Charlotte – 12

Yuu’s hospitalization gives all the important members of our cast some final moments to catch up with him. It could probably have been meaningful if any of it mattered.

Now that the terrorists are out of the way (and wasn’t that quick?), the series is fully embracing the other conflict it introduced last episode – cleaning up this ‘disease’ of powers. Unfortunately, the means of doing this – plundering every power – feels flat for a number of reasons. Not only could be only showed next week via a montage (or not shown at all, perhaps he falls at some first hurdle), but it’s also something Yuu proved himself to be grossly unqualified for last week – unless most of the power users are in hospitals, he’s toast. Even worse, the solution was something I immediately thought of the moment I knew the true nature of Yuu’s ability. If Yuu’s development over this series has been into a nicer, more accommodating guy – signposted almost too blatantly by his response to Ayumi’s cooking – why did he need Nao to suggest this grand plan to him? If everyone thought their powers were a problem, why did he never think of taking them to help until now?

His failure in this department is one thing, but Nao this episode was a much bigger bugbear, and it’s really harmed the interest I have in their relationship. After Yuu confessed she explained to him that if he succeeds in this quest – ‘proving himself’ somewhat – she’ll love him ‘unconditionally’. The sentiment is just ridiculous; she’s told him there is a condition for her unconditional love! In fact, to love someone always because of what they did in the past isn’t just conditional – it’s a pretty weak form of the prize of ‘eternal love’ that Nao has become (after being a damsel-in-underwear last week). Yuu’s love of her is clearly inclusive of her ‘faults’, while hers is demanding him to be godlike in benevolence to the entire human race. He already wanted to save the world before the confession, so her demands aren’t a manipulative impetus for him to succeed either. It just doesn’t feel like the relationship the two were building together over the series. And don’t get me started on the thought of Yuu loving Nao and not remembering her brother yet.

The use of food this week for each visit was a nice way to convey how these characters have collectively nourished Yuu’s better side – though it would have been perfect if Nao had offered Yuu some of her ‘Rocky’, since she’s been the biggest influence of them all. Still, Misa’s emotional farewell was another bugbear of me wondering why she hadn’t thought to visit her parents before. Why need Yuu, a guy you barely know and have barely been speaking to for a while because your character isn’t actually important for the main plot, to get you to say goodbye? I feel like I’m being asked to think of Yuu as a better person because he got her to this point, but the whole thing just makes the cast feel dumber.

Then there’s the point of the episode – getting Yuu to do his daring do. Again, I feel like I should be rooting for the fact that he’s taken his brother’s mantle, but because Shun’s great conflict fell so flat, I have little to no excitement for seeing Yuu become the saviour this time. It just seems like a boring way to save the world. Knowing about a long, perhaps tedious, and definitely hopeless struggle after it’s been occurring can be incredibly dramatic (see Madoka), but knowing that a character will go into one, riding off into that kind of sunset, just doesn’t work unless its tragic element is stressed.

There’s too simple a sense of heroism in Yuu that his character, after being so complex in certain episodes, has been boiled down to an almost robotic sense of duty. It’s the culmination of his development, and it sucks. It’s the culmination of every other conflict until now being fixed for him without issue – maybe Kuragame would mean more to him if I could feel that Shun means more to him in the first place – and it sucks. I’m sure Ayumi’s cooking was sweet for him this time round, but the over-emphasis on his development was sickly. I enjoyed Charlotte’s earlier episodes for their subtlety behind the tedium of a repetitive structure. Now most of that has been undone, and Yuu hardly interests me at all. What is there to be excited about as he goes off on his doomed mission when the show has only given us vague notions of what to expect and 20-ish minutes to experience it in?

The standards of animation and voice-acting have been maintained, but it’s the themes of this show that I just can’t grasp. The relationship between powers and puberty was at first exciting, but has now been boiled down to the issue of age being merely a timer for Yuu to succeed in. The development of a cure by adult scientists muddles the significance of the evil scientists having been the only present adult force for a long time. Yuu coming to appreciate his sister is marred by his willingness to now leave her, even though he wondered what it would be like if she had lost him. There’s so little coherency between the significant elements of this story that I can’t tell what note the series could end on, and I guess my complete inability to judge that will be the most exciting thing I have going in to next episode’s finale.

Final Thoughts

I’m incredibly disappointed with Charlotte. Yuu may be heading towards becoming a godlike monster, but the series has already made a monstrosity of Key and Maeda tropes without the artistry that Maeda has used before to blend them together.

Shows like these are supposed to bring the feels. It’s a shame that Charlotte’s leaving me feeling so empty.

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