Zero no Tsukaima

Alt titles: The Familiar of Zero

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Dralha's avatar By Dralha on Oct 4, 2009

Louise is a student at a Harry Potter-like school for magic on a distant world. She is known as "Louise the Zero" because of her consistent failures in the magical arts. During one exam, she summons Hiragi Saito, an average Japanese student, as her familiar. This was a really enjoyable series, with classical tsundere-boy tensions, love triangles, political intrigue, and fantasy action-adventure.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
10/10 overall
Kevinthewiseone's avatar By Kevinthewiseone on Dec 29, 2009

Story:

Welcome to Tristen Academy Of Magic! Where magic, romance, ecchi, and kawaiiness abounds. Zero no Tsukaima is a light heart-ed adventure into another world which casts a spell on the viewer that will leave him/her charmed. Zero has a been there done that premise with characters ripped strait form a recent shounen action series such as Shakugan No Shana , with a plot as predictable as the setting of the sun. One might think that this is a perfect recipe for a bad anime, but with Zero you would be wrong. Personally I couldn't be more impressed with this series.

Meet, Louise (The Queen Of Tsundere), referred to by here classmates as “Zero Louise” for her zero success rate at casting magic, usually resulting in a explosion. As the series open Louise and her classmates are required to summon a familiar as their magical partner. While everyone else in her class summoned a cute magical creature, Louise summons a boy from Japan named Saito. Suddenly Saito finds himself in a new world where magic exists and wizards rule over the peasants.

Throughout the series Saito's and Louise relationship builds with intensity as daily quibbling gives way to jealousy, blushes and furtive glances which eventually becomes a boiling kettle of passion. Louise being the Tsundere that she is, has a funny way of showing her love/jealousy for Saito. Usually it it involves Saito being whipped buy Louise who uses a horse whip every time he looks at other girls with leering eyes, but buy the next scene any of the whip marks are completely gone. Which shows that the animation team never took themselves too seriously. Comedic touches like these simply add to the charm of the series.

The plot does have its holes and ruff spots with odd episodes that don't quiet fit in with the story but does help to advance Saito and Louise's relationship. However these seemingly out of step episodes

eventually do make sense as you watch the other seasons of Zero no Tsukaima. Through these episodes we learn what the insignia on Saito's right hand means, and we learn the truth as to why Loise is unable to cast normal magic. Humor comes in fits and spurts and brings out the hilarity in each of the characters antics rather than a well written script. You won't be laughing every minute but the shear amount of kawaii-ness more than makes up for the lackluster plot.

Animation:

In typical J.C. Staff style light faded colors, soft edges and brief instances of visual beauty premiates throughout the entire series giving Zero a simple yet pleasant visual experience. Of course some weakness do exist, unsubtle color shading, simplistic character designs and the occasionally poorly designed background. Even with these weakness Zero radiates such charm that these weakness are easily overlooked. The animators created a series of characters who are adorable whether they be student,villain, animal or adult.

Sound:

The series boasts two of my favorite seiyu's Rei Kuaimiya and Yui Horie. Rei who played as Shana from Shakugan no Shana among other famous tsundere roles, and Yui who played as Naru in Love Hina (One of my favorite Harem's). While I loved their performance in these series, their performance in Zero was lack luster especially Yui's performance of Siesta which was all but flat. Rei's performance of Louise lacks that tsundere felling that we are used to seeing with Rei's other works. Thankfully though here performance improves in the following two seasons of the series. Satoshi Hino who performs as Saito does a great job of creating a strong and confident voice for Saito which was a pleasant surprise as his performance as Yuji in Shakugan no Shana was terrible.

In contrast to the voice acting, the soundtrack of Zero no Tsukaima fits the series pretty well. While the music is not going to blow you away with it's epicness, it does however gice the series a fantastical flair. The best part of the soundtrack is ending theme, “The Reel Feeling” sung by Rei herself, which ends each episode beautifully.

