Did I say this show outright collapsed before? This week it went one step further, the best animated example of ‘that escalated quickly’ yet.
The imouto is dead, ladies and gentlemen. Cross one box off on your Maeda bingo scorecards.
Let’s first give credit to the invisible star of this episode, Tomori. An inversion of the fade-out sequence at the end of this week’s Gakkou Gurashi!, and with the opposite effect, the moment we saw her having been by Yuu every step of the way took my breath away through just how much it displayed Tomori’s strange kind of love (did anyone else realise the salad was her gift?). We’d forgotten about her ourselves, being fully in the mind of Yuu who became an isolated wreck. Tomori let Yuu bring himself to the brink on purpose – we know she’s used to, and knows how to use, dangerous situations. Yuu’s spiral into self-destruction was actually part of her way of salvation, and it brought back everything I’ve loved about her so far. Uncomfortable methods, sure, but she’s fantastic at getting things on the right path.
But wow, what a spiral it was. Compare Yuu’s abuse of his powers to the power-a-week format’s espers of previous episodes and you start to think twice about how much you wanted Yuu’s ‘asshole’ side from episode one to return – the violence he dished out, purely, it seemed, for thrills in his otherwise destitute life (did he even feel anything while watching one of Maeda’s classics?), was fantastically heart-wrenching to watch. Likewise, his response to the death of a family member was vastly different and inferior to Tomori’s, who has been acting all this time spurred on by the example of her brother. It took Yuu this episode to fully accept her death, as all those grieving must eventually do, but will he be able to use the death of his sister as motivation? This is one thing right now that he clearly lacks – something, I’m sure, that Tomori can fill in for him.
The return of Shirayanagi – another person who helped us into the mind of Yuu, who had also forgotten her as we might have too – was surprising to say the least. Here was the world he’d left behind, the world he’d mistreated, coming back and lovingly offering aid to him. but was Yuu’s reaction justified? I’m not actually sure – how would you feel if a girl who rejected you in your strength only came to you when you were torn down? Yuu is hardly the person who wants to be nursed – he gets other people to help him with his ability, or he does things himself.
Tomori was successful where Shirayanagi failed because she manipulated Yuu into helping himself, reviving his connection to Ayumi through the pizza sauce that we always knew was her lifeblood, but moreover through his own volition to keep eating it. It took me a while to realise that this episode, among other priorities, showed us plainly how much of a better match Tomori is to Yuu than Shirayanagi. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the latter girl, but she belongs to a world that Yuu is no longer part of, and can’t connect to Yuu’s struggles like Tomori can. I’m looking forward to them becoming closer and closer, regardless of how romantic or romanceless it gets. The time they spend together is always mesmerizing meaningful.
Maybe it’s also worth mentioning how much Yuu reflected Tomori as he went on his rampage. His deadpan expressions at the injuries of others mimicked her to a pretty strong extent, which made me realise just how much of a destroying angel Tomori could have become if she had turned the horrors of her past into anger and hatred of the world. It’s yet another thing that makes them feel like such a unit, emphasized even more by how superficial Takajou’s adoration of Yusarin is and how out-of-place their comedy seemed this week. Some people thought that tonal shift was jarring, but I don’t think they were supposed to lighten the mood; we were supposed to feel like their comedy had no place in Yuu’s imouto-less world.
But what next? I’m sure Yuu’s thoughts on how he wasn’t able to repay Ayumi will be integral to what follows his return to the Student Council, as will the idea of time being able to heal wounds (but not all of them – and who even was that woman?). If reading too much into the OP is telling us anything, Time Leap is the last ability we’ll get to see, and I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the orange-haired girl we caught glimpses of last week may have the key to undoing the waking nightmare that Yuu now finds himself in.
These last two episodes have made me feel like anything could happen in the next week, cliché as that sounds. Charlotte has the scope to fill much more than it’s allowed to, which I’m sure will lead to cries of ‘it should have been 2-cour’ from a number of viewers. But since one of the show’s themes is how pubescent experiences will come, have their drama and go, I’m sure Jun Maeda will be using the show’s brevity, like he did in Angel Beats!, to great effect.
Do I want answers to previous mysteries, or even more questions? Both, I guess, and I know Maeda can make both rain down in buckets.