Fellow Beneath the Tangles writer, Kaze, and I share many things in common, but one always immediately comes to mind: We are both hopelessly critical of what we consume. I think nothing illustrates this more clearly recently than the general reception of Charlotte. I think I can say with relative certainty, albeit having not consulted Kaze before penning this article, that the two of us are unabashed Visual Art’s Key and, by extension, Jun Maeda (the primary writer of the studio) fans. This studio is responsible for bringing some of the world’s best visual novels to us, such as Little Busters! and Rewrite, as well as some of the most well-received anime, like Clannad (a visual novel adaptation) and Angel Beats. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a new original anime (Charlotte) from the esteemed Jun Maeda had us, or at least me, chugging steadily along on the hype train up until it began this summer.
Expectations were high.
And from this point, while I think the two of use more or less agree, I can only confidently speak for myself. And I have been grossly disappointed.
However, while much of the conflict I feel with Charlotte is internal and framed around my high expectations, I find that much of the remaining conflict I feel stems not entirely from the inside, but from profound differences in judgment between myself and the Internet population at large.* It feels that for every negative reaction I feel, be it an undeveloped cast, horrendous directorial timing, and plot points that seem to rise and fall willy-nilly, I can find many directly opposing views. Even our own founder and editor, Charles/TWWK, seems to have a much more positive opinion of the series than I do in his episode-by-episode series.
But the point of this article is not to make the case that Charlotte is not as good as it’s cracked up to be. I’ve noticed something much more important than what score is appropriate for an anime. I’ve noticed just how it feels to disagree so fundamentally with a large group of people on something you feel passionate about.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I currently (though not for much longer) have the privilege of attending Liberty University (the version of me from just a few years ago would be surprised to read that statement!). And if you have been keeping up with American politics recently, you’ve probably seen the influx of articles and Facebook trends on LU’s recent convocation speaker: Bernie Sanders.
As the “evangelical stronghold” of Christian academia, Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic presidential candidate front-runner and self-identified democratic socialist, is far from the first public speaker one would assume to see at Liberty. While a seemingly upright figure and honest, down-to-earth politician who fights for morality, his views sharply diverge from the popular conservatism on key issues like gay marriage, abortion, welfare, and the degree of free market capitalism to be desired. If you would like to see his speech, check it out here:
It was a wonderful speech, regardless of whether or not you agree with his views (“In my view!”). But I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve brought up Bernie Sanders, a topic perhaps as far away from a new anime as possible. And this is where it connects:
While most students seemed to be either dreading Bernie Sanders’ impending arrival, or maybe felt indifferent, I was excited. More than excited, even. It was my most anticipated convocation of the year (and we have these things three times a week!). While I still don’t agree with all of his views, I was excited for something different. Something that Christians who can easily retract into their own world don’t normally see, or expose themselves to. And after Bernie Sanders finished, I felt content.
But just as I feel in the minority in regard to Charlotte, I was also in the minority at LU.** But you know what? That’s okay. And that’s what I want to leave you with this week.
I often feel as though I’m put in this precarious position where it’s easy to be pushed into angry, spoon-throwing, shouting matches (that’s right, I throw spoons when I’m angry!). I want to respect the people around me, but I feel so strongly about a topic upon which we disagree that it’s hard. But just as Charles wrote this week in regard to gender dysphoria, that is no excuse to show a lack of love. Whether it’s something as insignificant as a difference of opinion on anime (inconsequential), or something debatably more important like politics (consquential because of the effect of government on many), exhibiting difference is fine, but realize that those people with whom you disagree are no less human and no less deserving of your love and respect (and, similarly, no less broken and undeserving of love and respect).
As Bernie Sanders said, and Jesus long before, treat others the way you want to be treated.
*To be fair, I think some large Internet communities, like Reddit, are beginning to judge Charlotte in a negative light as well.
**Don’t get me wrong. The students were respectful, and, in fact, I’m very proud of how respectful the student body was to someone with whom they so starkly disagreed. But the fact remains that they were not excited.