I reviewed part one of Charlotte back in September, noting that it ended on a fairly dark note and I was curious to see how it played out from there. In volume two, the stakes are raised significantly, and the already strange world of superpowered kids takes on a whole new level of crazy. It’s a bit hard to talk about this without mentioning a couple of key aspects from the first volume, so reader beware.
After the death of his little sister Ayumi at the hands of her own incredibly dangerous ability of ‘Collapse’, main character Yuu is drawn into a much deeper world involved in locating and protecting ability-wielders than just the Academy student council, and it turns out the present they exist in is one that has come about after many attempts to direct the future with one person’s ‘Time Skip’ ability. We spend a few episodes jumping around different timelines and meeting new and familiar characters over and over to create the future with the Academy in place to protect ability-wielding children instead of them being locked up for brutal experimentation. This brings about even more time travel to prevent Ayumi’s death and change the course of the future yet again.
The sudden introduction of time travel, along with a big revelation about Yuu’s true ability which goes way beyond simply possessing people for five second bursts shifts the story from a slice-of-lifey ‘encounter of the week’ story to something very different and far more dramatic that we only got hints of in the first volume. It remains enjoyable but it’s a fairly dramatic shift from the initial tone of Jun Maeda’s story as terrorists, time travel and death abound. The extended cast of characters in this second volume doesn’t leave a lot of space for Takajo and Yusa beyond a few token appearances as student council activities fall into the background. The second volume does build on the relationship between Yuu and Nao Tomori in some fairly meaningful ways which was nice.
If the first volume was compelling, the second is interesting but not quite as fun. The shifts and twists in the story come thick and fast, one after the other, information and exposition is vomited out at breakneck pace and it gets a little exhausting to keep up with – as a result the pacing is all over the shop. The compelling moments are indeed compelling, but there are some very boring chunks of episodes that could be excised entirely and see the show lose nothing for it. The final episode, in which Yuu is left to make a decision to take on an enormous task to protect the world, sees the series limp slowly to the finish line in what amounts to an episode-long montage before we finally get to the foregone final, somewhat bittersweet, scene.
In addition to the final episodes, this release also features an OVA episode in which the Student Council crew encounter a young girl with the power to involuntarily project the thoughts of those around her to others which has seen her rejected by friends and family. So Tomori and Yuu show her a fun day at an amusement park before confronting the root cause of the problem. A fun if meaningless side-story that could’ve been slotted in anywhere within the middle of the first volume episodes of the series.
All in all, Charlotte was a somewhat wild ride. It’s certainly unpredictable and I’ve only scratched the surface of what goes on in this volume here because, you know, spoilers and stuff. It’s an interesting, albeit muddled story with good characters and great artistic design marred by some significant pacing issues along the way. It’s not flawless by any means, but still well worth a watch.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.