YMMV / The Familiar of Zero

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Saito an exaggerated form of an Extreme Doormat that takes Louise's abuse because he loves her or is he a masochist that likes it? The author himself doesn't believe either.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Reconstructed but not at first glance. It appears as though Saito doesn't have any angst about basically being kidnapped and enslaved but that is because part of the familiar contract is brainwashing that suppresses it. When the contract is temporarily gone, the angst comes in.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: A weird example in that it only developed this after the novels, manga and anime were released. Before the first renditions of the series came out, when only the fundamental concept of "Cute Witch accidentally summons an Ordinary High-School Student to her magical world as her familiar", it attracted a lot of positive attention. After it came out, and that premise expanded to describe how the Cute Witch is a violently abusive tsundere and the student a lecherous Jerkass, interest dropped sharply. With the reveal of Saito's Happiness in Slavery which is magically enforced by the familiar spell forcibly inflicting Laser-Guided Amnesia, things got even worse.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Louise and Saito both qualify, depending on who you ask. Louise has the Domestic Abuse angle and Saito gets the Wish Fulfillment angle that Light Novel heroes often get.
  • Better Than Canon: Has a lot of Fix Fics due to the They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot below that replace Saito with characters from other stories, or different versions of him. We have a compendium here.
  • Colbert Bump: The series saw a huge upswing in popularity on the Spacebattles Creative Writing board after The Hill of Swords showed up on the Fanfiction Recommendations thread. Prior to that, it had been an almost complete unknown in the community; now SB is effectively the epicenter of the ZnT fanfiction community.
  • Designated Hero: Louise. Sure, she can be heroic at times, but she still constantly abuses Saito for little to no reason, making it almost impossible for most to root for her.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Siesta treats Saito much better than Louise, but is loathed by fandom for that. Part of the reason is flanderization in the anime.
    • Louise suffers from the people who like Siesta or Kirche or Tiffania or Henrietta or Tabitha or anyone else over her. Louise isn't popular among the fans of the others in the female cast.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Fanfics tend to do this a lot for any number of characters in the series. Whether it applies to Saito or Louise probably falls under the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement, but Kirche at least tends to get her character development moved forward so that she starts the series as, say, Vitriolic Best Buds with Louise rather than a mere Alpha Bitch.
  • Fan Nickname: On the SpaceBattles board the pope is more often called Pope McDongcopter than his canonical name, due to his questionable actions and manipulations.
  • Genius Bonus: If you can read runes, you can identify Saito as Gandálfr long before Colbert.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The ending of the first season can as such, if you know that Saito's Japanese VA is the dub voice of Oliver Queen: Saito almost got killed by a Rain of Arrows.
  • Moe:
    • Tabitha; to quote someone from animeblogger:
    "Tabitha has taken over Siesta as my favorite character, and not just because she is channeling Yuki. She is made of pure win, I don't usually like the stoic silent types, but something about Tabitha just makes my inner moe meter go berserk."
    • Louise counts when she's in dere-dere mode.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • There are fans that believe Louise crossed this the first time she whipped/exploded Saito... or the Nth time afterward.
    • Saito's attempted rape of Louise.
  • OT3: Louise/Saito/Siesta is a popular pairing. It's likely because Louise and Siesta balance each other out. This was teased a little in the 12th volume where Louise says she would be disappointed if Siesta gave up on winning Saito so easily.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • For many this happened to Louise after she gave up her nobility to save Tabitha and went uphill from there.
    • Louise's scrappiness is often watered down or removed entirely in fanfiction. It was done first by The Hill of Swords and then by about a good number of all ZnT fanfics that came after it. In most cases, it's due to her having to deal with a character that isn't a lecherous doormat and stands up to her, so her violent tsundere behavior won't fly.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The series as a whole often comes under fire for having a terrific premise, and absolutely terrible execution - mostly due to the focus being on the Harem antics centered on a boring Ordinary High-School Student everyguy. All the things people like about it are just the window dressing.
    • The anime works at a conversion ratio of three to four volumes per twelve episodes. Due to this, at least two thirds of the source material have been outright omitted, and the rest truncated or chopped up. Though the manga and novels aren't immune to this criticism, either.
  • Values Dissonance: While it's meant to be funny, Saito's abuse and overall treatment is horrifying to modern audiences. However, Louise is not acting different from what nobles did during Ancient Rome and Middle Ages. At one point killing a commoner (not to mention beating them up if they displeased you) was not a crime at all (that usually didn't apply to townsfolk, who were under protection of law to the extent that you had to have a valid reason to kill them). One has to wonder if the series would be successful at all if Louise were male.
  • Wangst: The author tries to justify Louise's abuse by showing her poor self esteem but most people don't see that as a good excuse to beat someone. This interpretation goes away when the full details of why she is the way she is are explored in full.
  • What an Idiot: Saito hasn't figured out that commenting about large breasts around Louise (or her lack thereof) is a bad idea.
  • The Woobie:
    • Saito, because of the abuse heaped upon him by Louise. Hell, even the other familiars feel sorry for Saito, and see his treatment as both a familiar and a human as horrible. Unfortunately, he can also be callous and cruel in his own right in response to his treatment, which can kill any sympathy for him.
    • Tabitha qualifies, once you learn of what happened to her parents and what her uncle does to her.
    • Louise is this or Jerkass Woobie in the light novels if you can look past her treatment of Saito. She has a HUGE insecurity complex, a horrible school life, and her treatment at home is only better because of one of her elder sisters. The other sister is an abusive bully that torments Louise over little things like not calling her 'Big Sister Eleanor' and is ALWAYS pinching her cheeks when she wants Louise to go along with what she wants. Her mother and father aren't any help, being very strict and rather emotionally distant by modern standards, thinking that getting their youngest daughter married off for her own good is more important than ensuring she feels accepted and supported by her family. It's not an exaggeration that she seems to get more warmth from Saito's sword, Derflinger, than most of her own family. Oh, and did we mention that due to the ruling class and magic potential being so intertwined in the setting in most of Halkeginia, that means that her entire SOCIETY also essentially viewed her as a complete failure? Then there is the little detail that magic power is also heavily entwined with their religion. If the series were any darker, it wouldn't be out of place for Louise to ponder some time if her troubles with magic were because she was rejected by God, and possibly kill herself out of despair.
  • Woolseyism:
    • The Mexican Spanish dub does this regarding the nicknames of many of the characters, who received more realistic-sounding nicknames compared with both the original Japanese and English ones, while keeping the meanings intact. Character-wise, Saito, while keeping his characterization from the Japanese version, also sounds like a stereotypical Mexico City teenager, without going overboard with it, and is capable of sounding more angry and freaked out in a somewhat more realistic way than in Japanese. Louise and the nobles, on the other hand, sound more mean and arrogant, possibly because that's how many Mexicans tend to depict people of higher social levels in Mexican media, especially in comedy.
    • The European Spanish dub, on the other hand, translated more or less everything literally, without reaching Too Long; Didn't Dub levels with mixed results.
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