A half-human, half-beast mercenary wishes to become fully human. He makes an agreement with a witch known as Zero, who will fulfill his wish if he acquires the "Grimore of Zero" for her, which was stolen by bandits.
Grimoire of Zero (ゼロから始める魔法の書 Zero kara Hajimeru Mahō no Sho, lit. Starting the Magical Book from Zero) is a light novel series written by Kakeru Kobashiri with illustrations by Yoshinori Shizuma, published under the Dengeki Bunko imprint and has so far spawned 9 volumes since February 8, 2014.
A manga adaptation illustrated by Takashi Iwasaki commenced publication in the Dengeki Maoh magazine since December 27, 2014, and so far spawns 4 volumes.
A spinoff manga adaptation by Yasuoka, Zero kara Hajimeru Mahō no Sho Nano!, commenced publication in Dengeki Maoh since October 27, 2015, and so far spawns 2 volumes.
The Grimoire of Zero contains the following tropes:
- All Women Are Lustful: The women who try to hit on the Mercenary at the begining of the story are shown to be attracted to his build, before finding out he is a Beastfallen.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: In episode ten, Zero comes as close as she possibly can to revealing her feelings for the Mercenary are far more than that of an employer.
- Bounty Hunter: Ones that hunt down beastfallen, half-human and half-beast individuals who hold large bounties on their heads.
- Burn the Witch!: Witches are killed off in this way.
- Darker and Edgier: Like the other White Fox shows, it was originally advertised and began as an ordinary fantasy anime with magic and a sweet main character, but as the narrative progressed, the story became more and more serious.
- Dark Fantasy: The series contains genocide of witches without trial and investigation, sex slaves and other cruelty.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Zero hides her true identity, since even before the show, people and witches started a civil war among themselves, which led to the fact that any disaster is immediately attributed to witches and any of them will be immediately killed if her is found.
- In addition, Beastfallen are seen as the embodiment of sin by the Church, but are useful in combat. So while most places in society are afraid of them, with the Witch Hunt going on they are seen as somewhat more tolerable by humans. Sorcerers also commonly hunt them for their blood and heads since they are useful in spells.
- Good Parents: The Mercenary's parents treat him no differently despite his Half-Human Hybrid state.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The beastfallen are half-human and half-beast, and the witches' sorcery is said to be the reason for their state.
- Horror Hunger: Beastfallen occasionally get the uncontrollable urge to eat humans, with it being noted to come onto them like a seizure. It's implied that Mercenary may have had this happen to him in the past.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Mercenary and Zero.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Although biologically witches are no different from humans, the series has ordinary people as the main antagonists, while the protagonists are two witches of different genders and a half-beast mercenary. Though it eventually turns out that few witches in the series have any reason to feel morally or ethically superior to mundane humans.
- Interspecies Romance: Subverted. Although the title occasionally teases on the subject of sexual tension between Zero and the Mercenary, and even shows one of the half-beasts with several sex slaves, it is further prevented, since in the biological and psychological sense the half-beasts are ordinary people who have fallen under the spell of witches.
- If We Get Through This...: In the fourth episode, the Mercenary at night talks about his plans after finding the grimoire, and Albus praises all the pluses of the village him and Zero, after which they find the village in the smoke, and its villagers burned with fire.
- Karma Houdini: Holdem and Thirteenth get off fairly easily for their actions. Their punishment basically amounts to scowling and a "well, now he's on our side!" reaction.
- MacGuffin Title: The titular Grimoire of Zero is a magical tome Zero is searching for.
- The Magic Goes Away: Downplayed in that it's limited to the magic powered by the Grimoire. Mercenary, Albus, and Holdem eventually decide to get rid of Magic in the Kingdom by using a giant magic circle with Zero's help and start over. They do, resulting in the end of the war and institution of a magical education sponsored by the state as sorcery itself still exists and other forms of magic will eventually crop up.
- Nameless Narrative: Played With, While most of the characters do have names, none of them are revealed to the audience since they all refer to themselves by their aliases. Justified, as a Witch could control someone if they knew their real name.
- Not So Different: Witches are practically no different from humans in a biological sense, moreover, in the fourth episode it is made clear that one can become a witch by learning magic, which makes their killing even more cruel, as a witch is not a separate biological species.
- Road Trip Plot: At least the anime is based on this, showing how the Mercenary, Zero and Albus go on a journey so that Zero can pick up her book.
- The Teaser: The first three episodes start with some background information about the series.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Selina allows herself to be burned at the stake for a crime she did not commit, believing that people would calm down and not hunt other witches. However, the other witches begin to take revenge for her death and it leads to the Witch Hunt and the war between them.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Lampshaded several times by Zero, which treats magic not as some amazing phenomenon, but as a science that can be studied and developed.
- Title Drop: The final episode of the anime, "The Grimoire of Zero".
- Undying Loyalty: Subverted. Zero expected Mercenary to have this, since she promised that she wouldn't kill him, and even turn him human, in exchange for his protection as they try to find the Grimore of Zero as proof that she's not an evil witch. Unfortunately for her, he's lived by the rule that blindly trusting anyone as a beastfallen, let alone a witch, is a surefire way to an early grave. Thirteen ended up using this to break them up temporarily. Later, Mercenary even Lampshades it when he rescues Zero, after she asks if he was afraid of her.
- Witch Hunt: Five centuries prior to the start of the story, the church engaged in warfare against witches, and continued pursuing witches who went into hiding for righteousness' sake.