Promotional image featuring the main characters (from left to right): Yuu Otosaka, Jōjirō Takajō, Yusa Nishimori and Nao Tomori.
|Charlotte The 4-koma: Seishun o Kakenukero!|
|Written by||Jun Maeda|
|Illustrated by||Haruka Komowata|
|Published by||ASCII Media Works|
|Magazine||Dengeki G's Comic|
|Original run||May 2015 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yoshiyuki Asai|
|Written by||Jun Maeda|
|Original run||July 5, 2015 – September 27, 2015|
|Written by||Jun Maeda|
|Published by||ASCII Media Works|
|Magazine||Dengeki G's Comic|
|Original run||September 2015 – present|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Yoshiyuki Asai|
|Released||March 30, 2016|
Charlotte (シャーロット Shārotto?) is a 13-episode Japanese anime television series produced by P.A.Works and Aniplex and directed by Yoshiyuki Asai. The anime aired in Japan between July 5 and September 27, 2015. An original video animation episode was released in March 2016. Two manga series are serialized in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Comic. The story takes place in an alternate reality where a small percentage of children manifest superhuman abilities upon reaching puberty. A focus is placed on Yuu Otosaka, a high school boy who awakens the ability to temporarily possess others, which brings him to the attention of Nao Tomori, the student council president of a school founded as a haven for children with such abilities.
The story was originally conceived by Jun Maeda, who also wrote the screenplay and composed some of the music, with original character design by Na-Ga. Both Maeda and Na-Ga are from the visual novel brand Key, and Charlotte is the second original anime series created by Key following Angel Beats! in 2010. Maeda had thought up the concept for Charlotte long before he was approached in early 2012 to work on another anime series after Angel Beats!. Maeda narrowed down the number of main characters compared to Angel Beats! and attempted to put more of a focus on their behavior. Instead of employing the same staff that had worked on Angel Beats!, the aim for Charlotte was to bring together a staff that would add a new variety to the creative process to prevent being influenced by the work done on Angel Beats!.
Charlotte was praised for its unpredictability and evocative moments, but its pacing and structure have been criticized as inefficient. It has been described as approachable for a wide audience and for defying the "moe anime" stereotype. Although the comedic elements have been called dumb and corny, they have overall been lauded for offering some relief from the serious moments, which one reviewer likened to a palate cleanser. P.A.Works' production was praised for its beautiful animation sequences and expressive cinematography.
Charlotte takes place in an alternate reality where a short-period comet called Charlotte passes near Earth every 75 years. When this happens, it spreads dust onto the Earth, which causes a small percentage of preadolescent children who inhale the dust to manifest superhuman abilities upon reaching puberty. The story follows the protagonist Yuu Otosaka, a boy who awakens the ability to temporarily possess others. Although hoping to use his ability to fraudulently live a carefree high school life, he is exposed by Nao Tomori, a girl who can make herself invisible to a specific target. She forces him to transfer to Hoshinoumi Academy (星ノ海学園 Hoshinoumi Gakuen?, "Sea of Stars Academy") and join its student council, of which she is the president. Also on the student council is Jōjirō Takajō, a boy who can move at uncontrollably high speeds. The student council's main objective is to ensure the safety of ability users from organizations who seek to exploit their powers. In doing so, the student council warns ability users of the potential danger of openly using their abilities. This leads the student council to Yusa Nishimori, a girl who has the ability to channel the dead as a medium. Yusa's dead older sister Misa makes use of this ability to freely possess her at any time, which allows Misa to use her own ability, pyrokinesis. Nao soon arranges for Yusa to transfer to Hoshinoumi Academy and join the student council.
