The Familiar of Zero

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The Familiar of Zero
ZnT novel01.png
Cover of the first light novel volume
ゼロの使い魔
(Zero no Tsukaima)
Genre Adventure, Fantasy, Harem, Romantic comedy[1]
Light novel
Written by Noboru Yamaguchi
Illustrated by Eiji Usatsuka
Published by Media Factory
English publisher
Demographic Male
Imprint MF Bunko J
Original run June 25, 2004February 25, 2011
Volumes 20
Anime television series
Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Network CTC
Original run July 3, 2006September 25, 2006
Episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Manga
Zero's Familiar
Illustrated by Nana Mochizuki
Published by Media Factory
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Monthly Comic Alive
Original run August 2006October 2009
Volumes 7
Light novel
Zero no Tsukaima Gaiden: Tabatha no Bōken
Written by Noboru Yamaguchi
Illustrated by Eiji Usatsuka
Published by Media Factory
Demographic Male
Imprint MF Bunko J
Original run October 25, 2006March 25, 2009
Volumes 3
Game
Zero no Tsukaima: Koakuma to Harukaze Concerto
Developer Marvelous Interactive
Publisher Marvelous Interactive
Genre Visual novel
Platform PlayStation 2
Released February 15, 2007
Anime television series
Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi
Directed by Yū Kō
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Network CTC, tvk
Original run July 9, 2007September 24, 2007
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Game
Zero no Tsukaima: Muma ga Tsumugu Yokaze no Fantasy
Developer Marvelous Interactive
Publisher Marvelous Interactive
Genre Visual novel
Platform PlayStation 2
Released November 29, 2007
Manga
Zero no Tsukaima Gaiden: Tabatha no Bōken
Written by Takuto Kon
Published by Media Factory
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Monthly Comic Alive
Original run December 2007August 2010
Volumes 5
Anime television series
Zero no Tsukaima: Princesse no Rondo
Directed by Yū Kō
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Network CTC, tvk
English network
Original run July 6, 2008September 21, 2008
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Game
Zero no Tsukaima: Maigo no Period to Ikusen no Symphony
Developer Marvelous Interactive
Publisher Marvelous Interactive
Genre Visual novel
Platform PlayStation 2
Released November 6, 2008
Original video animation
Zero no Tsukaima: Princesses no Rondo
Directed by Yū Kō
Studio J.C.Staff
Released December 24, 2008
Runtime 24 minutes
Light novel
Reppū no Kishihime
Written by Noboru Yamaguchi
Illustrated by Eiji Usatsuka
Published by Media Factory
Demographic Male
Imprint MF Bunko J
Original run October 23, 2009March 25, 2010
Volumes 2
Manga
Zero no Tsukaima Chevalier
Written by Higa Yukari
Published by Media Factory
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Monthly Comic Alive
Original run March 2010May 2013
Volumes 4
Anime television series
Zero no Tsukaima F
Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Studio J.C.Staff
Licensed by
Network AT-X
Original run January 7, 2012March 24, 2012
Episodes 12 (List of episodes)
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

The Familiar of Zero (ゼロの使い魔 Zero no Tsukaima?) is a fantasy and comedy-oriented series of Japanese light novels written by Noboru Yamaguchi, with illustrations by Eiji Usatsuka. Media Factory published 20 volumes between June 2004 and February 2011. The series was left unfinished due to the author's death on April 4, 2013.[2] The story features several characters from the second year class of a magic academy in a fictional magical world with the main characters being the inept mage Louise and her familiar from Earth, Saito Hiraga.

Between 2006 and 2012, the series was adapted by J.C.Staff into four anime television series and an additional original video animation episode. The first anime series was licensed by Geneon Entertainment in English, but the license expired in 2011. Sentai Filmworks has since licensed the fourth series as well as re-licensing the first season. A manga version drawn by Nana Mochizuki was serialized in Media Factory's manga magazine Monthly Comic Alive between August 2006 and October 2009. The manga is licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment for release in North America. Three additional spin-off manga were also created, as were three visual novels.

Plot[edit]

Story and characters[edit]

Louise is a noble girl who is terrible at magic, as her attempts usually result in an explosion. She is nicknamed "Zero Louise" by her classmates, due to the inability to use any of the four magic elements. Early in the school year at the Tristain Academy of Magic, the second year students perform a special ritual where they summon their familiar, which serves as their eternal protector and partner, and is usually some sort of magical creature. But Louise summons Saito Hiraga, an ordinary teenage boy from Japan, leaving her totally humiliated.

