Charlotte – 08

Yuu, after bouncing back, comes to terms with some important truths, all courtesy of a blind woman who, in typically ironic fashion, sees more of life than he does.

I’m sure some people have been complaining about Maeda’s pacing – it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – but as someone who tends to enjoy it, wow. Just how many things were packed in these twenty minutes? We had signs of the status quo returning – Yusarin’s spell – and being broken further – no Mr Drippy – along with meaningful antics, the sudden salvation of Tomori’s brother, and an extended sequence in the Student Council room that showed just how much Tomori is developing alongside Yuu, the episode slowing down for Yusarin’s music video to demonstrate how Tomori is willing to put other people’s interests (musically in this case) before her own.

Like Tomori, though, I keep feeling like I have to ‘deduct points’ for Yusarin’s character. The return of her spells this week was useful to mark a return to the norm, but I don’t find them enjoyable to watch; the overdose of cuteness is cringey, which may be intended to make the overreaction of Takajou more comical, but for me it just distances me from both characters. By now I would have wanted some kind of depth to be offered from this comedic device, but it seems it’s just there to alter the mood, and it’s one of Maeda’s few tricks in this show that haven’t worked for me.

Still, Tomori herself remains to be one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen in a Maeda production. She’s the rebellion against the kind of cuteness that Yusarin exudes for show, revealing more about herself by often holding back, and only acting cute because of her genuine desire to. She doesn’t get overexcited at the thought of seeing Sala in person, and nor does she get overly emotional on the phone after her brother’s recovery. The former, however, also feeds into another side of her – a sense of defeatism, since she never thought of using ZHIEND to save her brother herself. She’s been reaching out to others in danger all this time, but it seems she has thought little of solving her own tragedy. It’s a selfless kind of character flaw, and odd and beautiful thing to behold.

But what about Yuu? We’re getting a lot less of ‘asshole’ Yuu while simultaneously getting a better version of ‘nice’ Yuu. The old ‘nice’ Yuu was by the sidelines, a supporter to Tomori’s leadership. But by not showing hesitation to accommodate Sala, he both took some initiative and exhibited a capability to build new relationships from the one he lost with Ayumi. Since ayumi always accommodated him, always making food for him and overwhelming him with sweetness, it’s fitting that her legacy is impacting Yuu, even if he couldn’t pay for the food he provided Sala with. This also further shows just how good a match Yuu and Tomori are turning into on a far deeper level than the romance that some people (like Ayumi) could wish for ans tease at on the surface.

Sala’s story also reflected Yuu’s struggle very well; she had discovered how empty and nightmarish fame could be, and sought, instead of reaching out to fans, to reach into herself and the music she wanted to create – for won’t the most personal songs be personal to fewer people, in a smaller venue, with smaller success? Maeda is both celebrating indie music and the humble heart that drives it to be made. Yuu had his taste of power and it brought him close to becoming ‘less than human’, and the cinematography used for Sala’s past made her world of fame seem less human too. Their conversations also served as a powerful reminder that knowing and understanding people in depth, especially your idols, is the path to a better life – which explains why Takajou remains to be so shallow.

It’s also worth noting that no-one used their powers this week; a stark reminder that many problems can and should be solved by what resides in the human heart – in all of us – and not be some mystical power which we wish we could have. I’d argue it’s not the ‘power of the music’ that saved Tomori’s brother, but Yuu’s decision to use it; left alone, detached from the world, often the only person who can save you is someone who truly wants to reach into you, and Yuu used the understanding he gained of Sala to realise that her music could be that very invasion of his solitude.

Final Thoughts

With Tomori’s brother rebooted into sanity, how will her quest change now? With Mr Drippy not appearing this episode, will we ever return to the power-a-week format, or does this mean that a more pertinent goal will take over for our characters? Maybe Takajou and Yusarin will offer some kind of further window into their characters – seeing so much of Yuu and Tomori this week, it would be great if we got some subtlety regarding the remainder of our main cast too.

This episode was a response to last week’s spiral into destruction, springboarding from the turnabout that Tomori incited within Yuu. Yuu has now reciprocated, inciting a change just as quick, through actions – getting to know Sala – unbeknownst to Tomori, with the same appreciation of the things that hold significance to a life. Last week it was food; this week it was music. And so, if music be the food of love, let us hope Tomori’s brother can now play on.

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