ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:00 - 7th August 2016, by NEO Staff

Familiar of Zero F: Series 4 Collection

Once lampooned for her lack of magical prowess, titular tsundere Louise found solace in the company of her dunderheaded familiar – Saito Hiraga. Plucked from his banal high school existence in modern day Japan, Saito has since outstripped his fish out of water shtick and become an integral player on the continent of Halkeginia. In this fourth and final series, Saito is graced with lordship and a mansion, and his caustic relationship with Louise flourishes into something sincere and sweet.

Though undeniably the continuation of Saito’s mammary gland fascination, the ecchi is largely cast aside in favour of a fairytale finale. It sees Saito and Louise sent off in tear-jerking style, but at the cost of furthering his mismatched harem: the bookish, bespectacled Tabitha; Henrietta, the princess of Tristain, and the half-elf Tiffania Westwood, a newly discovered Void user. In a twist of fate she winds up summoning Saito as her familiar, despite his runic ties to Louise. But this three-way bond makes him all kinds of powerful – convenient, as an ancient dragon readies its attack.

The bright, plucky visuals suffer from rough character models with the return of series one director Yoshiaki Iwasaki, but it also coincides with the show’s best episodes in the collection closers. The shift in storytelling quality is matched by evocative snaps of synth soundtrack in amongst the regal strings and choral chants.

As with the previous instalments, the allusions to terrorism, religious extremism and racism bubble in the background to one extent or another, creating a tangible link to an otherwise forgettable patchwork of fantasy tropes and European history. Though it’s hardly the obvious topic for a harem comedy, this is the stronger dimension that Familiar of Zero has always hinted to. In a series besmirched by boob envy, panty flashes and a repeating punch line, it’s a genuine surprise that it should end on a mature and moving note.

Despite its bombardment of boob jokes, this harem comedy comes good and pulls a sweet and satisfying ending. A fitting eulogy for the late light novelist Noboru Yamaguchi.
SCORE: 3/5
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