English Title: Zero’s Familiar
Series: Zero no Tuskaima; Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi; Zero no Tsukaima: Princesse no Rondo; Zero no Tsukaima F
My Rating: 4 Stars
Content Rating: 17+ (fan service, sexual innuendos)
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Romance, Harem, Ecchi, Comedy
Meet Louise, a budding magician. The students at the Tristein Academy call her “Zero Louise”, due to her current record of zero successes with magic. In fact, her magic tends to go spectacularly wrong. Now, as an important test of her aptitude for magic, she must summon a familiar to be her servant. At this critical moment, she summons up all her magic and wishes for a familiar that is “devoted, beautiful and powerful”, and gets… Hiraga Saito, an ordinary Japanese boy. It’s difficult to say who is more surprised and dismayed, but the rules don’t allow for second attempts. Louise is stuck with her strange familiar, and he with her.
In a nutshell, Zero no Tsukaima is about a mage named Louise from a world separate from ours that accidentally summons a boy from Japan named Saito to be her familiar (supernatural entities that assist mages in their practice of magic). In the beginning, both are very mad about this, but as the show goes on, they fall in love, defeat diabolical bad guys, save the world, etc.
I know a lot of you probably don’t watch anime, so I’m going to give you a few simple definitions of the genre details I’m going to talk about in this review:
Ecchi: The word ‘ecchi’ has been adopted by fans of Japanese media to describe works with sexual overtones. Works described as ecchi do not show sexual intercourse.
Harem: characterized by a protagonist surrounded, usually amorously, by three or more members of the opposing sex and/or love interests.
I don’t like these two genres. If I see the words “harem” or “ecchi”, I usually stay away unless someone really recommends it. So I was really surprised when I liked Zero no Tsukaima. There were some episodes that I really disliked, but others (as with all of season 4), I loved. While Zero no Tsukaima has ecchi elements in it, it’s pretty tame. There’s no nudity where you see anything “important”, although some of the clothing leaves little to the imagination. Boobs are a common topic of conversation, since Louise is pretty flat and therefore gets mad whenever Saito looks at anyone else. There tends to be random groping for no reason except to seemingly make Louise mad and add conflict to their relationship. So I could have done without these elements, but for an ecchi, it was rather tame. As for the harem bits, because Louise and Saito’s relationship is so important, the harem was pretty irritating. There were plenty of moments where Louise would be like “I’m going to tell him how I feel”, and she would walk in on poor Saito being kissed by random girls and Louise would get all mad and beat him up. So that got exhausting. But that’s why I liked Season 4 best, because there’s a whole lot less of that. And a lot more of this:
There’s a lot of fighting in Zero no Tsukaima, a lot of magic, and far more serious moments than I was expecting. There are many noble people who make noble sacrifices (meaning, they give their life to save others), and I was not expecting so many to die. I especially wasn’t expecting so much romantic angst.
I was sort of expecting it to be very light the whole through (a lot of it is), but I was very pleased that the story was deeper than that. Especially that Saito and Louise’s relationship was so central to the plot and developed so much.
There’s a big cast of hilarious secondary characters, whom I came to appreciate more and more as the series went on. They provide a wealth of comedic relief, as well as strength in the more serious moments. The only characters I never really liked were the ones involved in the harem portions: Queen Henrietta, the maid Siesta, and the half-elf Tiffania. I wanted to like them, but they were just annoying. Henrietta got better in Season 4 because she was all warrior-queen with no time for romance, but Tiffa and Siesta were just always pretty irritating. I think this was mainly because their main purpose was to create conflict and tension for Saito and Louise.
There are a few episodes (namely the ends of seasons 2 and 4) that are full of feels (seriously though) and lots of fighting. The plot really revs up in these places.
This is a fun one, with lots of romance, lots of action, lots of humor, and with a lot of heart. I highly recommend it (as long as all the boob ridiculousness and the occasional sexual innuendo doesn’t offend you).