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 Anime Review (FULL) : The Familiar of Zero

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PostSubject: Anime Review (FULL) : The Familiar of Zero   Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:40 pm

Hey guys, Necro here back with another anime review. Looking back on my reviews, I noticed all of them had only 1 season to them. So I had the idea to do this next review for an anime with multiple seasons. In this case, I plan to do The Familiar of Zero, a very amazing anime created by the late Noboru Yamaguchi. As such I will only be briefly going over the main plot points of each season. Please note that there will be spoilers for certain aspects and events I will be going over so if you do not wish to be spoiled, do not worry as they will be going in spoiler tabs. With that said, let's begin.





Overall Plot: Set in the imaginary land of Halkeginia, The Familiar of Zero is centered on a Japanese boy named Saito and how he was summoned to Halkeginia by a young aristocratic wizard in training named Louise, to be her familiar. Saito then sets his goal to try to get back home to Japan in season 1 while adjusting to his new surrounds, new friends, and dealing as the familiar of Louise the Zero. After season 1, many more journeys are done: such as facing mad tyrants, going undercover to expose corruption, and other subplots to follow.

When I first saw this anime, I was honestly surprised. I thought that it would be one of those crappy and cheesy anime of gaining a harem. But this series is different as they teach the magical world of the modern world's ideals and this world teaches Saito the reverse. I really enjoyed this series and its unique sense of humor; coming mostly from Saito and how he does not understand this world and its random hints of how both worlds are connected, such as an all powerful spellbook in one episode turns out to in reality be an old Japanese Playboy Magazine and when "The Staff of Destruction" that fuels a few episodes of season 1 is revealed to be in reality a rocket launcher.

So many scenes in this series were enjoyable to me that I cannot really go over it now but I may make a few references to them along this review. The only real sad part is the stipulations of this series, but I'll go over that more so in the final thoughts. One aspect I find interesting about this series are its characters, which I will go over now.

Main Characters:

Hiraga Saito - Our main character and the titular "Familiar of Zero". Saito is a young Japanese teen who was summoned by Louise when she performed the summon familiar spell. After sealing the contract of the familiar, Saito became the reincarnation of an ancient familiar named Gandalfr (God's Left Hand). The seal of Gandalfr gives Saito the power to touch any practical weapon and instantly learn how to function with it like a pro. He typically wears the same clothes he wore when summoned; that being a blue, loose, long-sleeved jacket-like top with a raised collar over his short-sleeve white t-shirt. He also wears a pair of black jeans partnered with some blue and white sneakers.

In the 4 seasons of this series, I personally feel Saito shines best in seasons 2 and 4. In season 1, he is just there and he is getting use to the show and his situation with Louise. In season 2 though, he is more fleshed out as he faces the aftermath of season 1 with a full on war against the country of Albion. As he and Louise are sent on quests and tasks for Queen Henrietta, Saito develops throughout it all; especially after Mr. Colbert's Confession.

I will go more in depth on this confession when I talk about Colbert, but for those who do not want a spoiler to a subplot, the general lesson is how Colbert does not want his students to experience murder and to never be use to killing, especially with this war coming to their kingdom. This lesson affects Saito hard as we get into my favorite moment of his in season 2: The battle versus the 70,000. For my thoughts on that, look down below

SPOILER:
 

Saito's main partner through this series besides Louise is his trusty sword Derflinger. Derf is probably one of my favorite speaking characters as his personality in the situations he gets in with Saito and Louise are comedy gold. As an example from SDA, imagine Slots from the Spirit Force RP. Derf is also humble as he is like Saito's friend through this journey and helps him in many moments of the series in combat and in advice on how to treat Louise as he is new to a relationship. Probably one of my favorite moments from Derf is in season 3 when Louise uses a magnifying glass to see what Saito did last night and Derf tells him to run saying how that is an object of mass destruction to Saito's manhood. I was nearly on the floor laughing at that joke and that is what made Derf one of my favs in this series.

