Revered as heroes for their role in defending Tristain, Louise Françoise and her familiar Saito Hiraga face heavy pressure to continue protecting the Kingdom. With an uneasy peace now established within Albion, the newly crowned Queen Henrietta must deal with a political struggle brewing on the horizon. To make matters worse, a new villain has begun plotting in the shadows against the Crown.
With the continuing threats that face the Kingdom, Louise and Saito are compelled to work together once more. No longer "Louise the Zero," the young mage's newfound aptitude for Void magic gives her enough power to wipe out an entire village; however, wielding these abilities comes with its share of challenges. As more conflicts arise, the idea of placing honor above oneself is put into question—regardless of their answer, their only choice is to see it through until the end.
Well, I suppose it's inevitable that Futatsuki no Kishi, being a second season of Zero no Tsukaima, will be compared to the first in one way or another, especially since it's pointless to watch one without another, but I'll try to appraise its own merits as well.
First of all, as implied by the ending of the first season, FnK is a direct continuation of the story. Several new characters are introduced almost immediately, and, while I don't have anything against them, I'd like to point out that they (Agnes, particularly) take up quite an amount of screen time with their own subplots, leaving less for
the overall story. However, that isn't dragged out for too long, keeping overall length of a show in mind. What comes as a good refreshment is some noticeable advance in Saito and Louise's relationship, during which several important questions are raised and decisions made. I won't elaborate to avoid spoiling.
Animation is done on a fairly high level, although it's not anything outstanding: characters are still undetailed and talk out one side of their face when shown in side view; many scenes lack smoothness — just like previously, all in all. Some scenes, particularly those of burning villages, are pretty nicely done. HD in this case is barely worth it, but on the other hand, lack of detail helps keeping the file size low (useless info for keepers).
Sound work doesn't differ from the first season at all, most themes are the same. They are fine, but still nothing really outstanding, memorable, or really touching. New opening and ending are somewhat enjoyable, definitely more so than those of the first season, IMO.
Characters… First of all, the previously known Academy residents (Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche, etc.) have much less screen time. Not sure if it's good or not; I'd certainly like to see them some more. New characters are more-or-less fine, although I can't help but think that some of them are of untraditional sexual orientation or otherwise odd. Siesta is still there, being apparently dumber than previously. Yes, everything for the sake of fan service. *sigh*
On the matter of fan service: what is particularly annoying about FnK is that the it has increased in quantity, but definitely not in quality. Saito's obsession over boobs might be funny, but it seems as if the screenplay writers put him in ecchi situations purposefully, without much concern for whether it makes sense in the story or not. You might even not notice it until the last episode, but there it will come screaming in your face regardless. Then again, the ending is rather ridiculous, anyway; seems like we'll have another bunch of weirdo newcomers in season 3. :D
All in all, with the 2nd season ZnT keeps being a good addition to your collection as long as you like harem and/or fantasy comedies, with a questionable amount of hit-and-miss fan service. Some will laugh, some might even cry, overall I think the 2nd season is almost as enjoyable as the first, barring the certain cheesiness. However, it might leave something to be desired when it comes to the story progression, so I sincerely hope they won't drag it out for too long. Any further decrease in pace coupled with further increase in fan service can easily ruin the show.
As a whole, Zero no Tsukaima’s first season seems better than the second season. If I didn’t like the first season, then that would mean that I probably wouldn’t like the second season, right? Then how come I like the second season more than the first? Read on and I’ll tell you why.
The story obviously needed work. I think the problem was that they tried to fit in many different storylines at a time. There was Saito and Louise’s relationship, the ongoing war with Albion and there was Anies’ story too. Each story would have been potentially
better as stand alones, especially Anies’ story, but a combination of the three isn’t such a good idea. All three at once can be too much, maybe one or two at a time would’ve been better.
Furthermore, I’m really getting tired of the Louise and Saito’s love hate comedy act. It became so predictable – Saito does something that displeases Louise (usually looking at other girls), Louise brings out her whip, screams “You damned dog!” and beats Saito up. It’s been like that since the first season. The only improvement is that both are more aware of their status, that Louise is a noble while Saito is a plain commoner, which is why they’re still not official as a couple.
I’m a little disappointed that there was less screen time for the characters from the first season. I’m sure a lot of Zero no Tsukaima fans were disappointed to see less of Kirche, Tabitha and Guiche. A good side effect from that was more exposure for Henrietta - She was barely seen in the first season so I didn’t like her back then, but the second season showed a different side of her which made me like her more. I also like the new characters, Anies and Julio. Anies has such a cool personality and background, while Julio is such a hottie. He is so much better than Guiche.
