~First kiss kara hajimaru~
|Saito’s back in Japan, the Ancient Dragon is on its way to Tristain academy, where Louise the Zero awaits with her friends. How will the final episode of this much maligned yet long-running anime series wrap up Zero no Tsukaima?|
It’s not long before the Ancient Dragon reaches the school, which means all of our heroes get to defend against it and its posse of smaller dragons. They have support from all the airship fleets of all the armies in Halkeginia, though. Even the elves arrive, just a little late, lead by Vidalsha.
Meanwhile, Saito’s running around (where’s he going?) in Japan, trying to think of a way back to Halkeginia. That’s when he sees something in a newspaper that gives him an idea. Saito hitches a ride to what looks like an airbase, and the moon above is starting to get in the sun’s way… hey wait a minute, a solar eclipse? I feel like we’ve seen that in this franchise before.
OK, so they managed to make the Ancient Dragon somewhat menacing this episode.
In Halkeginia the airships launch their cannons, but the Ancient Dragon barely gets a scratch. When 2 of the school towers are taken down quickly, Louise and Tifania decide to escape on Sylpheed in order to draw the Dragon away from everyone else. This gives Louise access to where its magical barrier had been worn away by the cannon shots before, and she lets loose an Explosion, but to no effect. Sylpheed gets knocked down, crashing to the ground and leaving Louise and Tifania shaken and defenseless.
Back in Japan, Saito has somehow managed to jack a fighter plane – clearly no one would let him just pilot one, though there’s also no evidence of a scuffle having taken place – and heads to the skies just as the Sun reaches full eclipse. And that’s exactly when Louise is about to get eaten by the Ancient Dragon, calling out for help to Saito, who suddenly appears in the Halkeginian sky in the aforementioned plane, with 2 missiles before him. Don’t ask me how, but the missiles track the Ancient Dragon, distracting it long enough for Sylpheed to get back up and fly away with the 2 Void Mages.
Didn’t the 1st season also end with Saito saving the day in a fighter plane? Is Zero no Tsukaima actually a clever allegory about the victory of science and technology over mysticism and charlatans?
Everyone’s surprised to see Saito back (again, don’t ask me how everyone could see inside the cockpit of a moving fighter plane from what’s surely hundreds of meters away without the aid of a scope), and Saito is surprised that Derf – his sword that died 2 episodes ago – is back on board the computer on the plane. Derf handwaves this by explaining that he was lying dormant in the rune in Saito’s hand. Louise creates a portal into the cockpit to speak to Saito, and he pulls her right through onto his lap, where
the reunited couple share a sweet moment Louise starts pouting and punching Saito for coming back. But he needs her to do something much more important, and she needs his power to do it.
Louise refuses at first, not wanting him to die, but Saito swears that he won’t leave her behind. They kiss, triggering the opening song of the first season. Naturally this gives everyone a boost, the airships continue their barrage, and Saito flies the plane itself at the Ancient Dragon before ejecting, giving Louise the chance to perform an extra powerful Exposion as they fall with the parachute. The dust settles to reveal the Ancient Dragon has turned into stone just before it crumbles into pieces. And the world is saved.
Alright, you get one shot Louise, and then I’m spent, and the world is over! No pressure!
On land, Saito plays dead for a few seconds, but he comes to pretty quickly, just in time to propose to her in front of everyone who has come to gather our heroes. Before the credits roll, we hear some wedding bells and see Louise and Saito at the altar.
D’aww, this is how it’s supposed to end, isn’t it?
But wait, there’s more during the credits! No speech track, but our couple comes home from the ceremony, where Louise seems to have an idea. She makes a portal to their honeymoon destination… Japan! Thanks to her recently acquired game-breaking portal creation ability, travel back and forth between the 2 worlds is trivial now! Saito shows her around the city a bit before he takes her to his old home to introduce her to his parents.
Role reversal! In this world, Saito gets to be the master and Louise the dog… or so he wishes.
You really should’ve gotten her a melon bread, Saito…
Click for full size.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Pareto principle. That is, in general, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. One of the more famous examples of this is the observation of a Microsoft quality control officer that 80% of bug reports came from 20% of users. So why am I writing about this in an episodic post about the finale to Zero no Tsukaima F? Well, that finale was about 80% crap and 20% sweetness, but that 20% had much more impact than the 80% of crap around it. That is to say, the climax kind of sucked, but what followed was wonderful and a beautiful finish to this long franchise.
Talk about some serious asspulls. So this just happens to be the day when a solar eclipse happens over Japan, Saito’s town is within a few minute’s driving distance from a military base (I’m not familiar with the JSDF – do they have fighter planes?), and Saito easily steals a plane from said base, seemingly without any conflict. Okay, suspense of disbelief is a valuable thing, but it’s something that shouldn’t be abused. But where I just completely lost it and started laughing uncontrollably was when Derf came back via the plane’s computer and explained it away wholly unsatisfactorily (he did that again later when Saito appeared dead).
And yet, this was one of the better final episodes I’ve seen in anime. Part of that is due to the fact that anime in general don’t tend to have good endings, but give credit where credit is due: everything after the climax was phenomenal. Louise was all deredere, none of the tsuntsun that she’s so well known for, and the marriage proposal and the ceremony following was as heartwarming as it was predictable.
But what I hadn’t predicted was the denouement over the credits, and while it didn’t blow me away, I was in love with it. It tied together the 2 worlds so neatly and conveniently, and it gave us some fanservice – of the wholesome variety – to boot, giving context to the ED animation in which Louise was trying on modern clothes. In retrospect, surely the author gave Louise the portal power near the end of the series just to make this ending possible, but the power was used well enough for story-related events that this event caught me by surprise.
So within the same week, the Shana series and the original Shana clone series end. Odd coincidence that for both anime series, I missed the middle season(s). The first season of Shakugan no Shana was much better than the first season of Zero no Tsukaima, but it seems that their positions have flipped at the end. Perhaps I missed some things due to not having seen the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Zero no Tsukaima, but I enjoyed watching this final season and blogging about it. It was rough going a lot of the time, and it had major pacing issues, and the harem comedy was far too limited, and the action was lackluster, and the music kind of sucked, but, for better or for worse, the ending is the most important part of a story, and this show – and thus this entire anime series – ended very very well. I’m glad I got to see it happen.
In retrospect, this promotional art and end card ended up a huge troll, because we got to see Louise in a nun outfit in like one episode. For shame.