Familiar of Zero 3: Rondo of Princesses
Saito Hiraga, the young Japanese school student magically summoned to the country of Tristain to be the familiar of Void Magic User Louise de la Vallière etc. etc. is rather puzzled. He died at the end of the war between Tristain and Albion but was restored to life by the shy half-elf Tiffania. Now the war is over and he’s back with his beloved tsundere Louise – except that the runes on his hand marking the pact between them have disappeared; he’s no longer her familiar! Which makes him fair game for amorous maid Siesta, Tiffania, and even the Queen, much to Louise’s disgust. And no one has ever been able to summon the same familiar again, once the bond has been severed. Meanwhile, the evil magic-wielder Sheffield is under orders from a shadowy individual to kidnap Louise and spirit her away – so that her Void Magic can be put to some nefarious purpose. Something’s not right with the blue-haired megane, book-loving Tabitha either – and who knew that her dragon could shape-shift?! (And no, it’s not into a bold, handsome male warrior-dragon, so, sorry girls, the fan-service here is aimed at those who like their women to be cute and busty. ‘Squeak.’)
And we’re back for a third season (out of four) of this jiggly wish-fulfilment fantasy (2008) in which all the women want to make out with Saito, our clueless but brave hero, whereas the true object of his affections, the (not very well-endowed in the bosom department) Louise spends all her time rejecting him, stamping off in a huff, hitting him, calling him her dog etc. This, by Series 3, has become pretty predictable and tiresome. Variations on a number of clichés ensue: the love potion/powder that comically misfires; the boys spy on the girls when they’re bathing; but eventually a plot appears and, once it’s underway, things proceed rather more interestingly, although it still seems to be less important overall to the creative team than shoe-horning in the by-now standard fan service, complete with comedy boing-boing sound effects. In fact, the denouement of the plot is dealt with so swiftly in the twelfth episode that it feels as if it’s unfinished. (Which, in a way, given that there’s a fourth series, it is.) There’s an attempt to deal with prejudice – in this case directed at Tiffania, and her elvish ears – but you can tell that the script isn’t really that interested in anything too serious. There’s an OVA after #12 which is entirely devoted to swimsuits. Yup. That’s it, folks.
There is no English dub (again) but the subs from Sentai work well enough and the Japanese seiyuu deliver the goods, especially Rie Kugimiya as Louise, often reduced to stuttering when overwhelmed by emotion (or bosom-envy).
On the music front, it’s more of the same as well with the strident – but frankly forgettable – Opening Theme: “YOU’RE THE ONE” by ICHIKO and Ending Theme: “Gomen ne” sung by Rie Kugimiya again (Louise) and insert song: “Tsukaima-tachi no Shirabe” sung by Mamiko Noto (Tiffania) in Episode 3. Extras are textless Opening and Ending Themes and Sentai trailers.
Yet more of the same. If you enjoyed the last two series of Familiar of Zero you’ll probably enjoy this too. But it’s become repetitive and the Louise/Saito relationship needs some closure – which it’ll never get, as in a harem comedy, our hero has to keep all his options open. Doesn’t he?