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Headscratchers: The Familiar of Zero
  • Why doesn't Saito seem to care that his life and everything he knew is lost, presumably for good? Yes, the terms of the familiar spell hold back a lot of his homesick-related emotions, but even from a logical or mental standpoint he just seems to accept every aspect of his situation in about five seconds (about the time he's able to understand Louise and the others' language) and his basic reaction to the whole thing isn't "holy shit, this is unbelievable", or "oh God, my family and friends and everything familiar (no pun intended) is now lost to me, how will I survive", or so on. His basic reaction is "Oh well, this is kinda cool, although this bratty chick is annoying. What should I do first?"
    • Because Marshmallow Hell is cool, and he wants his harem, even the Pettanko elements of it?
    • My guess is that he's a loner orphan. His total lack of proper human interaction is pretty clear- he knows nothing about sympathy (remember, Saito— when someone's crying, it means something's wrong), empathy (his total inability to figure out how to not piss someone off), sincerity (telling he loves Louise while fantasizing about her sister). His idea of "love" is some cliched crap pulled from manga (i blame the writers for this), along with his ideas of loyalty and honour.
      • Jossed in a later novel where he's shown crying after getting an e-mail from his mother.
      • Total lack of social skills can also be attributed to being Japanese, since it's something they are getting rather famous for.
    • The lack of concern over the life left behind at the 'real world' is a common staple in this kind of anime settings. El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is a notable example.
    • I've always figured it that the magic that makes him the Gandalfr sort of stops him thinking about his old life in a truly deep way. Sort of, he can remember things like the internet and the Sailor suit because they were very common, and shallow, but if he tries to think about his family, his brain sort of...stops him thinking about it. After all, if Saito is howling about how he'll never see his mum or dad again, he won't be able to protect Louise very well. However, there was that time after he dueled with Guiche, too, and was out of it for two days. Maybe he has some kind of Laser-Guided Amnesia - he can remember everything but his family and friends. Hmmm.
      • It's confirmed in the novels that Gandalfr runes gradually made him infatuated with his master, suppressed all memories of his home world that could cause him to really want to get back, tried to make him feel protective of people he met, and generally did a lot of what one could consider Mind Rape, so it's not really his fault. When Tiffania used her magic to erase the effect runes had on him, he had spent a lot of time angsting and only recovered because Louise needed his help rather urgently.
      • And even then, he was seriously considering leaving Louise's service for good, deathbound runes be damned because more than just the supressed memories reawoke. The runes also suppressed any feelings of indignation and calmed him after each beating Louise gave him. When the spell was broken, Saito recalled all the pain and a crack immediately formed in their relationship that took a long time to resolve.
      • How is Mind Raping the guy like that NOT considered a Moral Event Horizon from Louise?
      • The only reason it isn't considered a Moral Event Horizon(even though by all rights it should be) is because nobody knew about those side effect until after they erased the mental restrictions and that it wasn't intentionally casted by Louise. By then, the author probably thought the readers would all think they would still love each other and want them to be together, and boy was he wrong.
      • Saito probably dueled with Guiche precisely because his life and everything he knew was lost, so he literally seeked death. Otherwise Saito could have acted more rationally.
  • This troper doesn't fully understand the entire Noble/Commoner theme as it stands in ZNT. We're told that the only defining characteristics of the two are that Nobles can do magic and Commoners can't, I.E. that it's not a matter of class, caste, social upbringing, etc., but it becomes readily obvious after 5 seconds that the 'Nobles' are exactly what you'd expect them to be (rich, powerful, entitled, royal, mannered and gentile), while commoners are the poor-servant class. What happens when a Commoner can do magic? We've seen that Nobles who are reduced to Commoner status despite being able to do magic are still privaleged.
    • Later on Saito himself becomes part of the nobility, so a magic using commoner could become nobility, but it would probably be a rare occurrence.
    • Uh, what exactly don't you get? One would think that being able to wield supernatural powers would directly lead to the formation of an upper class with exactly the perks and traits you outlined. And isn't magic in ZNT supposed to be hereditary? It's a quite literal take on the word "blue blood", hence no Commoners-as-magicians.
    • As a corollary to this, Saito is considered a Commoner, but the manner in which he's treated is FAR worse than all the other Commoners we meet. For instance, Commoner seems to be ZNT's term for the serf-class, the proletariat, those NOT of entitled status. They are the farmers, maids, cooks, servants, etc., however, they are still looked as and respected (in a manner of speaking) as Human, they are given living quarters, beds, commodities, food. Saito, however, is basically treated and considered as a slave or an animal, his status as Louise's familiar notwithstanding, is expected to sleep on straw on the floor or outside, and is given bread and table scraps off to eat on the floor. No one seems to be find this odd, although you could chalk it up to Louise's retarded ideas of what a Commoner should be like.
      • Your mistaken Louise has retarded ideas about what a familiar should be like and Saito's status as Louise's familiar trumps his status as a Human.
    • This actually makes perfect sense in a "fantasy feudalism" context, though the writers might not have actually thought it out. In real life, one of the defining characteristics of a knight was owning a horse (and sword and armor and such), allowing him to be far more valuable in war than a peasant with a polearm. If you have mages that can shoot fireballs, they would be even more disproportionately powerful.
    • This troper as just started reading the novels (still haven't finished the first one) but in reading it I found Louise's treatment of Saito to be fitting for a character like her. NOT ACCEPTABLE but fitting. Louise lives in a world where ability to do magic determines one's social standing. Since she can't use magic once she finally gets a familiar, Saito, she reasons that since Saito is by definition HER FAMILIAR she does not have to treat him as the Human being he so clearly is. Saito is also a commoner and a pervert and his status as her Familiar gives Louise, the master, complete control over his treatment. Since he's only a familiar, she can use and abuse him to her leisure because he now belongs to her.
    • In other words, she's a Jerk Sue.

