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Winter Watch: The Familiar of Zero F #1

After more than three years of waiting, The Familiar of Zero is back for it's final season. Daniel and ZombiePie are here to break it down.

Welcome to a two-man edition of the Winter Watch, where Daniel Newton and ZombiePie take a look at The Familiar of Zero F, the final season based on Noboru Yamaguchi's original light novel series.

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.

Daniel Newton:

Ready your sword Saito, it's time for season 4!
Ready your sword Saito, it's time for season 4!
Saito gets all the ladies
Saito gets all the ladies

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.

I'm hoping for more of this
I'm hoping for more of this

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...

ZombiePie:

Was This Really the Best You Could Do?
Was This Really the Best You Could Do?

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.

Have You Learned Nothing from the Past Three Seasons?
Have You Learned Nothing from the Past Three Seasons?

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.

Verdict

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.

--Daniel Newton (Newten) is a moderator for Anime Vice and Screened. For contact info, twitter and more, go here.

--ZombiePie is a moderator for Giant Bomb who runs their community twitter @GiantBombSquad

sickVisionz moderator on Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.

Seems like they're still up to the same old shenanigans. I watched either the first or second series of this and enjoyed it, tried to watch another and fell off of it after about 2 or 3 episodes. I don't have anything against your standard Kugimiya tsundere show but this one never grabbed me. I think it's the fantasy setting, which is a general turnoff of mine.

Anyhoo, one thing I liked was that unlike most other male anime dude, Saito would sometimes put the moves on Louise like any real life high school boy would want to do if he had a girlfriend. It always got broken up when things were about to get hot and heavy but the effort was welcomed. Is he still like that?

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:43 p.m.

@sickVisionz said:

Seems like they're still up to the same old shenanigans. I watched either the first or second series of this and enjoyed it, tried to watch another and fell off of it after about 2 or 3 episodes. I don't have anything against your standard Kugimiya tsundere show but this one never grabbed me. I think it's the fantasy setting, which is a general turnoff of mine.

Ah that's a shame. I personally really like the setting, it kind of feels like anime Harry Potter (but I suppose if you don't like Harry Potter, that won't do much for you).

@sickVisionz said:

Anyhoo, one thing I liked was that unlike most other male anime dude, Saito would sometimes put the moves on Louise like any real life high school boy would want to do if he had a girlfriend. It always got broken up when things were about to get hot and heavy but the effort was welcomed. Is he still like that?

Exactly! It always annoys the hell out of me in most harem shows when a guy has girls all over him, but doesn't make a move on any of them. Saito and Louise are together, even if Louise tries to deny it to other people most of the time. That doesn't mean Siesta has given up on winning Saito's affection though. The opening scene proves that, she's certainly not the shy girl from the first season any more.

And yeah, he's definitely still like that. Maybe you should give this season a try and see if you like it.

buhssuhton Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.

i agree with ZombiePie. i dont know how the original light novel was but as far as anime goes, it is same thing over and over again. main guy does something for couple episode and he gets himself a another girl, with more fanservice

AgentJon Jan. 16, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.

Ever since the finale to season two, Zero could do no wrong in my eyes. It has it's faults to be sure, but I don't think anything can stop Zero no Tsukaima from being my guilty pleasure of the year.

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 16, 2012 at 5:13 p.m.

@AgentJ: Damn, I just looked up the season two finale. I really need to go back and watch season 2 and 3 again. I've forgotten so much. I saw the first season again not too long ago so that's relatively fresh. I even watched it in dubbed form, it was pretty good, and I'm usually a sub guy. It's a real shame the dub didn't extend past season 1.

zaldaron Jan. 16, 2012 at 6:52 p.m.

never watched this as it didn't seem like something that would interest me and this story doesn't do anything to change that.

sora_thekey moderator on Jan. 16, 2012 at 11:32 p.m.

So this would not be a good place to begin if you want to get into the Familiar of Zero franchise... huh? Do I want to go back and watch three seasons of this to catch up? Mmmm...

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 17, 2012 at 1:57 a.m.

@sora_thekey: Yeah you really ought to start from the beginning, give the first few episodes a try and see if it grabs you.

