Warning: This post will address some rather heinous real-world events. It’s a story that’s not for everyone so read at your own discretion. Also Spoilers for the midpoint of the Anime Charlotte.
I believe out of all the shows, and films I’ve covered this is the first to receive two completely separate posts. As we all expected that honor goes to Charlotte, because of course it does. I have a complicated relationship with this show. I think the OP and ED are fantastic bops, Nao Tomori is a best girl, and the artwork is remarkably gorgeous. Yet, it’s all in the service of an incredibly stupid plot.
I swear Charlotte feels like it’s written by a 12-year-old, I’d love to know what bozo wrote this. *checks* JUN MAEDA!?!?! Watch the brilliant mind behind Clannad and Angel Beats become a parody of himself. Characters having romantic feelings solely because of main character status, unnecessarily convoluted continuity, cramming a plot that doesn’t work in the span of the episode count, forced emotional moments that either have no baring on the continuity or only effect minor one-off characters. It’s every critique of the man’s work but amplified to 11.
The sad truth is Charlotte is a show that unabashedly jumps the shark. It jumps the shark I’d say 5 times. That’s where we get into today’s topic. Charlotte’s first jump the shark moment is something that comes out of left field and is kind of absurd. Spoilers for episode 6 of Charlotte.
Imagine needing a scenario to have a middle school girl getting overly anxious or scared and someone pitches you the idea of “about to get murdered by a middle school yandere girl”. You would look at this person like they were insane. However, there might be a dark story behind this scene, and it might be a ghoulish reference that proves that truth often can be stranger than fiction.
Ayumi’s Unfortunate Collapse
For proper context to this scene, here’s a quick breakdown. The main 4 are investigating Yu’s sister. After pinpointing her to be the one developing the powerful and dangerous “collapse” ability. Here the gang is thrown for a loop when Ayumi decides to go to school despite staying home sick earlier in the day. Once at school, Ayumi is politely approached by Oikawa. This is to the dismay of Konishi who has had a couple scenes foreshadow she has some interest in Oikawa.
Of course Konishi takes the most logical course of action and confronts the girl who her friend likes, with a box cutter. Cornered Ayumi loses control of her emotions and activates her collapse ability which is essentially a suicide move. The building collapses and the Ayumi meets an unexpecting demise…until she doesn’t but a story for another day.
Nevada-tan: The Unexpected Killer
To murder someone in cold blood is such an unthinkable act, that it’s hard to believe anyone is capable of it. However, the case of the Sasebo Slashing is going to test what comes to mind when you think of who’s capable of taking another life. Okubo Elementary school was the sight of a grizzly murder of one of their students. However, in this strange case not only was the victim a 12-year-old schoolgirl, but the perpetrator was none other than an 11-year-old classmate.
Girl A (Often referred to as for sake of anonymity at the time) would return to class after lunch hour covered in blood. Her teacher would eventually find one of her classmates, Satomi Mitarai dead with multiple cuts across her body. The police would eventually take the Girl A into custody, and she would spend a couple years in Tochigi Prefecture a reformatory center.
Similar to the case of Yuka Takaoka, Nevada-tan would live in a weird state of infamy. The nickname Nevada-tan coming from an alleged photo of the girl wearing a University of Nevada, Reno sweatshirt. A snappy name and iconic imagery, and bizarre circumstances was enough to gather enough attention and notoriety to gain sort of a cult status. You can see multiple fan-arts and cosplays of people showing an odd “fandom” to the morbid case.
Is Charlotte Referencing Nevada-tan?
While there is no definitive answer, there is some damning similarities to open up some speculation. For starters, both Ayumi and Konishi are listed as 12-years-old perfectly matching the case known for questioning the age of punishing criminal offenses in Japan. Konishi threatens Ayumi with a box-cutter which is exactly the same weapon Nevada-tan used.
Another interesting thing to consider is the etymology behind Konishi’s name. If you believe that writers put a lot of thought into the names of their characters than you might be surprised to learn that: The surname Konishi means “small” (小) (ko) and “west” (西) (nishi). This certainly could be a subtle nod to the case. I mean the two defining things about Nevada-tan is that she was a “small” killer and her apparel from the western world.
The most convincing evidence is the few images I was able to find of Okubo Elementary school, where the gruesome attack took place. I mean from the scene there is a lot of strange or unconventional things about the school and it’s local from my understanding. For instance, Tomori, Yu and the student council are all rushing there in what seems to be a heavily wooded area. One that matches the Wikipedia image of the school [see above].
Watching the scene, you might notice how oddly unconventional the architecture of the building is. The building almost entirely seems like it’s made of windows. With this other angle of the school, you can see that Okubo Elementary is remarkably similar, almost entirely made of windows and having beam like structures like the ones we see collapsing. Maybe it’s more likely that your elementary school is a heavily windowed building in the middle of the forest but if you were to model your scene based on this building, I feel like Charlotte would be doing a reasonable recreation.
Some Shadows of Doubt
All that said, a fun theory but maybe not a perfect one. Konishi is a yandere acting out in romantic jealousy, while Nevada-tan motives don’t match. Nevada-tan instead was allegedly hurt after some disparaging comments the girl made against her online and was someone overzealous in their interest in violent media like a Red Room game or the film Battle Royale. Still, I can’t help but feel that this wouldn’t be reason to dismiss the idea of inspiration. As this is a mostly irrelevant detail in terms of Charlotte’s larger plot, so it would make sense to lean into a familiar archetype so it doesn’t come across as jarring. The couple of scenes we get are enough to get the point across that Konishi is jealous of Ayumi. This also keeps Ayumi sympathetic, as it would seem unfitting for Ayumi to be making disparaging comments to a classmate.
The other big discrepancy is that Nevada-tan did her work in an isolated classroom and not a hallway. I feel like to better match this event, having Ayumi helplessly locked in a classroom would stir up some dramatic tension. Again, this is a minor decision that might have just been convenience for blocking the scene or creative deviances from the origin.
At the end of the day, without confirmation from someone involved in production I don’t think there’s enough to confirm or deny it. There’s some spooky similarities, but these could just be mere coincidences. A building that could very much be quite common in more obscure regions of Japan, and a boxcutter could just be the most believable murder weapon a kid could get their hands on at school. On the other hand, all differences can be chalked down to creative decisions to make it work within the story and not make it a blatant reference.
Feel free to speculate on your own, I just thought it was an interesting parallel between the scene and this incident. Nevada-tan is certainly a tragedy which I certainly discourage you from glorifying or making meme of. It truly was unfortunate incident and I hope the Satomi Mitarai’s family is doing well. The same goes to Nevada-tan, I hope she is also doing well. What you would hope is long history actually occurred in 2004, Nevada-tan is only a couple years older than I am and is roaming the streets now as a normal citizen.
You can find Nevada-tan’s real name and internet sleuths even have alleged photos of her living her life, doing the best she can to put her past behind her. I hope she does find a way to live a normal life or as normal as you can. Though it does serve as a haunting reminder that you never know what skeletons reside in someone’s closet.