Yuu's younger sister Ayumi eventually awakens an ability to cause anything around her to suddenly collapse, which results in her death. Yuu falls into a deep depression as a result and isolates himself, but Nao successfully manages to pull him out of his depression and gets him to return to the student council. While attending a concert of the post-rock band Zhiend with Nao, Yuu recollects previously suppressed memories of his brother Shunsuke, who has the ability to time travel. Shunsuke had used this ability to found Hoshinoumi Academy and an affiliated organization attempting to develop a vaccine to prevent children from developing abilities before they manifest. Yuu learns that the true nature of his ability enables him to steal someone's ability by possessing them. Yuu steals Shunsuke's ability to go back in time and ultimately prevent Ayumi's death by stealing her collapse ability before she can use it.
A terrorist group manages to abduct Nao and Kumagami, one of Shunsuke's closest friends and aides, and holds them hostage in exchange for Yuu, who attempts to rescue them. However, the operation does not go as planned, which results in Kumagami's death and Yuu being gravely injured. After Yuu recovers, he resolves to protect all of the ability users around the world by stealing their abilities per Nao's suggestion. As Yuu travels the world stealing abilities, the more powers he takes on soon takes its toll on him as he starts losing his memories and sense of self. However, he still manages to steal everyone's abilities throughout the world before collapsing. Shunsuke rescues Yuu, bringing him back to Japan among friends and family. Yuu is left with no past memories, but Nao tells him she is his girlfriend. Yuu and his friends look forward to the memories they will make from now on as Yuu continues to recover from his ordeal.
- Yuu Otosaka (乙坂 有宇 Otosaka Yuu?)
- Voiced by: Kōki Uchiyama
- Yuu is the protagonist of Charlotte. He develops a rude and narcissistic personality once he discovers he has the ability to take over another person's body for five seconds,ep 1 but the true nature of his ability enables him to steal someone's superhuman ability by possessing them.ep 9 Yuu is a first-year student at Hoshinoumi Academy, and he is forced to join its student council. Initially a fake honors student and chronic cheater, Yuu is reluctant to use his ability to aide the student council,ep 2 but as time goes on, he becomes less narcissistic and much more selfless and caring towards others.ep 8 Over the course of the story, he becomes a fan of the post-rock band Zhiend and falls in love with Nao.ep 9, ep 12 After Yuu travels worldwide to steal every ability user's power to protect them from being exploited, the strain of it causes him to lose all of his past memories.ep 13 His older brother is Shunsuke and his younger sister is Ayumi.ep 1, ep 9
- Nao Tomori (友利 奈緒 Tomori Nao?)
- Voiced by: Ayane Sakura
- Nao is a first-year student at Hoshinoumi Academy and is also its student council president.ep 1 She is a hardworking, intelligent, and shrewd girl, but is also narcissistic, self-righteous, and short-tempered.ep 2, ep 3 She has the ability to make herself invisible, but this is limited to one person of her choosing at a time. She uses this ability to her advantage to attack others she believes deserve to be kicked, but this causes her to be shunned and bullied by her peers. Although she initially shows no attraction towards Yuu,ep 1 she eventually falls in love with him and stays by his side even after he loses all of his memories of her.ep 13 She is a fan of Zhiend, influenced by her older brother Kazuki (一希?, Voiced by: Kazuyuki Okitsu), who once had the ability to control air movements and vibrations, which he used when playing the guitar.ep 2
- Jōjirō Takajō (高城 丈士朗 Takajō Jōjirō?)
- Voiced by: Takahiro Mizushima
- Jōjirō is a first-year student at Hoshinoumi Academy and is a member of its student council. His ability enables him to move at very fast speeds, but he is not able to control where he stops, resulting in frequent injuries.ep 1 To counteract this, he wears protective gear under his clothes. He is a huge fan of Yusa Nishimori and is extremely obsessed with her.ep 3
- Yusa Nishimori (西森 柚咲 Nishimori Yusa?) / Yusa Kurobane (黒羽 柚咲 Kurobane Yusa?)