  • Why does no one question or find it odd, re: Do anything about Saito's situation? The ZNT world, or at least the Kingdom of Tristein doesn't seem to believe in open slavery, and it's SPECIFICALLY stated by Osman and others that there's no precedent of a Human serving as a Familiar anywhere in their records. Between what it's expected of Familiars to actually do and the fact that everyone takes Louise's summoning as a ginormous magical screw-up like everything else she does, one would expect that they'd apologize to Saito (keeping in mind that most of the staff and others at the Academy, especially Osman, are kind and liberal to Commoners), or at the very least release him to avoid embarassment, break the rune, and attempt to make sense of the situation. This is ESPECIALLY true once they find out he's NOT a Commoner, and is from another world entirely, and has basically been pulled into something of which he's not a part.
    • Adding on to this, why do they assume that Saito is a Commoner, or no one of importance. Heck, they KNOW he's not from their country OR even their continent from the start by his dress and the fact that he speaks a language NO one understands. Aren't they at least worried who they'd snagged, or curious, or don't they have any sort of treaties or rules about treating foreign citizens?
    • Summoning a familiar seems to be an important rite so giving him a pat on the back and a train ticket home would not only be abnormal, it could border on heretical. As for the teachers they rapidly learn that he is a legendary summon and want to keep him around to study, using Luise's incompetence as a pretense for why such an abnormal thing happened. Then there's also the prejudice they seem to hold that a contract is a two way street, so if he was summoned it must be because he wanted to be (the reverse magical Corollary of "she was asking for it"). And why do they assume he's a commoner? Well if he's wearing strange clothes and talks funny he must be a commoner because no aristocrat would flout protocol like that right? After all they are a bunch of upper class brats living in a gated community. At least that's the way I rationalize it. Of course the real answer to this question, and indeed any other ones you may have about this series, is the MST3K Mantra.

  • Did this show start out as a Dating Sim or something? Every time Saito accomplishes anything that affects his standing with a potential romantic interest, there's this funny sound that happens in the background. In addition, the fact that the entire cast seems to view him as either a date or a rival bears a rather uncanny resemblance to them, Saito's somewhat AFGNCAAP-like archetype, the comedically inserted gags about artifacts from Earth and random Fanservice (including LITERAL Bleached Underpants) also give me the impression this either began as a visual novel or is primarily a parody of them.
    • This show was based on a series of light novels, not dating sims. Funnily enough, I think they also made three Zn T games that are visual novels. Naturally, as a popular trope these days, your question would be easily answered by the fact that half of the series is built around that premise. Half of it is romantic-comedy similar to a dating sim, and another half is action-magic that is loosely based on real-life history. Combine these two important elements, add characters and tweaks to the plot, and you'll get The Familiar of Zero.