Due to the sacredness of the ritual, Louise reluctantly accepts Saito as her familiar, but proceeds to treat Saito as any other familiar, only worse, making him wash her clothes, sleep on a bed of hay, and whipping him with a riding crop for little or no reason. The Familiar of Zero follows the adventures of Louise and Saito as they help their classmates and friends, while occasionally blundering into situations where they risk their lives to save one another. Saito tries to find a way to get back to Japan, but he also has a mysterious power that allows him to wield swords and other weapons to perform heroic feats. They also eventually learn the truth behind Louise's magic inabilities.

The fictional continent of Halkeginia bears similarities to Europe.

Setting[edit]

Halkeginia
Halkeginia (ハルケギニア Harukeginia?) is the continent that the story of The Familiar of Zero takes place on. Halkeginia's social structure is similar to the feudal class systems of Europe in the Middle Ages, with magic-users being considered nobles. The continent itself is vaguely reminiscent in shape of western Europe, with many of the countries carrying ancient and Roman names.
Tristain
Tristain (トリステイン Torisutein?, also "Tristein") is the nation in which the majority of the story takes place. It is a small monarchical country located in the northwest of Halkeginia. It is under threat from Albion. Tristain is home to a highly acclaimed magical academy which attracts students from nearby countries known as the Tristain Academy of Magic.
Militarily, the country is weak, with only a small permanent force, which forces it to make marriage alliances with other countries. The capital city is Tristania (トリスタニア Torisutania?).
Germania
Germania (ゲルマニア Gerumania?) is the largest kingdom in Halkeginia, and is also regarded as the strongest in terms of military might. It is regarded as a more barbaric and down-to-earth type of country, with its men considered to be brutish. Germania is located to the northeast of Tristain. Germania is the ancient Roman for the region that is now Germany, the natives were at the time considered by the Romans to be barbarians.
Gallia
Gallia (ガリア Garia?, also "Galia") is another kingdom in Halkeginia, located to the southeast of Tristania. Germania is on its eastern border, in the Alden Forest. It is the second largest country in Halkeginia. Within the Gallia Royal Family, murders and assassination attempts have led to an unstable royalty. There is a city named La Rochelle in the mountains, which is a major port. The capital city is Beautis. Gallia is reminiscent of modern-day France, which in the Roman era was called Gaul.
Albion
Albion (アルビオン Arubion?), nicknamed the white country, is an island nation which is in a period of political strife. According to the storyline, a group of nobles known as Reconquista initiated a coup d'etat against the royalty, and over the course of the story, succeed in killing the entire Albion Royal Family. Cromwell, the leader of the Albion rebellion, seeks to spread his power elsewhere, and begins by attacking Tristain. Albion is the ancient Greek name for the main island of Great Britain upon which are the modern nations England, Wales, and Scotland.
Cromwell is named after the leader of the Roundheads during the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, who successfully ousted the Monarchy, and establishing a brief reign as Lord Protector until the return of Charles II.
Romalia
Romalia (ロマリア Romaria?) is a holy empire, located to the south of Gallia. There a city called Aquileia. Reminiscent of Italy, and specifically the Roman Empire (and the Vatican City, it is mentioned, that they have a pope and officials who are bound to celibacy), which once formed northern Italy and much of central Europe.

Magic[edit]

The nobles of Halkeginia are magi, otherwise known as wizards or magicians, and must use a wand or a staff to cast spells. Not all magi are nobles as some have given up their nobility to use their magic for thievery or to work as mercenaries.
There are four primary magic elements: Ignis, Aqua, Ventus, and Terra. Magi have an affinity to one of those elements. There is a fifth element, the legendary lost branch of element, known as void. Magi can combine different magical elements or even stack the same element on top of itself to make spells more powerful. The power of a mage is determined by how many elements he or she can combine. There are four ranks of magician based upon this factor. Those who cannot combine any element together have the first rank, which is symbolized as a dot. Most magic students are in this class. The ability to combine two, three or four elements together leads to a magic user being referred to as a line, triangle, or square mage. In myths, there is a fifth rank called pentagram mage.
One of the major themes is that humans and technology from Earth displaced into the world of Halkeginia are considered to be highly magical since Halkeginia itself has relatively primitive science and technology. For example, a magical item called the "Staff of Destruction" is, in reality, a human-made Vietnam-era M72 LAW rocket launcher. Other examples of Earth technology, often weaponry, appear throughout the story.