- Voiced by: Maaya Uchida
- Yusa, also known as "Yusarin", is a first-year student at Hoshinoumi Academy and is a member of its student council.ep 4 She has a bright and innocent personality that compliments her popularity as a pop idol and singer of the band How-Low-Hello. Although her actual surname is Kurobane, she uses the stage surname Nishimori.ep 3 She has a series of "magic spells" derived from her time as a regular on a variety show.ep 4 She has the ability to channel the dead as a medium. However, she is initially not aware of this and only thinks that she is sleepwalking whenever she is possessed.ep 3
- Misa Kurobane (黒羽 美砂 Kurobane Misa?)
- Voiced by: Maaya Uchida
- Misa is Yusa's deceased older sister by one year who died in an accident six months prior to the beginning of the story. Misa freely possess her at any time, represented by a change in Yusa's eye and hair color. While possessing Yusa, Misa is able to use her own ability, pyrokinesis. Misa has a tomboyish and ill-tempered personality, and she is not afraid to be violent against anyone looking to harm her sister.ep 3 She disappears after Yuu takes away Yusa's power.ep 12
- Ayumi Otosaka (乙坂 歩未 Otosaka Ayumi?)
- Voiced by: Momo Asakura
- Ayumi is Yuu's and Shunsuke's energetic younger sister in junior high school.ep 1 She has an innocent personality and deeply cares for Yuu, providing moral support to him. Ayumi often cooks for Yuu and has a tendency to add pizza sauce to every food she makes, unaware that Yuu's modern tastes cannot handle the sweetness.ep 2, ep 3 She is a fan of the band How-Low-Hello and an avid admirer of Yusa.ep 6 She eventually awakens an ability to cause anything around her to suddenly collapse, but this is stolen by Yuu to prevent her death.ep 10
- Shunsuke Otosaka (乙坂 隼翼 Otosaka Shunsuke?) is Yuu's and Ayumi's older brother, who has the ability to time travel. Using this power, he eventually manages to found Hoshinoumi Academy to protect his fellow ability users. Overuse of his ability leads him to become blind, preventing him from making further use of it.ep 10 He is voiced by Daisuke Ono.
- Kumagami (熊耳?) is a mysterious student at Hoshinoumi Academy, who has the ability to locate an ability user and determine their ability. He helps the student council in finding ability users.ep 2 He works for Shunsuke, who nicknames him "Pooh".ep 10 He is killed after protecting Nao from some falling wreckage.ep 11 He is voiced by Eiji Takemoto.
- Medoki (目時?) has the ability of hypnotism, which she uses to make someone fall asleep, but as a result, she falls asleep as well. She works for Shunsuke.ep 10 She is voiced by Asami Seto.
- Shichino (七野?) has the ability of permeation, which he uses to pass through solid matter. However, this causes extreme exhaustion. He works for Shunsuke.ep 10 He is voiced by Kengo Kawanishi
- Maedomari (前泊?) has the ability to erase one's memory, which requires physical contact and time to find the wanted memories. He works for Shunsuke.ep 10 He is voiced by Natsuki Hanae.
Creation and conception
The original creators of Charlotte are Jun Maeda and Na-Ga of Key, and Charlotte is the second original anime series created by Key following Angel Beats! (2010). Hironori Toba of Aniplex approached Maeda in early 2012 with an offer from P.A.Works president Kenji Horikawa to do another anime series with the studio. Maeda was surprised by this, as he never expected to work with P.A.Works again. Horikawa explained that the production staff could now handle things that were not able to be fully materialized during the production of Angel Beats!. Maeda did not think he would ever be involved in the planning of another anime series, but he said that he had no choice but to accept Horikawa's offer after discussing it with him. Toba asked Maeda to write a "Key-like story", and Maeda started out by applying his prior experience of working on Angel Beats!. He went through a trial-and-error process to work out what kind of setting and story would work well for an anime series.
