Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho – 04

♫♬♪♩♩ have you seen the lady fairer?♫♬♪♩♩

 I only have a few things to say about this one, so I’ll keep it short.

The Road to Latette or Zero is Still Frisky

Fanservice cuts both ways…

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Well, I’m sure he’ll recover sooner or later. But honestly, was there anything more humanizing for Youhei than a bath? Instead of some fierce machine made strictly for battle or witch killing, we have something as endearing as this offbeat”wet cat moment”, that also doubles as a private one. Both Zero and Albus take great pains to have a laugh or two at the expense of his embarrassment. But that only underscores his sense of tolerance, and perhaps what it takes to be a decent person among all the dog-eat-dog meanness his kind have a reputation for. If given the opportunity, and Zero can be seen his opportunities externalized on many such occasions, he generally does the decent thing. OK, yes, he does clobber them for crossing some lines. However, he does concern himself with being seen as real person, and looks out for others. almost as a default – he was very concerned about the kids. He’s pragmatic about this as well, seeing that he cannot control the world, but he can control himself. That has it’s downside, as he can be too reflective and slow to act sometimes, or at all if not prodded. Luckily he has a companion that has little social filter and is more pragmatic in some cases than he is. The first part of this episode concerns itself with that. And both realize that it’s actions more than anything that create a monster.

…this episode is brought to you by water…

Some of that may concern upbringing. As we’ve already seen, Youhei’s parents were pretty keen people for all intents. The writers didn’t saddle them to that dumb, “you’re no child of mine” trope just because he was born a beastfallen, and they probably don’ t hold much truck with the accepted reality of beastfallen being born from “sin from a past life” – which is just a horrible control mechanism. In turn, Albus has suffered a great degree due to the witch hunts, losing both parents to the rage of that conflict. He’s (and I think I was wrong about the gender last episode, but we’ll see?) still a level headed kid, not giving into the same rage, choosing to be a decent person, even when that would inconvenience him; if not acting immature at times, but that’s youth for you. Zero is the odd one out, and odd barely covers it. She’s the scion of hidden power, and the inheritor of hidden knowledge, in addition to being the originator of the new outlook on magic. So her overall outlook is more studious and curious, not really based on any direct experiences. She knows the textbook (or at least her textbook’s) definition of a kiss, but not the real deal. So whereas the kindness of the other two has become a matter of course, and a harsh defining lesson, with Zero we are left wondering if that somewhere, in all that magical experimentation and communal living, she found her own sense of right and wrong, her own moral compass. I’m wondering if the writer’s left that as a deliberate gap during this episode and marked it to be explored later, and in a different fashion, or if her closeness to Youhei is becoming her standard for a moral compass. It’s lucky they met if that’s the case.

One more time, carry the Zero

So there…

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All in all this was as enjoyable an episode as the last one, for all the same reasons. They’ve set a rather interesting stage from the very beginning, even if there a few gaps in the storytelling that don’t quite suit me. First, I can’t quite get an accurate read on her newcomer status. On a certain level her ignorance of what a kiss is, her lack of working knowledge of money, and her basic and friendly approach to people could be reflective of how she grew up.  But it feels like it’s too clumsily laid into the text of the show. It’a bit abrupt, like they show off how strange she is just as a matter of plot convenience rather than strict character definition – oh look, isn’t she oddball?! can she even clothing?! For another, she’s a bit to wan at times, a bit to muted for everything to be so new to her. For many that’s probably a welcome characterization if the alternative is a genki girl full of fluff and crazy. But for me, I would rather see a balance struck between the two. And finally, the magic is still frustrating me on it’s mechanical level; my only read on it is that Magic the distillation of the scientific study of the exacting process of what sorcerous power is That is the summoning of demons to do the work. Hence magic over sorcery brings more fidelity and more control as they demonstrated this episode. ALBUS YOU MUST SEE THE FISH! It’s the Art of the Science! But despite my gripes this is still a fun show, and I cannot see myself becoming tired of Koyama Tsuyoshi and Hanamori Yumiri performing Youhei and Zero. They almost play it as a bit of a budding romance, but it comes out as a precious little power play; the back and forth that keeps fresh and lively. Both of them are relying on each other, for him to be more human, and her…well that’s a bit of a mystery. I love it. So I’ll see you next time for…

Maybe I’ll get an exposition dump?

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All around nerd that enjoys just about any anime genre. I love history, politics, public policy, the sciences, literature, arts...pretty much anything can make me geeky...except sports. Follow me @theskylion
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23 Responses to “Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho – 04”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Up until the end, it was a peaceful and endearing run to look. For one so childish, Albus is unexpectedly sturdy. For the death of his parents brought on by a witch hunt, I’d have expected him to harbor intense misanthropy.

