Episode 4

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Charlotte (TV 2015) ?

Jun Maeda likes baseball. He really, really wants you to know this. His fourth visual novel, Little Busters!, is structured around baseball, and he's worked scenes of baseball into Clannad After Story and Angel Beats!. It was likely that Charlotte would have a Baseball Episode, and lo, did Maeda deliver.

The Hoshinoumi Academy's student council goes after a telekinetic mutant, Arifumi, who is also a star baseball player. As a pitcher, he uses his telekinesis to effortlessly execute difficult pitches. (Nao uses her in-depth knowledge of pitching form to suss out Arifumi's mutant status via his mistakes. Because of course this story is dependent on baseball trivia.) When Nao tells him to cut it out or be vivisected by researchers, Arifumi challenges her to a baseball game. If she wins, he complies. If she loses, he keeps it up. They both cheat mercilessly, but Hoshinoumi Academy wins in the end. Arifumi reveals that he cheated for his best friend's sake, the team catcher who wanted to make it into the champion league. He's not too broken up about giving up his superpower though, and he happily returns to his teammates.

By not introducing any recurring characters, this episode becomes almost entirely a diversion. I can't say it was a bad one, though. The jokes were funny, and the student council's interpersonal dynamics are now fully established. Hopefully, this will segue into a larger plot. My worst fear for Charlotte is that it could turn into this season's Plastic Memories – a science fiction moé show that starts out strong but soon squanders its premise on rote anime sitcom antics.

At least Charlotte is already much funnier than Plastic Memories. As usual, the best jokes are at the expense of teleporter Takajou. He's tasked to run bases but ends up sweeping past them by 30 yards. It counts as “safe” though, because Nao captures high-speed footage of him brushing his hand against the base on the way there. Of course, to Nao's disinterest and my amusement, Takajou gets horribly injured. Yusa/Misa's alternating sweet idol/tough gangster routine is also surprisingly effective. Nao's harsh attitude makes the rest of their team feel bad, but they're promptly re-motivated by an encouraging dance from Yusa. Misa, meanwhile, is very athletic but held back by her sister's physique. It's dumb, but I like it for the same reasons I liked the comedy in Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign: teenagers being casually mean and stupid to each other is just funny to me.

There is one moment in this episode that seems important to the larger story. Nao asks Yuu to “test” something by possessing Arifumi. He does, but instead of the usual cut to Yuu inhabiting his mark's body, we skip forward five seconds to Yuu and Arifumi acting disoriented. Something strange seems to have happened when Yuu possessed Arifumi, but exactly what remains ambiguous. Maybe his power doesn't work on other mutants? Or it does, but they do something else? We'll see.

Despite the leisurely pace on this one, Charlotte hasn't struck out yet. I'll give this one a B (for baseball).

Grade: B

Charlotte is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Viewster.

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