Long before working on Charlotte, Maeda had thought up a concept for a story with characters who have imperfect superpowers that must cooperate with each other to resolve any incidents that arise. Maeda originally submitted three separate ideas for a story to Toba, and he asked him which one he liked best. However, after Toba pointed out one of the other two, Maeda made it clear that he wanted to do the story that would become Charlotte. When writing the story, Maeda also reconsidered how he had done certain things with Angel Beats!. In particular, he attempted to put more of a focus on the behavior of the characters. Maeda also narrowed down the number of main characters in Charlotte compared to Angel Beats!, which could not put a focus on each and every character. Toba felt that Maeda was influenced by his work on Angel Beats!, which changed his thought process and what he wanted to depict in Charlotte.
Maeda thought issues had arisen with the large cast of characters in Angel Beats!, such as overlapping personality traits and not being able to remember everyone, and he used those considerations when writing Charlotte. Similarly, when designing the characters in Angel Beats!, Na-Ga had been concerned about designs being too similar among the characters, and went on to make use of that experience with Charlotte. When developing Jōjirō Takajō, he originally had a different appearance and personality, but over the course of the development process, he eventually became similar to Takamatsu from Angel Beats!. Maeda decided fairly early on to make Yuu Otosaka a low-life cheater at the start of Charlotte because he had never created a character like that before. When trying to choose a title for Charlotte, Maeda's friend Taisei Nakagawa proposed a title which could be abbreviated as "AA" based on its similarity to Angel Beats!'s abbreviation of "AB". However, Maeda did not like the title, and devised the title Charlotte as one that would surpass the original "AA" title. The title Charlotte came from the song "Charlotte" (シャーロット Shārotto?) by the Japanese band Art-School.
When deciding on Charlotte's staff, Toba thought it would be better not to have exactly the same team that produced Angel Beats!. Having already decided to stick with Maeda, Na-Ga and P.A.Works, Toba aimed to bring together a staff that would add a new variety to the creative process, and in doing so would prevent being influenced by the work done on Angel Beats!. With that in mind, Toba wanted a director who had a good understanding of Angel Beats! and who would also be suitable as Charlotte's director, leading him to seek out Yoshiyuki Asai. Toba took into consideration the storyboarding Asai had done for two episodes of Angel Beats!, and he thought that Charlotte would be a good opportunity to have a first-time series director. Asai was also chosen as someone who could handle both comedic and serious moments. When Horikawa first looked at Charlotte's incomplete script, he told Maeda that it did not feel like it had the same kind of zeal that Angel Beats! had. However, once he saw the whole script, his concerns with it were dispelled, much to Maeda's relief.
While the entire script was still in the draft phase, Maeda revised lines that felt unnatural after asking others for their opinions on it, including Na-Ga. When writing the script, Maeda made a conscious effort to write Charlotte in the framework of an anime series, as opposed to when he wrote the script for Angel Beats!, which he admits he wrote more akin to the framework of a video game. In this way, Toba felt that Charlotte was Maeda's effort to write a story in its purest form that could not be made into a video game, unlike Angel Beats!. Toba also noted that the characters in Charlotte are not written for a video game scenario, especially the protagonist, and went on to echo Horikawa's sentiment that Charlotte is akin to an I novel for Maeda. Toba explained that this is a result of Maeda's effort to remove the restrictions that come from writing the scenario for a video game.
Kanami Sekiguchi was chosen as the character designer after Horikawa took notice of her work as the animation director of episode nine of Angel Beats!, and Toba was eager to see how she would render Na-Ga's original designs. When it came time to choose an art director, Kazuki Higashiji was chosen for his zeal in the workplace and Horikawa's confidence in his artistic talent; Higashiji had also been the art director for Angel Beats!. Similarly, Satoki Iida was brought back to work on Charlotte again as the sound and music director, and he also helped with the proofreading of the script as he had done for Angel Beats!. Iida was largely chosen for his good communication with Maeda, and so that he could make the best use of his experience working on Angel Beats!. When writing the music for How-Low-Hello, Maeda reused some older songs he had composed as a student in the 1990s that he felt were selective of his best songs from that period. At the time, his concept when composing the songs was "early B'z", but Maeda notes that this is no longer the case with the completed songs.
