If ever there was a sister-series to the absolutely incredible Angel Beats, Charlotte be thy name. It is written by the same guy who wrote Angel Beats, so it's no real surprise that it feels the same, but that doesn't make it a copycat or anything. Charlotte is definitely its own baby, and a very entertaining 13 episode treat, but it just doesn't quite reach the comedic or the emotional levels of its predecessor.
Charlotte is all about Yuu Otosaka, a first year high school student who, when he reaches puberty, finds that he can somehow take over another person's body for five seconds at a time (while his own body simply passes out wherever it is). He uses this mutant power to cheat his way through school and to make a certain hotty like him, but he's soon called out on his kind-of-douchie lifestyle by a group of other mutant super-powered teenagers (a girl who can become invisible to one person at a time, and a boy who can move at super fast speeds, but who has trouble stopping).
This invisible girl (aka Nao Tomori) and sonic-speed boy (Jojiro Takajo) are members of the student council at a private school called Hoshinoumi Academy (literally "Star Ocean" Academy), and they have a very important mission assigned to them: track down and find other mutants, and bring them under the protective umbrella of their school where they can then live in peace and learn to use their powers responsibly. Why do they need to collect the country's super powered mutants? Mostly because the governments of the world like the idea of an army comprised of kids who can do things like teleport, blow shit up with their minds, or walk through walls, and most are rather ruthless about acquiring such a force of underaged operatives for experiments or military duty.
So the whole things starts out like a Japanese X-Men show, with each episode showing our reluctant heroes using their unique — but pretty limited — abilities in interesting ways as they recruit new muties into their school for their own safety, or simply warn them away from using their powers too publicly... But then shit gets really interesting for Yuu, Nao, and Jojiro. And by that I mean that life gets shitty and pretty dark as the plot takes a detour from the path it'd been on before, and characters have to deal with a lot of crap that comes close to utterly wrecking them mentally.
I'm being extremely vague here for the sole purpose that I highly recommend this show, and I love how the series constantly changes its own status quo, and the way the focus of the story switches over to a new track every few episodes in a very organic way.
Very Slight Spoilers
First Charlotte is a recruitment tale, then it turns into a poignant story of characters dealing with tremendous loss, then it becomes a survival scenario, and then it veers into a sort of assassination quest.
Very Slight Spoilers Over
It has a very satisfying ending (although it's pretty bittersweet), but overall I was hoping for a bit more excitement and passion in the whole thing; Charlotte seems to take the safe path of being mellow instead of just going all-out and crazy most of the time. Not that this is a bad thing really, it's just not what I was expecting.
Hmmmmm, that may be perhaps a bit too vague. Let me give you an example. First an example of Charlotte doing shit at what I consider an appropriate amount of "OOMF!" Slightly More Spoilery Spoilers. There is a great episode where a character loses his shit after something you'd never wish to happen on your worst enemy occurs to him, and he falls into a well of despair, using his mutant power to do some pretty heinous shit to other people around him. It was depressing, emotional, and then amazing when he finally pulled himself from the bottom of total misery due to his own resilience yes, but also due to a friend who'd been watching over him the whole time, never judging, never interfering, since they'd been there before. And when the time came for this forlorn sack of sadness to redeem himself, he did, and it was extremely well-earned.
Now for an example where they didn't go as far as they should have in a narrative sense, and thusly I felt like they missed an opportunity story-wise, and I missed something more emotionally engaging: At one point, there is a kidnapping and torturing of some mutant kids in order to bag yet another teen with some seriously awesome super powers. With a whole school of mutants with a rainbow of various abilities at their disposal, the good guys just send their one seriously awesome super powered friend in (the one the bad guys want) with one plan, and no real backup in mind. The whole kidnap, torture, setup, and attempted rescue all takes place in less than one episode, if I remember correctly, and it ends with a whimper instead of a super powered EXPLOSION, with nothing really happening to those who attempted the whole hostage situation in the first place. It not only felt like the writing staff dropped the ball, but that I had missed something. I thought that I should have felt some heart-wrenching sympathy or sadness for what everybody just went through, but it wasn't played up as very empathetic, and then the story just moved on.
End of Slightly More Spoilery Spoilers.
Anyway, Charlotte has stuff for everybody: Good action, good drama, cool super powers, great character interactions, family ties bringing out some tears, a pretty unique way of telling a story, and a really fun finale that shows you just how dangerous these kids' abilities can be. How everybody got their powers is kind of just dropped in your lap and then ignored (it isn't important really, but it's how the show got its name), but for the most part every bit of this series leads it on to the next phase quite naturally, and no questions are left in the end, and everything is tied up neatly in a very well appreciated bow.
This show got me thinking... What super mutant power would I want, even if it came with lame limitations, like the kids in this show had?
I think I'd want the power to BEAT THE SHIT out of anybody that I wanted, but I only had 5 seconds at a time to do it. 5 seconds'd be enough. Totally.
That or I'd like to be able to turn into a woman for say 10 minutes a day if I wanted to... That... Wow, yeah, that's what I want. But just for 10 minutes, you hear me? I... I'll be in my bunk.
I seriously think we need to put our X-Lawyers onto a lawsuit against the creators of this Japanese television series.
First of all, it is about a group of teenagers with special mutant powers who are all recruited to go to a specialized school that is run by a mysterious character with amazing powers himself whose dick I simply want to stick in my mouth and suck all day on... I mean, it is run by a mysterious character whom I admire for his tenacity and penis, I mean drive.
Secondly, the world at large both fears and resents these special teenagers, and tries to kill them or kidnap them all the time, giving them massive anxiety boners, I am sure. Hard, powerful, boners. Perhaps leaking a bit due to the terrible suspense of being under constant attack.
Thirdly, they completely ripped off our amazing Days of Future Past comic book storyline in this shallow program! And they left out the best part, which was when that canuck Wolverine had all of his flesh seared off his Adamantium skeleton, like meat shewed off a Buffalo wing!... Oh, that panel... That got me so hot... I think I'll need Jean to do some cross-dressing cosplay fantasy reenactment tonight.
Fourthly.... I don't even remember what my point was.