I will never be ready to talk at any great length about rape. Although I'm aware of, though not familiar with, the physical and emotional damage it leaves in its wake, there is nothing of value I can add to any discussion of it. This didn't seem to stop the first three episodes of BTOOOM! (three o's) though which handles the past and present sexual assault of one of its main characters with all the deftness and sensitivity of throwing a rotten watermelon against a cinder block wall.
Once upon a time there was a girl who had lost her father. Her sister and mother were very upset, but this little girl didn't cry, she refused to believe her father had died. This little girl was Rikka, and she wielded the Wicked Eye: able to summon tremendous dark power; and though she had many minions, her greatest ally was the mysterious Dark Flame Master.
But the Dark Flame Master's powers waned with age and it was up to her Wicked Eye and her devoted minion, Dekomori, to try and save their once great ally and discover the Ethereal Horizon where Rikka's father now resided. There were pretenders, trials and tribulations along the way, and at one point the Wicked Eye lost its vigour all together, but eventually, she prevailed and built a great dark kingdom with her allies.
“A four episode taste test? And for a last season series? I haven't been this disappointed in you since that lazy two episode taste test for Katanagatari! UNFOLLOWED.” It breaks the mould yes but not without some cajoling. In reality though this is a traditional three episode taste test because the first episode is diametrically different, to the point that it feels like its from a different series, to the subsequent three.
Raucous, racy and disappointingly trashy, the first episode of Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo (The Pet Girl of Sakura Dormitory) will likely affirm any preconceived ideas you had about a series about an autistic girl and the word “pet” in the title. You'd nod sagely and stroke your beard, perhaps letting out a disparaging “Oh Japan”. But then the next episode is surprisingly affecting. It's still got a perpetual do-gooder as a protagonist (“He rescues cats! Awww”) but behind the shiny pastel coating is a rare and deft touch.
Steins;Gate is a story of a broken, haunted man. It's not about time-travel as any summary of the plot would imply, that's just a vehicle for asking the question at its heart: how far would you go to save the ones you love? This isn't some tag-line stolen from the latest silver-screen offering from Hollywood but a measure of what is perhaps one of the most potently affecting and consistently brilliant series of recent memory.
Eleven episodes in and you may be unconvinced as events have progressed in a solid if humdrum fashion. Lanky protagonist Rintarou is at first intensely difficult to like with his moronic fixation on being a "mad scientist" and frequent soliloquies about a shadowy "Organisation" stalking him from the shadows. Megalomania, check. But as he begins to gather females ("lab assistants") quicker than a trainer does Pokemon the banter between him, teen prodigy Makise, eternal do-gooder Mayuri and rotund hacker Taru begins to take on an endearing, familial tone.