And hey, if it does then have three seasons to enjoy. Can't be a bad thing!

AgentJon Jan. 17, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.

@Newten said:

@AgentJ: Damn, I just looked up the season two finale. I really need to go back and watch season 2 and 3 again. I've forgotten so much. I saw the first season again not too long ago so that's relatively fresh. I even watched it in dubbed form, it was pretty good, and I'm usually a sub guy. It's a real shame the dub didn't extend past season 1.

Sentai just picked up season 4, so it will be interesting to see if they do seasons two and three as well.

sora_thekey moderator on Jan. 17, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.

@Newten: Not much into the magic genre... I don't even like Harry Potter. This might not be the series for me.

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 17, 2012 at 3:21 p.m.

@AgentJ: They're just releasing it subbed though right?

@sora_thekey: You'll never know if you don't give it a try. More than anything else, I watch it for the characters. Also, Saito has the power use any weapon he touches, which is pretty damn cool.

sora_thekey moderator on Jan. 17, 2012 at 3:54 p.m.

@Newten: Gah! Why do you tease like that Newton! Now I wanna... watch it! -_-

AgentJon Jan. 17, 2012 at 5:06 p.m.

@Newten said:

@AgentJ: They're just releasing it subbed though right?

@sora_thekey: You'll never know if you don't give it a try. More than anything else, I watch it for the characters. Also, Saito has the power use any weapon he touches, which is pretty damn cool.

I'm not sure if they said one way or the other. They dubbed HOTD, Angel Beats, and Canaan (my only experience with Sentai) so maybe?

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 17, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.

@AgentJ: If they do a dub and can't get the same actors as the first season, I doubt I'd be interested. Also the fact that they were responsible for that awful HOTD dub doesn't fill me with much hope.

@sora_thekey: You say that like it's a bad thing! I can't hurt to give a show a try! It might not be your cup of tea at all, but what if you love it? You might never know...

AgentJon Jan. 17, 2012 at 11:51 p.m.

@Newten said:

@AgentJ: If they do a dub and can't get the same actors as the first season, I doubt I'd be interested. Also the fact that they were responsible for that awful HOTD dub doesn't fill me with much hope.

@sora_thekey: You say that like it's a bad thing! I can't hurt to give a show a try! It might not be your cup of tea at all, but what if you love it? You might never know...

Truth, though there's no reason they can't put together their own steller cast. And while I think they tried to be (FAR) too edgy with the HOTD dub, Angel Beats was perfectly serviceable if not excellent.

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 18, 2012 at 1:18 a.m.

@AgentJ said:

@Newten said:

@AgentJ: If they do a dub and can't get the same actors as the first season, I doubt I'd be interested. Also the fact that they were responsible for that awful HOTD dub doesn't fill me with much hope.

@sora_thekey: You say that like it's a bad thing! I can't hurt to give a show a try! It might not be your cup of tea at all, but what if you love it? You might never know...

Truth, though there's no reason they can't put together their own steller cast. And while I think they tried to be (FAR) too edgy with the HOTD dub, Angel Beats was perfectly serviceable if not excellent.

Really? I might have to check that out. I'm going through a weird dub phase right now and I've only seen the first few episodes of Angel Beats.

ngkachun4on Jan. 18, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.

WHY Louise allows Siesta to sleep on the same bed with Saito?

sickVisionz moderator on Jan. 18, 2012 at 9:17 a.m.

@ngkachun4 said:

WHY Louise allows Siesta to sleep on the same bed with Saito?

Hijinks gonna hijink.

Daniel_Newton moderator on Jan. 18, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.

@sickVisionz said:

@ngkachun4 said:

WHY Louise allows Siesta to sleep on the same bed with Saito?

Hijinks gonna hijink.

Because: anime.

AgentJon Jan. 18, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.

@Newten: If you're on a dub kick, the best possible object to loose your kicking on is Mongolian Chop Squad. I'm still convinced that it's the best dub ever.

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The Familiar of Zero follows the adventures of Louise, a student at a magic academy, and her human familiar Saito.

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