by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Charlotte (TV 2015) ?
So Yu is Jesus.
I'll give it to Charlotte: I did not predict where it was ultimately going at all. I was so fixated on Yu having to combat some sort of power-related hubris that I ignored another possibility – Christian allegory. I was not raised Christian and don't have an eye for biblical stories, so forgive me if this was made obvious earlier.
I've rarely seen “people-with-powers” shows treat the abilities like burdens, but those powers really don't seem to have upsides in Charlotte. Sure, the characters try to take advantage of their abilities, but they always fail. The first few episodes consist of our heroes foiling people who try to capitalize on their abilities. Ultimately, abilities only end up hurting their users by drawing the attention of evil people. In the language of this show's newly-discovered religious allegory, they are temptations – aka the inclination to sin. By plundering everyone's abilities, Yuu eliminates their capacity to sin (and attract danger) by taking them unto himself. That also means that everything depends on the strength of his personality. Will he be able to resist infinite temptations, or will he turn into some sort of depraved, destructive hydra? We won't find out until next episode, which will presumably take place when Yuu and Nao reunite a few years from now.
For now, let's start out with the linear plot. After the last episode's deadly climax, Yu wakes up in the hospital. He keeps going into shock, which keeps activating his collapse power, so he needs to be dosed with a sedative every time he wakes up. Despite that, he's doing alright. It's Shunsuke's friends who are messed up – Kumagami died, and they're taking it hard. Walk-through-walls guy is irrationally angry at Yu (as always), while Shunsuke has retreated into catatonic despair. Seeing his brother, Yu is reminded of himself after Ayumi's death. Knowing that he had a hand in it, Yu decides to somehow make up for Kumagami's loss in the organization. He speaks to Nao, who's nearly recovered after her own experience with torture. After everything that's happened, she proposes a plan to Yu – he should spend a few years wandering the Earth and trying to clear abilities from everyone he can. Most countries are filled with criminal syndicates that take advantage of ability wielders rather than protect them. Yu agrees, but he also wants Nao to know that he loves her, as he discovered last episode. Nao is resistant to the idea but doesn't reject him. Instead, she says that they can become an item when he comes back. In the end, she sees him off on his journey.
I'd like to know more about Nao. I don't want her to show an unexpected soft side or anything – I like her character a lot precisely because her demeanor is so different from what we usually get in female anime characters. Brusqueness is just her default mode, and Yu has to learn to work with that. Still, quite a few mysteries still surround her. Why was she letting bullies beat her up way back in the first few episodes? She seems to have a drive for self-punishment that's otherwise been left unexplored. Also, is the show just going to forget about her brother? Yu hasn't healed him in this timeline. Don't forget, Yu! (Or should I say, Maeda?)
With the Christ stuff in mind, this episode's first half makes a lot more sense. The penultimate episode seemed like a strange time to spend ten minutes talking about food, but then I realized that it was Maeda's rendition of the Last Supper. Yu is spending some final, intimate moments with his closest friends. Food has been a big part of his experiences with them, so these meals serve as capstones to those relationships. Takajou brings him what they cooked up during their camping trip, and their interaction is goofy and fun as always. Then comes Ayumi, who brings her trademark pizza omelet. While her role in the story is over, it's important to remember her significance at its start. Yusa/Misa's food scene is the most involved. This episode also serves as the culmination of their arc. At Yu's urging, Misa visits her parents one last time before Yusa loses her ability. Her parents recognize her, and they all come to terms with their loss. (This is also where the Last Supper is invoked in dialogue, although it's unfortunately mangled in translation. Yu witnesses all of this through a food tourism show hosted by Yusa, who is visiting her family's soba shop. The show is called “The Fair Supper” as some sort of pun on “The Last Supper.” The subtitles explain that “This is a show where celebrities introduce viewers to their favorite gourmet food. Which wouldn't be their last supper, but a supper fairly close to it.” Tell me if you can make heads or tails of that explanation, because I can't.) At the end of the episode, Yu begins his journey by taking the student council's abilities, severing Misa's ties to the world. Having made peace with her loved ones, she's content to pass on for real. She even wrote a goodbye letter to Yusa, who realizes only then that Misa was by her side all along.
While Charlotte is strongly evoking Christ imagery at this point, I don't think I'd call it a religious show. It's not actually concerned with God or the specifics of the Christian faith. It's just a secular story inspired by biblical tales about selfish people who are humbled and learn to live righteously. Mostly it borrows the recurring biblical motif of blindness signifying greater spiritual and moral awareness, as in the story of the apostle Paul among others. Both Shunsuke and Sara Shane lose their vision as the price for taking advantage of something that wasn't authentic to them. For Sara, it was the artificial lifestyle of a pop idol. For Shunsuke, it was overuse of his ability. Yu loses an eye to an ability user whose power is a blinding ray of light. This marks the end of his transformation from the self-involved prick we once knew to someone who will travel across the world saving people at the expense of his own life. Once again, this also comes off as Maeda's lighter, happier version of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Like Madoka, Yu takes it upon himself to ease the suffering of his fellow
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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