Episode 1: Louise of the Holy Land
Summary: Queen Henrietta has ordered everyone to Romalia, once there they meet the Pope of Romalia, Saint Aegis the 32nd. Hehas summoned them to reveal a secret, one that involves void mages and the fate of the world.
Air Date: Jan. 8, 2012 (Crunchyroll Premium) Jan. 15, 2012 (free)
Run Time: 23:42
Warning: This article contains spoilers. We recommend watching the episode here first.
It's been a long time since we've seen Louise and the gang in The Familiar of Zero, but they've finally returned this year for the final season, The Familiar of Zero F. The episode reintroduces most of the major characters in an opening scene involving Siesta, Louise and Saito sleeping together (since Saito was knighted and Siesta became his personal maid, this became acceptable I guess?) with Saito mumbling about their breasts in his sleep, resulting in one of Louise's trademark rage explosions. It had me chuckling away right off the bat, and I immediately felt at home again with the characters, setting and familiar soundtrack playing in the background. Also, is it me, or does the show look visually more vibrant this season?
After a minute or two of shenanigans, we see some fairly serious plot development. Everyone is air-shipped off to Romalia to meet up with Queen Henrietta and the Pope, who reveals that contrary to popular belief, Louise isn't the only mage around with fancy void magic. Pope Vittorio Serevare and Julio, as well as King Joseph and Sheffield are Void users and familiars. On top of that, Tiffania is afourthvoid mage (did she even do any magic in previous episodes?) who hasn't summoned her own familiar yet. But that's not all, we're also introduced to a handful of new baddies who break into the building the gang is staying in and steal some sort of special mirror. For an opening episode, it really feels like things are progressing fast.
What I enjoyed most had to be the fight with new bad guy Jacques. I honestly didn't think there were enough good close-combat battles in prior seasons of the show and it's great to not only see Saito showing off his skills with his sword, but also strategic teamwork with Louise. I can only hope this is the first fight of many. Saito ended up falling into Tiffa's familiar summoning spell during the fight though, and it seems pretty likely--if the hint at the end of the episode was any indication--that Saito may well be Tiffa's familiar now as well as Louise's. It should be pretty interesting to see how that pans out later on. Presumably, Tiffania will need to kiss Saito to complete the familiar contract with him. Something tells me that won't go down well with Louise...
Let’s talk about the very first scene to highlight some of my problems with this series as a whole. So what’s the first scene of this season? Well it’s a bed gag. To be even more specific Saito is in bed with Louise. He starts saying lewd things about Louise then while still asleep grabs her breasts and comments on how small they are under his breath. Then it is revealed that the maid Siesta is also in bed with the odd couple and rubs on Saito who then proceeds to compliment her larger breasts, who again he is still asleep, and Louise proceeds to blow him up.
What’s wrong with this being the first scene? One it’s not an establishing shot that recaps the events from the previous seasons (a lot of stuff happened last season and it has been a while why not help a fan out), and two it’s a shameless rehash of an already exhausted gag from previous seasons. It would be wrong to judge an entire episode on this one scene but I’m already seeing a lot of my issues with the previous season aren’t being addressed. This is the final season of this show. There should be some sort of maturation of the characters or at least comedy set pieces that are original. Instead the writing staff couldn’t be bothered and they put in a gag that’s already been done three or four times up to this point.
From this adventure beckons our medley of characters and Saito, Louise as well as half-elf Tiffania meet the Pope who reveals Tiffania and himself to be Void mages with Julio Chesaré revealed to be the Pope’s familiar. I would argue this is one of two scenes during the entire show that have any importance to the overall plot of the season. Also while impactful this scene descends into the realm of information overload. The second scene is when some shady thieves attempt to steal a mirror which is probably a MacGuffin but we don’t quite know yet. Because Louise got into a fight with Saito she tries to deal with these bandits by herself which unsurprisingly doesn’t work. Saito comes to rescue and fights one of the thieves and after he and Louise finally start to work together they beat RockyMcRock but don’t try and go after the other bandit who ran away with the mirror.
Then Saito and Louise have a tender moment where they recognize they shouldn’t separate from each other which is utterly ruined when Tiffania walks in on them and they both proceed to remark that nothing actually happened. Thereby making the scene on the balcony pointless and disowning any heart the scene had been building up and also any lessons learned from the thievery scene. Which highlights my point that this series has failed to progress from it’s slapstick roots and is going to be just more of the same.
Daniel Newton: I think I should quickly point out that the lack of recap in this episode is probably because select episodes from previous seasons of the show were aired in Japan as a refresher before this season started. That said, I personally enjoyed this first episode thoroughly with it diving into plot set-up and progression pretty quickly, and I'm happy to see some of my favourite anime characters back in action once again. Also, I thought Louise and Saito's kiss was actually quite sweet, regardless of Louise denying it immediately afterwards. I'm excited to see how things develop from here on.
ZombiePie: This episode ends up being having maybe ten minutes of actual content necessary to watch. It's harmless fun which is to be expected but I can't but help feel this laziness with the storytelling. I continue to have this hesitation to get completely invested into the series because it continues to perpetuate a sameness and immaturity that at this point is no longer grabbing my attention. I do have hope that the plotting with the thieves and Pope will add some stakes to the story but I'm cautious about how this will all be handled.