Familiar Of Zero Series 2: Knight Of The Two Moons (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 289 minutes approx.
It’s been almost a year since the first series of Familiar Of Zero was released so I advise you click the link for the review to refresh your memory as this second season continues the adaption of Noboru Yamaguchi’s light novels and manga right from where we left it.
Our male hero Saito Hiraga, with his talking sword Derflinger, is still serving and suffering as the Familiar of noble wizard failure Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière at the Tristain Academy in the magical world of Halkeginia. Once again bratty Louise is in full tsundere mode, treating Saito like a dog whilst harbouring secret feelings for him, this explosive frisson now commonplace around the academy. Even after the multiple lashings of magical violence endured, Saito still can’t temper his obsession for large chests, which isn’t helped by every female he encounters being generously endowed, because anime.
One such busty beauty happens to be the newly crowned Queen Henrietta, who wishes to recruit Saito’s Familiar power in lieu of the latest stage of the war with the Kingdom of Albion. Having learned of the death of the previous antagonist Cromwell by his secretary Sheffield who now has control of the Ring of Andavari, Henrietta is keen to have Tristain remain peaceful but the discovery of a traitor among the ranks is the first sign that she may have to declare war after all.
If you have seen the first series of Familiar Of Zero, you will know that unfortunately the focus is more on boobs than battles and despite the promising storyline, there is little change in this follow up. Out of the twelve episodes in this set, the majority spend more time in setting up more comic misunderstandings between Saito and Louise than the more serious threat of an imminent war. Thankfully when it does address the main plot, it is rather satisfying and emotionally charged, bringing with it a noticeably darker tone than before.
The first two episodes centre on Henrietta being kidnapped by her believed dead former love Prince Wales whom Saito and Louise rush to rescue along with the royal guards led by the formidable Agnes. This is but a mere distraction with little bearing on the overall war plot, but it gives an early glimpse of hope for the more serious direction the series takes later on.
Having not read the source material it is hard to divine if the few episodes which reek of filler are exactly that or if they are canon; their placement and often incongruent content is a very convincing argument for assuming they are filler, even if they are not. For example, after the first pivotal plot point of the spy in the royal guards, the next episode sees Saito and Henrietta re-enacting the classic film Roman Holiday, which the Queen disguising herself as commoner and enjoying the sights with Saito while Louise works at a maid bar in full costume, natch. Again this might have been in Yamaguchi’s original works but the tonal clash between the two episodes is stupefying.
One area of improvement is how the explicitness of the fan service has been toned down although the ecchi overtones remain firmly in place. Bouncing bosoms are the order of the day, as are multiple nose bleeds for our pervy protagonist but the modesty of the ladies in question has been largely maintained behind suitably covering attire.
Unfortunately this lurid portrayal of the women leaves them to be the usual anime cheesecake tropes, and even when one does have a pertinent backstory, it is undeveloped. Agnes, for example, we learn late into the run is haunted by a tragic event of her past which comes to a head in one of the stronger episodes, evocative of Fullmetal Alchemist for this writer. as promising as it sounds, it is never given nurtured or made to feel important enough to flesh Agnes out as a character or have a true emotional impact on the story.
Suffering a similar fate is a Shinto priest named Julio Chesaré, a potential love rival for Louise’s affections making his debut in the third episode. After a typically provocative first appearance, Julio’s subsequent moments on screen are rather fleeting, undermining his presence as almost inconsequential and unthreatening to Saito at best. Yet the most egregious oversight as far as presence and character development is Sheffield, an incredulous misuse of what is supposed to be the chief antagonist of the tale!
Battle sequences are even less frequent and rather brief but when they arrive they are fairly well done for the quick bursts of visual energy they provide. But again the bulk of the sizzle comes from Louise’s admonishing of Saito which occurs with such regularity that it wears thin as a recurring gag. It doesn’t help Louise’s connection with the audience either, making her one of the most annoying and dislikeable lead characters in anime – certainly one of the most capricious and changeable personality wise.
As mentioned in the review of the first season, there are still two more instalment of this series to come, which is obvious from the emotional and open ended conclusion of this one. Perhaps in the next volume we will learn more about Sheffield and the motivations behind her campaign against Tristain and see more of her too, otherwise she remains a faceless and unconvincing opponent for our heroes.
Familiar Of Zero: Knight Of The Two Moons (a title not fully explained by the way) offers no surprises in the overall content for anyone who watched the first season, outside of the added drama of the serious episodes. Hampered by disjointed and unfocused storytelling however, there is a sense of frustration to be found after the initial brief whiff of a promising plot.
If colourful, noisy, bawdy silliness with a fetish for oversized female chests is your thing then this show should fulfil your entertainment remit, but for returning fans only.
Japanese Language w/ English Subtitles
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ** ½
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