[Spoilers for ZnT Season 1]
First, the basics: if you've seen the first Zero no Tsukaima series (as you should, if you're watching Futatsuki no Kishi), you know what to expect for both animation and sound. The animation is cute and pretty fluid without being too detailed - pretty easy on the eyes. I saw not a single difference from Season 1, and that's hardly a bad thing. Same goes for the sound, as many of the background tracks were pulled directly from the original. I don't aim to knock it for that, though - the tracks were very fitting, and gave many scenes some very welcome extra emotional weight. I highly enjoyed the new OP; it was nothing special, but fit the tone well, and was catchy without being overly saccharine. Superior to the original OP. On the other hand, the ED...oh, what were you thinking, J.C. Staff?! Don't get me wrong, I loved the Season 1 ED, in all it's mildly obnoxious glory. This one, at least to me, was beyond redemption, especially when it absolutely shattered the powerful mood created in some of the later episodes (a lá Clannad After Story). Voice acting continues to be great: I can do nothing but love Kugimiya Rei's tsundere growls. With that out of the way, onto the meat of this review: Story and Characters.
[Before I start, keep in mind this is my first review. I usually don't write them because I feel that my thoughts about a series after I finish tend to be along the lines of "GWAHAHAHA SO GOOOOOD-", and the world doesn't need to hear my fanboy ranting. In this case, though, having finished Futatsuki no Kishi minutes ago, we're gonna try this. Here goes.]
I absolutely adored the first Zero no Tsukaima series, and not in cynical sense, either. It was simple and predictable (even for someone like myself who finds himself surprised at the most simple of plots), but it had an undeniable charm to it that drew me in episode after episode. The one aspect that stuck out to me most was Saito himself - a male lead in a romantic comedy who really earns his admiration, and doesn't just awkwardly have it thrust upon him. He was a relentlessly fun character to watch and relate to as he struggled to find his place in the world entrenched in old customs that he's been thrown into.
So, Futatsuki no Kishi started on a rather bad note for me.
To be frank, Saito is a different person in this series. His personality seems almost fragmented, as if a wily and horribly perverted demon has invaded his mind, and takes control every so often. We still see glimpses of the boy that stood up to snobby aristocrats simply because you don't f-ck with Saito, but just as often, we have to painfully watch him drool over every remotely pretty girl he sees, implying that much of the relationship we saw develop with Louise has been lost in translation. Thankfully, this becomes less noticable as the series progresses.
Disregarding Saito's ogling tendencies, the story here is pretty fantastic. It's still ZnT, so you'll be getting romantic comedy with some action thrown in for good measure - however, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of genuine emotion created in a great deal of the 12 episodes. Episode 9, in particular, is magnificent - I would go so far as to call a masterpiece within a work of lesser overall quality. If you have any doubts about this series, I recommend that you watch it for that very reason. I am equal parts ashamed and myself and proud of the series to be able to say that Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi brought more than a few glorious, manly tears to my eyes. It's still a predictable tale, but much less so than the original, and it certainly goes to darker territory, and for that, I applaud the writers. However, Futatsuki no Kishi reminded me once again that it's very hard to do an ending right all the way through. The majority of the final episode is remarkably good, and definitely the high point of the series aside from the previously mentioned ep 9. At the same time, while I don't want to spoil anything, I will say that if deus ex machina isn't your thing, you will be disappointed. To top it off, the overarching plot has no conclusion to speak of (lucky us, though, there is yet another sequel out with now another currently airing, so this complaint carries less weight in 2012!)
The characters themselves are a mixed bag. You already know how I feel about Saito: he suffers when compared to the first series, but still has his share of great moments. Fellow students Kirche, Montmorency, Tabitha and Guiche have faded (even further?) into the background. Poor Tabitha, I think I could count on one hand how many words she said in the whole series...okay, maybe two hands. However, Princess Henrietta comes into her own as a character, as well as another familiar face from the original who turns out a surprising and stunningly powerful performance. New-comers Agnes and Julio both prove entertaining and endearing, especially the former, who impressed me quite a bit, after giving a poor first impression in early episodes.
Overall, Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi is an incredibly imperfect series that could have been truly wonderful, given a few changes. Regardless, if you enjoyed the first series, you will find plenty to love here - the difference is that while the original maintained a consistent level of "pleasant and endearing", the sequel bounces between awesome and unfortunate. Indeed, the story has moments of true greatness, but the moral here is this, J.C. Staff: NEVER change the personality of a great character for the sole purpose of adding fan-service. It's doing more harm than good.
[Well, I hope that wasn't too painful, being a first review and all. Hopefully it was informative, and maybe even entertaining! Cheers - Squatso]
Ok this is the second season in the series that I absolutly love. I think the same about this as I did the first series to be quite honest. To save yourself some time go and read my review on the first season of this anime.
