It’s not easy being a teenager. Raging hormones, the demands of school, parents, maintaining some semblance of a social life, maybe even a part-time job if you’re lucky. Oh, and there’s the whole being stricken with a disease that temporarily gives you an incomplete and sometimes hilarious superpower. Wait, that didn’t happen to you?
Welcome to the world of Charlotte, where teenagers are randomly afflicted with quirky, sometimes dangerous superpowers that aren’t fully developed. At the center of our story is Yu Otosoka, a young man who discovers that he can effectively take over someone’s body for approximately 5 seconds. Being a teenage boy, he doesn’t exhibit the best judgment in using his powers early on, using it to cheat on tests and start fights among his enemies, and also peep at the occasional girl or two. However, his actions come back to bite him after he is confronted by a young woman named Nao Tomori. She explains that he will be transferred to a special school for teenagers like himself so that they can be safe from medical experimentation. Of course, he resists at first, but ultimately resigns himself to his fate and assists Nao in her hunt for other ability-users so they can be recruited to the school.
Charlotte is probably one of the more entertaining, if not oddly-paced series from the Summer season. There are a few things that it does very well, the first being humor. This show can be very funny. Jojiro, another ally, has a particularly entertaining ability to travel at extremely high speeds, but without much control. Early episodes highlighting the disastrous effects of his attempts to use his power, and will likely have you doubled over with laughter.
The characters are also very likable and well-developed. Their relationships are developed naturally, and their closeness helps add impact to the emotional highs and lows they experience together. This makes the glaring weakness of Charlotte all that more frustrating.
My main issue with Charlotte is that they seemed to invoke a lot of unexpected story elements that weren’t hinted to at all. If you are into mystery novels you know that a really good mystery gives the reader (or viewer) all the clues it needs to help solve the mystery. If there was a murder and the primary suspects introduced included the butler, the brother and the sister, if it was revealed at the end that the murdered was actually the gardener that nobody ever heard about, it would be a bad mystery. Charlotte does this quite a bit in the latter episodes in the series. Mysterious organizations seemingly emerge out of nowhere, relatives spontaneously appear and conveniently explain a number of strange occurrences…in short, Charlotte misses out on some key opportunities for quality storytelling and instead suffers from a haphazard and unorganized narrative in the final half of the series.
Should you skip the show entirely? No. It definitely has a great entertainment value for the earlier strengths that I mentioned, but if you were looking for something a bit more reliable in terms of cohesive storytelling you might be better served with another series.