    What’s worrysome is in the way Zero sets her priorities. If not for losing her book, she’d have holed herself up in her cave for who knows how long. If she doesn’t even know what a kiss is, that’s a serious problem. The book’s displacement may have been an act of providence in disguise.

    Now that I think about it, something is definitely wrong if she knows what a sex slave is but not a kiss.

    • skylion says:

      Kissing is a far more complex behavior than you’re giving it credit for. In the case of slavery, it probably wouldn’t do at all, as it’s not all that necessary to commit the act. There have been many cultures who have found it taboo at varying points, and certainly western culture has frowned heavily on it from time to time as it has passed in and out of fashion and respect many times.

      But in this context? It’s just one more example of Zero’s otherness, and shouldn’t be taken as an indication of right or wrong, just out of step.

      • BlackBriar says:

        By “wrong” I meant to say awkward. Because if you ask me, one seems a bigger matter than the other.

  2. sonicsenryaku says:

    This show is pretty good. The way it cares about its characters is some of the best i have seen this season. I agree that there are some rough patches to the writing but damn does the heart of this show shine through it all every time. That part of the show is written fantastically.

    About zero’s characterization, for me, your gripes about the presentation of her ignorance can simply be explained away by context. She knows how money works (academically this is not foreign to her), however understanding why waving high amounts of currency nilly willy is a problem in this day and age (of their world of course) is not something she would inherently understand. To her, it’s like “why is it a problem that people see how much money i have?” “why is it a problem that i practically gave this guy a 1000 dollar bill for something that costs 10 dollars? he should just give me back 990 dollars.” The issue here is not that she doesnt understand how money works; it’s that she fails to understand why that would be inconvenient for someone to do give her that much money back for such a small purchase.

    An example of the understanding zero seems to lack would be like me going to an iphone store to buy a 400 dollar iphone and i brought nothing but pennies. In this scenario, im not demonstrating that i dont know how money works; Im demonstrating that i lack understanding of social norms and etiquette to realize how cumbersome it would be to pay someone in pennies. I know the metric necessary to pay for an item correctly, however im just being an ignorant jerk bring 400,000 pennies to a cashier to pay for a phone.

    Zero has always looked at things in a very stern and studious sense so her very muted reaction to new experiecnes has always made sense to me; it’s like “oh..i see how that works now…interesting…mmhmmm…ok…i get it..moving on.” However the show doesnt make her personality revolve around her having deadpan reactions by having her visible get rowdy with youhei. i think a nice balance is struck with her character.

    • skylion says:

      While I’ve understood the context the story places Zero in, I’ve failed to grasp why the writers choose to present it in such a fashion. It could be because trade/barter is a common experience for everyone so that levels her out, but it still feels offbeat in the presentation. It’s not a game breaker, obs, just my own personal quibble. Like, they have her mention that the food in the caves where horrible, and that could be a moment to build something, but it is obviously treated as a throwaway line. It passess, but could be better done.

      As for her reactions? They’re just to even. It reminds me of a damning criticism of the Daredevil Netfix series. He seems just as out of breathe and it takes him roughly the same amount of time to dispatch a gang of street punks as it does a group of so-called super ninja (who were boring as hell, but then they were boring in the comics too, cause no other trope was more stillborn than 80s era super-ninjas but I digress). So really there is no difference between the two fights. In Zeronosyo, Zero is just a bit to deapan across the board; which should diminish her heighten reactions, I guess I just want more of those moments.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        “It reminds me of a damning criticism of the Daredevil Netfix series. He seems just as out of breathe and it takes him roughly the same amount of time to dispatch a gang of street punks as it does a group of so-called super ninja (who were boring as hell, but then they were boring in the comics too, cause no other trope was more stillborn than 80s era super-ninjas but I digress)

        hahaha that’s actually a pretty funny critique and a good point in general. But yea, I definitely hear ya on your quibbles; i would just argue that zero’s character traits are balanced particularly well because her deadpan is a result of her looking at the world and her experiences through such an academic lens (as we can see with her whole asking youhei to kiss her) and in doing so, she portrays this stern, expressionless demeanor to new experiences. We get to see zero’s layers when she interacts with her friends and that’s when she’s her most varied and human which fits consistently well when taking into account how her character has been established so far. But i get what you mean by having each new experience she has have a different flavor of reaction to rather than a deadpan response because in the real world, different experiences for the most part should garner some unique response for that particular experience; especially if they are foreign to that person

        • skylion says:

          Oh yes, I like her character quite a bit, I would just like some wavy bits to like more.