A four-panel comic strip manga, illustrated by Haruka Komowata and titled Charlotte The 4-koma: Seishun o Kakenukero! (Charlotte The ４コマ せーしゅんを駆け抜けろ!?), began serialization in the May 2015 issue of ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Comic sold on March 30, 2015. The first tankōbon volume for Charlotte The 4-koma was released on September 26, 2015. A second manga, illustrated by Makoto Ikezawa and Yū Tsurusaki, is titled Charlotte and began serialization in the September 2015 issue of Dengeki G's Comic sold on July 30, 2015. Charlotte is also available on Kadokawa Corporation's ComicWalker website. The first tankōbon volume for Charlotte, which contains chapters published before the serialization, was released on August 27, 2015. The second volume will be released on May 26, 2016.
The Charlotte anime television series is directed by Yoshiyuki Asai and produced by P.A.Works and Aniplex. The series aired in Japan between July 5 and September 27, 2015. The screenplay is written by Jun Maeda, who originally conceived the series. The chief animators are Noboru Sugimitsu and Kanami Sekiguchi, and Sekiguchi based the character design used in the anime on Na-Ga's original designs. Sound and music direction is headed by Satoki Iida. The series is being released on seven Blu-ray/DVD compilation volumes between September 23, 2015 and March 30, 2016 in limited and regular editions. The seventh volume featured an original video animation episode. Three drama CDs, written by Maeda and performed by the anime's cast, were released with the first, third and fifth volumes. In North America, the series is licensed by Aniplex of America, who simulcasted the series on Aniplex Channel, Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki, Viewster, and Animax Asia. The series was obtained by Madman Entertainment for digital distribution in Australia and New Zealand who simulcasted the series on AnimeLab.
The anime's music is composed by Maeda, Hikarishuyo, and the group Anant-Garde Eyes, who also provided the musical arrangement. The music is released on Key's record label Key Sounds Label. The single "Bravely You / Yakeochinai Tsubasa" (灼け落ちない翼?) was released on August 26, 2015 in limited (CD+DVD) and regular (CD) editions; the limited edition's DVD contains the opening and ending videos without the credits. There are two in-story bands: How-Low-Hello featuring vocals by Maaya Uchida, and Zhiend featuring vocals by Marina. One single and one album was released for both bands in 2015. How-Low-Hello's single "Rakuen Made / Hatsunetsu Days" (楽園まで/発熱デイズ?) was released on September 2, and the band's album Smells Like Tea, Espresso was released on September 30. Zhiend's single "Trigger" was released on September 9, and the band's album Echo was released on October 14 as a two-CD set for both English and Japanese lyrics. The anime's original soundtrack was released on November 4, 2015 as a two-CD set.
An Internet radio show to promote the series titled Charlotte Radio: Tomori Nao no Seitokai Katsudō Nikki (Charlotteラジオ 〜友利奈緒の生徒会活動日誌〜 Charlotte Radio: Nao Tomori's Student Council Activity Log?) streamed 13 weekly broadcasts between July 6 and September 28, 2015 on Niconico. The show was also available via Hibiki Radio Station and Onsen, and was hosted by Ayane Sakura (the voice of Nao). Two CD compilation volumes for the show were released between September 30, 2015 and January 27, 2016.
In a review by Anime News Network, reviewer Gabriella Ekens praised the series for "sculpting singular, evocative moments", but went on to say that a "problem arises when you try to tie them into a bigger picture." Ekens criticized the pacing and structure of the show, calling it an "inefficient...collection of sprawling narrative ideas" and comparing it to "Anohana suddenly turn[ing] into Darker than Black." Ekens also notes that its thematic purpose "seems to be Jun Maeda's opportunity for melodramatic elaboration on the emotional dilemmas posed by Madoka Magica." Overall, Charlotte was lauded for its entertainment value and unpredictability, but "disappoints as a work of art." Early on, Ekens described the series as having "sharp comedic timing," and by episode four, she praised the comedic elements as "already much funnier than Plastic Memories." She went on to say that "it's dumb, but I like it for the same reasons I liked the comedy in Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign." Chris Beveridge of The Fandom Post found Charlotte's unpredictability "engaging" and its animation "beautiful". Ekens praised P.A. Works for their dynamic direction and "expressive cinematography" which offers "a distinct, pleasant aesthetic."