  • I know that Louise's a Tsundere with a heavy emphasis on tsun and that Saito can act perverted and dumb at times but it Headscratchers how far Louise takes the abuse. I mean the force with which she dishes out those Groin Attacks, explosions, and Megaton Punches...I'm surprised Saito doesn't have any lasting injuries or internal damage. Even Akane wasn't that violent with Ranma.
    • Sometimes, when their fights get serious, yes, the injuries last. It just so happens that most of the physical violence is shown as comical, but the emotional ones are serious business. In any case, a lot of tsunderes act just as if not even more physically violent as Louise, but the males are usually either: 1. Have grown resistance to it; 2. Are just lucky, or; 3. Recover quickly. Saito is Gandalfr, he's survived being in a few wars in Halkegenia, no doubt he'd survive his own master's outbursts. But on the other hand, his master is certainly scarier than the wars he's participated in, by his own words. As for Louise... psychology just applies here, you know? Even IRL, people tend to let out their feelings through physical means. In the beginning Louise abused Saito because she was taunted and teased for her zero success. Later on, she felt differently towards Saito. She was aware of her feelings for him, but her inexperience with love and unrelenting pride as a noble caused her to act like that. I think those are the reasons for her outbursts.

  • This Troper honestly just can not see how people can like Louise. Perhaps its because this troper has only read the light novels, but Louise just seems really unlikable. I mean, for every tender moment she and Saito get, there's a shockingly cruel scene to counteract it. And seeing how Saito is clearly not enjoying any of this treatment, this troper can only assume the familiar contract is somehow manipulating his feelings towards her, because seriously any sane man would have settled down with Siesta after the part where Louise forced Saito to wear something that could electrocute him whenever she felt like it.
    • From what I've read, the light novels have confirmed this. As it happens, said mental restriction has apparently been removed (in the novels at least), which leaves Saito pining to go home.
    • Having reached that point in the book, all I can say now is that Saito is either into BDSM, suffering from one hell of a case of Stockholm Syndrome, or has a severe hero complex, because even after the mind manipulation is removed he's still going after Louise. Yeesh.
      • He's probably been subject to enough brainwashing at this point that an enforced mind manipulation is superfluous. Pavlovian Conditioning keeps on going after the end of the experiment.
      • People can really overreact. Louise isn't nearly as bad as people make her out to be. Yes, she does cruel things, but to be fair so does Saito. Neither of them are perfect, but their relationship works.
      • When both parties overreact and have cruel responses towards one another I don't see a relationship lasting very long.
      • Does Saito do some eye-raising things to Louise? Yes, yes he does. But the thing is, for every one that he does Louise does at least two. Perhaps Saito's worst moment was when he attempted to molest Louise while she was sleeping (though I admit I don't remember the scene that well, but I think Saito was doing this based off something he heard earlier). This is countered with Louise physically abusing Saito. With a whip. Possibly all night. Definitely next morning. Oh, mental abuse too, what with the whole dog thing. Aside from that, this is also admittingly based off my own hazy memories, but Saito's pervertedness (and character for that matter) drastically mellows out over the course of the series. Louise's priority of physical abuse? Not so much.
      • Saito molesting Louise is more than enough reason for all the abuse he gets from that point onwards. Louise would have been well within her right to blow him into chunky salsa right then and there, but she couldn't because Saito's her familiar and like it or not she needs her familiar. So from that point onwards she goes to sleep every night knowing that a boy depraved enough to molest a sleeping girl who looks like she's about 12 or so is sleeping in the same room as her and is both willing and able to molest/rape/violate her whenever the mood strikes him.
      • I can't believe I'm actually saying this about attempted rape, but you're really making a much bigger deal out of this that necessary. And that "right" loses validity right about after the third time Saito saves her life or does something stupidly selfless and incredibly dangerous just to help her (the fact that he never does anything like that again helps as well. Personally, I felt the entire thing was a huge out of character moment anyways, especially since Saito's Japanese. Super-politeness might be a stereotype, but it really doesn't change the fact that being polite is really important for them) Which would be... I'd think after he slices Wardes' arm off, but at least by the Henrietta incident. Also does not change the fact that she was abusing him before the incident and after he has proven his moral fiber.
      • It also doesn't change the fact that Gandalfr runes were trying to force him to rape her, just to give him some sort of attachment to this world. Sure, it's not exactly his fault, but that doesn't mean he should simply forget about it instead of keeping in mind that Louise might simply be afraid of him and she might therefore be trying to make him stop through abuse (she's a noble from a rather grandiose family, so such form of control seems to be something her family would teach her to do in such cases). More than that, it is widely known that she is prideful, so why is he teasing her in such a way? She is giving him twice the punishment for each of his attacks, but it's rather easy to see that most of his attacks hit her berserk buttons, and he simply is too dense to realize it.
