DVD Review: The Familiar of Zero – Season 1

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Wizards, Magic and explosions… It sounds like Fairy Tail but in reality it’s the long overdue release of The Familiar of Zero – Season 1, whereby magicians are taught to harness their magical abilities and summon creatures to be their familiars – that is except for Lousie. Potential spoilers aside what did we think from MVM Entertainment’s DVD release of The Familiar of Zero – Season 1, well lets find out!

Synopsis:

Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere’s name is so long and her spell-casting skills are so poor that everyone at the Tristain Academy of Magic just calls her “Louise the Zero”. Louise’s humiliation only increases during an important second-year test, where the other students summon up dragons and other mythological creatures as their familiars, and she inexplicably summons Hiraga Saito, a totally normal teenager from Tokyo.

Now she’s stuck with him and Saito’s stuck with the lousy life of being a familiar. Except, maybe there’s more going on than meets the eye, because Saito’s not prepared to accept the social inequities that Louise and other aristocrats consider the status quo, and he may not be quite as normal as everyone thinks. And the reason Louise is so bad at magic might just be that she hasn’t figured out what she’s good at yet. In fact, they might even have the makings of a great team… if they can learn to stand each other first, that is!

Our View:

In our eyes The Familiar of Zero is a romance-comedy type of series with a bit of harem styled fan-service thrown in for good measure. Do not worry though, The Familiar of Zero isn’t filled with women flaunting their goods off, instead it takes a more ‘casual’ approach with seduction, imagination and some occasional panty washing. Of course this isn’t the highlight of Familiar of Zero; the highlight is of course the characters, Louise and Hiraga, and the bond between them.

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The Familiar of Zero follows the daily activities of Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere, commonly known by her classmates as Louise The Zero for not being able to perform magical spells correctly, and her recently summoned familiar Hiraga Saito as they attempt get along, learn magic and make new friends within this mysterious magical world. In terms of a common enemy or threat, there really isn’t one, instead the progression of the series is brought about by watching Hiraga and Louise get more accustomed with each other.

You see Famliar of Zero is based within the magical world of Halkeginia; and the wold is divided by Nobles and peasants. When it comes to Louise she is a noble attending the Tristain Academy of Magic, whereby nobles are taught how to effectively use magic, however when it comes to Hiraga Saito he is a boy summoned from earth, and as such must grow acustomed to being a peasant within a high ranking society. As you’d expect Hiraga is reluctant to change, but as the series progresses he seemingly fits in with both nobles and peasants and ultimately finds himself within a love triangle between two nobles and a servant.

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Like I said the episodes contained with this first season of Familiar of Zero focus on Louise and Hiraga’s relationship as well as introduce the prospect of love between a noble and peasant. That being said there is a darker plot a foot, with evil ‘fallen noble’ organizations attempting to secure special magical items, but most of these are over-shadowed by the main characters relationship and the comical situations it can bring.

Extras:

While the episodic storyline content of The Familiar of Zero can be considered questionable, especically if you are after a developing story, there is nothing but praise for the extensive list of additional content, all of which is located on the second DVD disc.

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While this ‘extensive’ list might not be as much as other releases, such as Ga-Rai-Zero, it does feature some variety in the forms of Extended Episode Previews, Japanese Promotional Videos and Trailers for other anime series. Furthermore you’ve got to keep in mind that The Familiar of Zero was initially released eight years ago (in Japan) and six years ago (in America) so it’s a nice welcome to see the bonus content suriving instead of being removed or replaced with newer content.

As you’d imagine the Extend Episode Previews are just ‘longer’ versions of the ‘next episode previews’ which are located at the end of each episode, meanwhile the Japanese Promotional Videos are the traditional adverts used to promote the series in Japan, such as TV or DVD adverts. The Final selection of content is obiviously the textless songs, which are amusing to watch in their own right, and then trailers for other releases, all of which (excluding Medaka Box) have a confirmed UK release.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:39:04 (Disc 1), 2:16:20 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

The Familiar of Zero is one of those anime series that attempts to cater for all needs, and despite its bumpy start it can be quite an enjoyable experience that mixes magic, mayhem and love in a handful of episodes. The series sees the two main protagonists, Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere, and her familiar, Hiraga Saito, attempting to get along with each while taking part in various activites in and out of school, most of which end in some form of disaster or argument. But as time goes on a bond between the two begins to develop, much to the annoyance of support characters who are also interested in Hiraga.

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In my eyes the Familiar of Zero is all about having fun on the journey, rather than arriving at a conclusive end, as each passing episode seems to ‘twaddle’ along at its own pace with no real goal or direction. For example the first few episodes just seem chaotic and out-spoken with no clear result as to what has transpired, meanwhile later episodes see the main characters working together in order to stop a common enemy, but unfortunately these events are all short-lived and easily forgotten.It’s an interesting story and is filled but comical banter and sexual innuendos, none of which are on the mature side – it’s all harmless playful fun.

The DVD release of The Familiar of Zero – Season 1 is another adequate release by MVM Entertainment; not just because of the constant audio and visual quality, but because it retains both English and Japanese orientated bonus features while containing a professional, easy to navigate, menu design. Amusingly the only disappointing moments I had with this set was the ‘rather terrible’ English Dub voice actor for Saito, everyone else’s English Dub voice were quite enjoyable to listen to, and the white English Subtitles which sometimes can be awkward to read with the bright backgrounds. I should point out these aren’t terrible subtitles, it’s just that yellow subtitles would have been better due to the nature of the series.

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The Familiar of Zero – Season 1 it seems is all about having a bit of banter while waddling along with a story that doesn’t really go anywhere, basically the story is the character development between Louise and Hiraga, with everything else just an afterthought. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if you were hoping for magic duels and rival factions then sadly you’ll need to look else. However if you are looking for an ‘unusual’ romantic comedy with some big boobs, magic spells and panty washing thrown in then The Familiar of Zero – Season 1 has got you covered.

Score: review-stars-4

The Familiar of Zero – Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 28th July 2014.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

2 Responses to DVD Review: The Familiar of Zero – Season 1

  1. Glad to find a positive review of this release, as I was starting to think I was the only one who enjoyed it. It’s fun to watch although sadly the later seasons do ramp up the fan service.

  2. Pingback: Unboxing: The Familiar of Zero – Season 1 (Blu-ray) [UK] | AnimeBlurayUK

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