Zero no Tsukaima ~Princesses no Rondo~ is a romance comedy harem series and is the third animation adaptation of the Zero no Tsukaima series. Not long after the War with Albion, the runes from Saito's hand somehow vanish causing him to lose the Gandalfr power and his bound with Louise. In order to find an answer on what cause the loss of Saito's runes, they search for the Elf (Tiffania Westwood) who was responsible in saving Saito's life during his battle against Albion's forces. Eventually, Tiffania joins the group and the ~Princesses no Rondo~ series starts to head underway.
Compare to the last two seasons of ZnT, the storyline of ~Princesses no Rondo~ was probably the most disappointing among the three seasons. Unlike the last two seasons, ~Princesses no Rondo~ seems to bring too much focus on its fanservice which can get very tiring to its audience. There are also certain humor sequences (ex: the Love Potion gimmick) that either can get repetitive or annoying to the audience in its results. Still, the storyline does bring along a few good and interesting results that keep it decent to its viewers. Some of the good results would include the increase spotlight of Tabitha, the politics that surface in the story, and the shocking outcome of Henrietta having feelings for Saito.
Along with the original cast from the previous ZnT series, some new characters are also introduced in ~Princesses no Rondo~. Like the previous two seasons, each character provides their own personality and beliefs so viewers can certainly pick favorites among the cast. Louise and Saito often bring out some nice romantic moments and the usual relationship resets at certain parts of the story. Also with Tabitha gaining some spotlight in this series, it brings out a refreshing result to the ZnT series since she was largely ignore in the second season.
The animation from ~Princesses no Rondo~ is mainly the best aspect for this series. The character designs are provided good visuals and coloring from this third season. Also, the illustrations that feature the character expressions manage to fit well from the humor moments in this series. The backgrounds also provide nice images such as the certain night scenes that occur in ~Princesses no Rondo~.
As for the sound, the opening and ending theme songs are decent and manage to fit well in this series. Some of the bgm's also manage to fit well in certain scenes, even though it can get repetitive at times. Also, the seiyu performances certainly fit their roles as the characters in ZnT.
All in all, Zero no Tsukaima ~Princesses no Rondo~ is a decent to pretty good series that often brings out some good and interesting moments in its story. It is unfortunate that some of the serious and interesting parts of the storyline did not get much time for development due to the large focus of annoying humor and excessive fanservice taking place in the series. It also doesn't help that the writing was a bit weak and unoriginal at certain times during this third season.
Before I start I must warn you, that this review is written, with an assumption that reader watched previous 2 seaons. I won't hesitate with major spoilers of the preceeding shows, so if you haven't seen them then you might reconsider further reading.
Even the greatest can make a blunder, and past glory won't save them from it. A succesful brand with large fanbase. A 2 seasons, that receive positive feedback. J.C.Staff - company, that could be nicknamed "god of awesome cliche stories", for it's skills in making the unoriginal content shine. Sounds like ingredients for something epic? Unfortunately, the result is a bastard child of "excessive fanservice" and "annoying characters" - a one of a kind, total failure.
Story - 3/10
First two seasons of Zero no Tsukaima, weren't anything deep or extraordinary and no one expected them to be like that. They managed to bring out their charms, due to combination of cute, tsundere romance and magical world that resembled XVIIth century France. Among the fights, fanservice driven misunderstandings and arguements about the difference between nobleman and commoners, Saito and Louise slowly progressed their romance. That's why when the season 2 had it's epic ending I had my hopes really high up. I mean they married, god damn it. It should no longer be master-familiar relationship, but something deeper and more intimate...Unfortunately J.C.Staff thought otherwise...
Excessive fanservice won against cute relationship, and Saito x Louise are pretty much back to square one. Louise still acts high and mighty.You would thought, that having her go through the pain of loosing the loved one would make her mature up a little, but no, she is the same spoiled brat. Saito still can't manage to say no to the charms of woman body, which makes his self-declared love towards Louise highly questionable. The problem is - while this pattern worked when they were at "have a crush at each other, but not an official relationship yet", it's incredibly pathetic at "lovers, who vowed to each other" stage. If that wasn't enough, the creators decided to turn this poor show into pathetic harem. What previously was only a love-triangle between Saito, Louise and Siesta, suddenly changed into "almost every girl have hots for Saito". Tabitha does. Henrietta does. Tiffania, with her overgrown rack, also does. So we are showered with every female available having some ecchi scene, possibly with Saito. Great. The army of boys at their puberty might find this enjoyable, everyone else will yawn from boredom.
The story could still try to somehow defend itself, by delivering interesting bits at "fights, void magic and war" part of storyline. Unfortunately, this part naturally self-destructs, leaving the viewer with the question - what the hell it was about? First half of the show makes us believe, that Louise being a void mage (and possibly Tiffania as well) bears a great significance to the whole world. The evil boss sends his lackeys after her, to amplify the suspense. While the plot dissolves in the boring episodes, made only for fanservice, we can still claim to the belief that there is an evil force after Louise - so there is some story. Unfortunately after ep 7, the focus of the anime shifts completely. No longer any1 care about aquiring void mages - Tabitha becomes more important. They recall that they were after Louise, at the last episode, but at this point I didn't care anymore. The final battle, comes out bleak and boring, especially with the images from the previous season finale, of "Saito vs whole army", still burned into a memory.
