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Dated 14 July 2006: Zero no Tsukaima

Zero no Tsukaima (Zero's Familiar) is pretty amusing. It's not likely to crack my Top Four List like Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (which was astoundingly good—nearly Azumanga Daioh good), but it's definitely one of summer shows worth watching this season.

Louise and Saito
Louise and Saito.

Zero no Tsukaima (which I can't stop calling Hermione ZERO) is about a second-year magic school student at a rather Harry Potter-ish academy who inadvertantly summons a computer nerd from Tokyo as her familiar. Rather than being a high-speed honor student-type girl like Hermione Granger, ol' Louise is a consistent failure as a mage, which accounts for her "Zero Louise" nickname. Louise carries the show with the power of tsundere (and with the power of zettai ryouiki, some may argue). Refreshingly, Saito, Louise's reluctant familiar, is considerably more assertive than the typical male protagonist wimp one usually finds in anime like this. He stands up for himself in episode two, and defiantly takes his lumps in stride.

Saito and Louise
Saito and Louise.

It is unclear whether or not this is intentional, but Saito's episode-two injuries appear limited to his right side; his left side seems relatively uninjured. Perhaps it has something to do with the myserious runes on the back of his left hand. The runes manifested after Louise and Saito sealed their magician/familiar contract, but they seem to have special significance to the academy's Dumbledore/Gandalf correlate.

Saito's runes
Saito's runes.

The runes also attract the attention of Ms. Longueville. I hope I'm not ruining the show for anyone, but it seems pretty clear to me after seeing her treatment and subsequent reaction in episode two that she is the cloaked green-haired antagonist seen in the OP. I mean, c'mon.

Miss Longueville
Miss Longueville.

Miss Longueville?
Miss Longueville?

There's also something unusual about Zero no Tsukaima's version of YUKI.N>.

Zero's Familiar is exected to run 12 or 13 episodes and should remain fairly entertaining thanks to its lively cast of characters. It also shares many of the same voice actors as last autumn's Shakugan no Shana, so it's also amusing in the VanDread:Stratos 4 sort of way. It also has Yui Horie sweetness and J.C. Staff designs to seal the deal, ensuring that Zero no Tsukaima will reign as this season's tsundere romantic comedy. It's much better than the wretched Tsuyokiss which is going to need a 180-degree turn for the better, and fast.

Dated 26 August 2006: Zero no Tsukaima

Let's see, first some noble doofus traded Siesta, a concubine-maid so fresh she was still in her original wrapper, for an old porno magazine. And now Saito has passed her up for...the dubious pleasure of being blue-balled the rest of the season. Good job, guys.

Siesta joins Saito for some impromptu nude hot tubbing.

Zero no Tsukaima's source for Yui Horie Sweetness is going to inexplicably have zero miles on her by the end of the show, isn't she?

Henrietta, Saito, and Louise
A kiss on the hand is worth two in the bush. Wait, I said that wrong....

In any case, Saito's character has been rather inconsistent. Sometimes he's played up like a typical harem comedy male terrified of any sort of female contact, and at other times he's all about the casual nudity and the smooching of pretty girls above his social station.

Dated 1 October 2006: Zero no Tsukaima

Works best against indolent opponents.

Alchemy. King of the Battle. Yeah, it doesn't quite work for me.

The impending battle.
Y'all should have invoked the draft.

Our intrepid good guys are pretty lucky that there wasn't any decent artillery at this fight.

Zero no Tsukaima was pretty lackluster all around, I have to say. Not one of J.C. Staff's better works by any means. It was amusing enough, I guess, but nothing about it managed to keep my interest for very long. It also didn't help that a number of things about it were pretty irritating, like the sparkle-magic scene-transition noises, and the rather dull fight sequences.

The Zero
Indistinguishable from magic?

I do admit to getting a kick out of seeing Saito teeing off on a bunch of dragons with the Zero. I trust the "riding inside a Zero" and like jokes were lost on no one.

In other news, hey, it's a unicorn.

Virgin alert.