[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]
Allright. It's been a while since I've done something like this so bear with me as I try to find my way again.I did quite a lot of them in the past on a different website which you can find here: http://legendsofsatura.net/index.php/forum125/6-reviewing-guild.html
....They probably aren't very good though but please do stop by if you have the time and inclination. Originally the site was for writers, mostly original but also fanfiction.
Also I'm Dutch so there will be spelling errors. If you find them annoying give me a shout and I'll try to fix them.
Oh, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there will be some. Usually the worse I rate an anime the more spoilers this will contain. You have been warned
So, you have probably already read what the animation is about in the discription given by Anime-Planet, which is the same as on the box. I will therefore try not go into the story that much unless I'm ranting about something (spoilers).
ART: ...Meh. I suppose that this is the best I can do for the art as it made zero (<-- pun intended) impression on me. It is not bad but nothing special either and gets the job done so ....yay?
SOUND: I could very simply refer to the text I wrote in the art section. It is not bad and that is about all I can positively say about it.
Voice actors are the same as the first season so there is that going for the anime. They do their best with the material given but that isn't all that much.
CHARCTERS: Main characters are Louise and her familiar Saito. Their relationship is essentially the same as that from the first season. They feel for each other but every time it comes up something happens or they change the subject. Louise is still the useless mage that blows stuff up but as the only void magic user she is very valuable to her kingdom. Saito has been blessed with the ability to use any weapon created and become an instant master simply by holding it. As such he is not just her familiar but also her protector. Unfortunately he has a habit of looking at other women a little to much and often gets punished for it.
Henriette is now the queen and as such tasked to lead the country. Unfortunately for her the shadow of war looms heavy over the country. She wishes nothing more than to maintain the peace but may not get the chance.
STORY: I really dislike anime such as these since it excells in maintaining the status quo. In this I mean the situation between Louise and Saito. Although they clearly care for each other their relationship keeps going nowhere. Saito keeps leering at other women and Louise keeps catching him at it. She throws a fit and blows him up with magic or punishes him in some other way. This is supposed to be funny but, as the viewer, you know they love each other and as such it becomes very annoying very fast. Especially when it gets used against them later in the series and yes, there will be spoilers.
Minor annoyence is about Henriette. In the first episode she is crowned queen and the people cheer and party. SO WHY IS SHE CALLED PRINCESS THROUGHOUT THE SHOW?! Seriously call the woman queen because she simply is just that. It is not wrongly translated either as I know enough Japanese to know that Hime means princess. Why keep calling her princess when she is the queen?
More problems I had with the war plot in the anime. Henriette is very against starting a war and is pretty adamant in her views. She clearly states multiple times that she does not wish to start a war unless she absolutely has to. Yet during one meeting she changes her mind in about 2 minutes and declares war.
All the forced stuff between Saito and Louise gets old very fast. With forced stuff I mean the ways Saito strays and Louise punishes him for it. This shit starts in the very first episode when Louise gives Saito a pair of glasses. These glasses glow up whenever he looks at another woman and feels arroused by this. Since Saito is portraied as a healthy young male this means that he is arroused by rock shaped like a woman and Louise goes mental on him every single time.
Another one that truly pissed me off was in the family mansion of Louise where Saito goes looking for her. In the anime he walks through a long hallway with multiple identical doors lining the wall on either side. After walking past a few of them he looks at one and decides that this is the door to Louises' room. Why he thinks this is so I do not know as the doors are not marked in any way and they all look the same. Of course it is the door to one of her older sisters and he gets beat up not only by her but later Louise as well. This was supposed to be funny.
As the war continues on we see Saito who has no interest in fighting the war because he knows how destructive they can versus Louise who is honor bound to do her best for queen and country. This is a major plot point as it shows the difference between the 2 and it becomes a major argument between them. Saito does not understand why Louise is willing to sacrifice herself and she does not understand why Saito is so against it. This is bullshit as Saito is Japanese and Japanese history is filled with this shit. He may not agree with it but he should at least understand it. So instead of having these powerful dramatic moments between the main characters you get this and it is just plain stupid and annoying.
They marry in the end. Yep, Saito and Louise decide to get married. This is because Louise just accepted a suicide mission and wishes to follow her heart before she dies. Saito has more or less the same idea as he plans to take her place and send her off instead. Well what do you know.... something that the chatacters do that actually makes sense. So what is the problem? The problem is that during the ceremony they both have these flowers. The flowers are magic and they will reflect on how the other is doing regardless on where they are in the world. This is important and pulled straight from the anime. I did not make this up in any way.
So Saito dies in the finl battle shown by his flower dying and seeing Saito on the battlefield as massive amounts of fire is launched at him as he lies completely spend on the ground. This fucker is well and truly dead.... or is he?
As Louise grieves with her dead flower she suddenly becomes aware that it starts to bloom again. She rushes out and sees Saito walking towards her. Yay!