Saito is portrayed in the dub by Johnathan Meza and in the sub by Satoshi Hino. The role of Saito is Meza's most famous role. He has been in other shows but he is mostly known as Saito and as a host of AnimeTV. Meza does a good job of this role in the dub of season 1. Hino however is a different beast. Working on anime and shows such as YGO GX, Zexal, Accel World, Naruto, and even the Future Cardfight Buddy series. Altogether Hino has some real talent on him and I suggest looking him up for what else he subbed.

Louise de La Vallière - Louise is a unique character indeed. She is typically seen as an annoying character by a lot of the community and even took the number 1 spot on Anime America's Top 10 Annoying characters in Anime list . However to be perfectly honest, I had not many real problems with her or her personality. Here let me explain:

Louise de La Vallière is the youngest of 3 daughters of the Vallière family of Nobles. Her oldest sister Eléonore, the middle sister Cattleya, and then her. Louise is mocked at home and school. At her house, she is embarrassed by Eléonore who constantly reminds her how she is going to a magic school when she could not perform magic correctly. Same for school with some of her classmates. She has been called Louise the Zero by a lot of people at school and built a wall of trying to prove herself worthy of her title and of being a mage. That is until she summons Saito to be her familiar. She gets a little more mocked and even treats Saito pretty much like a dog and punishes him with the main running gag of this anime; a riding crop Louise uses on Saito when circumstance put him as a pervert. So much have I see Louise attacked for her treatment of Saito in the comments and how many comments want Saito to either stage a revolt against the nobles or get with one of the other girls. Sure she may show off the fact she is from a noble family too much, but Saito acts as her counter balance and helps her realize her place in this world.

Such as in a scene from season 1 where Louise is scared she might die in a battle against a thief and their giant golem, but she will not choke down her pride of being from a noble family and risks dying in battle because of pride and how she wants recognition for her accomplishments that no one seems to give her. In response, Saito walks up and slaps her, making her realize she should not be focusing on her pride and should focus on living instead.

Now on the magic aspect, why can't she use magic in the beginning? Well I mentioned it prior, but Louise is one of few mages in this world who use a forbidden and ancient 5th magic form simply called Void. She unlocks this magic at the end of season 1 and it fuels a lot of the plot points in the later seasons, such as the big conclusion plot point of season 4. Her Void magic ranges from creating gateways between worlds, causing a massive explosion that vaporizes practically anything it hits, enchanting items with a spell to break spell shields, and much more. Louise pulls it to great effect in the series by saving Saito and others multiple times. However she still needs some protection has the Void Magic takes longer to chant than normal magic.

Louise's best moments typically involve her either thinking over the situations in her head about Saito or dealing with a situation that puts her nobility to the test. Some of my favorite moments include when she confronts the Queen Henrietta about circumstances or squares off against Siesta the Maid for Saito. One moment in particular that made me laugh at the riding crop gag is when she is smacking Saito all night with it for what appeared to be him about to kiss the queen and then the next morning, the captain of the Musketeer Force walks in to see Louise with part of her clothes off and a fainted Saito with multiple smack marks on his body. I only laugh cause of how unexpected that was for me.

Another fun scene involving Louise is Saito's Confession in season 2, which if you want my thoughts on that, look down below for the Spoiler.

SPOILER:
 

Louise is all around just a unique character and I only wish people to eventually stop and realize a lot of her smacking moments are slapstick comedy and all the points I bring up. Louise is voiced by Cristina Vee in the Dub and by Rie Kugimiya in the sub. Besides Louise, Vee is known for such roles as Mana Itosu in Accel World, Rikura from Bleach, Morgiana from Magi: The Labyrinth of Mystery, and Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon. Kugimiya is known for such roles as Alphonse Elric in FMA, Happy from Fairy Tail, Mizore from Rosario + Vampire, and Taiga Aisaka from Toradora!. Kugimiya has many more roles, but I'll leave that to you guys to find out.

Side Characters:

Siesta the Maid - Siesta is a maid who works at the academy and is one of the girls fighting for Saito's affections. Siesta is said to have been inspired to continue thanks to Saito and that is the reason why she has a crush on him among other reasons such as helping her when she was bought by an aristocrat and Saito helps her out. Siesta is mostly comic relief and her humor mainly comes from her moments when she clashes against Louise for Saito. It is revealed near the end of season 1 that she is descended from a Japanese WW2 pilot who got trapped in this world.

