Familiar Zero DVDDirector: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Starring: Rie Kugimiya, Cristina Valenzuela, Satoshi Hino, Jonathan Meza, Nanako Inoue, Lauren Landa, Yuka Inokuchi, Jennifer Alyx

Running Time: 325 minutes

Certificate: 12

In a magical school that isn’t Hogwarts, we’re introduced to Louise Zero, so called because her name is Louise and she has so far performed zero magic correctly. The Familiar Of Zero is a very decent outsider based comedy fantasy in which the hero is actually the least likely person you would expect. Upon having to summon her familiar, a tradition that all wannabe magicians must undertake, she summons a human from modern day Tokyo by the name of Saito.

The Familiar Of Zero does in fact feel very familiar in that most of its components can be connected to other anime or popular culture: even the wise old headmaster looks like a clone of Dumbledore. Like other anime there is focus on breasts, a male character who is instantly the object of lust for every female, and so forth. Even the fantasy elements aren’t original in the slightest, but it’s the impressive balancing act that the show does so well to become such a success.

There isn’t really an unlikable character in the bunch, and the misadventures and misunderstandings are often funny rather than eye-rollingly obvious. The animation, although fairly contained, is a joy to behold, with fantastic fantasy creatures and spells used to keep variety ticking over throughout the well paced stories. The stories are also filled with genuine twists and an underlying theme of social class. There is clear division between the peasants and nobility, and although it is discussed in some depth and adds a lot to character relationships, it never intrudes on the breezy and enjoyable tone.

Those who love both light fantasy and comedic relationships will get a lot from this enjoyable and very cute show. There is certainly a feeling of actual progression given the relationships and none of it feels sudden. This has the outsider loner, the fish out of water, the dominating sexpot, the cool calm and collected talented one, and yet it never feels a chore to get through. Very simple, very effective.

[usr=4] The Familiar Of Zero is released on DVD and Blu-ray from 28th July via MVM.

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