「ゼロから始める魔法の書」 (Zero kara hajimeru mahou no sho)
“The Grimoire of Zero”

And with that it’s all over. Certainly not the most explosive of endings this week as Zero tied up the main conflict of warring man and witch, but enough to yield a satisfying ending with room for more if desired. Thirteen ended up surviving after all—wasn’t entirely clear if he would—Zero reclaimed her grimoire, and the land is cleansed of magic. Well, mostly. A little fast and convenient for my tastes—particularly the final “battle”—but that’s peanuts next to the ending. Zero has it in for the fur.

Particularly impressive for me even in these last few minutes was the details. Zero’s magic system was already unique for the thought put into it, but the remark about the entirety of magic being sponsored by a demon? Deliciously ironic for a high fantasy, and really begs the question just what Zero sacrificed to create magic in the first place. Sucks for the mercenary too with the merging of souls, but there’s no denying Zero will find a way to keep her end of the bargain. And then we have Thirteen actually being Zero’s older sibling—seriously, who could have guessed that? It easily explains a lot of Thirteen’s behaviour though, and shows his guardianship was more important than initially apparent. A funny time to reveal these answers, but cannot fault Zero for giving them all the same. After all, this adventure has only just begun.

Final Impressions

Barring the tongue in cheek Re:Zero sequel jokes at the start, I always anticipated Zero being a typical fantasy. The show certainly did not deviate far from this assumption either, featuring magic, conspiracies, and the usual ensemble of character types (beasts, evil sorcerers, righteous magicians), but offering enough twists to stay above the fray. Zero for example could have easily been a –dere derivative, but turned into a carefree, plainspoken girl with just a touch of cute naivety. She and mercenary got along well, teased each other perfectly, and always featured some organic—and hilarious—chemistry. Witch arms held high with waited breath? Only the mercenary would know what to do with that. It was just a unabashedly fun relationship to watch play out, particularly once Zero came to learn how much the mercenary meant to her and how he had never abandoned her. Not the absolute best character development mind you, but more than enough to keep me coming back for more every week.

What primarily helped Zero retain its strength, however, was its story. In general the plot was nothing ground breaking—banishing magic and saving a soul from its unwanted body, Fullmetal Alchemist is that you?—but its structure ensured success. Zero’s story was almost entirely self-contained, we received all necessary answers, decent conclusions for all major characters, and enough plot threads for potential continuations. Greatly assisting in this regard too was the pacing. Barring a few debatable moments in the latter half, Zero never particularly sped through its material, maintaining a consistent pace which revealed things when ready, and most importantly, when the audience was primed for the answer. The result was a show which never felt boring, something was always happening, and we received enough time to mull developments over such that rushing was never a concern. For any show this is not an easy accomplishment, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of dragging things out past their time, or speeding through “superfluous” details in order to reach the good stuff. No matter the weaknesses of Zero’s story, the controlled speed of its delivery deserves some praise.

If I had to find fault with the show though, it would be in the world building. Not for the details (ex. the magic/sorcery system, Wenias’ political factions) of course—I loved them—but rather the missed opportunities. The Sorcerers of Zero felt underused at times, lacking certain details or fleshing out which would have better meshed with the moral grey tapestry the show was weaving. Thirteen’s true identity too missed out on hints being dropped earlier for fostering a better sense of conspiracy and shadowy scheming. When we got so much information on magic itself—not to mention the Zero/mercenary flashbacks and Sorena’s history—it felt strange leaving out these components when it would have helped greatly in adding to Zero’s depth. It’s hard criticising this too much, however, when noting we could have received less and with worse quality. Given how well the show worked with what it had, such complaints are relatively minor.

While Zero may not be the best fantasy show to appear of late, I’m quite happy I decided to cover it. Generic sure, playing it safe yes, but boring? Not once. Zero made Mondays fun to look forward to, and I will definitely miss watching our little witch amble around with her king-sized body pillow. Sometimes you just want a simple story to experience, and for me Zero provided that in spades. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of shows like this.


  1. The anime’s covered just Vol 1 of the LN. Its story is self-contained, so at least we get a proper ending here.
    There’s an ongoing fantranslation of Vol 2, The Saint of Arcadios, a new adventure for Zero and Mercenary. Arcadios is a 2-parter, covering Vols 2-3.

    Pity Mercenary can’t be human so soon, although that would’ve defeated the author’s aim of having a beastman MC.

  2. I was so sure that Sorena would turn out to be alive after all, previously faking her death. Guess I was wrong.
    Decent enough show and good way to spend monday evenings.

    1. I did have a speculation that Sorena was the one behind everything. Planned the plague, faked her death and put Thirteen into easy target for the Socerers of Zero. Well, well

  3. This was a bit of an odd show for me in that early on, it was one of my favorite shows this season, but unexpectedly fizzled out by the end. I still like the show, but not as much as I would have expected 1/3 of the way into the season.

