How Good was Zero no Tsukaima?

Story – 5

Zero no Tsukaima follows the story of Louise, a second year student in Tristain Academy of Magic and her familiar Saito. Louise is terrible at casting spells and often cast spells with unintended effects (like blowing up everything). Her incompetence earns her the nickname, “Louise the Zero” that stands for a zero success rate and a zero attribute rate in magic.

During the familiar summoning ceremony, Louise accidentally summons a human commoner named Saito Higara and her life takes an incredible comical twist. Louise initially treats Saito like common dog by forcing him to sleep on the floor and to wash her laundry. But as story continues, Louise realizes that she secretly admires Saito for his caring, kind, and protective nature.

In terms of originality of the story, Zero no Tsukaima gets a low score as it reminded me too much of Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry. Even before finishing the first episode, I could see the similarities between both Tristain Academy and Hogwarts like how both schools is being run by an age old wizard and how it is bent on churning out the future generation of wizards and witches.

Furthermore, the various conflicts between the nobles and the commoners in the story run parallel to the enmity between the pureblood magicians and the mudbloods magicians in Harry Potter. Talk about plagiarising. The only part that is truly unique is how Miss Louise gets a human for a familiar (now that is something unheard off).

Fortunately, all is not lost as Zero no Tsukaima’s trump card is really in the execution of its story. Centered mainly on Louise and Saito, the daily life of the duo is as enjoyable to watch as the more serious fight between Louise and Fouquet. The scenes where Louise chases Saito around with a horse whip also never seem to lose its appeal.

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Animation – 8

J.C. Staff proves to us yet again that they are capable of providing us with appropriate visual characteristics that are in line with the general mood and theme of the anime. Take for example how Lunar Legend Tsukihime uses dull, dark and depressing colours to portray the melancholic and sorrowful mood of the story in contrast to the bright, energetic, and strong colours of Zero no Tsukaima.

The character designs of the characters in the anime are also very well done indeed. Louise’s pink hair, relatively short height, big pink irises, and small stature fits her personality perfectly (and at the same time making her irresistibly lovable). The best part is that the facial expression on the faces of the characters that involves excellent precision. You can accurately tell when the characters are being jealous, mischievous, dissatisfied, worried, or embarrassed without fail!

The level of detail in the world of Zero no Tsukaima is moderate with simple sceneries and building designs. This however, is not a drawback as an overly complex level of detail will not be compatible the carefree and light-hearted setting of the series.

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Sound – 8

The opening theme for Zero no Tsukaima is “First Kiss” by Ichiko while the ending theme is “My True Feelings” by Rie Kugimiya (the voice actor for Louise). I personally enjoyed both songs and made a copy for my parents and sister at home (they loved the soundtrack too).

The best part is that the music is done with relation to the anime’s storyline as the adventures of Louise and Saito begins with a kiss (the ritual required for claiming ownership of a familiar) and ends with both Louise and Saito habouring feelings for each other.

As for voice acting, the crew is the very same people who did Shakugan no Shana. Rie Kugimiya voice acting fits Louise’s social characteristics (being a noble and youngest daughter) to the core. The various conversations between Louise and Saito are similar and as enjoyable to hear as those between Shana and Yuji. Great job in terms of voice acting!

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Characters – 5

The main letdown in Zero no Tsukaima is its lacking of a central antagonist character. I love strong antagonist characters like Voldemort and Sephiroth who presented a real challenge and threat to protagonist. I personally felt that weak antagonist character like Fouquet is not my cup of tea. This lack of balance between protagonist and antagonist characters pulls down the ratings for character.

Character development in Zero no Tsukaima is centered mainly on Louise and Saito. Take both of them out of the equation, and you will find that the support characters like Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche and Siesta exists for the sole purpose of keeping the romantic comedy running. There are only brief mentions on their backgrounds and social status throughout the series.

Of all the characters in Zero no Tsukaima, I feel Henrietta, Princess of Tristain is the best support character. She faces a dilemma as she tries to balance fulfilling her duty to her country and her secret love for Prince Wales. At the same time, she continuously finds herself facing a conflict of interest between what is best for her country and what is best for her friends (Louise and Saito).

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Overall – 6

The strong point of Zero no Tsukaima is in the simplicity of its storyline and characters. All plots and conflicts are simple and require no flexing of a person’s grey matter. As a romantic comedy series, I would give Zero no Tsukaima two thumbs up. It is the ideal show to watch after a hard day of work when all a person wants to see is a funny love relationship between two seemingly incompatible people.

The reason why my rating stays just slightly above average is because the crucial void left by the absence of a strong antagonist (as I have mentioned above). Furthermore, I feel that twelve episodes did provide enough time for more character development for minor characters. Take for example how the development of the character Tabitha is left hanging in the air after the eighth episode. A good subsequent side story concerning Tabitha and Kirche would have greatly improved the satisfaction gained when watching Zero no Tsukaima.

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