In a column on Mainichi Shimbun's Mantanweb portal, Charlotte was praised for the balance it strikes to reach a wide audience, from "core fans" of anime to casual viewers, in regards to its creative use of peculiar characters coupled with a scenario focused on resolving problems. Columnist Ryō Koarai commended Charlotte for pulling in the viewer from the first episode due to Yuu's surprising, unorthodox personality in contrast with how he uses his superhuman ability in his everyday life. Writer Seiji Nakazawa lauded Charlotte for defying the "moe anime" stereotype at first glance and for instead being what he describes as a "human drama". He notes that Charlotte is written in much the same way as Maeda's previous works by inserting jokes between serious moments to offer some relief to the viewer. While Nakazawa admits that some may find the jokes in Charlotte corny, he finds them acceptable and likens them to a palate cleanser.
The seven Blu-ray compilation volumes ranked in the top 15 on Japan's Oricon weekly Blu-ray sales chart for animation: Volume one ranked at No. 1, volume two ranked at No. 6, volume three ranked at No. 9, volume four ranked at No. 4, volume five ranked at No. 10, volume six ranked at No. 13, and volume seven ranked at No. 3. The opening and ending theme song single "Bravely You / Yakeochinai Tsubasa" debuted at No. 4 on Japan's Oricon weekly singles chart, selling over 23,000 copies in its first week of sales. How-Low-Hello's single "Rakuen Made / Hatsunetsu Days" debuted at No. 9 on the Oricon singles chart, selling about 9,300 copies in its first week of sales. How-Low-Hello's album Smells Like Tea, Espresso debuted at No. 12 on the Oricon albums chart, selling about 9,500 copies in its first week of sales. Zhiend's single "Trigger" debuted at No. 11 on the Oricon singles chart, selling about 14,000 copies in its first week of sales. Zhiend's album Echo debuted at No. 4 on the Oricon albums chart, selling about 10,300 copies in its first week of sales. The Charlotte Original Soundtrack debuted at No. 9 on the Oricon albums chart, selling about 6,600 copies in its first week of sales.
Notes and references
- ^ep represents the episode of the anime series.
- Ekens, Gabriella (August 11, 2015). "Episode 6 - Charlotte". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
P.A. Works' direction and production also continue to be fantastic, nailing the tonal gamut from comedy to drama to suspense.
- Ekens, Gabriella (July 18, 2015). "Episodes 1-3 - Charlotte". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
It turns out that he's part of a widespread phenomenon of children manifesting superpowers at puberty.
- "Charlotte Anime's 1st Episode Preview Video, Visuals Posted". Anime News Network. June 20, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- "Visual Art's/Key Stream Charlotte Anime's TV Ad". Anime News Network. March 5, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "Visual Art's/Key Stream Charlotte Anime's TV Ad". Anime News Network. March 5, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- "TVアニメ『Charlotte』放送直前! 麻枝准×Na-Gaが語る制作中の裏話" (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. July 4, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Untranslated quote: 音楽でいうと今まで麻枝さんが作ってきた「ゲームの主題歌」よりも、自分の企画として作ったコンセプトアルバム「Love Song」や「終わりの惑星のLove Song」が作品の立ち位置として近いんですよね、『Charlotte』は。
- "『Charlotte』鳥羽P＆小荒井編集長、麻枝ファンの２人にインタビュー!" (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. June 23, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- "麻枝 准 独占インタビュー 後編" [Jun Maeda Exclusive Interview Part 2] (in Japanese). P.A.Works. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- ""Charlotte & Angel Beats! presents スタッフトークイベント in 大阪"ニコ生まとめリポート" (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. June 23, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
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- Newtype, November issue, 2015, p. 97.
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