In a world of constant war between humans and witches, there exist the "beastfallen"—cursed humans born with the appearance and strength of an animal. Their physical prowess and bestial nature cause them to be feared and shunned by both humans and witches. As a result, many beastfallen become sellswords, making their living through hunting witches.
Despite the enmity between the races, a lighthearted witch named Zero enlists a beastfallen whom she refers to as "Mercenary" to act as her protector. He travels with Zero and Albus, a young magician, on their search for the Grimoire of Zero: a powerful spell book that could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. During their journey, his inner kindness is revealed as he starts to show compassion and sympathy towards humans and witches alike, and the unlikely companions grow together.
Like many shows relating to fantasy, magic, and witchcraft, I can’t say that Zero kara hajimeru Mahou no Sho looks any unique compared to the rest at first glance. I mean, if you look at it carefully, the show’s premise is pretty standard that involves a conflict between human and witches. The additional aspect of beastfallen (cursed humans with animalistic appearances) adds some slight intrigue to the story. But is this show really worth investing time in? Or is it just a show that panders to fans that wants a dose of fantasy in their life?
Adapting the light novel of the same name, Zero kara
hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero) takes a very high fantasy approach with both its characters and story. The most noticeable character is a beastfallen dubbed as “Mercenary” by the witch Zero. They travel together with Albus, another magician and throughout their journey, they learn much more about each other. Still, the primary goal of their journey is to find the Grimoire of Zero, a very powerful spellbook that has potential to change the world. Now wait a minute. Witches? Magical artifacts? Journey? If anyone has seen enough anime, it wouldn’t be surprising if this show reminds them of fantasy adventures like Hitsugi no Chaika, Spice and Wolf, or even to an extent, Berserk. The fact is, this show appeals to a fantasy adventure while it tries to be a show that stands on its own feet.
The first few episodes of the series establishes the formation of the main trio. Zero encounters the beastfallen and is enlisted as her bodyguard. On the other hand, Mercenary shows fear for Zero because of her status as a witch. Throughout the journey, he also learns that she’s much more different than appears to be. Then, there’s Albus, the third member of the group and we learn much more about this young magician’s past. In the meantime, I think what can hook the audience into this show is the character chemistry. At its core, Zero and Mercenary always gets me curious as the two are so different. Yet at the same time, it’s really fun to see how far their relationship develop as they are put into compromising positions. For Albus, the character’s past is explored through the eyes of another character named Holdem. From first glance, I disliked the way his character is portrayed with his arrogance. As time went on however, the show reveals a different side of him that I thought as very appreciating. So in essence, characters in this series shouldn’t be judged on what they appear to be on the surface until we understand them better. If there’s one character that I genuinely dislike though, it would be Thirteen. Trouble always seems to follow with this guy and he stands as a dangerous obstacle during our main characters’ journey. His persona fits within the stereotypical type of antagonist that gives a sour taste. Not to mention, I really can’t stand some of his dialogues as they sound very forced.
Now if you’re wondering about the main story, the core of the show still involves the characters’ journey in this fantasy adventure. To be honest, the first half of the show feels like it suffers from pacing problems. I don’t mean that by adaptation standards but just in general as some episodes focuses too much on the characters’ lives. It can actually cause less interest for viewers as by the time I finished watching the 5th episode, it seems far less focused on finding the Grimoire. Still, I would also say that the story does improve later on as some episodes got me much more invested into characters such as Mercenary and Albus. The background story told by Holdem in particular felt like a highlight in this show as it not only gave insight about Albus’ past but also how the world viewed witches in general. While I dislike Thirteen as a character, I do find his role in this show to be very thrilling. The way he plays mind games with Zero and Mercenary adds a different dimension of drama that builds more and more. So in essence, the general flow of the storytelling has slow start but gradually develops as more episodes progresses. It will test the patience of the viewers especially those who are less interested in the characters and more invested into the plot.
Adapted by White Fox, it’s not unusual to see that the artwork has some resemblance to other fantasy series. Re:Zero is the first show that comes to mind as Zero has some resemblance to Emilia. However, I would say that Zero is like a dynamite that comes in little packages. She is short but has enormous potential as a witch. Mercenary has the animalistic look with his tiger-like face but barbaric human body. Similarly, Holdem looks like a generic wolf guy you’d expect to see in most fantasy anime. Albus is designed to look fragile and it’s sad to say, but the young magician really doesn’t stand out compared to the other cast members. Still, artwork of the show looks visually appealing if you watch it with a fantasy mindset. On the other hand, I’m not very impressed by the general world building as many places our adventurers’ wanders looks too dull and unoriginal.
