I have never been much of a fan of the superhero genre, finding that it tends to concentrate on mindless action and spectacle and takes itself far too seriously. Charlotte is not only a glorious subversion of all that but it also draws you in to thinking you are watching one kind of a series, only to pull the rug from under your feet in the most shocking way, halfway through the series.
The main character is Yuu Otosaka, who starts off as an anti-hero. That’s a brave move, because the whole series is built around him and told from his perspective, but if there’s one thing anime does well recently it’s the male teenage flawed hero. Otosaka discovers that he has the power to take over somebody else’s body and sets about using that power for entirely selfish reasons, making himself the popular, successful guy in a top school, and getting the girl of his dreams, all by dishonest means.
This all changes when Otosaka meets other teens with their own powers, and is transferred to a school that gathers them together. He is forced to start thinking about other people and face up to the responsibility his power brings.
For the first half of the series this premise is played for laughs, very effectively. I mentioned that Charlotte subverts the genre and that’s because all the superpowers are half-arsed. Although Otosaka can possess other people’s bodies, he can only do that for five seconds, and in the meantime his own body falls limply to the ground. To an onlooker it appears rather strange to say the least. As for the other main characters, there is Nao Tomori, who can make herself invisible but only to one person at a time, Jojiro Takajo, who can move at super speed but can’t control it properly, so keeps injuring himself by crashing into things, and Yusa Nishimori, a famous idol who shares her body with her loudmouthed, dead sister, retaining no memory of the times she is possessed by her.
Each week the group has to set off to help a teenager with powers, before their abilities get them noticed by people who inevitably want to experiment on them to harness their abilities.
…and that seems to be the format for the series, until halfway through it suddenly becomes much more dramatic and things that were being played for laughs take on a whole new significance. Lives are on the line, including Otosaka’s beloved younger sister. At times Charlotte gets very dark and quite shockingly violent, and the main plot when it finally kicks off is an intricate web of twists and turns and shock revelations. It is also a relatively rare thing in anime: a complete story told in one series and brought to a satisfying conclusion. Oh, and there’s just enough soppy romance to keep this blogger happy.
The opening and closing themes are both great tunes. I’ll leave you with the opening title sequence. Look out for Tomori and her finger wave dance. All together now… RP