Another day, another pubescent power – or how about two? As the Student Council track down Yusarin, an idol occasionally inhabited with the spirit of her less-than-cheerful dead sister who also happens to be able to set things on fire, they end up not only protecting her future, but that of a friend as well.
Some people have pointed out the growing trend towards a power-per-episode format, but this episode implied even more, as the structure of every day working for the Student Council is largely remaining the same. Ayumi sweetly waves Yuu off, Yuu gets lunch via Takajou showing blatant disregard for the school’s maintenance bill, they get told what power and where, a chase ensues that demands their powers which leads them to the power-user, who is then given little choice but to comply with Tomori’s wishes as things get more emotionally serious before Yuu returns to get a sweet welcome home by the imouto that started the day off.
It already feels like a deliberate ploy to imply a sense of normality in this abnormal daily struggle, and it’ll work wonders for those who see it as a sign of change on the horizon and those that don’t consciously notice but are all the same getting used to a certain pattern. The fact that Ayumi structurally frames each episode makes me feel like she’s at the most risk from a tragic plot development, something Yuu has already identified himself. Will he come to regret being so evasive and ashamed of her sweetness?
Yusarin’s appearance this week (which I’d been expecting since the beginning) helped give us a further insight into how ruthless Tomori is going to be to get her way. It’s hard to have authority over kids as one yourself, so knowing how to back people into a corner is a mean but important skill to have. She noted this week that she’s good at ‘creating plans for threatening others’, and she really came through on that one, enacting a plan that would clear up Yusarin’s problems while also making it impossible for Yusarin to not accept her invitation to the academy; revealing superpowers to someone is a one-way ticket to getting more attention, something this idol ironically doesn’t want, given how easily she accepts the offer.
Tomori’s skills certainly make her leader material, whereas her teammates were continually prevented from taking the spotlight – Yuu’s attempt at intelligent planning was repeatedly shot down, and Takajou’s relentless fanboying over Yusarin was likewise comically shunned. It’s both fitting and impregnable that Tomori is the centre of this mission.
As for the last addition to our main cast herself, I didn’t connect with Yusarin as much as I have with other characters, which made the episode less gripping. I can see the difference that may have caused it – while most characters have a comical or dramatic element to their power, Yusa’s transformation into Misa is a spontaneous, fanfare-less switch. It certainly feels realistic, but neither of the two halves of this walnut speak to me yet, making the change lose a lot of its impact on-screen. Yusa feels like both a victim of Misa and something the dead girl wants to protect. I can’t be certain of how I feel about the character as a whole – and perhaps I’m not supposed to – yet, but at least the episode avoided having its drama ride on finding the use of her power thrilling, and the split personality will surely give us some dynamic moments in the greater story to come.
One of my favourite things about Charlotte so far is that its minor character have such an impact each episode. Sho’s confession was an unexpected development, but its lack of foreshadowing meant that the situation put me not in his shoes – as many emotional romances do – but in Misa’s, the girl receiving the confession. I followed her words, surprised by his love but at the same time appreciative of the fact that it was something he needed to let go of. I suppose one day Misa will let go of Yusa too, once she’s fulfilled her purpose of periodically inhabiting her. The scene also made Misa’s reckless use of fire feel more appropriate, since she died being reckless and had always lived that way. A lot of the focus of that pivotal scene felt like it was taken away from Sho and put rightly on the dynamic that comprises Yusarin’s character. Maeda sure does know how to use his supporting cast well.
There was a moment, however, where I was taken out of being immersed in the scene without good reason. The moment Tomori was hit during the episode’s chase sequence was prefaced by the camera following the characters with a more 3D perspective. I don’t know if this was meant to give a better sense of pace or realism, but it achieved neither for me by reminding me that I was watching an anime. The unexpected change in form meant that the blow Tomori took didn’t connect as much. It would be too much of a stretch to say that I was meant to feel it less because Tomori herself wasn’t shaken by it, as the loss of immersion affected the rest of the chase as well (the climactic deception of the producer, in contrast, was both visually and mentally engrossing). It’s a small issue, but after the second episode’s beautiful first-person rendering of the Student Council Room, I’m hoping the series’ use of the third dimension is more effective in the future.
Then again, the small changes in the OP (have fun trying to notice them yourself if you haven’t) and what looks to be a weekly overhaul of the ED were great, adding to all the things I’ll be looking forward to in this show every Saturday.
Charlotte wasn’t as strong this time as it has been in the last two weeks, but we finally have our completed cast. How will Yusarin fit in with the rest of the academy’s operations? I also look forward to seeing Takajou get more development, as he has recurring details and traits that are ripe for exploring in more depth.
How long will it be before the status quo is shaken up? Will the series’ inevitable dark turn be in its future, or in the characters’ pasts? We mustn’t forget to be concerned about what happened to Yuu’s family, or how Tomori may too be faced with her past in ways she doesn’t expect.
At least we know Maeda never plays it safe. The more plot twists, the merrier!