FAMILIAR OF ZERO, SERIES 3: PRINCESSES NO RONDO

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Princesses no Rondo, being the third outing of Familiar of Zero, based on the light novels of late scribe Noboru Yamaguchi, sees high schooler Saito Hiraga loose the runic bond that ties him to the aristocratic and short-tempered mage Louise. Him reverting to average Joe status forces the duo to find some new context for their relationship outside of the familiar/master confinements. It was a strong start that, following the war-torn second series, would have made for a pensive character study. But by the end of the second episode, equilibrium is restored and the plot takes a sharp U-turn, gurning out another ten forgettable episodes. The rest is a further caustic riff into the fanservice trope, continuing the back and forth between Louise and Saito and their testy love/loathe relationship. In other words, just like the previous two series.

It’s a stylistic improvement over its predecessors, with enough subtle changes around the character models to notice, and with more adventurous direction from Yuu Kou, who took over from Yoshiaki Iwasaki (before he was taken back on board for the fourth and final series). It tempers the gratuitous fanservice with bouts of genuine charm, likewise, there are moments of giddy humour and finely rendered action sequences, but when even the mid-episode title cards sport cleavage and panties, it’s hard to look past the seinen demographic.

The harem conventions have been duly plumbed, cherry picking some of the more obvious enablers, including the obligatory bathing episode, incidents involving love potions and body swapping and the beach bound OVA. When the most intriguing and amusing character is a talking sword, you know something is amiss. With sword and sorcery explored and utilised far better in more recent titles (Maria the Virgin Witch, DanMachi, Heroic Legend of Arslan) and funnier titles besides, Familiar of Zero doesn’t have much to convince those outside of its demographic to stick around. And even they aren’t getting anything the first two series hasn’t already covered.

Special Features: Clean opening / Clean closing / OVA ‘Seductive Beach’ / Trailers

INFO: FAMILIAR OF ZERO, SERIES 3: PRINCESSES NO RONDO / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: YUU KOU / SCREENPLAY: YURI KAWAHARA / STARRING: RIE KUGIMIYA, SATOSHI HINO, YUKA INOKUCHI, MAMIKO NOTO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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