For a show about fantasy adventure, it occasionally lacks the mystical feel but thankfully with the soundtrack, it retains its credibility on most parts. From my viewpoint, both the OP and ED theme songs are quite colorfully decorated. The ED theme in particular delivers a more charming presence of the main characters between Zero and Mercenary. I’m also impressed by the voice acting of nonhuman characters such as Mercenary and Holdem. In many ways, they sound very human.
Ah, Grimoire of Zero. This is a show that some people mistook it for Re:Zero’s second coming at first glance. On paper, it’s a fantasy adventure and one that mixes in humans, witches, and beasts. By storytelling standards, it’s nothing impressive to write home about. However, once I got invested into the characters, the show felt more special at heart. It’s not a golden egg in a treasure chest by any means but is still a fun ride if you’re feeling the will to take.
This review will contain significant spoilers to illustrate several lapses of logic within the show.
I thought I'd put in my two cents to this show to help contrast some of the more positive views. Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (or GoZ as I'll refer to it) is in every sense a mediocre fantasy show. It does very little to distinguish itself from it's peers of the fantasy genre and has multiple lapses in logic and commonsense.
GoZ is a action magic fantasy that follows the story of three characters. Two witches, named Zero and Albus as well as a unnamed mercenary. Zero is a somewhat
special witch as she is the author of the titular Grimoire of Zero that has spread magic into the kingdom in which the GoZ is set. Zero is searching for 13, (and her grimoire) we do not know her reasons for searching for him, who then comes Albus, who is as far as we know is a fairly average young witch who originally was seeking the mercenary's head as he is a beastfallen, who's bodies apparently hold special and useful properties for witches. Zero resolves the issues and hires the mercenary as her guard. Doesn't sound to bad at first. It goes to shit later in the show, when you start asking questions.
We learn Albus is apart of a coven or witch group called the Sorcerers of Zero, who we later learn, who's members have all signed a blood contract with a mysterious man only referred to as "Him". What does that contract entail? Death, if you threaten his safety, you will die. Pretty hefty contract for people to make with a person they've never seen nor met. Lapse in logic: 1, bad writing: 1. So the Sorcerers of Zero are idiots, that much is certain. At least their nice idiots? Not really, the Sorcerers burned a village to the ground for the unjust murder of a kind witch, named Sorena, who you will later learn of. They ignored all innocents and indiscriminately murdered an entire village. Though this has happened in history so I won't deduct any points from it, I just thought it'd nicely illustrate the sort of characters in the Sorcerers Of Zero.
Anyways, onto the next issue. Throughout their journey, the trio grows closer. At one point Zero is giving the mercenary a bath, how cute. At that point she takes it upon herself to cast a spell on the mercenary's body that will redirect all damages he takes unto her. Yes, she decided all injuries the man / creature she hired to protect her safety shall be redirect to her. Seems a little ironic and counter intuitive. Lapse in logic: 2, bad writing: 2. Sure you can say that it's sweet and all, that she cares for him, but frankly it's a stupid move, driven by bad writing.
Next issue. We learn Thirteen is Zero's enemy and throughout the trio's encounters we learn Thirteen's motive for doing what he's doing. Which is indiscriminately murdering witch's. He's doing it for Zero, but he won't listen to Zero who tells him she doesn't want this. Until like the third time she verbalizes this in which he magically decides 'oh she was serious. Guess I'll stop murdering witches and shack up with Zero and her mercenary." Lapse in logic: 3, bad writing: 3.
And again, next issue. We later learn Albus (which is a man's name if you ask me) is actually a girl, and not just any girl, the granddaughter of that good witch who was unjustly murdered. Why is this relevant? Throughout the trio's journey Zero reveals she's looking for her grimoire and 13. Albus says that the sorcerers have it, and when they arrive to the sorcerers hometown, which has been freshly massacred, says that perhaps Soreana's granddaughter had escaped with it. Wait what? That's her. Why would she lie to the hero which her group named herself after? Lapse in logic: 4, bad writing: 4.
Second to last issue. The world itself. We have plenty of witches in the story who apparently all learned their magic from "Him" and the Grimoire of Zero, and if that is the case, why are there witches that predate Zero, such as Sorena. Sure you can just say she popularized or modernized magic, but near the climax of the anime the trio plan to eliminate magic from the kingdom because Zero apparently has the ability to cancel out magic. Talk about plot armor. This also leaves more questions asked. Can Zero cancel all magic? Or just magic based on the Grimoire of Zero? Why can she do this? Can other witches do it? Frankly these things left the viewer confused. Confused and with unanswered questions Bad Writing: 5.
My last major complaint is one that is simply cliche. Throughout the first half of the show we learn that there are two important characters, whom we haven't seen. The aforementioned 13, and "Him". 13 was a peer and teacher of Zero. "Him" is the founder of the Sorcerers of Zero. "Him" slaughtered everyone in Zero's previous abode to steal the Grimoire of Zero, and followed up by creating basically a cult named the Sorcerers of Zero. If you hadn't already figured it out. "Him" is 13. I won't detail his frankly idiotic master plan, but the fact that "Him" and 13 are the same person is comically bad writing: 6. It was visible from not miles away, but light years.
