Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Harem, Action, Drama
Length: 13 episodes
"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! Will familiarity breed contempt? Will combining two negatives result in a positive? The answer will be spelled out, enchantment by enchantment, in Familiar of Zero!"
The Familiar of Zero, or Zero no Tsukaima, is a series that's been around for quite a long time and this is actually its 2nd release after Sentai rescued the franchise from limbo after Geneon's license expired in 2011. This holds as its own series, but there are actually 4 seasons in total. Sadly, no one has ever licensed the 2nd and 3rd seasons in North America for physical or digital distribution. The final season is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and should hopefully get a physical release at some point in the next year or two. Try to find one of the various streaming sites out there to watch the 2nd and 3rd seasons, though. Going from the 1st to the 4th doesn't work well. Also, season 2 is arguably the best one out there.
Well, enough with the backstory! Familiar of Zero is one of those older iconic series that garnered tons of attention primarily because of its tsundere female lead, Louise. In case you don't know what that means, here's the background of tsundere: "The word is derived from the terms tsun tsun #ツンツン?#, meaning to turn away in disgust, and dere dere #デレデレ?# meaning to become 'lovey dovey'." Basically, instead of showing her true emotions/affections, she gets angry. Her favorite term for Saito seems to be Baka Inu or Stupid Dog. She's basically like a firecracker going off every minute. However, she tends to be more tsun instead of dere which leads to the creation of the harem environment where she pushes Saito away so much that he seeks out other women.
I won't really go into the plot of this one much as the story is one that is far from perfect. The characters are what really drives the story forward in my opinion. I really don't recommend watching the English version unless you just can't stand reading. It's memorable, but mainly because it's pretty horrid. Blu-ray rendering helps to boost the graphics up, but the series is originally aired in 2006 and doesn't boast the greatest attention to detail. Aside from a ballroom scene and Louise's changing into her nightgowns, I don't think the characters wore different outfits at all. Nothing special with the extras, either.
I've been a fan of this series since I first saw it two years ago. Did a marathon and watched all 50ish episodes in two days! However, that was all streaming in pretty low quality. Having a blu-ray release makes it so much better to enjoy. I encourage everyone to check out this season and see how you like it. Hopefully Sentai will rescue the other two seasons if there's enough demand!