May 25, 2009
Anime review of episodes 5-8 of The Familiar of Zero Box Set, published by Geneon, List Price: $59.98, Rated 13+. Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki (Best Student Council, Hayate the Combat Butler). Series Composition by Takao Yoshioka (Elfen Lied, Dears).
Louise is getting nervous. Why? The annual Familiar Exhibition is about to take place at the Institute. It's like a show-off contest where aspiring Magi put their familiars on display for the school elders in an effort to show whose is best. All Louise has to show is Saito, who has never been able to reactivate his excellent sword fighting skills that he showed in defeating a noble a couple of episodes back. In fact, he has trouble just LIFTING his sword, much less putting on a display. To add to Louise's anxiety, Lady Henrietta, Princess of Tristein, is personally going to attend the Exhibition! Things should go a little smoother since Henrietta grew up with Louise...or actually it might make her even more embarrassed and stressed. Henrietta's visit to the Institute also coencides with the arrival of Fouquet the Sculptor, a mysterious thief that has been stealing magical artifacts. Fouquet intends to break into the school while everybody is busy attending to the princess and steal "The Staff of Destruction".
I was a little worried after the first disk of this set that The Familiar of Zero could very easily devolve into a heavy fan service harem comedy, what with all the girls around and a semi-horny dude in the midst of them. But, thankfully, that isn't what has happened. We get some nice surprises and characterization in this second group of episodes. Besides Kirche throwing her boobs everywhere, the romance here has an almost decidedly shojo tone of wistful love. Saito and Siesta, a maid, share some charming moments in a bath that Saito rigs up from a large kitchen basin. Even though both of them are naked in the water and in the dark, the writers stay away from the cheap eroticism of bleeding noses. Instead we get the first really tentative conversations of two people that like each other. But at this point, we don't know who Saito really likes. He seems to be closest to Siesta in a romantic way, while he sees Louise as a little sister, and Kirche as an always open avenue to sex. I feel he would be better off with Siesta, but the opening credits of the anime show Saito and Louise kissing with the theme song cranking out lyrics about love which leave me hardpressed to see any other outcome. The animation and character designs are above average and the writers are able to get in all kinds of messages about equal rights and discrimination.
My Grade: B+
Hear my podcast review of Episodes 1-4 at this link: