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.
“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.
Already no stranger to delving into the future, anime this season sees Production I.G. produce two forward looking series with Psycho-Pass, a mid-future cyber-noir and Robotics;Notes, a close-future hyper-commercialised world of robot fetishism. A1-Pictures meanwhile adapts the far future Shinsekai Yori (From the New World) novel into a series, followed by newcomer studio 8bit adding a TV series to Busou Shinki's already voluminous roster of media and merchandise. Finally there is the alternate history and fantasy-leaning K from GoHands, best known for their recently completed movie trilogy Mardock Scramble. All of them take a stab at a high-concept future but if the first three episodes are anything to go by, some are more successful than the others.
Psycho-Pass for instance takes the dystopian world of Philip K. Dick's Minority Report - where law enforcement is no longer a reactive element of government - while mixing in some of Brave New World's deliberations on a ruthlessly enforced gilded cage. It tackles the same ethical briar patch as Minority Report: whether it is just to pre-emptively arrest, or in this series' parlance "rehabilitate", someone based upon the prediction of a third party, in this case the omnipresent Sybil System. Human judgement is taken out of the equation with even the gloriously titled "Dominator" guns unable to fire without the system's say so.
So I made a quiz from the episodes I've seen. Despite not having seen it, there is a Who is Imouto (Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru) question in there but that one pretty much wrote itself.
Nostalgia for the carefree days of school is a staple of anime, the future was brighter when one didn't have to worry about careers or significant others or the multitude other thralls of adulthood. If this spring season of anime is anything to go by, it's also full of banal whinging.
Hyouka and Kids on the Slope kick this off with the protagonist of the former trapped in chronic apathy ("energy conservation" in his parlance, like a self-conscious battery) while the latter's Kaoru bemoans climbing a gnarly looking hill to get to school. Such hardships. The two series share a similar affection for oversaturated amber sunsets and a slow, measured pace; the polar opposite of A Summer Coloured Miracle which is all cerulean skies and the constant background cry of cicadas.