Key and P.A. Works are a perfect match.
I was worried for a while that P.A. Works went astray when it started to experiment, while I felt they were at their most creative with Angel Beats and Hanasaku Iroha. They landed a sweet spot that encompassed everything I wanted. The series weren’t perfect, but really struck a chord with me. After that they released series such as Glasslip and Red Data Girl, which made me worry about the studio’s future. Now they are back in the game once again with Charlotte.
After being discovered by cute girl Nao, who is in search of those with super natural powers, Yuu joins her in her quest, unraveling the truth behind his power. Soon after, others with special abilities join them.
The search for those with special abilities manifests itself in the form of a club run by Nao. With her team she tries to detect and convince other supernatural’s to join in. She tries to save them from becoming a test subject at a secret facility that does horrible experiments, as she has witnessed with her own brother.
It is difficult to grasp that a group of high school kids is going to save others from the hands of an evil corporation and I can imagine that a lot of viewers will have trouble to accept this setting. But I try to look beyond this, since it’s just a shell that harbors a certain message. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
I consider Charlotte to be the reincarnation of Angel Beats. The show has a super natural background and focuses on troubled youth who try to cope with life.
This is a very interesting dynamic. They are still alive, but struggle how to deal with that life. Just like in Angel Beats where the youngsters could only move on to the next life when they were content with the past they’ve had. Charlotte builds on this type of storytelling and it actually works out.
The touch of Maede Jun is present and traces can be found back to even Clannad. Maeda Jun uses tragedy a lot to develop its characters. Interestingly enough, instead of using it to introduce a character, he uses it to shape a character and transfer him or her to a more mature state of mind. Charlotte has a gradual build up, given there are some plot points that feel rushed, which was also an issue with Angel Beats. Even when inserting tragedy to drive the plot and develop the characters, it needs time to settle. Cramming into one or two episodes makes the show lose credibility.
Charlotte borders a lot along the lines of Angel Beats in its visual design. The characters design have a visual update, but the set up feels very familiar. This can be interpreted two ways, namely; the studio didn’t have enough ideas how to create a credible new setting or it used the same formula with a new smack of paint on it.
Either way, the design still delivers and the attention to detail is noteworthy. The music is top notch, may it be ‘engurish’, there still goes a lot of care into creating a unique touch instead of just inserting sounds.
I found the ending song very minimalistic, with still frames moving by. Nonetheless, the visuals were sufficient and so were those of the opening song. The different animation styles and fluent movement really made the opening sequence a must watch, even though the song itself wasn’t as strong.
Charlotte is another great P.A. Works production. It proves that Key, Maeda Jun and P.A. Works combined deliver great results. Charlotte hides difficult subjects into its story such as love and loss, coping with reality and many more. The visual design is neat and fresh. I rate Charlotte a 9 out of 10 for its outstanding performance.