Zero no TsukaimaSeptember 14, 2008 at 7:52 pm | Posted in Anime | 1 Comment
Tags: Anime, zero no tsukaima
When Geass takes too long to air…
Chris takes some desperate measures.
Zero no Tsukaima (lit. The Familiar of Zero) is a rather simple anime, delving into fantasy, romance, some drama, and a lot of comedy (which consists of 33% angry love, 33% funny faces, and 33% sexual references, 100% boob gags). As for it’s uniqueness… it’s extremely generic, and there really aren’t many surprises to worry about. However, for its style and genre, it does a great job nonetheless.
The story revolves around two main characters, Louise and Saito.
Louise the Zero
Louise is a young, budding magician growing up in a magic academy in the country of Tristain. Unfortunately, she is also known as Louise the Zero, due to her zero success with her spells. Despite her numerous failures and mishaps, the academy lets her stay, and she continues to attend. However, because of her being teased, she becomes very bitter, and expresses superiority in public, knowing full well of her failures. Little known to anybody at the academy (or herself), she wields an ancient, destructive power.
Each second year at the Tristain Academy is allowed to summon their familiar, a random creature meant to serve its respective magician for life. This annual summoning event takes place, and Saito’s story begins when it’s Louise’s turn to summon.
Saito Hiraga, your typical interdemensional schoolboy
Saito is an average boy from Tokyo, Japan. As he returns from having his laptop fixed, he steps into a strange portal that appears before him, and in an instant is transported to Louise’s world. When he arrives, the other classmates aren’t surprised that Louise the Zero has summoned something this odd (a commoner) as her familiar, and even Louise is taken by surprise. In disdain of her “failure”, she spends a good deal of the series treating Saito like a dog, but eventually, the two grow a relationship that becomes more than just magician and familiar. And another ancient power, Gandalfr, which allows Saito to use any item of war in maximum proficiency, resides in Saito when he and Louise seal their familiar contract.
Zero no Tsukaima: Season 1
Overall, the story for the first season traveled pretty smoothly. I wasn’t, by any means, impressed or surprised, but I was pleased with it. The first season basically covers the main idea of the Zero no Tsukaima story as a whole. The plot was simple yet fun, the characters were generic but fit their roles well to the very end, the animation fit the anime’s style well, the music and voice acting was satisfactory. Originally, Zero no Tsukaima was simply a departure from the hard plot twists of Code Geass and several other stories for me, but after the first episode, I was pleased and decided to see it to the end. I won’t say much about season 1, but I will say that it did its job well.
Zero no Tsukaima – Futatsuki no Kishi: Season 2
Sadomasochism at its best.
After the battle between Tristain and Albion, Saito begins to doubt his decision about abandoning his chance to return to Tokyo to protect Louise, but soon realizes he wouldn’t have it any other way. Because of the events between the two during the end of the last season, Louise warms up to Saito and chooses to be rather caring towards him, but maintains her role as his master. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s become a kind-hearted angel, as she remains easily angered (usually fueled by Saito eyeing other girls) and hostile enough to use her “magic” to explode Saito at any place and any time.
However, beneath all of the amusement and love, Reconqusta still strives to control the world, and Louise, a user of the mysterious void magic, is in danger.
Geez, just tap it and get it over with.
A part of the story’s plot is Louise trying to win Saito over the other girls, but what she doesn’t realize is that the poor familiar would give a lot for her; including his own life. I understand the whole Tsundere attitude is part of Louise, but it kind of annoys me to still see Saito misunderstood and mistreated, despite Louise harboring deep feelings for him. However, I can get how she gets angered, as Saito does a lot of unfaithful things with other girls behind Louise’s back, both accidental and purposeful. And speaking of Saito, I dislike how his character is degraded to a simple pervert. (spoilers begin) On the other hand, there are times where his chivalry and care for Louise shine through, especially at the end, where he sacrifices his life to allow her to live. On Louise’s part, her love for her familiar is put to the max, and she goes absolutely batshit nuts when she realizes what Saito did.
Another thing I absolutely hated about season 2 actually ties in with Louise’s treatment of Saito and Saito’s degraded character. Him being revived and saved by the forest elf (Tiffania) seemed too deus ex machina, I thought, but oh well. Louise and Saito are reunited in a loving embrace and… stupid Saito talks about the elf’s breasts and bitchy Louise starts blowing him up again. It disappointed me a lot, considering how dramatic and depressing Saito’s death was, and how enlightening their reunion COULD’VE been. I mean, after all of the character development building up in 12 episodes (they even got MARRIED), we get another total reset, and we’re reintroduced to the Saito and Louise we saw at the beginning of season 2. However, other than the resets, the development of Louise, Saito, and several other characters (particularly Tabitha) was well progressed, and the incredible last episode (not including the last minute) gave me just enough motivation to enter season 3 with a little hope for the series. (spoilers end)
“All men die someday. Might as well do it right.”
