DVD Review: Familiar of Zero: Knights of the Twin Moons – The Complete Series
18/05/2015 Leave a comment
We take a trip back to the magical world of Halkeginia to see how far Saito and Louise’s relationship has come; but instead we find a few surprises. So what did we think of MVM Entertainment’s DVD release of Familiar of Zero: Knights of the Twin Moons; well lets find out.
Hiraga Saito was just a typical Japanese teenager when he was accidentally summoned to become the familiar of Louise Francoise Le Blanc de La Valliere, whose magical skills were so poor that she was called Louise the Zero. Now, however, Saito’s distinguished himself as a hero while Louise has started to get a handle on her ability to use Void magic. More importantly, Saito is now Louise’s familiar of his own free will. So, has that made any difference in their “professional” relationship?
Well, let’s just say that it’s still so full of ups and downs that it ought to be a thrill ride attraction – a really rickety thrill ride attraction filled with dangerous objects like riding crops and things that explode messily. That doesn’t mean that they’re not ready to spring into action the minute the newly crowned Queen Henrietta is kidnapped, but with a new war brewing will they be able to find a way to work together that doesn’t end with Saito getting the wrong end of Louise’s stick? Or will Louise still end up hurting the one she… has a “professional relationship” with?
After the events of the moderately entertaining first season, which saw a combination of magic with a love-triangle between two girls and a boy, my hopes for this second season of Familiar of Zero, subtitled “Knight of the Twin Moons”, were quite high; but alas this was not meant to be and as a result I found myself overly disappointed with what transpired throughout this season of the show.
Ironically this disappointment starts out relatively early; as unlike the first season there is no English Dub available and as such for the remainder of Familiar of Zero (which is another two seasons) the sets will be released in Japanese with English Subtitles only. Of course it’s not a big issue, the English Dub found within season 1 was mediocre at best; but I actually liked it – so it’s a bit of a blow to see that an English Dub wasn’t created for the remainder of the series; even if it was Sentai Filmworks who would have had to get it done.
But I digress the real reason why I found this second season of Familiar of Zero pretty woeful was its constant repetition and lack of development. At first things start out pretty exciting, with Oliver Cromwell, the man who instigated the war between Tristain and Albion in the first season, being assassinated in his prison cell by a mysterious woman. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the starting point to a sinister storyline and while that may seem the case it doesn’t actually begin to unfold until much later on in the series. In the meantime we are treated to several singular episodes which begin to introduce the new characters for this season; be it the princesses musketeers, louises older sisters and the handsome Julio Chesaré, which in my eyes acts as a replacement for Guiche. While each character adds something of value to the show, such as Agnes, who is the leader of the musketeers, who wants revenge on the person that destroyed her home town, it does very little to further the bond between Saito and Louise.
What it does manage to do however is to feel repetitive; whereby each episode will follow a set pattern that has been laid out by its director. Unlike other shows it’s a pretty obvious pattern and it soon becomes a bit preditcable; so much so that you’ll eventually find yourself predicting when Louise will have outbursts at Saito. Of course not all is lost; as by the halfway point of the series the ‘sinister’ plotline starts to unfold, whereby a mercenary working for the Albion army arrives to take the institute of magic hostage. While this is a crucial point in the storyline, especially for Agnes, it doesn’t feel that important and – to a certain extent – it’s hard to care about what’s happening on screen due to the passive (and potentially) comical nature of it all.
Ironically the real entertainment of this season arrives towards the end; and not because we know the series is nearly over. No; it’s because Saito and Louise finally begin to share their emotions with each other, not as “familiar” and “master” but as lovers; however even this is short-lived. Spoilers aside it leaves Saito and Louise making the ultimate sacrifice; but just when you expect to end on a cliff-hanger, and thus making you want to watch the third season, everything returns to normal as if nothing had happened.
What I came for was a developing love story between two, if not three, characters in a war torn world filled with magic and swords; what I received was just a bunch of tamed-down fan-service with a mediocre story with no real progression. It starts off good and it potentially ends well; but everything in between is pretty disappointing – which is a shame as I like the idea of what the show could offer.
When it comes to anime releases through Sentai Filmworks then we should always pretty much expect a barebones release and the same applies here on this DVD disc for Familiar of Zero – Knight of the Twin Moons.
As shown from the screenshot the only included extras are for four trailers, most of which are just the opening song with selective scenes from the song, and the textless songs for this series. Usually I enjoy all of these but as nothing peaks my interest, even the opening song for Familiar of Zero seemed pretty bland, then theres nothing to get excited about; furthermore the trailers listed have not even been licensed for a UK release – as of yet anyway.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:24:44 (Disc 1), 2:24:31 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 192kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
My experience with Familiar of Zero: Knights of the Two Moons, or more commonly known as Season 2, was pretty woeful; it starts off pretty intense with the assassination of a former team-mate but then swiftly moves onto different matters, such as the introductions of new characters or the feeble attempts of Siesta trying to gain Saito’s affections, all-the-while tip-toeing over the prospect of impeding war.
Mind you when war does come down upon the walls of the school it leads to some interesting results, such as the invasion from mercenaries and the Louise venturing to the frontlines; none of which are really everlasting or memorable. In retrospect I wanted the attention to be on Louise and Saito, as that is the real reason why are watching it, but instead their story is pushed to the side lines – which is ironic considering they receive the most amount of screen time. Speaking of characters those wishing to see their favourite support-characters, such as Tabitha, will be disappointed as other than a few guest appearences they hardly make an appearance in this second season – the same applies to all of the male characters within the show, such as Guiche.
Sadly the relatively disappointing news doesn’t just end with series as this DVD release by MVM Entertainment is not all that it’s cracked-up to be either. For starters there is no English Dub, but we’ve already mentioned that anyway, so those who are expecting one are surely going to be annoyed – secondly the visual quality is nothing to shout about either. I’m not saying its bad quality, far from it, it’s just not as visually good as you may have been expecting – although this may have something to do with the fact that the series is eight years old. The final disappointment is the DVD menu; sure it fits with the previous season but it uses artwork that differs from the anime series and more frustrating is from something that never even happens. You could call these nitpicks; but it gives the impression of a home-made DVD as opposed to a retail product but at least the chapter markings and subtitles (even though they are white) actually work correctly.
The Familiar of Zero: Knight of the Twin Moons is not what I had initially expected it to be; but if you prefer the elements of fan-service, the occasional outbursts between characters and nations at war without any fighting been shown then this series may be for you; but in my eyes its only worth watching if you are wanting to continue the story of Louise and Saito; otherwise I would probably give it a miss.
The Familiar of Zero: Knights of the Twin Moons – The Complete Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 8th June 2015.