In every story, it is a wonderful to discover that you are special- be the ability to use magic, or talk to animals – is held in high esteem, especially upon discovery. There is a reason why, after all who doesn’t want to leave the world of limitation and cardboard that is reality?
Who doesn’t want to be special?
Yet, as with the law of Equivalent Exchange, one will have to pay the price of becoming special. The world is strange, the normal wants to be special while the special desires the mundane. In both media and young adult literature have the problem of often misses the tug and pull between the two. How can you appeal to the desire to be special with the hardships a youth faces from being special?
Charlotte is a show about teenagers with powers. Like it predecessors, these powers are in the form of blessing and curses. However, the show adds a few twists to its characters.
First, the powers come with a specific restrictions or rules unlike their complete counterparts in other fantasy shows. Yuu Otosaka can possess others, but only for five seconds. Nao Tomori can become invisible, but only to one person at a time. Joujirou Takajou can teleport, but can’t control where he stops.
The important part is the powers come with puberty and disappear with it.
As any teenager knows, puberty is a difficult time, with mode swings, raging hormones and identity crisis. Adding weird powers to the mix, makes learning to live and accepting one- self that much harder.
However, Charlotte doesn’t stop there. It adds serious repercussions for the special kids who are caught by scientists and subsequently turned into human lab rats.
Here’s where it becomes impossible to ignore the pedigree of Charlotte. The series’ writer, Jun Maeda, is infamously known for co-founding Key/Visual Arts and penning many of the company’s visual novels – Air, Kanon, Clannad, and Little Busters among others – along with the more recent Angel Beats!. All of these aforementioned series dabble in the melodramatic and the supernatural, often leading to the lead character’s, or one of the heroines’, untimely demise. One comes to anticipate death in Maeda’s works more often than not, to the point where they’re expected catalysts for the player character or protagonist. Naturally, for some viewers, this causes death to lose its dramatic weight.
Angel Beats! took a slightly different tack, placing its characters in the afterlife already. There, the concern became disappearing or passing on from the limbo-like setting. Much like previous Key works, there is a distinct lack of adults, leaving the adolescents to figure things out on their own without guidance. Charlotte takes this a step further, making all known adult authority figures the enemy: potential agents of scientists that would ruin the teens’ lives.
This effectively makes the world of Charlotte, especially the supernatural school that Yuu, Nao, and others attend, one isolated from adults. Whenever a new talent is discovered, it’s all up to the kids to suss out who it is and convince them of their impending plight. There are silly moments, and the teens of Charlotte are conveniently allowed to run free – as of the series’ third episode – allowing the supernatural elements of the series to both shine and take a backseat when necessary.