Characters:

Like Shana from Shakugan No Shana Louise is not only a tsundere but is the new Queen of Tsundere in my opinion, a spot previously held by Lum from Urusei Yatsura. Unlike Shana who shows a good mix of emotions and personality of her own. Louise's personality is never really developed enough for one to feel any attachment to her. And as cupid's arrow dig's deeper into Louise's heart all semblance of a personality disappears. Thankfully though her personality comes back late in the series and improves in the sequels.

 

Saito on the other hand is a breath of fresh air. He is pleasant, brave, and occasionally rash, its no wonder that he has a bevy of girls after him. The other female cast members are entertaining, but they fail to develop out of their stereotypical roles. Siesta is always smiling, Tabitha always has her head buried in a book from beginning to end. Montmorency enjoys a brief episode of glory, and Kirche appears and re-appears like a wet dream. All the characters become friendly with each other but thats about it. In the end Zero decides to focus most of its attention on Louise and Saito's relationship rather than trying to tie everyone together.

Overall:

Despite it's weakness I enjoyed the series. What really pulled me into the series was the Magic and humor aspects of the series, especially Louise and Saito relationship where she usually ends up whipping Saito every night. The series never takes itself to seriously which allows it to provide good solid and hilarious entertainment, especially Louise's tsundere antics.

7/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
darktowerasylum's avatar By darktowerasylum on Feb 11, 2010

Ok lets start out small.. I LOVED THIS ANIME!!

Now to the serious part about the review of this anime:

This quickly became one of my favorite animes of all time, in fact within the first couple of episodes I was hooked. The characters are all very charming, the world they come from is just full of adventure and fun, the animation is bright colorful and crisp. The character development is fairly paced. There is a wonderful blend of comic relief while at the same time having plenty of time for the serious parts of the storyline.

I could see how it could get a little annoying at times but I saw those times as hilarious. Main character does have a tendency to beat the other main character a lot with a riding crop. The sex symbol of the anime tends to go after the main character at every chance. Yes this is a harem anime. Now some might say only having 2 chicks is not a harem anime.. Well check out the other 2 seasons of this series and you will understand!

Season one is the only season that has a dual audio out there, this is actually one season that there is nothing wrong with the english dub. They actually did it quite well. This story has a lot of simularities with Slayers in the comedy aspect, but I think the characters were better developed in this series!! Definatly at least worth checking out the first couple eps to see what you think for yourself!!

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
iamanimelover2's avatar By iamanimelover2 on Aug 7, 2010

This anime went straight to the favorite anime bin from the first few minutes that i watched. I could find nothing much that needed improving. The story animation and characters were all well thought out and was perfect.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
babyeinstein12's avatar By babyeinstein12 on Sep 15, 2009

Story

Wands! Cloaks! A magic academy nestled in the mountains! Sound familiar? Yes, Harry Potter would most likely come to mind, but just take out the Voldemort aspect and replace it with a little ecchi fan service, a lot of romance, and a positive avalanche of cuteness. Zero no Tsukaima offers a playful jaunt into another world and casts a spell that will leave you very much charmed.

Louise, referred to as “The Zero” by classmates for her dreadful magical skills, accidentally summons a boy named Saito into her life. The out-of-place Japanese youth finds himself submerged in a completely different reality, where wizards reside in castles and boss around the peasants. Within this unique land (faintly modeled after pre-industrial Western Europe), Louise and Saito’s relationship builds with intensity and good pacing; daily quibbling turns into jealousy, blushes, and furtive glances, to eventually comprise a boiling cauldron of passion. At the same time, the duo confronts challenges of a whimsical yet problematic world, where thieves, revolutions, treachery, (bouncing boobs), and perverted men run amok. Both romantic and narrative elements are convincingly mixed into a lucid whole.

In many ways the story moves along like a Mozart work – and no, Zero no Tsukaima is NOT an attempted portrayal at classical music, but it’s the best metaphor I can think of. Like Mozart, the story is pleasant, linear, catchy, shallow, and light as a feather. It’s not mawkish or profound, and still for an unknowable reason, it benefits you to give it a try. Here is a plotline that promises nothing but gives you something sweet to digest, and in the end you find that surprisingly, your stomach feels satisfied.

