Charlotte – 04

It’s a baseball episode – what else is there to say?

Surprisingly for Charlotte, which has packed in oodles of character development week after week through the best use of a supporting cast I’ve seen from Key so far, not much. The framing of the episode within Ayumi’s sweet pizza sauce was there again – and I don’t think it’s meant to be a joke any more, just a cyclic character device – but the meat of this week’s antics was spent on action that was only really engaging once it became comical.

The inevitable baseball episode have been a way to ease Yusarin into the cast, but ‘ease’ isn’t something Charlotte’s been building itself towards. Each week has seen our Student Council – Tomori in particular – get into more and more dangerous situations. Knowing that Tomori is unlikely to fail in her quest to protect the power-user, the baseball game lacked tension and was unfortunately unexciting on the whole, at least for a viewer who has enjoyed the show so far because of its increasing levels of depth.

The only major development I registered was Tomori’s odd request to have Yuu possess their quarry at the end and the mystery as to what she used that for. Even so, I’m not seeing any information that helps me put any of the pieces of that puzzle together. Like the mystery of who Tomori’s benefactor is, this question just feels like a hole that only the story itself can fill. It’s good fuel for the long-term goal of the series – to get the feels train to every stop, surprising the viewer with sudden reference to past evasions of clarity – but it doesn’t help the intriguing undercurrents that have made this show more than just a potential tearjerker for me. Hopefully later episodes will provide material that will make me return to these gaps.

As for Yusarin’s introduction to proceedings, it’s another mixed bag. I like how she’s taking the spotlight, a magnet for easily-manipulated boys, and I can understand a deeper reason why Tomori detests that kind of fake friendship, having had it engineered for herself. The limitations Misa has in Yusa’s body also sent up a flag for me regarding how she might be hurting Yusa while helping her (if she is actually trying to), adding to last episode’s questions surrounding the very nature of the powers the two girls hold.

Still, however, the shift between her personalities is uninteresting. It might just be the Seiyuu in charge of Misa that I’m not gelling with. I get that the face and voice aren’t supposed to match, but their discord isn’t helpful to a serious or comedic scene. Takajou’s absolute adoration of her is also failing to reveal much about either character. We need later episodes to develop Yusarin’s relationships with others in more exciting ways.

Yusa’s ‘magic spells’ also added another dimension to her cute side, and I’m undecided on how I feel about the trait. While it’s interesting to note how this is arguably another power that stems from puberty – just not something the scientists would be interested in – I’m worried these ‘spells’ will become another joke that merely repeats as a device for the normality we’ll eventually break. There’s plenty of scope for revealing more about her career and personality through them, and an opportunity like that needs to be taken if I’m going to invest my emotions in her. Still, comparing Yusarin to Tomori in terms of how they control people is something I’m finding worthwhile the more we get to know both of them.

Final Thoughts

This week felt a little too inconsequential, so we might be setting up for Maeda’s first major twist. At the very least, Charlotte needs to abandon this kind of relaxing action and refocus itself on what it’s built its characters upon – the challenges they’ve faced and the challenges the viewer gets when realising what these pubescent power-users are really like underneath.

A lot of people are also concerned about Yuu being shoved off to the sidelines. While it’s right that he’s hardly taking the lead when it comes to the plot, there’s a noticeable lack of development in his family history, which may likely be the show’s most integral reveal later on – that is, if we still connect to him like we did at the start. Even the tiniest of hints would help us rekindle that love of Yuu’s inner struggle. We need something like that before he becomes just an engine for snappy comebacks, which – aside from his ability – is the most he seems to contribute right now.

Get back to the serious stuff, Maeda. The plot is thinning and it needs to thicken. Time to let the shadier parts of this series come out of the shadows.

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