Media[edit]

Light novels[edit]

The Familiar of Zero began as a series of light novels written by Noboru Yamaguchi and illustrated by Eiji Usatsuka under the original title Zero no Tsukaima. Media Factory published 20 volumes in Japan between June 25, 2004 and February 25, 2011. Further publication was threatened by Yamaguchi's advanced cancer,[3] which he succumbed to on April 4, 2013, leaving the series unfinished.[2] Yamaguchi had planned the series to end with 22 volumes.[4] A side-story, Zero no Tsukaima Gaiden: Tabatha no Bōken, initially available as a cellular-phone online serial, was released in three volumes between October 25, 2006 and March 25, 2009. Seven Seas Entertainment licensed the series in 2007 under the title Zero's Familiar,[5] but later cancelled the release of the novels.

Anime[edit]

The Familiar of Zero has been adapted into an anime series running for four seasons by the animation studio J.C.Staff. The first season aired in Japan between July 3 and September 25, 2006, and contained thirteen episodes. In April 2007 at Anime Boston, Geneon announced that they had picked up the English dubbing rights of the first season of the anime series under the title The Familiar of Zero.[6] In July 2008, Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon Entertainment still retained the license, Funimation Entertainment assumed exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. The Familiar of Zero was one of several titles involved in the deal.[7] Funimation released a complete box set of the series on November 4, 2008. However, as of August 2011, the rights to the series expired due to low sales.[8] Sentai Filmworks has since re-licensed the first series and will release it on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in 2014.[9]

The second season under the extended title Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi (ゼロの使い魔 ~双月の騎士~?, lit. The Familiar of Zero: Knight of the Twin Moons) aired in Japan between July 9 and September 24, 2007, containing twelve episodes. A third season, also containing twelve episodes, entitled Zero no Tsukaima: Princesse no Rondo (ゼロの使い魔~三美姫の輪舞(プリンセッセのロンド)~?),[10] aired on Japan's Chiba TV between July 6 and September 21, 2008, and Arts Central in Singapore between July 10 and September 24, 2008. An original video animation episode for the third season was released on December 24, 2008. A fourth and final season titled Zero no Tsukaima F aired twelve episodes between January 7 and March 24, 2012.[11][12][13] Sentai Filmworks licensed the fourth season (under the name The Familiar of Zero F) and released it digitally and on home video in North America.[14]

Music and audio CDs[edit]

The four anime seasons used two pieces of theme music each; one opening theme and one ending theme. The first season's opening theme is "First kiss" by Ichiko, released on July 26, 2006, and the ending theme is "My True Feelings" (ホントノキモチ Honto no Kimochi?) by Rie Kugimiya, released on August 9, 2006. The second season's opening theme is "I Say Yes" by Ichiko, released on July 25, 2007, and the ending theme is "Suki!? Kirai!? Suki!!!" (スキ!? キライ!? スキ!!! lit. Love?! Hate?! Love!!!?) by Rie Kugimiya, released on August 8, 2007. The first seasons original soundtrack was released on August 23, 2006, and the second seasons' soundtrack was released on August 22, 2007. The third season's opening theme is "You're The One" by Ichiko and the ending theme is "Gomen ne" by Rie Kugimiya. The fourth season's opening theme is "I'll Be There For You" by Ichiko and the ending theme is "Kiss Shite Agenai" by Rie Kugimiya, both released on February 1, 2012.

Both the first and second seasons released four character song albums each. The first CD is for Louise and Saito which is sung by Rie Kugimiya and Satoshi Hino. The second CD is for Montmorency and Guiche which is sung by Mikako Takahashi and Takahiro Sakurai; the first two CDs were both released on September 6, 2006. The third CD is for Kirche and Tabitha which is sung by Nanako Inoue and Yuka Inokuchi. The fourth, and final CD from the first season, is for Henrietta and Siesta which is sung by Ayako Kawasumi and Yui Horie; the third and fourth CDs were both released on September 21, 2006. The first CD for the second season is for Louise which is sung by Rie Kugimiya. The second CD is for Henrietta which is sung by Ayako Kawasumi; the first two CDs were both released on October 10, 2007. The third CD is for Siesta which is sung by Yui Horie. The fourth, and final CD from the second season, is for Eleanor and Cattleya which is sung by Kikuko Inoue and Kotomi Yamakawa; the third and fourth CDs were both released on October 24, 2007.

Two audio dramas were released for the second season. The first is a compilation of radio drama episodes from The Familiar of Zero Internet radio show Zero no Tsukaima on the radio: Tristain Mahō Gakuin e Yōkoso and was released on July 25, 2007. The second album is a drama CD featuring the characters Louise, Kirche, and Tabitha—voiced by Rie Kugimiya, Nanako Inoue, and Yuka Inokuchi respectively—which was released on September 5, 2007.

