DVD Review: The Familiar of Zero Season One (2006)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, August 25, 2014 0 comments

"The Familiar of Zero Season One" is an animated fantasy comedy series about a witch named Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere (that's a mouthful plus spare change), AKA Louise the Zero whom attends a very high class magic school lead by a dirty minded old wizard named Osmond (who I dubbed Gandolph the Pervert). The reason why she is nicknamed "Louise the Zero" is because she has zero talent in magic and every time she tries to cast a spell she just ends up making things explode leaving her the laughing stock of the entire school. On one beautiful day each student in her class has to summon up a familiar that will help guide them through life. Some students summon giant moles, tiny frogs, adorable puddy cats, and even a huge-ass dragon but Louise summons something special and that thing is a human teenager from Japan named Saito Hiraga. Now Saito is the familiar of Zero... I mean Louise and boy does she give him a hard time by making him sleep in the corner and making him wash her underpants everyday... Actually Saito really seems to enjoy the underpants washing.  Saito isn't only getting attention from Louise as her big-breasted, tanned skin, pretty faced classmate, Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt Zerbst (another long name that makes my mouth tired just by looking at it) has her eyes set on him and will do anything it takes for her to get Saito to make hot jungle love to her. All this and more in this magical season. Wizards only, fools! (Yes that was an Adventure Time reference). (Click "Read More" to read the full review).

The way the story structure is written is you have one main storyline while a more minor storyline is going on along side it and then the minor storyline becomes bigger while the main storyline becomes more minor. When I say "main storyline" I mean that in a loose way as the main storyline involves Saito wanting to get back home but it's really more of an episodic series until the point where the minor storyline takes over the balance. This show worked well with both episodic and progressive storyline storytelling and feels fresh every time. The first few episodes does have a very strong "Harry Potter (1997 - 2007)" vibe for the first few episodes but after that it starts to become more original. 

One major thing you should know about this show is that this show uses it's comedy through the means of sexual fan-service and this is one of those few rare times where it doesn't take anything away from the show although it does make this show a "guilty pleasure". I know that might sound weird but they found a way to where it works with the comedy, speaking of comedy I did find it to be funny. While this show can be very goofy it can also be very serious without feeling like a completely different show and I liked that a lot.

Action in this show was solid for the most part but there was this one action scene that just has to be seen to be believed as it was an awesome air battle between dragons and machines, that's all that I will say as I don't want to spoil any more. I really enjoyed the characters in this series as they all had unique personalities and no two characters were the same. There were some characters that were a bit stiff in terms of personalities and were also uninteresting but that's only a couple of characters so it doesn't majorly effect the show and yes those stiff characters also had unique personalities.

The art-work in this show is very decent and I really love the fantasy look to it as it reminds me of objects found on album covers of power metal although no where near as detailed. Backgrounds look good and really compliments what is going on in the show well. Characters are designed well and are also varied to where no character looks alike and I like that a lot. One design I didn't like was this one that used 3D computer animation as it looked dated and made out of plastic just like the 3D animation used in the TLC music video "Waterfalls (1995)" (weird comparison but a true one at that). Animation in this show is alright but there are a few spots where it looks like they are skipping a few frames and looks rough.

The Japanese dub was really good with voices that worked perfectly with all of the characters and they were also very memorable. The acting was also good with no signs of rushing and there's a lot good effort put into the characters. There is an English dub included on this release if you prefer to watch it that way but I didn't watch it due to "Section23" and "Sentai Filmworks" and how their lazy translations make it really annoying for me to watch the show with the English dub on. Soundtrack in this show was good with nice calm pop-music that worked very appropriately and sounded good as well.

The art in the first episode is dramatically different from the rest of the show as it has better quality designs, more detailed, and much smoother animation. It also looks like that it was animated the old fashioned way with hand-drawn art-work as opposed to digitally done 2D art-work and I like it a lot better than the art in any other episode. I also feel very nostalgic watching it as it reminds me of going to the video store back in the 1990's - 2002 and discovering a random anime via VHS although the picture quality is much better than anything released on VHS.

Four items can be found in the special features section of this release. First special feature is titled "Extended Episode Previews" that bring exactly what the title states with a different cut of the episode previews that run for thirty seconds, opposed to the version that made the episodes that ran for only fifteen seconds. The episode previews weren't bad to watch and was really interesting to watch as you do notice the differences between the two cuts right away.  I did also notice that some things that happened in the preview were from the censored version of the show which made the watch even more interesting.  You also get "Japanese Promos" that give information on what the show was about and it was also pretty interesting and does a decent job at explaining what the show is but you won't be watching this feature more than once. Lastly you get text-less opening and closing credit sequences that had some very nice music and some pretty visuals that worked well together and was fun to watch.

Overall I really enjoyed this show but I also have a feeling that this would be a show that a lot of people would avoid due to the cheesecake humor. I'm going to recommend this show because I enjoyed it but just like in my review for "Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero (2012)" (review can be found here) so I'm going to have to slap a big "guilty pleasure" label on the recommendation rating. Fun fantasy show.

Title: The Familiar of Zero Season One
Animation Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Animation/Anime, Comedy, Action, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Harem
Running Time: 312 Minutes (13 Episodes)
Distributor: Hanabee Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Sexual references)
Price: $59.99
Recommended: Yes (Guilty Pleasure)


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