Visually, it looks the same as the first season - same colors, same backgrounds. However, I do think the character design looks different. I think the character designs look more crisp, but at the same time, the drawing became more inconsistent. I’m especially glad that there was less fanservice, or rather, more tolerable fanservice in the second season.
Another aspect that didn’t change is the voice acting. I’m glad it didn’t change at all since a lot of my favorite and famous voice actors can be found in the cast list. Rie Kugimiya (Al in Fullmetal Alchemist, Shana in Shakugan no Shana) and Satoshi Hino (Yuuji in Shakugan no Shana, Kouichi in Kimikiss) are still Louise and Saito. There’s also Ayako Kawasumi (Ruriko in Gate Keepers, Ohno in Genshiken) as Henrietta, Yui Horie (Eri in School Rumble, Hanyuu in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai) as Siesta and Takahiro Sakurai (Shun in Gatekeepers, Cloud in Final Fantasy: Advent Children) as Guiche.
I also like the music. In fact, I think the music is better this time around. In the first season, the songs were too cutesy, but in the second season, the songs were more striking and had better quality. I really like “I say yes” by Ichiko, which is the OP. It’s so different from all the other Ichiko songs I’ve heard. I think it has more power and emotion to it, which makes it so special.
Despite of its many shortcomings, I still like it better than the first season. I thought it was more funny and entertaining, I like the new characters, and I’m especially glad that there was less fanservice this time around. However, the main reason why I like the second season more than the first is potential. I thought the second season had more potential than the first, and I want to see that potential in a third season.
[b]ZnT: Futatsuki no Kishi[/b]
This season was almost just the same like the first one, except that in this one Saito and Louise gets closer.
The problem with the story of this seasons is that they wanted to put too much content at the same time, and for me it was messy, we had Saito and Louise realation, the war with albion and Agnes story that keeps going later; What i hated is that f**king act from Louise and Saito hating each other (and that's mostly Louise fault) and then loving eachother like if they (the writer) can't bring comedy with another thing and i never laughed
at those situations i found them frustrating, i wanted to stop it and put it on hold, but i always finish what i start, but the story was good and at one scene i shed a tear.
[b][u]Art & Sound[/u][/b]
Nothing much to say, just that is the same like the 1st season, both are good.
The characters of the 1st season didn't have much time on screen, why don't you take the chance on developing them on this season, but no, they were just focusing on Louise and Saito love-hating each other but advancing their relationship a little (till the end) and i found Agnes interesting, overall was jus fine.
I couldn't enjoyed it the way i wanted to, because of that love-hate act Louise and Saito had going on, it was annoying but just because i cried out of nowhere in one episode it was good.
I thought Zero no Tsukaima would provide nothing more than shallow entertainment, and I was quite wrong ... but its sequel, I decided, couldn't possibly live up to the standard set by the original. After all, Zero's effectiveness as a story may have been a fluke, a fortunate accident.
Fluke it was not, all told. I'd still recommend the series to anyone whose tastes seem to run in the general direction of fantasy/harem romance/politics. But despite its strong latter episodes, Futatsuki no Kishi does suffer from a few weaknesses its predecessor managed to keep to a minimum or avoid entirely.
Plot: Again we join Louise and her
hapless familiar Saito at the Tristain Academy, where their relationship has grown marginally stronger. I have no complaints with how the whole inevitable Saito/Louise pairing is portrayed at first; we're given the impression that things have moved forward for the two, despite Louise's fondness for brandishing that riding crop, and it's an impression we need to be given if we're going to believe in the two as a viable and vital couple. When relationships hit a standstill in the real world, of course, things tend to go sour very soon after.
That said, one of the weakest points of the plot is its handling of the central romance. Louise and Saito make progress with one another in fits and starts, alternating between trite slapstick and almost extreme affection. It's the slapstick that bothers me most, partly because there's so damn much of it, and partly because the plot occasionally has to contort itself in unlikely directions simply to land Saito in unfortunate positions of lechery. Too many episodes are devoted not to progressing the underlying series of political events in any significant way, but to progressing Saito toward a pair of breasts, and Louise toward Saito and said breasts at just the wrong moment. And when they do get along, there are one or two moments of startling physicality that may make it a little difficult to fully appreciate (understandable as these moments may be, Saito and Louise being healthy teenagers and all).
