Charlotte is a 2015 anime produced by P.A. Works and Aniplex. The series ran for 13 episodes making it one cour in run but also received and original video animation or OVA in early 2016 shortly after its original airing period.
Charlotte is set in a world where superhuman powers are a norm. The story follows Yuu Otosaka who has a power that allows him to take over and fully control an individual for five seconds. With his ability, Yuu has managed to perform exceptionally well in school. Nao Tomori manages to convince Yuu to transfer schools and enter Hoshinoumi Academy instead when she manages to catch him using his ability. He eventually finds out that Hoshinoumi’s student council head is none other than Nao who recruits him into joining the council and helping them accomplish their goals.
There are number of things that stand out as being bad in Charlotte. The immediate issue that I had with the series was its pacing. The anime spent a large amount of its time earlier on trying to establish the rules that governed the world of Charlotte. The powers that people had were introduced in such a way that made each of the characters interesting. They also served as an identifying characteristic for the cast that added to their personality and the impression that they left. On top of this, the pacing at the beginning had the characters built in such a way that they all had a large potential for growth throughout the series. There was a lot of potential for the cast to grow in different directions and steer the anime in such a way that would make it great. Unfortunately, the show quickly turned bad after one of the events in the anime triggered a change in pace that would eventually leave a terrible impression. Following one of the major plot points in the series, Charlotte became quite a mess with its episodes covering a large number of events in the span of minutes. The series began to introduce new characters without having fully explored the ones introduced earlier on. Rather than creating a cast full of depth, the series built up a number of one dimensional characters who saw no real change or development throughout the remainder of the series. Coupled with the poor character progression, the plot progression also suffered from pacing. The series quickly transitioned from hashing out events to jumping through a montage of moments that didn’t really have much impact. Rather than allowing the lead to grow and fully experience what he was supposed to experience, we were treated to a montage of different moments in his life. This made each of his experiences feel rather pointless. The result of all this was a series that felt as if it had began with no direction. It was as if the studio decided on how the story would turn out only midway through the airing of the series and so decided to compress whatever they had thought of in the few episodes that remained.
Coupled with the overall pacing, the characters of Charlotte were terrible. While this can be attributed to the fact that the pacing of the entire series was horrible and almost detestable, the characters themselves weren’t built up well despite their massive amounts of screen time. As stated earlier, each of the characters in the main cast were presented in such a way that allowed them to grow in a lot of different ways. Their powers were also presented in such a way that there was potential from these character to grow through their powers. This set up was squandered however as each character hardly saw much change. The only ones who really saw any progression were the mains of the series. After making the rest of the cast unimportant, Charlotte proceeded to focus on the protagonists of the series. Despite this however, the main character’s motives didn’t feel sincere or genuine. It was difficult to be able to empathize with all the hardships that he had to eventually go through simply because it was so difficult to connect to him in the first place. It was as if his character didn’t possess real resolve and instead displayed some unconvincing feat of bravery that would have otherwise been outside of his character profile.
Simply put, Charlotte was a lot of wasted opportunities. After watching the first few episodes, it was clear that there was potential in the series. Despite the promise that this anime showed, it wasted any opportunities it had by failing to decide on a concrete direction early on. The result was a train wreck of truly wasted potential with characters being painfully underdeveloped and a plot that felt like a desperate attempt to meet a deadline rather than being well thought out or well written.