Now to point out the differences in this season:
There was one annoying point in this series that wasn't true in the first season. Seito becomes a lot more of a letch in this season. He is checking out all the chicks and getting himself into hot water with Louis. This is the reason that I actually marked this Story as a 9. He is suddenly out of character from the first season. The story in the first half of this season seemed a little slow, but the second half definatly picks up there. DEFINATLY worth checking out if you enjoyed the first season.. If you didn't then go back and watch season 1 again.
Same outcome with the first season review. The story animation and characters agian were well thought out.
Well, I suppose it's inevitable that Futatsuki no Kishi, being a second season of Zero no Tsukaima, will be compared to the first in one way or another, especially since it's pointless to watch one without another, but I'll try to appraise its own merits as well.
First of all, as implied by the ending of the first season, FnK is a direct continuation of the story. Several new characters are introduced almost immediately, and, while I don't have anything against them, I'd like to point out that they (Agnes, particularly) take up quite an amount of screen time with their own subplots, leaving less for the overall story. However, that isn't dragged out for too long, keeping overall length of a show in mind. What comes as a good refreshment is some noticeable advance in Saito and Louise's relationship, during which several important questions are raised and decisions made. I won't elaborate to avoid spoiling.
Animation is done on a fairly high level, although it's not anything outstanding: characters are still undetailed and talk out one side of their face when shown in side view; many scenes lack smoothness — just like previously, all in all. Some scenes, particularly those of burning villages, are pretty nicely done. HD in this case is barely worth it, but on the other hand, lack of detail helps keeping the file size low (useless info for keepers).
Sound work doesn't differ from the first season at all, most themes are the same. They are fine, but still nothing really outstanding, memorable, or really touching. New opening and ending are somewhat enjoyable, definitely more so than those of the first season, IMO.
Characters… First of all, the previously known Academy residents (Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche, etc.) have much less screen time. Not sure if it's good or not; I'd certainly like to see them some more. New characters are more-or-less fine, although I can't help but think that some of them are of untraditional sexual orientation or otherwise odd. Siesta is still there, being apparently dumber than previously. Yes, everything for the sake of fan service. *sigh*
On the matter of fan service: what is particularly annoying about FnK is that the it has increased in quantity, but definitely not in quality. Saito's obsession over boobs might be funny, but it seems as if the screenplay writers put him in ecchi situations purposefully, without much concern for whether it makes sense in the story or not. You might even not notice it until the last episode, but there it will come screaming in your face regardless. Then again, the ending is rather ridiculous, anyway; seems like we'll have another bunch of weirdo newcomers in season 3. :D
All in all, with the 2nd season ZnT keeps being a good addition to your collection as long as you like harem and/or fantasy comedies, with a questionable amount of hit-and-miss fan service. Some will laugh, some might even cry, overall I think the 2nd season is almost as enjoyable as the first, barring the certain cheesiness. However, it might leave something to be desired when it comes to the story progression, so I sincerely hope they won't drag it out for too long. Any further decrease in pace coupled with further increase in fan service can easily ruin the show.
It both got better and got worse. Somewhere, there’s a physics law that was just broken. Right here, there is an anime fan that was broken.
Futatsuki no Kishi—translated as Knight of the Twin Moons—is the follow-up to the first season of Zero no Tsukaima. Like its source material, it picks up soon after Saito has refused a chance to return to his world to save his tsundere master Louise from certain death and partially revolves around the what now? aspect such a choice leaves him in. Considering the nature of the first arc, the story really could have ended there, and so the fact that we are shown characters dealing with the consequences of their actions, the story of Futatsuki no Kishi could have been a masterstroke in exploration and adventure. Unfortunately, Saito is too happy to leer at boobs to follow through.
Whereas the first season of the show is fairly standard plot fare—special powers, love-or-hate relationships, agonized heroic decision—the second season had a great opportunity to take the story in new directions. Instead, everything it does do right is overshadowed by the emphasis on fanservice and perversion. While at no point in the first season does Saito seem overtly distracted by the female of his species—no more than any teenage boy would be, at least—here he seems to try too hard to go out of his way to comment, leer, drool, and make a fool out of himself over women while constantly evoking Louise’s ire. If you watch Futatsuki no Kishi right after finishing the first season, this drastic change in characterization is even more noticeable.
The only saving grace is that the characterization is not the only noticeable change in the series. Animation to an already well-done show only improved. As per its origin materials, characters who only had brief background appearances now come to the forefront and steal the show. Pacifist teacher Colbert and witch-princess Henrietta completely upstage the central cast of the first season, while newcomer Agnes gets in her digs as well. Two out of these three fare decently in the show, though unfortunately what was deep and meaningful character development in the novels is reduced to a focus on, well, the royal tracts of land, if you take my meaning. You’ll know the scene the moment it crops up.
Ultimately, the problem is simply in the direction the show went. The source material itself, while it has these issues, is overshadowed by the actual depth and exciting adventures the characters undertake. The anime tried too hard to overcome its lukewarm response to the first season by overemphasizing the ecchi moments in the show to appeal to its primary audience. Had it stayed true to its origins, it might have done so naturally, organically. Instead, it tries too hard and falls all the more for it.