying it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Shiroyuni! Thanks for encouraging me to watch… 🙂

    Now, I read this article of yours. I finished watching the anime. I was blessed having a high school friend who has a copy on it. (Her siblings are all otaku, love her family!) So, I got to watch it continuously. 🙂

    I will make a review about it this April. So, I am saving all my comments for that blog. I agree what you said in the end…(conclusion)

    “Charlotte is not an easy series to recommend. While being a relatively good watch for those who do not see much value in evaluating their anime with objective criteria, it is likely to be the nemesis of those who highly prioritise the conjunctivity of plot progression and its logical sequence.”

    It’s not your typical anime. Are you sure it’s ranked # 1? you know when I tell that to my friend. She thought One punch man is #1.. Haha! It felt like it was an indie anime. I was like watching “Beck”. I like the fact that Tomori Nao likes the band ZEIND. 🙂 Nao is my favorite character. I also like the fact that the romance is not sugar coated like what you’ll expect on high school love affairs. I was terrified about Yuu’s destiny. He’s like a walking vaccuum to save the world.. that’s shock absorbing…ugh! >.<

    I can't make such comparisons because it's my first time to watch Jun Maeda's work. I never watched Clannad and Angel Beats .. So yeah. As they say,expect Maeda's obra maestra twinned with tragedy. correct me if I am wrong. ..?

    Thanks again… looking forward for more anime to talk about! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, lucky you that you managed to get a (legal) copy from your friend 🙂

      KEY anime and Jun Maeda are really popular in Japan. That statistic that I cited really was merely a readers’ survey taken by a Japanese TV station with 1000 viewers, but it was the best statistic I could find >< But I think OPM is really a lot more popular among Western audiences than Japanese audiences, so I think it may perhaps not be a very 'sure' Number One in Japan either 🙂

      I thought that Charlotte didn't stray too far from normal anime except for the number of plot twists and the introduction of a more macro-world plot xD But otherwise, there were plenty of high school anime cliches especially in the high school part. For me, I like Yuu the most out of all the characters 🙂

      Oh you really should watch those two! Angel Beats and Clannad: After Story are the real masterpieces 🙂 Yep, there's tragedy involved. But its a mixture of laughter and tears 🙂

      You're welcome! I am glad you enjoyed it, and I look forward to talking about more anime in future too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Charlotte (2015) : Anime Review | Words & Rhythm

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