What They Say:
Their relationship has been building ever since she first accidentally kidnapped him from Earth, but, even with all they’ve been through together, are Saito and Louise ready to take their relationship to the next level? The answer, sadly, will have to wait, as once again events in Halkeginia are running out of control and Saito and Louise find themselves, along with several other Void Mages, pressed into service to save the world. And while any mission involving Void Magic is sure to suck at some point, the suck-age is certain to be compounded by the fact that one of the mages they’ll be working with is the amply endowed elf Tiffania, who may have designs on getting familiar with Saito herself. Betrayals, reversals and the inevitable side trip to the hot springs lie ahead as the evil plots get plottier, the dysfunctional relationships get even more dysfunctional and lots of stuff goes BOOM for only vaguely justifiable reasons! It’s the epic fourth, and quite possibly final, installment of the acclaimed comedy series, so almost anything that can happen probably WILL happen in FAMILIAR OF ZERO F!
Sentai Filmworks gave the disk set a standard cast art cover with the full cast of Saito’s harem. Although the series may try to revolve around his relationship with Louise, the majority of the comedy is arranged with the awkward interactions of the other girls flirting with him so it is fitting that they are included in the artwork. And to make it even more amusing for the couple, they used a dark blue night time background help to emphasize the cast in their lingerie/pajamas as they get ready for bed; an even more fun time as they all try to sleep in the same bed, much to Louise’s animosity.
The menus of the collection are very basic. They used the same artwork of the characters in their lingerie to accent the night time background with a pentagram as the menu cursor to navigate over the standard episode listing so that the disk can be played as a collection or individually. There is nothing to distract from the viewing and any Extras are on the first disk.
The extras on the disk could have been used to reintroduce the characters to a new generation of viewers, but Sentai deemed it not unnecessary to include any type of biography for the cast. This is the fourth season of the series and unless the viewer is a loyal watcher, most will not remember any of the character’s background stories or how they interact with Saito or Louise. Since this series is about those two, unless we know that synergy, they are nothing more than window dressing. But instead, Sentai decided to only to show textless opening & closing animations and add some trailers for their other acquisitions. Extras are supposed to add to the content of a disk, not subtract from it by just tacking on non-essential materials.
Louise is enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep with Saito until she realises that his maid Siesta has also joined them in bed. This is might be a regular occurrence, but when he starts talking in his sleep and comparing their chest sizes, her temper gets the better of her and results in casting an Explosion spell, blowing everyone off of the mattress. In the wake of the burning bedding, Tabitha interrupts the morning’s ritual and tells then that they have been summoned to Romalia for an audience with the Pope.
When they arrive in the holy city of Aquileia, Louise, Saito and Tiffa are escorted into the cathedral by their friend Julio where they meet Princess Henrietta and his holiness Vittorio Serevare, the current Pope of Romalia. He then reveals that he too is a Void Mage, just like Louise and that a recently uncovered prophecy tells that the four Mages are need to stop an ancient evil from rising again; they know that Gallia’s mad King Joseph is the third and somehow, Tiffa is the fourth! However, in order for a magician to become a Void Mage, they must also have a familiar to protect them: Louise has Saito, the Pope has Julio and Joseph has his own companion. So, for Tiffa to be fully awakened, she must find her own guardian, but she has no idea of how to start.
Later that night, Tiff asks Colbert for help on how to summon a familiar, but as she casts the spell and the magic circle materialises, nothing immediately appears. She thinks the conjuration has failed until a desperate scream from above startles the half elf and she watches as Saito crashes through the portal and lands at her feet! How can he be her familiar when he is Louise’s protector? Could the summoning have corrupted and brought her friend instead? There must be a reason why Saito came through the door instead of something else or is he really her familiar? They will have to find out before the prediction comes to pass, otherwise, that evil will have nothing to stop it from reigning over the land!
Since this season is supposed to be the last one of the series, they did start off with a strong premise but the ending was seriously lacking in any critical impact. After they established the premise of the four Void Mages and their need to prevent the prophecy, it would have seemed logical to concentrate on finding Tiffa’s familiar and a way to stop the ancient evil, but the story kept wandering off course. While the first arc ended explosively, after that they could have just moved on with Tiffa’s search; while the story did concentrate on her, it had nothing to do with finding a protector. They should have found a way back to the right path, but it kept wandering away with side narrations that had nothing to do with the main theme.
The comedic escapades of Saito and all of the girls trying to interfere with Louise’s attempts to get closer to him might have been funny for the first few episodes, but to waste the majority of the season with the same tired jokes by just exchanging the girl and situation began to get monotonous, very fast. They should have spent more time expanding on the coming apocalypse and the history behind it, but instead crammed all of that information into the last three episodes and wasted the middle six with recycled laughs. Sad attempt to end with a giggle instead of a satisfying closure to what could have been an epic tale.
Instead, the last episodes felt rushed as they tried to wrap up of the loose threads and finish the anime with a gigantic monster. Of course, nothing in their world could stop the monstrosity so the creators used a cheap trick with a modern solution! As if we didn’t see that coming when all of the students’ attempts failed and all seemed lost. This is a pitiful way to end The Familiar of Zero, but hopefully an OVA will created to wrap up the series, but it seems rather unlikely.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation and Sentai Trailers
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player connected by HDMI