Siesta is voiced by Xanthe Hyunh in the dub and Yui Horie in the sub. Hyunh is known for her roles as Saichi from SAO, Ui Hisahara from K-On!, and ofc Siesta. Horie is known for roles like Carla in Fairy Tail, Tohru Honda in Fruits Basket, Riki Naoe from the Little Busters franchise, and Minori from Toradora! Without a doubt a lot of talent there.

Tiffania Westwood -
Tiffania aka Tiffa is a half-elf girl who was born of a female elf and of the king of a nation. Tiffa was introduced in a hint in the end of season 2 as being the fairy girl who revived Saito after his battle against the 70,000. Tiffa is fully introduced though in season 3 and plays a crucial role later down the line, mainly in season 4. He main gags when she is introduced is how many of the characters are wondering if her breasts are even natural because of how giant they are. Like Louise, Tiffa is revealed to be a mage capable of using Void magic and one of her main spells is called Oblivion, which is a mind wipe spell. Her parts when she first arrives at the academy are interesting as she is mostly scared of if she gets revealed to be an elf.

In this world, Elves and Human are in a struggle against each other because the god the humans worship is the devil god to the elves. As such, elves and humans are both treated as savages by their opposing sides. Even when later in an episode of season 3, there is a big fuss when Tiffa, sick of hiding who she is, reveals her pointy ears in class and causes a big fuss where a small female basically tries to put Tiffa on trial and a fight between Saito and his Undine Knights vs the little girl's personal knights ending in Louise coming in to reveal the truth that she never had the documents to put Tiffa on trial and Tiffa comforts her when she cries, revealing not all elves are savages and bringing peace to the school.

In season 4, Tiffa tries using the summon familiar spell only to have Saito come out the other end so Tiffa brushes it off as a mistake. After a circumstance when Tiffa and Saito are captured by elves and they share a kiss, it turns out Saito is not only the familiar of God's Left Hand, Gandalfr, but also the familiar called God's Heart, Lifdrasir. With the powers of Lifdrasir, Saito is then able to be turned into a fuel source to increase the power of Louise and Tiffa's Void Spells, however this drains his life energy. This fuels Louise's giant decision in the near end of season 4.

Probably one of my favorite moments with Tiffa was the whole trial scene and when she is first introduced as Louise and Siesta's reactions are hilarious. Tiffa is voiced in the sub by Mamiko Noto. Noto's most well known roles are Rin from Inuyasha, Satellizer L. Bridget from Freezing, Oshizu in To Love Ru, and Kotomi Ichinose from Clannad.

Julio Chesaré - Julio Chesaré is a dragon knight from the country of Romalia. He is introduced in season 2 kind of as a foil for Saito to face. They get a big encounter when Julio bets a kiss from Louise as the prize and Louise does not want Julio to die to Saito using the powers of Gandalfr so she forbids him from using any practical weapons. We then get some action and his moment from season 2's finale was actually really awesome to see. Then the reveal of his true goals come from season 4 when it is revealed he is actually Windalfr or God's Right Hand, a familiar to the Pope of Romalia. Also the Pope is revealed to be a void mage. Julio has control over wild creatures using the powers of Windalfr about the same as Saito's control over weapons with Gandalfr. He is also an expect swordsman and can go toe to toe with Saito and even win, but he loses on purpose to toy with Saito on occasion.

In the sub, Julio is portrayed by actor Daisuke Hirakawa who was the voice of Sora in Naruto Shippuden, Charlie McCoy (The User of N7: Lucky Straight) in YGO Zexal, Rei Ryugazaki from Free! Eternal Summer and Makoto Ino from School Days

Tabitha - Tabitha aka Charlotte Hélène d'Orléans is one of the original mages Saito encounters in season 1 and has the most relevance in seasons 3 and 4. Born of a king who was in a battle with his brother over the throne, Charlotte had to witness the death of her father by conspiracy and then the poisoning of her own mother, who took a drink laced with an insanity potion meant for her and drank it. After these events, no one dared mess with her family but the haters of her still sent her off to do tasks thought to be impossible, hoping she would die in them. When she kept coming back alive, she was knighted and she went to study at the Magic Academy where she goes by Tabitha as it was the name of the doll her mother got for her when she was young.