      • The problem with the rape thing... A) It was only molesting (and was an incredible out of character moment, to the point this troper believe it was done to justify saito punishment) and B)Well, Saito doesn't t want to be there. This is the crux of the matter. Saito was kidnapped, enslaved and has his self worth ripped appart. He was called a dog. A DOG, used for menial labor, punished brutally and feed scraps. Some asks why Saito act like an idiot and a skirt chaser? Because he is simply a young boy. Ignorant, horny, without knowledge of "court etiquette" or the "superiority of nobles" and in fact he act like any normal person would do (if a little Animesque) in his situation. What? Should act like a Prince charming and all around hero. He had many flaws but this doesn't mean (regardless of why the creators keep insisting) he deserve this crappy turn of events. Imagine you where suddendly absorved from your house and forced to live like Saito.. would you care that the girl is a Woobie girl? Would you feel sympathetic? Or would you hate her, resent her for her treatment to you? For stolen your life, your love ones and your dignity? That empathy to Saito situation (instead of saito himself) it was pissed fans so much.
      • As a quick side note, the rape that Saito is accused of was done under the assumption that 1) Louise loves him (not entirely true at the time, but not exactly false either) and that 2) she is a Tsundere and that if he simply pushed she'd admit her true feelings. Furthermore, he hugged her and kissed her cheek, before going for her dress. He didn't get that far though, becasue this was when she woke up. And that is when he verbally confronted her. Then despite her protests, he goes to kiss her, thinking shes merely nervous of her first time. He didn't hold her down or do anything violent to her. What he did was very wrong, no doubt, but it wasn't a malious assult.
      • Indeed, he does not want to be there - that is correct. But while it is a justification for some of his actions, and Louise often deserves what she gets simply for being whiny and having her ass too high, much of their angst would simply cease to be (not that it would be good for her magic, but that's not the point here) if he simply apologised for some of his actions. You know, as in, said "I'm sorry, I didn't want to do that to you" or "I'm sorry I hurt you, I didn't mean to do that". And while I might be an exception here (I probably am due to various reasons), I would've done things quite differently if I were him - sure, hormones might've urged me to look at girls that way, but being reduced to a drooling pole is a bit too much, and many things (including knowledge which might be vital in the future) can be achieved by being charismatic in a diplomatic way (you know, creating an image for yourself that will make people more sympathetic towards you). Though again, due to the fact that there is exactly one person I would've missed if I happened to be in his position, I would have a reason to do that since on one hand, there is a person I want to get back to, so dying because of some stupid stunt is not something I want, and on the other hand, since nobody knows whether it's even possible to get back or not, trying to appear as a civilised person that is useful to have on your side, but who chooses allies himself based on reasoning, is something one should try. And even if Saito's life is a crappy one, he is kind of under-skilled and doesn't really take any advantage of what he has there until later; not that it is his fault since it's at least partially caused by the rune blocking aspects of his mentality. So to sum it up, he's a wimp with no social skills, and while it partially is excusable, he really should've tried a little better at least in the last area, since runes wouldn't stop him from getting into a stable relationship with Louise if he ever wanted, and it was entirely possible for him to do that (after her awakening, at least) if he stopped being a social retard.
      • Saito might not be the most sociable person in the world but also consider that he's immersed in a foreign culture and his main window into that culture is Louise. She is a person who constantly inflicts very real injury to him for minor infractions and with very little in way of rationale. No one actually takes the time to explain to Saito the mores of Tristain and he cannot read their script which means a visit to the library is out. Realistically very few people could succeed in a social setting under such circumstances. Also Saito appears to be very inexperienced in relationships so really, he does pretty well for himself all things considered. If you take into account that Saito has literally died for Louise and has put himself into danger for her sake several times, some of Louise's reactions to his more altruistic moments such as trying to stand up for Tiffania against bullies when she went to the academy seems petty and rather selfish. Louise keeps getting Saito into trouble by running off in a huff despite, for example, knowing Sheffield is out there but when Saito shows concern about another person? Explosion time.
      • Considering that Louise immediately started treating him as a menial servant and had a riding crop (or a whip in the light novels) at hand to disciple her familiar (whatever it may be) before she even got Saito, its very easy to argue the Jerk Sue interpretation. Her empathy for his plight was zero and before her Character Development this extended to everybody; Louise lacks almost any altruistic impulses and does not seem to share the more egalitarian mindset of the staff with regards to the commoner servants. Its pretty apparent that Louise does not care about anybody but herself and acts incredibly abrasive and arrogant besides to hide her insecurities. In real life, that's one insanely high-maintenance relationship so it was not surprising (to anyone but the author, God rest his soul) that people celebrated when they thought the relationship between Saito and Louise was through after his Gandalfr runes stopped exerting the Mind Rape that kept him by her side.

