The Familiar of Zero is an anime series based on a series of light novels by Yamaguchi Noboru. A combination of fantasy and comedy, the series is set in an alternate, medieval-type world filled with magic and revolves around a second-year student at a magical high school, Louise, an inept mage, and her human familiar from Earth, Saito.
When the inept second-year magic student, the noble Louise, accidentally summons a human from Earth, Saito, as her familiar during her required summoning ceremony, she becomes even more of a laughing stock than she already was. Meanwhile, Saito, unfamiliar with this new, strange world, is out of place and, being non-magical, is treated like a peasant. This world is strictly divided along class divisions – the nobility, or the magical class, and the peasants, or non-magical class. It soon becomes clear, however, that there is more to Saito than anyone thought. He gets into a forbidden dual with a noble student and suddenly becomes a master swordsman when the mark of the familiar in his hand begins to glow and takes over his body. There is a secret to his past and others like him that may have arrived before, and also a key to unlocking a powerful magic hidden within Louise. But it may all have to wait. Louise isn’t easy to get along with, at least not at first (a typical tsundere) and the kingdom may be in jeopardy by a threat from within. It just may fall upon Saito to help save everyone.
For Harry Potter fans, a lot of the elements in The Familiar of Zero will feel all too, well, familiar. The magical school may as well be Hogwarts as well as the idea of familiars and the students all going around with magic wands. Outside of that, the series is rather by the numbers as far as teen comedy/romance series go, from the slowly building relationship between the tsundere Louise and the somewhat enabling Saito, to the number of girls who seem instantly charmed by the stranger from the another world.
As the animation style goes, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s pleasing to they eyes. It sticks to the kawaii style familiar in this genre. Louise and her pink hair are certainly quite appealing and fill the loli quota that seems to be a requirement, while Louise’s rival/friend Kirche has a decidedly more sexy and elaborate design.
This is an original standard definition production from 2007 and as such, even in this 1080p AVC encodement on Blu-ray, it doesn’t reach the level of quality one would expect from a true high definition image of a digital animation production. We see a somewhat reserved color palette versus a very vivid one, a soft overall image, and some slight aliasing and motion artifacts. Still, The Familiar of Zero is not the worst standard definition anime release we’ve seen come to Blu-ray and it looks pretty good given the provenance.
An average DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz//24-bit) stereo track is provided for both the original Japanese soundtrack and the English dub. The former offers the superior voice cast, while the latter is fine, but not as engaging.
- Extended Episode Previews (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:57)
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
- Sentai Filmworks Trailers
- Disc Credits
The Definitive Word
An average yet enjoyable series that has some holes and could use a bit more robustness to its characters and a little more originality, The Familiar of Zero arrives in a reasonable Blu-ray edition from Sentai Filmworks.
Additional Screen Captures