Charlotte Blu-ray Vol. 1 review

By Xchel Nakamura

Science mixed in with some cute factor. This could be how most people describe the anime series, Charlotte. But for some of us, it offers a little more than just crazy, funny and cute characters: while some of us may look at Charlotte as a basic run-of-the-mill slice-of-life anime, looking at this anime and its plot, one might have a different opinion and really get into the universe that is Charlotte. Created by Jun Maeda, some of his notable work include “Angel Beats”, “Kanon” and “Little Busters!”, just to name a few. This is a 2-disk Blu-ray set containing episodes 1-7.

Story

Its premise is based around a comet named Charlotte. It comes once every couple hundred years. This comet leaves certain type of space residue (or dust as I like to call it) and gives some humans special abilities. We are introduced to a young student by the name of Yuu Otosaka. He seems like your ordinary student, but he possesses the ability to transfer his soul or spirit into someone for a brief period of time (or more precisely, 5 seconds). Once Yuu discovers what he can do, he takes advantage of it and uses his ability to get into the most prestigious of schools. He is accused of cheating and at this point, he tries to use his power to cheat again, but he is caught and we are introduced to the remainder of the students.

Nao Tomori, the student council president, has the ability to turn invisible. While that sounds cool, the drawback is she could only do it for 1 target. In other words, she is invisible only to the person she chooses. The other people around her can see her clear as day. Then we get to meet the rest of the student council. Jōjirō Takajō is a member of the council. He is the comedy relief of the bunch. Witty and smart, his ability is to run at very fast speeds. Only thing is that he cannot control where he stops. As a result, he has multiple trips to the hospital for most of his injuries. Good thing is that he has a armor body suit to protect him (most of the time). He is also a fanboy of a certain “idol” which happens to be in the same student council: Yusa Kurobane (Yusa Nishimori), a pretty straight forward pop idol, is part of the group “How-Low-Hello”. She is very sweet and nice. What makes her different is that she has the ability to channel the deceased as a medium. So, with that being said, there is one other person who’s part of the group: Misa Kurobane. She is the older sister of Yusa and died 6 months before the story began. She pops up when ever she likes using her little sister as a vessel through her special ability as a medium. Even though she is a spirit, she has an ability of her own. Her special ability is pyrokinesis, the power to manipulate fire (which is scary in its own right).

As the series goes on, the goal of the student council is to make sure that students with these special abilities are protected from being captured and used for scientific experiments. Nao Tomori, along with the rest of the council, advised each and every of them to either stop using their powers or face the fact that will suffer at the hands of the people who perform the cruel acts of experimentation on them. It is later found out that her own brother suffered that cruel fate and became a mute of sorts. His ability was to manipulate airways and the scientists took advantage of that. Once they were done with him, they put him in the hospital. The main reason why Tomori wants to locate people with these special abilities is so they don’t suffer the same fate as her brother.

Now while this anime may have its lighthearted moments, it has some dark themes to it as well, which gives it a good mix of humor and drama. It has a similar feel to other works by Jun Maeda. Honestly, it’s a good palate cleanser as it gives this series a bit of life with the type of anime it is. Most of time, you feel as if you are watching a slice-of-life anime. But, it has its serious moments mixed in later into the series, including a pretty powerful moment where we see Yuu see his life change drastcially on more than one occasion. Instances like this felt less empathetic because there are minor characters (who play a major part in the plot) that did not get enough screen time. Maybe it was done on purpose to give some mystery on what their roles portray in the future episodes.

Story: 3.5/5 Atoms

NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

Audio and Video

This is a set of 2 Blu-ray discs and it contains episodes 1-7. This also contains dual audio (Japanese and English) and dual subtitles (English and Spanish). It is nice to get to listen to both language voice talents in an anime as it truly makes you appreciate all the work that goes into anime (in my opinion). Both the dubbing and subbing of this series sound very crisp and clear. Besides these extras, there are textless endings along with web previews. Along with these great features, it’s audio and video are really quite amazing. It has another great feature: an exclusive interview with the creators of the series, “Destiny”. It contains an inside look at this anime from the creative perspective and a more in-depth look at Charlotte.

It’s presented in 16:9 HD widescreen format which makes for a great viewing experience. It looks crisp and well put together. The main thing that makes this series great is the way the animation pans out during some fight scenes and where Jōjirō Takajō crashes into walls and how he uses his ability. The slow motion moments that we see are clear and fun to watch. The color scheme in this series is a mixture of soft and hard colors, which is easy on the eyes and makes the scenery around the anime look crisp and very well detailed. If you are watching this in a dark room, there is no need to turn on the brightness on your TV for this reason. The great video quality on this Blu-Ray won’t make you want to mess with any of your TV settings. However, it could have improved on the some of the more somber moments in this anime: not too much attention was put to the way you see a character from different angles. It was sometimes hard to tell if a character was smiling or not. Overall, the audio and video was quite a pleasant viewing experience, despite a few hiccups.

Audio/Video: 4/5 atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

Packaging & Extras

IMG_5493

This sets packaging is actually quite well done. It has a great artwork by the original character designer, Na-Ga. His work has been featured in “Little Busters!”, “Angel Beats”, & “Kud Wafter”. His work is very unique and at the same time very easy to identify. During his career, he worked on 2 visual novels: “Hakanai Omoi: Anemone” and “Sweet Days”. Inside of the packaging, we get another treat: the case cover illustration done by Kanami Sekiguchi. Her work includes many of the anime that we know and love today. She has been an animator and a character designer for “Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Hikaru no Go”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex/Solid State Society”, among many others. This brings together a great collaboration of two talented artists. It adds an artistic feel to this already excellent Blu-ray. It also comes with 4 collectible pin up cards. This includes Yusa and Misa Kurobane, Yuu and Ayumi Otosaka and the lead singer of ZHIEND, Sala Shane.

Packaging & Extras: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B

Final Reaction

Charlotte brings something a little bit different to the table. When it was released, people initially thought it was your typical slice-of-life anime. They assumed it didn’t offer much in the way of a story and it was bland. After watching all seven episodes, this anime offers more than that: it has a light side through all the humor and some heavy themes through some of the deaths. Some anime out there don’t offer both. It could have been a little better by introducing more character development as this would be very useful just to find out more about each character and what struggles they have had to endure with these abilities. But in the end it of it all, this is an anime that people out there can give it a chance and enjoy the adventures of this super-enhanced student council.

Vol. 1 retails for $74.98 on Rightstuf.com for seven episodes. It is not that bad of a price, especially for what you are getting in this Blu-ray. There a lot of neat extras. From the exclusive interview to the pin-up cards and dual audio, this is an anime worth getting and watching.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

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