Manga[edit]

A manga series illustrated by Nana Mochizuki was serialized in the Japanese seinen manga magazine Monthly Comic Alive between the August 2006 and October 2009 issues, published by Media Factory. Seven tankōbon volumes were released by Media Factory under their MF Comics imprint. The manga is licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment under the title Zero's Familiar, and will release it over three omnibus volumes.[15] The manga was also licensed by Elex Media Komputindo in Indonesia and released up to volume three in English under the title The Familiar of Zero, and in the Czech Republic by Zoner Press.[16]

A spin-off series, illustrated by Higa Yukari and titled as Zero no Tsukaima Chevalier, was serialized between the March 2010 and May 2013 issues of Comic Alive. There are also two other spin-offs serialized in Comic Alive: Zero no Tsukaima Gaiden: Tabatha no Bōken by Takuto Kon, which was serialized in Comic Alive between December 2007 and August 2010 and compiled in five volumes,[17] and Zero no Chukaima: Yōchien nano! by Takamura Masaya.[18][19]

Visual novels[edit]

Three visual novels for the PlayStation 2 were developed by Marvelous Interactive. The first, Zero no Tsukaima: Koakuma to Harukaze Concerto (ゼロの使い魔 小悪魔と春風の協奏曲?, lit. The Familiar of Zero: Goblins and the Spring Breeze Concerto), was released in limited and regular editions on February 15, 2007 in Japan.[20] This was followed by Zero no Tsukaima: Muma ga Tsumugu Yokaze no Fantasy (ゼロの使い魔 夢魔が紡ぐ夜風の幻想曲?) on November 29, 2007[21] and Zero no Tsukaima: Maigo no Period to Ikusen no Symphony (ゼロの使い魔 迷子の終止符と幾千の交響曲?) on November 6, 2008.[22]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Kimlinger, Carl (March 3, 2012). "Review - Familiar of Zero F: episodes 1-6 Streaming". Anime News Network. Retrieved June 27, 2012. "When the flurry lets up though, the series lets off the brakes and goes screaming right to Harem-Harem Land." 
  2. ^ a b "Zero no Tsukaima Author Noboru Yamaguchi Passes Away". Anime News Network. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Zero no Tsukaima's Yamaguchi Confirms He Has Cancer". Anime News Network. July 15, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Zero no Tsukaima Author Noboru Yamaguchi Plans Surgery". Anime News Network. July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Zero's Familiar English light novel". Seven Seas Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  6. ^ "Anime Boston: Geneon Announces The Familiar of Zero". Anime News Network. 2007-04-21. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  7. ^ "FUNimation Entertainment and Geneon Entertainment Sign Exclusive Distribution Agreement for North America" (Press release). Anime News Network. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  8. ^ "Funimation's Higurashi, Familiar of Zero Licenses Expire". Anime News Network. June 11, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Adds The Familiar of Zero TV Anime". Anime News Network. December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ "3rd Zero no Tsukaima Anime: Summer's Princesse no Rondo". Anime News Network. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  11. ^ "Zero no Tsukaima Gets Final Series as TV Anime". Anime News Network. August 20, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Author: 4th Zero no Tsukaima Season Slated for 2012". Anime News Network. August 20, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Zero no Tsukaima F Slated for January 7". Anime News Network. November 27, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Licenses Zero no Tsukaima F TV Anime Series". Anime News Network. January 10, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Seven Seas Adds Zero's Familiar Fantasy Manga" (in Japanese). Anime News Network. October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Ve službách Nuly" (in Czech). Zoner Press. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  17. ^ "ゼロの使い魔外伝タバサの冒険 全5巻 完結コミックセット (MFコミックス アライブシリーズ)" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ "ゼロのちゅかいま よーちえんnano!1" [Zero no Chukaima: Yōchien nano! 1] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  19. ^ "ゼロのちゅかいま よーちえんnano!3" [Zero no Chukaima: Yōchien nano! 3] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ "ゼロの使い魔 小悪魔と春風の協奏曲" [The Familiar of Zero: Goblins and the Spring Breeze Concerto] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "ゼロの使い魔 夢魔が紡ぐ夜風の幻想曲" [Zero no Tsukaima: Muma ga Tsumugu Yokaze no Fantasy] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ "ゼロの使い魔 迷子の終止符と幾千の交響曲" [Zero no Tsukaima: Maigo no Period to Ikusen no Symphony] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]