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.
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.
Accel World owes a lot to Serial Experiments Lain. The script may not be penned by Chiaki J. Konaka and has yet to deal with digital deities but a great many of this new series' ideas can be traced back to it.
Of all the franchises that crave another series - Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex, Stellvia of the Universe (well kind of), Moyashimon (wait...) - Eureka Seven was not one of them. The hugely influential original series was Studio Bones firing on all cylinders. A tour de force of storytelling, boundless imagination, confident execution, and most critically a satisfying and conclusive ending. Say what you will about the pacing (soccer episode anyone?), it still stands as one of the best anime series ever made.
Eureka Seven Astral Ocean has a lot to live up to and does itself no favours by starting very similarly to Xam'd of the Lost Memories - an idyllic island community is attacked with terrifying force by an alien aggressor while an aged doctor tries to help. It's certainly a lot more coherent than Xam'd and has echoes Eureka Seven's original opening with the humanoid robot Nirvash careening into the Thurston's garage roof.