Unlike Mozart, however, some of the progression in Zero no Tsukaima fails to make complete sense. Among the string of adventures that Louise and Saito undertake, a couple seem to have been pulled out of thin air, contrived in a hurry to squeeze everything into thirteen episodes. (I affectionately term these as “WTF” moments). Thankfully, such “WTF” zingers mellow out into engaging plot spurts that delicately tend to Louise and Saito’s blossoming romance. Although the viewer might not actively acknowledge the relational development, he or she can still “feel” the cauldron of love boiling closer to breaking point. Humor flickers in and out of the story like a faulty wandlight and draws strength more from the characters’ outrageous antics than from a clever script. While Zero no Tsukaima is certainly of lighter substance, you won’t be giggling every minute – though what it lacks in humor it fills in with total romantic kawaii-ness.


Animation

Light, faded colors, soft edges, and brief instances of visual beauty all reveal J.C.Staff’s characteristic style in Zero no Tsukaima. In many ways, the show cuts the image of Toradora!’s younger, cuter sister (though it does precede Toradora! by two years): It’s strikingly similar, not as developed, and more apt to escape parental scrutiny. Weaknesses exist: unsubtle color shading, overly simplistic character designs, and occasional lazy bouts with background movements; but the tone radiates such charm that they are easy to overlook. The important thing is that everyone looks adorable. Whether it be students, villains, animals, or adults, the animators carve each being into diminutive proportions that supply them with a distinctive doll-like impression. The main duo especially oozes with chibi-tastic delight.


Sound

The show boasts a relatively prestigious cast, including the “Queen of Tsundere” Rie Kugimiya as tough, soft, adorable Louise. Incidentally, she and Yui Horie claim main roles in Toradora! and execute them brilliantly (as Taiga and Kushieda, respectively), but here, their performances as Louise and Siesta fall rather flat in comparison. Both carry out their jobs sufficiently, as do the rest of the cast, but if you are accustomed to more involved voice acting with such seiyuu, the ones here will slightly disappoint. Satoshi Hino, however, impressed me with his endearing yet somehow sexy quality to Saito’s voice.

On the other side of the audio tape, Zero no Tsukaima equals if not surpasses her rival sibling in the soundtrack’s style, charm, and retention rate. The background music, while not particularly striking in and of itself, suits the circumstances and gives everything an added fantastical flair. What takes the cake is the closing theme, “The Real Feeling,” sung by Kugimiya herself and placing a capstone on Zero no Tsukaima’s utter cuteness.


Characters

Ever since I made the jibe of Zero no Tsukaima being Toradora!’s younger sister, I cannot stop paralleling the two. The perpetual comparison cannot become any more evident after one looks at the characterization of Louise: Wavy, curtain-like hair, eyes that slant downward, tsundere qualities – she is the predecessor to Aisaka Taiga from Toradora!. Actually, I take that back. Louise is the predecessor to Taiga, with the edges of her personality cut off. Indeed, the budding witch enjoys brandishing her whip, but compared to the “Palm Top Tiger,” she is nothing more than a pink-haired pygmy puff. She isn’t particularly mean to begin with, but as Cupid’s Arrow digs deeper into her exposed royal belly, she develops into a mostly helpless girly girl. While the show lavishes attention on her and Saito’s dynamic relationship, it sweeps the Louise as her own character under the rug.

Saito comes across as pleasant, brave, occasionally rash, and most importantly, a breath of fresh air. For once, we see a boy who actually deserves the interest of multiple girls. The females themselves, while entertaining, largely rut into stereotypes and fail to develop sufficiently: Siesta smiles and smiles, Tabitha burrows her head in a book from beginning to end, Montmorency enjoys a brief episode of glory, and Kirche appears and re-appears like an annoying wet dream (yes, wet dream). They all become nicer to each other, but that’s about it. In the end, Zero no Tsukaima decides to spend its limited time not on the individual characters but on tying them together to make the product stronger than it would have been otherwise.

7.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall