Maeda Jun is back, in full force! Well, not really. Nothing he will ever write could possibly top Angel Beats, a show where I couldn’t decide which part was better: the absurd nonsense that was supposed to pass for a plot, the utter incompetence with which it jumped from super-tragic flashbacks to slapstick comedy, or how it was full of random things Maeda Jun saw in other fiction and really wanted to put in this story. But apparently he realized “high school setting and they’re also in the afterlife” was biting off more than he could chew, and went back to just “high school setting”.
Charlotte, though, is a little different in one regard. Usually his male protagonists are the Ultimate Nice Guy, who just want to help broken girls stop crying. Breaking the trend, Yu from Charlotte goes in the complete opposite direction. And I do mean complete, because subtlety has never been one of Maeda’s strong points.
Yu has a special power. For five seconds at a time, his mind can leave his own body and take control of someone else’s. Within the first two minutes, he’s already used this power to molest several girls, and it gets worse from there. After abusing his power to cheat at tests and getting into an elite high school, he sets his sights on his main prize: the most popular girl in the school.
How does he get her interested in him? It’s simple: at a road crossing, he mind-controls an approaching truck driver and forces him to careen straight towards her. Timing the duration of his power exactly, he regains control of his own body just in time to push her out of the way.
No, seriously, that’s actually what happens.
Yu is just a really, really reprehensible character in the first half of the episode. Cheating on your exams? That’s expected from a high schooler given the opportunity. Risking the lives of two people so you can woo a girl? That’s crossing the line just a tiny bit.
Now the thing is, he’s supposed to be an asshole. Halfway through, he gets found out by other people with special powers and is forced to transfer to their (tightly monitored) school. But that was still a painful half an episode to sit through. This isn’t Yagami Light thinking, in his own misguided way, that he’s doing a good thing. It’s a power-tripping high school kid getting away with near-murder.
But it’s okay, because once that’s over with, Yu finally gets the comeuppance you’ve been waiting for. Wait, what’s that? He doesn’t?
Apart from a single line saying he used his powers for no good, Yu doesn’t really get called out on anything he did. I guess maybe those people investigating him didn’t really know the full extent of it, and maybe this is something that will come up in later episodes, but it’s really not a good sign. The remaining time is mostly taken up by the obnoxious antics of his hyperactive little sister. I guess it’s smokescreen tactics.
It’s pretty obvious where this is going, given the writer. Yu learns to be a good person, and helps out a variety of girls with mental problems and speech defects deal with their issues through the medium of tears.
Look, as cynical as I am about anime in general, I did actually like a few parts of Kanon and Clannad. Sometimes he accidentally doesn’t turn the melodrama up to 11 and it’s actually tolerable. Maybe Charlotte will have a worthwhile arc or two as well. But it starts off on such a bad foot that I can’t imagine wanting to watch it and find out.
And it’s also way too mundane to be another Angel Beats.
First Episode Rating: 4/10
What would it take for me to watch another episode? Brain damage leaving me incapable of saying anything but “uguu”.