Saito tells her this weird story in that he was saved by a fairy and this actually made me laugh as another character was saved by her previously and nobody believed him. So to have Saito just come out with the sory like that was comedic gold and I loved it. So what about the flower then? It was dead and so was Saito but it should have revived the second Saito was or rather it should never have died in the first place since Saito never died to begin with.
He states in his story that he was saved by the fairy and NURSED back to health. So he was alive and in her care for quite a while so why was the flower dead? Why did the flower revive when Saito was just outside the Academy and not before when his wounds were healed? Remember that it was clearly stated by the characters in the anime that the flower could sense the condition of their person no matter where they were. Do you see my problem with this scene?
The ending of the series is pure sequal bait so don't expect any resolution happening.
EDIT: I forgot one point regarding Saito and his ability to weild any weapon he holds. At some point he is ordered to train with the other students and Saito mentiones that his ability only works with real weapons. This point is stressed in the anime as important but it also opens up a interesting discussion. Just what is a real weapon?
In the anime he uses a practice sword that, although perfectly resembles an actual sword, is made out of wood and his power does not activate. However, wood or not and blunted, in the hands of a master even that can do some real damage and even kill so why is it not classified as a weapon? Is it because it was not created as a weapon but an instrument of training?
Using that logic lets look around and see what there is to be found. A baseball bat is not designed as a weapon so does not qualify as such yet if you will ever be chased by someone wielding it you will most definitely run for your life. So when does something become a weapon?
If I go into the woods and pick up a thick branch this is not a weapon. I can bash someones head in with it but it is not a weapon. So what happens if I use a knive and file a sharp point at the end of said stick. Is it a weapon now? Because I essentially just made a spear... or a plactice sword maybe?
A mentioned before in the anime Saito spars with a wooden sword that looks exactly like a real one. This includes a pointy end that is more than capable of skewering an unlucky opponent. So again, why is this not a real weapon?
It may be a small matter but as you can tell it really bugged me.
OK, I didn't particularly like the first season of Zero no Tsukaima, but on the other hand I didn't particularly like Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi either. There is no depth nor intelligence to anything in the series, the tsundere thing is overplayed, the harem theme is stupid, and somehow, it manages to make the school life thing even less interesting than last season. Oh, and now the person in a strange land thing isn't true anymore. But the artwork is sharper, so there's that.
While the story has lost what little originality it had in the first season, it makes up for it with more humor. And more fan service. Fan service with better animation too. There isn't much to say about Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi that hasn't been said about the first season beyond that. Oh, the ending theme is a lot better.
Instead of going on, I'll just get to the point: if you liked the first season, you'll adore the second. If, like me, you thought the first season is a waste of time, then Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi is doubly so. And yet, the humor still works. So as far as ways to waste time, you could do worse.
The Genres of this anime or season are; : Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi,
Fantasy, Magic, Romance, School life and of course Harem!
Now that is a lot of genres. and usually I dislike having many genres in an anime
especially because it confuses me quite often, its understandable for animes
which have a lot of episodes like Naruto. But for a 12 episode anime to fit
this much in one season its really hard to do, or better yet, its hard
to make it work well. But despite all that this anime did a really good job.
Next im going to be talking about the soundtracks and the music,
Im not sure about all of you, But this is something for me that is really
important in any anime. If the music is not good and cant suit a certain
mood, I probably wont watch the anime, Unless the story has me blown away.
Music is what adds emotions to not only animes but also movies,
This anime did a very good job on soundtracks and how they used them
So in the field of Soundtracks and Music I give this anime a 9/10
The reason why I didn't give it a 10 is because my mind functions a little
different and I think other instruments could have been used. I will show
you guys an example of what I mean by that. So I will take a soundtrack
that is the same piece, but is played with a different tempo and different
instrument, Some of you might know this soundtrack.
Here is the First Sound track:
And Here is the Second:
So I hope you understood what I meant by that. Moving on.
Next is my perspective on art.
The artwork on this anime was all too good, It could have been better,
But in my opinion it could have ruined some parts in this anime, so staying
in between cartoon and a little more than mid realistic was a good choice
so Artwork gets a 10/10
Next I want to mention the characters. While watching this anime
I felt like there are a few characters that should not have been added.
or at least should have had a different attitude to what they have.
But progressing further into the anime, I did not feel this way any more,
mainly because I got used to it, and also because I started thinking that
this anime would be a little suckish if they were not there.
Characters get 9/10
Next will be the enjoyment:
I feel that this is an anime that anyone will enjoy, while watching this anime
I did not once look away to play with my rubix cube, or start kinda drawing
on my desk or the nearest piece of paper like I would usually do,
It was interesting and enjoyable throughout, there was never any boring
moments at all
So enjoyment also gets 10/10
Lastly I would like to mention the actual story,
There has not been a single anime that has less than 26 episodes in one season
which is this breath taking. This anime is absolutely amazing and I cant believe
that I hesitated to watch it for almost a whole year now. Absolutely incredible,
there is not a single word which can defy how amazing this
anime really is, Because it truly is amazing!
And overall rating for this anime is a 9.5/10
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.