  3. zztop says:

    The travel and bonding segments are all anime-original. The journey to Latette was only a minor segment of LN1, Chp 4.

    The anime’s likely padding the LN plot with original material to ensure Vol 1 can be covered in the 1 cour, but the plot should heat up for the next ep.

    I dunno if Zero’s author approves of it, but it’s got to be better than Hiroe Rei’s “As original creator, I absolutely insist you adapt my infodump for 1 episode” move.

    • skylion says:

      Well, sometimes anime writers/producers know what works for a cour better than the original author does; it being their jobs and all. I’ve not read any of the fan translations for this, as the only thing I really want is some clarification about Magic Not Sorcery, and from what I’ve glommed some of the technical bits get savaged in the translation. I’ll happily stand corrected if that’s a false assumption. But, as you can guess, I’m a fan of the expansion, it feels less rushed.

      As for an infodump, I could do with a bit of one sooner than later. But Holy Jumping Jehosaphat, don’t spell it out with cookies!

      • zztop says:

        True, sometimes the love an original author has for their work can completely cloud their judgements on what stuff doesn’t work well in an adaptation (I think that’s what happened with Hiroe here).

        At least the cookies weren’t cream or chocolate covered/filled. You’d get messy streaks everywhere. :p

        • skylion says:

          The intimacy of prose is quite different from the immediacy of television, but things can translate if given the proper conditions created. If they do have a whole bunch of worldbuilding coming up, then the best way of making us care about it is probably what they are doing.

          Again, despite my gripes, both Zero and Youhei command attention with their cute little back and forths. I care about them; for the given value of caring about a televisoin character, that is. So I have a could probably given a touch more charity to any sort of infodump she has. If that’s the way they go.

          Remember kids! When spelling out a plot detail with baked goods, always choose the proper digestive biscuits, and not those fancy types! Think of your table. A clean table is a happy table owner!

  4. ProtoSovereign says:

    I thought I wouldn’t like this show, but I was wrong. Should I be happy or sad?

    • BlackBriar says:

      Happy, obviously. What’s not to like about this show? Not anime of the season material, per say, but it’s still a good watch. The two leads are scene stealers.

    • skylion says:

      …be happy…

  5. Highway says:

    This show kinda leaves me with a ‘eh’. I wish it were deeper than it is, it feels like it’s very superficial, and while there feels like there is depth in “Youhei” and Zero, any time the show gets anywhere near revealing some of the depth below the surface, Albus shows up to splash around and make it muddy and only what you see on the surface again.

    In fact, Albus is probably my biggest problem with the show. He’s a pain in the neck, and he ruins the momentum the show gets with Zero and youhei. He’s basically the same as the little brother who comes on the main couple’s date. But the fact that think I understand his role doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    Short takeaway: I like the show enough to watch it, but don’t think it succeeds like I want it to, and don’t like it as much as SukaSuka.

    • skylion says:

      I probably don’t like it as much as I enjoy SukaSuka either, but I also think the two are cutting different rows. For the row this on is on, I believe Albus to be a feature, more than a bug. The reason you dislike him is the reason he’s there, to keep it from going to deep to soon. There is depth there, but it’s not all that special, at least no more than two people enjoying each other’s company and feeling out the terms of the relationship. That’s got depth, but not as much as we would think, so it does need to tap the breaks?

      Having said that, he is a pain in the posterior, so execution is not meeting idea full on…

    • sonicsenryaku says:

      yea, I got to agree with skylion on this one. The depth will most likely kick into full gear but not at the moment because the show is not trying to get there so soon. All it wants is to wrap its viewers in the comfortableness the two main cast feel with each other and use that as the catalyst to drag its audience deeper into its narrative later on when it is time for that deepness to kick in

      • skylion says:

        Oh my, yes. To “kill your darlings” you have to have darling’s first…

        • sonicsenryaku says:

          please dont kill my darlings……:*(

          • skylion says:

            It’s a good way to make an interesting story. People being happy all the time isn’t exactly drama, or comedy. They have to have some inconvenience. Now, while the turn of phrase is rather horrible, that’s all it really means. Put them through trouble, and since it is fiction, you can reaally crank that trouble knob up.

            …of course you can kill them, but that sort of narrative device can and will be overused and become a bludgeon rather than a good story.

          • Highway says:

            They could kill off Albus any time. I’d be fine with that. “Oh, it’s so sad… ok, next!”

            • skylion says:

              …no. While the possibility of death inside the narrative is something that is within the trope, it’s not where I was going inside this context. You have your own posts, you can take miles from mere inches there. 😛

  6. […] important is how much he realizes that he is already human. That callback to his bit of fanservice earlier in the series brought back his thoughts of Zero’s faith in what his humanity very much already […]

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