Tabitha is a mostly silent character but she knows how to properly rationalize the situations at hand. It is when season 3 comes along that she becomes a central plot point as she is called a traitor to Tristan after she is hired to distract Saito and left with the opposition. She then is seen resting in a tower and reading a book next to her mother who she was told would be cured of her insanity if she continued this work. Eventually Saito and company manage to save them both and Tabitha gets a potion from an elf man that cures her mother. She then takes the crown as ruler of Gallia in season 4 after Joseph dies. She is seen a lot of the time with Saito and it is implied she actually likes him as well. Even saying bluntly to Louise that if she does not get Saito, then Tabitha will.

In the dub, Tabitha is portrayed by Jennifer Alyx and in the sub by Yuka Inokuchi. Alyx is most known for roles in 5 Centimeters per Second, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanaho, and Wing Commander Saga. Inokuchi however has had roles in Dragon Crisis!, Night Head Genesis, and Negima!?

Agnès Chevalier de Milan - Agnès Chevalier de Milan is the captain of the Tristain Royal Musketeer Force and a main character for most of season 2 and occasionally shows up in the other seasons. Her scenes in season 2 mainly focus on her personal quest to find the captain of a government squad that burned down her village and left her not only an orphan but the sole survivor. She goes back and forth in a lot of the season from reading books to finding the man to called the order of the attack and eventually found the man, but for spoiler's sake I will not go over who he is.

Agnes also occasionally shows up to assist Saito and Louise though she is mostly resorted to a driver of their carriage a couple of times. She is a big fan of swords and even trained Saito so as he does not need to rely on the powers of Gandalfr in his fight with Julio and in season 3 after he loses the seal of Gandalfr. She was also suspected by Siesta to be a lesbian after hearing a rumor to which Louise remembers from an earlier episode when to cover up the fact they were ease dropping Agnes silenced her with a kiss. Also one of my favorite moments from her is in season 3, but if you have not seen it I will not spoil it here.

Agnes is voiced my Michiko Neya in the sub. Neya is most well known for roles such as Riza Hawkeye in FMA, Arachne in Soul Eater, and Hungary in Hetalia: Axis Powers

Jean Colbert - Jean Colbert is one of the Teachers of the Magic Academy and one of my favorite teacher characters in anime history. His personality is laid back and kind hearted to his students, especially in season 2.

He helps Saito by being one of the first people to fully believe him about Japan and even says how much he envies Saito's world of peace and technology. Even inspiring him to build a large scale airship for seasons 3 and 4. He is a pretty honorable man who is not the biggest fan of war and battles, even voicing his opinions load and clear when the Musketeer Force Captain Agnes takes the girls out of his class for training in case Albion staged an attack on the academy. Now the true question though is how did he get this way? That is where another of my favorite scenes from season 2 comes in: Colbert's Confession of Sin. (Look down below if you wish to be spoiled.)

SPOILER:
 

Colbert is voiced in the dub by Kaiji Tang and by Takuma Suzuki in the sub. Tang is most well known for roles as the Blue King and Orange Avatar from Accel World, Kouen Ren in Magi, Dr. Becker in Monster, and even doing the voice for Derflinger in Familiar of Zero. Suzuki is also pretty popular as he has done roles in One Piece, Inuyasha, Digimon, and HxH

Queen Henrietta - Henrietta is the queen of the kingdom of Tristain and an old childhood friend of Louise. She is a pretty likable character in the series as she makes tough choices that are difficult for many rulers who declare more for peace, such as going to war. Henrietta is also a part in the big Love Pentagon that Saito is in mostly after episode 2 of season 2 and beyond that. Henrietta was to marry Prince Wales of Albion but he was murdered in season 1 and her grief is shown mainly in that episode of season 2.