  • I'm a little confused. I've heard that Louise's abuse of Saito is called out in the novels even though no one can do anything about it. If this is true, then why is it that they can't do anything?
    • She is the daughter (the third one, but still) of a duke, and that means most of them (because they are of lower status than her, even if they are nobles too) can't really do anything about it without either spending too much time through national justice system (you know, informing the queen of it; not that it would be effective since the current queen is a friend of Louise), or getting himself into serious trouble. In a world where people are segregated according to their social standing, it's difficult to take down someone who is almost at the top.
      • I second the above statement. Adding to that, technically, Louise isn't THAT cruel. On the moment someone really calls her abuse out (unless it's a girl who's after Saito or it really is Saito's fault) she WILL back down. However, it's not just that, others CAN do something about it, they just usually think that Louise and Saito are fooling around. That, and they are quite afraid of what would happen to THEM when they call out Louise when she's in one of her temper fits.
  • Stepping aside from romantic tangles for a moment, how, exactly, magical-ability-to-use-any-weapon notwithstanding, did Saito waltz into a Japanese military base and steal a fighter jet?!
    • Quick answer - no. Long answer - go read the novels, he doesn't really do that.

  • Considering how important and sacred the summoner-familiar bond is, all the non-void familiars fade into obscurity as time goes on—maybe except for the case of Sylphid. Was Montmorency's frog ever mentioned again after it was summoned? What about Malicorne's owl? What's Henrietta's familiar? Or Louise's parents' and sisters'? Are familiars common to all mages, or are they usually restricted to rather high nobles?
    • The author decided to include the "every mage has to have a familiar" thing in the story to have a justification for why Saito can't just go away on his own. And then he kind of forgot about the rule, because said rule amounted to nothing more than a convenient excuse for the story to start.

  • How faithful is the manga to the light novels? Is the manga more faithful than the anime?
    • Its somewhat more faithful although not by much. The anime excised quite a lot from the Light Novels but the manga alters some events or also omits some of them.

  • That Lady Orleans was willing to snatch the goblet of poison from young Charlotte/Tabitha's hands and drink it herself was certainly very dramatic and heartbreaking, but I can't help wondering just how necessary. I mean, couldn't she have just as easily, you know, spilled the poison on the floor? Hand it back to the waiter/assassin? Do anything but drink it herself? The first theory that came up to me was that maybe she wanted to keep the act up for whoever might be targeting them so they wouldn't suspect anything, but it falls in front of the fact that she wasn't at all subtle about it. She didn't just gently pick the poisoned glass from Charlotte and calmly drink it herself, she literally snatched it out and downed it in one gulp. Secrecy or keeping up an act when flying out the window either way.

  • Why are Sheffield and Joseph so baffled when Saito brandishes a semiautomatic pistol from Earth? It's been shown multiple times that Hilkaginia has firearms (comparable to maybe the 17th or even early 18th centuries), including pistols. Surely it's not that much of a mental leap to assume that something that looks like one, sounds like one, and works like one might indeed be one, even if it's not made of wood?

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