Zero’s Familiar Chevalier
ゼロの使い魔 Chevalier (Zero no Tsukaima Chevalier)
YAMAGUCHI Noboru (story); HIGA Yukari (art)
Seinen – Fantasy, romance, comedy, action, adventure, harem, ecchi
4 Volumes (complete)
In this sequel to Zero’s Familiar, Tristain is in the middle of a war, and Saito and Louise prepare to be the country’s secret weapons. But before they can enter the battle, Louise needs her parents’ permission. Will the threat of war bring Saito and Lousie closer together? Or further apart?
The art got better, but I think the story actually got worse.
Let’s go over the first volume: the country is in the middle of a war, so let’s drag three characters to Louise’s home to get permission to fight. I love you. Does he really love me? Does she? Then let’s flash back to an incident from before the house visit. Then let’s have a tip-raising competition at a bar! And the winner is… The end.
Yes, that’s the entirety of the first volume. Despite the country being in the middle of a crisis (one Tristania is causing), we waste half a volume on meeting Louise’s family, and the manga doesn’t even do that well. Introductions are pretty much left to text boxes, and most of the time spent at the family mansion is about Saito and Louise’s relationship. Despite the semi-resolution in the original series, Louise isn’t ready to admit her feelings, especially since Saito keeps ogling women’s breasts. I wonder if the author and/or artist played up Saito’s ecchi side to earn Louise some more sympathy with her tsundere outbursts. It’s really hard to see them as an example of true love when they both act immature. Yes, many of the actions and emotions are appropriate for their age, but considering the ending of Zero’s Familiar and the fact the two should be clinging closer together during a war, their feelings often feel hollow. It’s like they randomly switch between couple that’s practically together and a someday, eventually, long down the line couple.
Speaking of the war, one would think it would be given greater importance. Yes, all the chapters are connected to the war, but the country isn’t preparing for war; they’re in the middle of one. Yet the manga spends more time on reconnaissance and having the two work in a bar than in fights. Saito’s sword Derflinger gets only a few speaking scenes, and I believe he was only pulled out once, maybe twice for a fight. The story tries to explain why Saito and Louise aren’t immediately put into the front lines, but the excuses are weak. Even weaker is the fact the girls at the academy evidently can’t enlist. Then I don’t understand why bother giving Tabitha a rank of chevalier or showing the leader of the musketeers is a female. For as much as the series goes on about nobles versus commoners, it could have mentioned about some of the differences between genders in society.
But even once we get to the “war” part of the story, much of the action is skipped. This manga, despite being a visual medium, seems to fall into the “tell not show” category. A two-week holiday begins, then ends. The plan is starting, then it’s finished. It likes to jump ahead to the results rather than the struggles. As for the ending, it provides some resolution, but it’s not a solid conclusion. I can really tell there’s several volumes of light novels left to adapt, including hinting at a major character. Despite the original series’ story bumps, I honestly feel like it had the better plot.
While this is still Saito’s and Louise’s stories, Zero’s Familiar Chevalier introduces several new characters. Kirche and Tabitha have little pagetime, and Guiche and Mon-mon are barely seen. Ironically, it is their teacher who gets much focus. Siesta the maid is the backup and romantic rival, and she is even more aggressive this time around. I missed Tabitha’s and Kirche’s skills providing support for the main pair. As for Saito and Louise, I found Saito more annoying this time around and Louise more like a less sadistic tsundere. Saito jumps to conclusions while also letting his hormones run more wild. Louise makes a few solid efforts to treat her familiar more nicely, and there were times Saito deserved a hit (but maybe not a whole explosion).
The artist who drew Zero’s Familiar did not do this series. Their styles are quiet different. While Mochizuki, the artist of the original series, showed off her lolicon background, Higa fortunately draws everyone more age-appropriate. Gone are the random height problems or the varying face styles. Her style is fairly typical of a shounen series, but it does take a little getting used to if you have just finished reading the original. Since most of this series does not take place at the academy, the extended cast does not play as large a part, so the adjustment period doesn’t last as long as it would have been if the setting remained the same. The few flashbacks are redrawn. One thing given even greater prominence in this series is boobs. Louise’s chest size versus the others are given much focus; more ecchi scenes are at the beginning and are more balanced throughout this series. Unfortunately, the chapters themselves are not balanced. Chapters end on unimportant notes, and the few action scenes are confusing. The story tends to skip much of the battles, but the art does not help fill in the holes. So while character designs are better, the confusing paneling drags this series down.
No honorifics are used. This isn’t too surprising for a fantasy series, especially when the setting is Western-based. The same person who adapted the prequel series also did this one, but the translator is different. It sounds a little bit different from the original, but overall, it is a good adaptation.
So this series has the better art, but the original has the better story. But I wasn’t really impressed by either. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the anime, and the two manga series didn’t increase my interest. In fact, they did the opposite.
Seven Seas licensed the original light novels, but those plans have been abandoned.
The author of Zero’s Familiar died, but it has been recently announced the light novels will continue with another author.
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