Story: The story kind of departs from its original intention from season 1, but the love story between Saito and Louise is amusing to watch. There’s also Tabitha and Agnes’ side stories, which brought a little more life and interest to the plot. The war between Albion and Tristain was also a pleasant addition, and added a lot of serious business to this otherwise comedic series. The ending battle was surprisingly touching, and for me, it’s always good to have a few parts in an anime that makes you want to crawl into fetal position and just say “OMG” over and over. Apart from that, the VERY end was rather sloppy, and I can’t really overlook that gigantic reset in character developments. 6/10
Characters: Futatsuki no Kishi does some things right and some things wrong with the ZNT characters. Louise’s tsundere-ness is still kind of cute, but I’ll give a bit more praise when she learns to stop complaining about everything. Saito is, unfortunately, degraded to a generic pervert. Siesta is now a whore, ’nuff said. Tabitha, once a Yuki/Rei-like shell of mysterious silence, now has a little bit of a backstory, which is good. Kirche hasn’t changed much, and neither has Montmonrency. Guiche, however, is slightly more likeable, and also makes a respectable comedy relief character. The new main characters, Julio and Agnes, are quite interesting, especially with Agnes angsty emotions about past tragedies. Louise’s sisters are introduced, but I don’t have much to say other than the fact Eleanor is a scary demon creature spawned from the flames of hell. The antagonists are still mysterious, and beyond what they are doing, their backgrounds are completely unexplored. 6/10
Music: The opening song, I Say Yes by Ichiko, is actually quite good, and easily beats the first season OP (by Ichiko again) by a mile. As for the ending song, let’s just say I’m not a Rie Kugimiya fan. She does a great job voicing Louise, but I simply don’t like her songs much. However, again, the ending is better than the previous season, and the video is actually kind of amusing. For the orchestral tracks, the music remains pretty solid as it did from the last season. A favorite track of mine is the I Say Yes instrumental, aptly named the “wedding version”, which plays during the wedding and ending battle scene. 7/10
Animation: Animation is probably a bit smoother this time around, and as with the first season, the style matches the anime well. This time, they went a bit more mature with their scenes, and the ending battle presented some pretty graphic blood and gore on Saito’s part. In my opinion, however, this isn’t a bad thing, and I prefer that Zero no Tsukaima takes a more grown up plot along with maintaining its comedic nature. 7.5/10
Zero no Tsukaima – Princesses no Rondo: Season 3
This series is still running, so I won’t rate it as I did with the second season. I’d like to say that the story has overall made improvements, especially in the character department. First and foremost, Saito is must less pervy, and shows strong devotion to Louise, despite all of the attractive women from the past seasons still around him. Louise is still tsundere, as expected, and still remains rather bitchy about Saito and other girls, but we’re a bit past the middle of the season, and Louise is actively trying hard to place trust in Saito. Their relationship is also more obvious, and they seem quite open to each other about their feelings now, despite the fact that their general attitude, as the story demands, stays the same.
Saito is also now a noble, by Henrietta’s decree. However, despite the fact he’s technically side by side with Louise in terms of social rank, he still decides to continue serving as her familiar. Along with this, his title of Chivalier has also inspired Guiche to make a little group dedicated to serving under Saito (many of the girls in the academy demean it as “play knight”).
Frankly, I’d want to keep those babies if I were Louise… =|
As for fanservice, there’s plenty. Almost too much, really. However, the producers warned us that season 3 would focus on “love and ero”, so I guess it’s expected. This is also good news in my ear, as it implies there will be another season after this one. I mean, who ends a series like this in just “love and ero”? Also, a fourth season would complete an even 50 episode series. Hopefully, it’ll make a great series out of ZNT.
The opening is by Ichiko again, and likewise, the ending by Rie Kugimiya. The opening is okay, though I still prefer season 2. I somewhat dislike the ending, but it still does a decent job, and I don’t really watch past the end of the episode anyway.
Let’s just say I’ll be on the wagon for this series because I’m already too far into it anyway. That and I’m pretty much in it for the lulz. Let’s see how awesome/shitty it turns out. So I’ll be with it, through the good and bad, and just hope all the elements I dislike will be eventually resolved before the end. I’d like to also say, so far so good. I don’t usually get this interested by a story like Zero no Tsukaima’s, so props on wringing in a mecha/shoujo fan. It’s also a pretty nice type of harem anime in my opinion; the type where the guy’s choice is obvious and the other girls are just there to complicate everything. It’s a nice change from the Kallen vs. C.C. vs. Rivalz argument from the Code Geass interwebzverse.
And there’s my first actual anime review. As for the future, I’ll be sure to review Code Geass R2 when it’s finished in two weeks, and I might cover the rest of Zero no Tsukaima and Gundam 00 season 2 as they come out, episode by episode.