Animation - 7.5/10
At least at this part J.C.Staff didn't dissapoint. The animation is crisp clear, and the fights, while not really breathtaking, are done properly. I could say something about ridicolous hair colours, but since it didn't annoy me that much during previous seasons (since the story was good) I'll stay quiet. However I have to take a note of ridicolously large breasts, Tiffania posseses. Even if I forget about how they defy law of physics - they are simply not appealing. Maybe there are people who have fetish for Eiken-like size of womans chest, but I don't.
Sound - 8/10
J.C.Staff as always hired amazing crew of voice actors, making japaneese dialogues very appealing for the ears. Stars like Rie Kugimiya, Ayako Kawasumi or Yui Horie are awesome spice to any show. With their easily recognisable voices, and a talent at bringing out character emotions, they are one of the few awesome things in this anime. Opening and ending weren't really good enough, to listen to them outside of the show, but I still didn't skip them so I'd say they are at average quality. Finally background tracks - they were appealing and tried to help set up the mood (even though the story/characters were constantly destroying it), but they weren't anything extraordinary. Just properly done music.
Characters - 3/10
I can forgive lack of growth from characters in shounen romance. But when they regress, and turn into annoying versions of their former selves, than I see them as a major failures. Like I mentioned before, Louise didn't learn a thing from the 2nd season. She still first smacks with a whip, then throw insults and finally perhaps listen a bit to what Saito has to say. This is already not a tsundere type - it's a bitch type. If you want to see properly done, loli-tsundere with Rie Kugimiya voice, go watch Toradora, since Taiga is the best use of that archetype I've seen in the anime. Saito still can't clearly say - "leave me alone god damn it, I have a partner already". Siesta instead of love rival, now plays the role of annoying meddler. Basicly even the most enjoyable characters from previous seasons manage to become irritating and pointless. Also without spoiling much I'll say that one character, who shouldn't come back does so, insulting the past actions, and making them turn into a pointless joke.
Overall - 3.8/10
Zero no Tsukaima : Princesses no Rondo can be compared to a drunken woman, that just fell off the stairs. You watched her for some time and thought she was beatiful. But now she's lying in the mud, with her expensive dress dirtied, makeup messed up, teeth broken and arm bend the wrong way. She still sends you, what she thinks is a charming smile, trying to seduce you. The questions remains - are you drunk enough, to see her as beauty, or will you look at the reality before you? This show is a mistake, that should never happen. You can watch it on the account of previous seasons, but you will be dissapointed nevertheless. I know I was. So unless you are prepared to sit through 12 episodes of pointless and boring, just for the sake of knowing how the story continues after previous seasons, I suggest you stay away from this show.
Really, what was I thinking to myself when watching Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo? That it would reach the height of mediocre that the last season was? When the first two seasons had a certain charm, here everything finally (and some would say inevitably) breaks down. The artwork is improved once more, as the character designs have been refined and now have plenty of character, the backgrounds are slightly more elaborate without losing the feel, and the audio fits with the video a lot better now.
Oh, the writing. How bad can it get. I get it that they're trying to set up for the fourth season, but that doesn't excuse how the first half of the season is a setup for something that doesn't happen in the second half. The character development of the second season was deleted. Fan service replaces character development with ease, and Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo finally manages to get me to dislike the franchise.
At this point, I will say that I did watch the fourth season already. This isn't a fresh memory, but rather I just watched a bit of refreshers to make sure I remembered everything right. The fourth season tries to fix a lot of the faults that existed in this season, but I cannot judge Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo on things that haven't happened yet.
Bad writing is inexcusable unless the artwork is magnificent (Btooom! or No Game No Life for instance). The artwork isn't magnificent, and the writing not only erases character development from the last season, but manages to lose its own plot. Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo is a lesson in how to remove casual viewers from a series. I cannot recommend it, and would go so far as to say that the series probably should have ended after the last season. The writing is just that bad.
So this is how my first opinion was...
"This anime is so funny and so cool!"
But at the end of the series, this is what I thought...
"Actually, this entire anime was just a b/tchf/ght about one guy."
I didn't really like Saito at the end of the anime, and I hated that Louise and he got married. Actually, I support Louise and Gulio. Saito kissed with every girl or showed romantic affections towards them (Louise, Henrietta, Siesta, Kirche, that elf-girl (blergh!), ... and even Tabitha!). He simply doesn't deserve Louise, actually, and all the jealousy and stuff kind of ruined the plots/series. However, the plot itself was very good! I liked the battles and the magic! But I just can't like this anime's romance..
Finally on the third season this anime delivers!
Previously there was too much supposedly cross-border intrigue and warfare which was boring and ridiculous. When this show works best is when Saito leers at a chick and Louise appears behind him and kicks him in the balls, I can eat that up all day. And in this season not only is it mainly set at the school, with the threat of conflict with a magician remaining mainly in the background until the last few episodes, but the harem really fulfils it's potential. Previously the harem element was under-developed but now we have a new character with HUGE mammaries who loves Saito, the maid Seista is assigned to personally serve Saito, sleeps in Saito's bed and is open warfare with Louise, even Tabitha is getting on in the act! There's also new male characters’ forming the "Order of Perverts" who dig a hole and spy on the girls' baths in a scene reminiscent of Porky’s.
This is one hell of a side-splitting ecchi comedy and it's not even really necessary to have sat through the previous seasons so don't delay!