In season 3 when the Selpnir Ball is occurring and people are disguised as other people, she disguises as Louise as she admires her strength in choice and she eventually confesses to Saito and she tries to kiss him when the real Louise comes disguised as her older sister Cattleya. The next day after Saito saves her from an attack, Louise appears before Henrietta and after Henrietta apologizes to Lousie for the incident, Louise slaps her for trying to steal her familiar and said that if the queen wished to try and get between them, she better have the resolve to do so, a clear reference to season 2 with her inner grief over Prince Wales. Henrietta was surprised by Louise's vehemence but understood.

In season 4 after a situation causes Louise, Tabitha, and Siesta to bunk together and Saito to sleep in the basement, he finds a secret passageway into a room with a mirror that connects to Henrietta's room and Henrietta ends up in the secret room and they talk about how she must be married to tie over political situations and how Saito is the only one to see her not for political reasons and as a person. They share a kiss and Louise witnesses it and that fuels more development for the final season.

Henrietta is voiced by Ayako Kawasumi who did many roles in anime, games, and J-Pop songs. Some of her most know works in anime were D.Grey Man, Pandora Hearts, To-Love Ru, A Certain Magical Index, and Fairy Tail.

Backgrounds and Music

The imagery in this series is really good especially with the use of magic. Like Fairy Tail, this series has a high budget on its special effects and uses of magic. Scenes involving Louise's Void magic and the effect of Saito's attacks with Derf bring heavy atmosphere to them as well as the other magics like Fire, Ice, Earth, etc... Probably one aspect of this world I love it the dual moons. Also the scenes of Saito using technology from his world with the power of Gandalfr, like the rocket launcher bit, are some of the best in this series as you can see the gears turning as he sees what he thinks to do.

The Music is also great in this show. All 4 seasons have their main themes done by Ichiko and they are all unique and awesome. As such I will be adding links to the OPs so you can all have a taste of these songs.

Season 1's theme, First Kiss, is an energized piece that get you hyped as it goes over the character one by one with a setting of their their element, home, or some clipse from the show and then goes into a giant battle as most anime intros do. All the while the lyrics translate to a story of a boy and a girl as they meet for the first time and share their bond with a kiss which mimics Familiar of Zero to a tee.

For season 2, the song I Say Yes plays and it is also a good song. Starting more mystical than First Kiss, I Say Yes goes for a slightly more techno beat while still keeping its magical charm all while we get scenes to build upon the main plot point of season 2, the war versus Albion. ALso a funny scene of Louise and Saito sharing a kiss and then they are being watched by Tabitha, Julio, and 2 other main stay characters. Louise's reaction is funny and we get our gag of the crop again.

In season 3, Ichiko brings us the song You're The One. Generally called the fan favorite Opening and song, You're The One brings us a more adventurous tone as we start it with a shot of Saito walking with Derf, scenes of him and Louise kissing, and an introduction to new character Tiffa. Also just like the other 2 OPs, we get another running gag this time at the hands of Tabitha. The Energized tone of this intro song jacks up many people to get ready for a wild adventure in this magical world.

Finally is Season 4's Intro, I'll Be There For You. Starting a rocking guitar strum and Ichiko namedropping the title, this grandious song gives us high flying action with a dragon and our main characters introduced like season 1. And then shots of new characters and old characters. And then a grand fight against a group of Mercs. All ending in a shot of Saito and Louise sharing a kiss and their new flying ship flying off with a rainbow arc in the corner. This intro is attached to the one season though that a majority of people say is meh at best, which is a crying shame.

Final Thoughts

It really is a crying shame. The original creator of this really great anime series passing away pretty much messed up any chance this had to grow even more as I am certain you can catch on by my hints, only season 1 is dubbed while 2, 3, and 4, remain subbed. It seems like hardly anyone wishes to touch this show anymore after the creator passed away. Though for what we have, I am glad he made it. This anime brought me so many joys watching through it with minor annoyances. The magic is great, the characters were fun to experience and the ending is a pretty satisfying ending for all the main players. In general, I cannot recommend this anime more. Give it a watch to make your own thoughts.
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