    The ending was… OK. Certainly as expected, but also (too) anti-climactic IMO. For about the first half or so, this show had a bit of an edge, a little darkness to it – something that was lost towards the end. It wasn all bad. There were some nice, touching character moments between Zero & Merc, but too often I found scenes kind of dull. Perhaps the best example is what happened with 13. Technically, it fits. He’s all about Zero, but his “climactic” battle with Zero was pretty disappointing. Just wasn’t satisfying to me. He suddenly goes “Oh, so this isn’t what Zero wants after all (and the timing of that was very plot convenient. No reason he shouldn’t have realized it before). Welp, so much for that. So…what do you guys want to do?” Meh.

    I get the review’s technical argument about structure, but for me the real strength of the show was the two leads (Zero & Merc) and the chemistry/relationship between them. Admittedly, I’m probably more amicable towards opening endings than some (though there is a limit to that), but easily my favorite moments were when the show focused on those two. Honestly, I never had much affinity towards Albus despite her having the requisite tragic backstory and she’s nice with a nice goal, etc. For one reason or another, she simply didn’t work all that well for me. Wasn’t really a fan of 13 either. Meh.

    One thing I do agree with the review is pacing. Perhaps it might have been a tad slow at times, but IMO it was pretty good overall. In fact, I’m surprised that this covered only one LN volume. Wise decision by whoever to do that. Try to rush this more and some of the emotional & character/relationship development of Zero & Merc might not come across as well. Also agree that this could use more world-building, but I think for this part of the story there was a sufficient, if less than ideal, amount of that.

    As for a second season, I’m in because it looks like a second season would be more of what I liked in S1 (at least initially). Zero & Merc off adventuring on their own with the focus squarely on them.

    1. I kind of agree with this.

      The story is a bit too low-key about everything. Very few events have any cost because everyone just gets over everything immediately after whatever conflict has ended. Like the sorcerers in this episode. They invade the city, attacking as they go, knock down the castle gates, and then lose their magic, which causes everyone to… make peace with them?

      I’m pretty sure the castle guard would have simply killed them all. And to be frank, with good reason.

      Now, I like the setting and the characters. Particularly the main 2, but I did enjoy Albus and wolf-guy as well, though I shed no tears with them being removed and new supporting characters being brought in. Because of that, I’ll keep at it if they make more but I do hope later stories don’t have every single fight simply end with the combatants easily getting over it and becoming friends.

    2. Agreed with you on the dullness daikama, it’s the main issue with the show. Everything here works and works well, but it lacks the spark that makes you want to binge the entire thing in one go. For me it was good as evening entertainment—certainly looked forward to it—but it’s not the sort of show which could make me stay up until 3 am for example. Probably a consequence of Zero not straying far from its genre and limiting the exploration of its world to the main cast.

    3. @KaleRylan @Pancakes: That’s why I think this is kind of odd or weird in the way the show ended up. It was never really grim dark, and I’m NOT suggesting that this go grim-dark/brutal/dystopia Akame ga Kill levels, but there was a grim-dark “edge” undertone, at least early on. Merc killed some fools in the past, we have witches burned at the stake, a town littered with dead bodies, etc. Then everything is resolved in a bloodless, little consequence fashion. No real casualties with the final battle, everyone just lets bygones be bygones, etc. To me it doesnt mesh all that well. This isn’t say Dog Days light-hearted fun hijinks.

      And yes, while the show technically wraps up all loose ends, to me it all feels so mechanical and routine. Checking off boxes. I don’t know if I’d say it’s “genre related”, you can have gripping, well told “high fantasy”, but rather maybe playing it safe or simply uninspired. Again, I’m NOT asking for super grim-dark here and I’m NOT one who thinks that “darker is always better”, but this just ends up being bland IMO – more than I expected.

      As for Albus & 13, Albus is OK, just never really had any affinity towards her though “on paper” she is a sympathetic character. If others liked her, I can see that. The wolf-guy wasn’t bad either. Just didn’t measure up to the main two. 13 though… I don’t think he was a good character. Dude killed a lot of people – including the other 12 witches in Zero’s sect for no good reason, but that just gets tossed to the side as a footnote. Also, while technically it might make sense, him going from “final boss” to ally almost instantly doesn’t come across well to me.

      Lastly, at least for me, this does set up better for a 2nd season because at least some of my issues/dislikes are alleviated with the main two going off and the potential for a better (IMO) supporting cast. That does leave the question of tone/general atmosphere, but that could change as well.

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Zero%20kara%20Hajimeru%20Mahou%20no%20Sho/Zero%20kara%20Hajimeru%20Mahou%20no%20Sho%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    GETS TWO THUMBS UP! You should watch it if not have done so already.
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    1. The Albus hints were obvious from day one I felt, but I never had the impression regarding Thirteen’s identity. Probably down to one’s observational skills though, I did kick myself for refusing to even consider the possibility then 😛

      1. Well I also thought about who would be able to oppose our all-powerful heroine, pioneer of magic, so that’d made Thirteen eligible for that.
        But I can say I’d agree with you that I doubted when Thirteen was said to be Zero’s brother.

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