Don't get me wrong, though. Futatsuki no Kishi does have its truly sweet moments. The last episode really nails it, but as it's the last episode, I'll refrain from singing its praises too loudly here.
Due to Futatsuki's focus on the central romance's sporadic twists and turns, the political storyline suffers -- a real disappointment to me, as the two arcs seemed to work so well together in the first season. The first half in particular often interrupts the continuity with breasts, Saito's appreciation thereof, and Louise's resultant disapproval. The shift toward politics in the second half feels like an abrupt temperature change at first, seemingly for the production team as much as we viewers, as the general organization of episodes seven and eight came across as a bit shoddy to me. When the suddenness levels out, however, we get a solid final four episodes. If you were a fan of the politics in the first season, hang in there; it's ultimately worth it.
Characters: I have two major problems with the characterization in Futatsuki, the first being inexplicable personality shifts. The first season gave us a surprisingly strong cast, and I looked forward to said cast developing further from where they left off, but this isn't always the case. Saito, for example, seems at times to have been demoted into your average, everyday pervert. Siesta's resolve to wrest Saito's affections from Louise isn't surprising, considering her acts of momentary boldness in the previous season, but her willingness to throw herself at Saito is a bit disconcerting. These divergences don't seem to be indicative of the kind of change one thinks of when discussing character growth.
Secondly, I didn't appreciate the marginalization of some characters. New characters Agnes and Julio ultimately earn our interest, but season one set Kirche and Tabitha up for a bit of explication, and we hardly see them at all this time around. I feel bad for Tabitha's seiyuu, having to make the trip down to the studio to record a grand total of three or so lines. With Tabitha and Kirche out of the way, it goes without saying that Guiche and Montmorency don't get much screen time, either.
On the other hand, those recurring characters who are further fleshed did good things for me. I couldn't help being interested in Colbert's history and plight, and Delfringher, who has to be the cleverest talking sword in all anime-dom, is even more hilariously pithy than before. Even Henrietta shows her many good and bad sides this time around.
Setting: Tristain Academy hasn't much changed, and, had the majority of the show been set therein, the place may have gotten old. Fortunately, we're introduced to a variety of locales as things move along -- a surprising number, really, considering how much of the plot is fanservice-centric (Saito doesn't let circumstances keep him down, so to speak). Our heroes visit such settings as an underground vault, a snowy mountain, and Louise's ample home, traveling between Tristain and Albion, the flying faux-Britain.
We also gain insight into the general level of technology with the introduction of Tristain's musketeers. Despite this title, the guns employed in Futatsuki are decidedly similar to rifles, in terms of accuracy; it seems that magic coexists with a higher level of technology than was previously made clear. By implication, this tautens the dynamic between aristocrats and plebeians, as those not gifted with magic are proven to be perfectly formidable marksmen. Perhaps the aristocrats' control is not as total as it seems.
Art: Futatsuki brings back the same clean, simple, Shakugan no Shana-esque art style as the original, retaining its reputation as the pastel equivalent of Shana's darkness and fire. Interestingly, the animation itself alternates between very good and shoddy, particularly where fight scenes are concerned, but it balances out in most episodes to be more than acceptable. I'm happy that J.C. Staff decided to forgo the use of 3D computer graphics in rendering flight sequences; such graphics have their place, that place being Last Exile and not here.
Sound: Based on music alone, I would have rated Futatsuki below its predecessor in the sound department. Music throughout the series often comes across as generic action fare, and besides, the opening and ending themes didn't do as much for me this time. Maintaining the score at 7, however, are certain scenes in which the voice acting is absolutely dead-on. Futatsuki's all-star vocal cast definitely delivers.
Verdict: Personally, I prefer my shows to be solid from beginning to end, rather than loaded with meaning, progress, and spectacle in the final four episodes. Either way, Futatsuki no Kishi turned out to be worthwhile thanks to that final stretch, particularly for a viewer who enjoyed the first season as much as I did. It's ultimately worth your attention as a follow-up to Zero no Tsukaima and a segue into the forthcoming season three, but be warned that it has its shaky spots.
Are you a bit perverted at times? Or are you just an old-fashioned romantic? Perhaps you're a bit of both! Then come inside and enjoy some of the finest ecchi romance anime. There's enough fan service here to cause nosebleeds...but also enough love and tenderness to warm our hearts.
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