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YMMV / The Familiar of Zero

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  • 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?: Subverted, 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.
    • He also doesn't seem to have any angst over any friends or family he may have had back in his world and whether or not he'll ever see them again.
  • 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. Thankfully, this was fixed in Volume 11.
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    • Another weird example is found not in the series itself, but in the European Spanish dub, which was advertised in true Dancing Bear fashion for being performed by amateur voice actors in the main cast roles. The final result (not only limited to the actors, but also to the translation and adaptation) generated a deep Broken Base.
  • 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.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Louise's constant abuse of Saito ended up making this series very hard to enjoy for most people, with most of the other characters being annoying and unlikable. And the characters that are likable take a level in jerkass as the story progresses.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Louise herself. She abuses Saito and treats him like dirt for the slightest to stupidest reasons non-stop to the point where she may as well punish him for breathing. She is rude, obnoxious and unpleasant to other females usually out of jealousy and arrogance, and she is never punished for her actions. Yet we're still expected to root for her for some reason.
    • Saito also counts after his attempted rape of Louise because of all the factors which insist that it's not really his fault such as Louise sending mixed signals or his familiar runes influencing his actions.
  • 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 prefer Siesta, Kirche, Henrietta, Tiffania, or Tabitha, or just about anyone else over her. Louise isn't popular among the fans of the others in the female cast.
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  • 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 Judgment, 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.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Saito and Louise become lovers in the end, even though the latter spend the entire series abusing the former
  • Fandom-Specific Plot:
  • 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. When she is in tsun-tsun mode, on the other hand...
  • 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 made lots of fans think he's an irredeemable creep.
  • Older Than They Think: Tabitha owes a lot to Rei (from Evangelion). So at first glance her mother's story looks like a tie in to Rei's Red Oni counterpart. Actually the reason for her mother's madness is directly taken from Princess Kushana's story in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga (which is also where Eva adapted it from).
  • OT3: Among those who don’t hate Louise with a passion, hate Louise/Saito/Siesta is a popular pairing, 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 and his violently abusive and generally unlikeable girlfriend. All the things people like about it are just the window dressing.
    • Aside from the main plot, the setup of the world itself could have worked well without the isekai angle. It's a fantasy Europe on the verge of full continental warfare, orchestrated by a mad king who wants the world to burn so he can feel something. Lurking the background are the questions of the nature of Void magic and its abrupt reappearance and the distant threat of the elves. This could easily have been a grand war epic or intrigue without the harem overwriting it.
    • 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.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Louise, unsurprisingly. We're supposed to sympathize with her because of her enormous insecurity complex, her miserable school life, an abusive older sister, and emotionally distant and incredibly strict parents who are more interested in their daughter as an asset than as a person. Not to mention that being a noblewoman of minimal magical talent makes her a complete laughingstock due to the norms of Halkeginia society. So while Louise has plenty reasons for the audience to side with her, she still drives off many supporters due to her infamously brutal and non-stop abuse of Saito; which is not only horrible on a basic human level, but also makes her a blatant hypocrite given her home life. As a result, she comes across as an outright bully, rather than a Jerk with a Heart of Gold the story expects us to view her as.
  • 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 European 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).
    • In a completely different but similarly controversial light, one has to wonder if the series would be successful at all if Louise's and Saito's genders were reversed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: The European Spanish dub was made with amateur voice actors, something that was highly controversial. The fact that said voice actors also did the critically panned 2013 redubbing of Elfen Lied didn't help.


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