Those are my major issues with the story, as for my other issues, let's dive into them.
The characters. The character's are not particularly bad or good, they're fairly average. What is however bad about them is their interactions. Almost every dialogue between the major, minor or extra characters fits one of three descriptions. Stupid. Cliche. Contrived. Those three words adequately describe this series' characters, and story.
The story. Routinely leaves questions asked but unanswered. Has several plot holes and previously mentioned fallacies. And to be blunt, is frankly average. Or it would be without all those glaring issues.
Overall Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho is a bad anime. A very bad anime, with countless issues, more than I've likely identified. If you're new to anime or not someone who dives to deeply into things, perhaps this show will be for you, but anyone who likes to dissect content, anyone who is detail orientated, or any anime veteran. Avoid this flaming pile of shit like the plague.
What starts out as a typical quest to right her own wrongs turns into a more complicated anime after she loses her soup, we are introduced to the initial characters and are shown different parts of the world's state and history. With themes that are similar to Junketsu no Maria, the anime as it is right now is slowly expanding our knowledge of the state of the world. Whilst the story is not unique in any way it is not by any means bad (I'm sure some of the other reviews will beg to differ), meaning it will be more than enough to keep you
interested. The recent few episodes have started to show a bit of the characters changing as people which is nice (I have qualms with how slow durarara/baccano was despite being a huge fan)
As for the art, pretty standard, it looks good but compared to most other Japanese anime it doesn't stand out, expect fluid animations and effects. The one bit that I do think they did well for art is probably the characters which are relatively detailed.
Music is great, I love the opening. The ending is calm and relaxing (though not exactly my sort of thing) and the bgm is more than capable of sending the mood. That being said due to the lack of action/emotional scenes so far it hasn't had a really good chance to stand out.
Characters are your typical op + knowledgeable MC (or heroine depending on how you look at it), your character that isn't happy with the world as it is and is seeking the ability to change himself. You have the loyal little magician who may or may not become an antagonist further down the road, which will be interesting to see how it plays out. As I mentioned the characters are drawn in great detail and the MC seems to have some sort of backstory we haven't fully explored yet so I am looking forward to it.
All in all its a 9 for me, this anime doesn't seem to have made a lot of mistakes but at the same time isn't taking enough risks to really stand out and get a 10 (masterpiece), that being said its more than enjoyable and doesn't let the recent few seasons (which have been great mind you) down.
This is obviously not related to Re:Zero in any way. You probably already know that but i'm just gonna throw it out there. Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho is an anime that has been on my "plan to watch" list for a long time. In fact, it didn't even have a synopsis at that time if I recall.
Story 6/10: Story's honestly not that great. The beast, Youhei, meets a witch, Zero, and despite his so-called hate for witches, he decides to embark on a quest with her. For a price of course, that being he could finally be turned into a human.
now, the pacing is slow. At the end of episode 4, it gets more interesting but the first 3 episodes are basically the building blocks of character development. There is also a bit of action here and there but it doesn't last very long.
Character 8/10: A unique MC because of him being a beast. You don't see those too often. I liked him though. He can be tsundere-ish at times and he seems like someone who is good but chooses to be distant and cold towards others due to the fact that he is aware beasts like him aren't treated so well do to their bad history (which is explained throughout the series). Overall, he seems like someone who isn't annoying. Thank god.
But there is one character who could be annoying at times. And it comes to no surprise that the culprit is the yellow haired kid. Honestly, I would prefer him to not be around but he's part of the reason of the MC's character development and he isn't bad all the time.
Moving on to another important character, Zero. She doesn't seem unique at all. Naive about the world and somewhat overpowered in combat. But still knows whats up when things go tough. I also find it confusing when some people act perverted at her (something you'll find obvious) because she honestly looks like a kid at first glance. Anyways, despite her lack of uniqueness, I didn't dislike her at all. But that could change when we get to see more episodes but I hope it doesn't. This applies to the rest of the characters too.
I also like to mention the relationship between Youhei (beast) and Zero. It isn't forced and it just grows smoothly. That is what I like. Romance done right. Rather interesting too.
Animation 7/10: Good for 2017. Nothing that felt out of place. Average. Normal. No flaws. No complaints here.
Sound 8/10: OP with an adventure tune that we see in alot of action anime and an ED with a calm and relaxing atmosphere that reflects on the relationship between the MC and heroine. I love it.
Overall 7/10: I hope this anime keeps sticking with what it is now with maybe a few minor improvements. Overall, I enjoyed watching it and I'll definitely not drop this.