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.
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 they're 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 notices little details, or any person who has watched a decent amount of anime. Avoid this flaming pile of shit like the plague.
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.
I'm kind of mad because I had my review started and than I accidentally closed the browser. I guess I'll be writing it again. Luckily, I wasn't that far.
Grimoire of Zero certainly has brought out mixed feelings among the viewers. Many people really like or even love the show, while many others, like myself, just like it. There are also the people who just don't care for it that much. It's good either way, but it does have its ups and downs.
The story is simple. Zero and Mercenary meet unexpectedly after Mercenary falls from a hill top above where
Zero was camping out when he was being chased by witches, I believe (I actually forget the details concerning his fall from weeks ago). She forms a contract with him than and promises to turn him into a human, as long as he helps her find the Grimoire of Zero, which is a book she created that is filled with tons of magic spells and has spread far throughout the land. The book was stolen from her and she want sit back before it falls into the wrong hands. The two also meet Albus,a young witch in the group, the sorcerers of Zero. The three of them start their adventure and ht some of their initial walls. The first half of the show is a lot more character driven, which was a little dull at times because the anime seemed to be concentrating on simple stuff like that instead of on finding the grimoire of Zero and advancing the story. Luckily, the second half shows more of the conflict surrounding the war that is close to breaking out between humans and witches, and has many plot twists throughout the scenes. It could be a better story, but at least it was satisfying and ended on a really good note. The best part about it is that it feels like an old time fantasy adventure due to how the spells are cast and the backgrounds shown. The beastfallen designs make a nice touch though. I'd give a story a 7 since the quality rounds out nicely despite the ups and downs in the story.
The art is kind of like the story. It really makes the show feel like an older style fantasy adventure. The character designs, backgrounds, and other art pieces are not always the greatest out there, but the category as whole is good. A few of the background are done really well, especially some that I noticed in the final episode, while some others are just ok. The clothing is definitely of some typical fantasy designing, but it helps show the character's personalities really well and it is still designed nicely. The animation is pretty fluid too. Overall, a 7/10 in deserved.
The sound is my favorite part of the show. I expect a fantasy to have some really good music and Grimoire of Zero doesn't disappoint much in this department. The opening them is quite good, while sounding silly at the same time; it fits very nicely though with a few of the overall simple themes of the show, and it does have nice visuals. The background music is more fierce during the battle scenes and the more conflict based scenes. Other times, it is just some good music that compliments the mood in a good way. I'll give the category a 7/10.
The characters are kind of a difficult area to talk about. They are not the most special, but they leave an impact. Thirteen is kind of a basic antagonist and trouble is always around him, but he does a good job at being part of each side of the war he basically started, which is not something many antagonists can pull off. Zero is a young magician who might easily be the most powerful magician in the world of the show, seeing as how she made the spell book and that action lead to many people throughout the land learning how to use magic. She doesn't try to control people with force and enormous strength though and she is more kind hearted and it doesn't take a whole lot to please her. She is kind of cunning though and she interacts very well with Mercenary. Mercenary is more a tough and rather stern individual until he grows more acquainted with his master, Zero, and breaks out of his shell. He is different from other beastfallen since he doesn't use his look and or position as a soldier to get what he wants. He has a simple dream of wanting to open his tavern. Albus is an ok character, but she doesn't have as much of an impact as the three I mentioned above, and she just kind of seemed to be present at many times without there being a need for her. I don't think she needed to be incorporated into the main traveling crew as often the way she is, but would fit better if there was more of a use for her early in the story. The other characters are not really main people so I'll leave out. Overall, the characters are rather fun to watch and stand out in their own way, despite not being the best out there, so 7/10 it is.
My enjoyment earns a 7/10. I didn't always like every episode as much as another, but overall, I had a fun time watching the anime and some of the scenes were really good. It has a very satisfying ending too, even though the show has a short run time. There is more to be discovered in the world, but every main conflict brought about is solved before it ends.
-- This review contains spoilers. Only read if you have finished the series. --
Regrettably, I had initially believed this show to be a dark horse of the season. However, what I received was not what I had hoped for. Instead of a clever take on the magical fantasy setting, it was a walking stereotype with little to no depth.
It has a decent start with the mentioning of beastfallen and witches but quickly goes downhill with the very predictable direction. From the unoriginal yet "overpowered" main character, to the useless side character, to the boring villain, to the damsel in distress trope, to the lack
of exploration on magic, to the obvious and highly convenient "plot twists" ...
Diving into the lack of exploration on magc, it has always been something that piqued my interest as far as I can remember. I just find the subject of "magic" to be interesting and limitless in terms of potential with story progression. Combine that with adventure, fantasy, and even witches, then it's natural to assume you would see it pretty often, right? I mean, considering its importance to the story, then why is it so little explored in this show? That is not using your strengths to your advantage, and it shows the lack of thought or small preparation in writing. To bring my point full circle, the incompetency in writing continues to be evident due to the poor characterization - which leaves the viewer to become apathetic towards said characters - and the terrible "plot twists" - which just ends up feeling anticlimactic to an already unimpressive show. For example, when it was revealed that Albus was a female, it felt as if though they were trying to store value into a character that was otherwise useless and dragging the story down with it.
Honestly, it could be better, but this is pretty standard in today's times with some relatively low dips in quality here and there. However, that's not necessarily a compliment. With numerous anime per season competing against each other, it should be common sense that having "better than standard art" be a necessity for relevancy. If not, then it's safe to assume proper care wasn't given to other aspects of that show as well. With nothing to really capture the attention, then did it have impact in the first place? We, as humans, tend to forget the things in life that are seen as daily routine or events that don't make us remember it afterwards, because in the end it becomes just that - irrelevant. I can say with certainty that Grimoire of Zero is not something I will look back on in the future.
Much like the art, the sound was dull and forgettable. Admittedly, the show gave me no reason to listen its soundtracks. In fact, I'm quite happy to not spend time bothering to do so.
The ultimate sin of a writer is to neglect its characters, which makes sense from my perspective. Why would you bother investing time into a story where you can't stand the characters to begin with? Or if the characters do not grow? The person you are going to spend most time with is the character, after all.
I will acknowledge the fact that the characters do grow in this anime, but it loses overall impact if I did not care for them at any given time. If the cons outweigh the pros, then it would be deemed as a liability and not an asset; an inconvenience or weakness, not a strength. From the get-go, the poor characterization, as previously stated, left an underwhelming first impression that was never really serious at fixing itself. At what point would you cross the line? Maybe the sudden tone shift where it was time to eat in the middle of a supposedly high-tension fight? It's absolutely ridiculous how bad that scene was, in particular. Why should I take it seriously if it refuses to do so? To add insult to injury, 13, specifically, had a questionable motive. Quite frankly, Zero, Albus, and even 13 were poorly written. That's 3/4 characters with the most screen time. 25% of that was decent with Youhei, our mercenary beastfallen. His struggle with society and lack of communication with others was notable, but his backstory needed further looking at.
To summarize, Zero, Albus, and 13 were liabilities, in my opinion. Rather than bringing something unique to the table, I received unoriginal content with poor excuses of reasoning behind it to boot.
The show somehow felt incredibly rushed and could have greatly improved had it taken the time to explore more of its own history, the inner workings of magic itself, and fleshed out its characters more. Also, if it just had better writing in general.
Long story short, this was a huge letdown with no redeemable qualities whatsoever. It is quite literally the very definition of "meh." With that being said, it still isn't the worst of the worst.