Episode 2 of Charlotte gives us more insight into these adolescents with special abilities. We find that the entire school in which Yu is now enrolled is comprised of students with special abilities or with the potential to become mutants. It’s like a Japanese version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
We also discover that like in X-Men, the school is not only necessary for the students’ emotional well-being, but to keep them safe. Government scientists want to experiments on these kids (reminiscent of Zankyou no Terror), and began such experimentation with Nao’s own brother. They want to learn from and use these children because they’re not just humans – they’re something more.
The way the scientists are presented as so cold and morally bankrupt made me wonder if Japanese audiences are more likely to accept them as the enemy than American audiences are. We have our own series with such scientists, but they are often shown as the exception, where Charlotte seems to indicate they are the rule. Maybe this is because of the experimentation done by Japanese scientists during World War II, and especially by their allies, the Nazis, led by Josef Mengele. Maybe Japanese audiences more readily accept the possibility that human hearts are full of deviation.The evil of humanity is extended to the regular students as well. The student that Yu helps his cohorts corner (did they get him to go to the school as well?) literally tries to put an arrow right through Nao’s head. Pretty despicable, no matter his motivations. And to a lesser extent, Yu isn’t exactly morally upright either, as Nao is quick to remind him (again, despite his family circumstances).
Indeed, Nao stands apart from the other characters mentioned in the episode. Like Yu and Udoh, her family was in a difficult financial situation, but she responded differently, by doing something about it to help others rather than focusing on only herself and her immediate family. We also hear of Nao’s benefactor, who has gone to great personal expense to help Nao.
And ultimately, we’re left with this image – Nao is more than human not because she has an unusual power, but because she does what others will not; she will put herself at great personal peril to help those who don’t deserve it, and even further, those that would fight her and try to kill her. Underneath a quirky exterior and sometimes cold facade, Nao is what they are not and what we all too often are not – a beacon of love, a sacrificing spirit, who truly does what most of us might like to do: she loves others more than she loves herself.