Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho Episode 1 [First Impression] 

Shimakaze is cute!


Shimakaze is adorable. I initially decided to try out the Zero no Sho light novel around this time last year because the front cover had a loli that looked a lot like Shimakaze, and anyone who’s read my Kancolle posts will know that Shimakaze is one of my favourite boats, as is Kongou. I’ve even got merchandise of her. It turned out that the illustrator for Zero no Sho was the same person who created the design for Shimakaze, and suddenly it wasn’t surprising anymore that Wagahai-chan had such a striking resemblance to her. It’s less pronounced in the anime, courtesy of White Fox (and I suppose Diomedea too, as they produced the Kancolle anime) and they do have different personalities, but the visual similarity is still noticeable. I think there’s no doubt as to who my best girl for this series is, right?

At this stage, it’s worth making a few observations about what this is, and what this isn’t. First, it’s not a sequel or spin-off to Re:Zero. The Zero kara Hajimeru in the name might throw off some, as might the fact that it’s also got talking beasts and magic and is being produced by White Fox (and is being covered by me), but it has nothing to do with Subaru and Emilia and the rest of the Re:Zero cast. I probably would have covered it even if it was titled something different and even if I hadn’t read it beforehand purely because there’s a loli plastered all over the promotional material, but there you go. Second, it’s also not a Kancolle spin-off featuring Shimakaze, as much as I’d like one of those. I’ll probably end up calling Zero ‘Shimakaze’ more than once and not by accident, but it’s actually got nothing to do with the real Shimakaze.

So if it’s not either of those, then what is it? Well, it’s a fantasy light novel adaptation. But that’s all it is. Think about how rare that is. It’s not an isekai. The protagonist isn’t a person from another world that’s reincarnated or has a cheat skill or item or power. It doesn’t have the usual tropes that fantasy adaptations have usually had in the past few years. It’s not a world that runs on video game or RPG logic. There aren’t any experience points or spawning monsters. There isn’t any dungeon clearing or demon king that the world needs to be saved from. Nor is it set in a magic high school or in the modern day where magic has become the norm. It’s none of those things. It’s just a normal high fantasy adventure set in a fantasy world with fantasy protagonists. They’re on a journey to get their book back. That’s it, and yet in recent years something as basic as that, without any frills, has become so rare. Ironically, that’s what makes Zero no Sho kind of stand out.

What really stood out to me was the dynamic between Mercenary and Zero. Aren’t they just so cute together? Mercenary’s blushes make me laugh so much. He’s so pure and untainted. I bet his dream is to settle down in some quiet village with a cute wife and raise a baseball team of fallen beast babies together. The best thing about it all is that Shimakaze knows he’s a pure maiden. She’s got a surprising amount of versatility to her character. Sometimes she’s smug and teasing, and at other times she’s a hungry loli who wants her soup. Underneath it all, she’s a sheltered witch who hasn’t been outside much. Also, she has the perfect voice. In other words, she’s the cutest and the best. And of all the witches Mercenary could have decided to travel with, he actually hit the jackpot. This girl was the one who came up with the very concept of magic (which is basically a more versatile, convenient, powerful and chantless version of sorcery) and literally wrote the book on it.

They seem as if they’re an unlikely pair, but the one thing they do have in common is that the rest of the world hates them. Their society shuns and scapegoats witches for being able to perform sorcery, blaming everything and anything that goes wrong on them (e.g. natural disasters, famines and so on). They want to kill the witches! They want to kill them all! In fairness, witches are actually capable of doing such feats, and it’s not unlikely that some were spurred by the discrimination to do exactly that. Which then gives everyone else a legitimate reason to hate them, making relations even worse. As fallen beasts are (correctly) believed to be the fault of witches, everyone hates them too. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that witches and fallen beasts are in the same boat, because the latter wouldn’t be in their position if it weren’t for the witches, and the witches hunt them because they’re a useful ingredient for sorcery. That’s pretty much what the first half of the episode (prior to Shimakaze’s soup getting ruined) was trying to establish. In this context, an alliance between Shimakaze and Mercenary is quite unexpected, and Mercenary certainly wasn’t willing to agree (no matter how cute or hungry she was) until she offered to turn him into a human. Although the chances are, by the end of the story Mercenary will have come to terms with his appearance and place in society and will refuse to be transformed.

It’s a really nice start. For some reason, Zero no Sho doesn’t feel like it’s gotten as much hype or attention as a lot of the others this season despite having as much promise as it does, but hopefully the lolis and the false Re:Zero advertising will help to draw some interest in it. It’s a medieval-like fantasy about a cute witch and a cute beast teaming up to get a book back so that some idiot doesn’t find it and get the world destroyed after learning magic and doing stupid things. Doesn’t that sound great?

Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Guaranteed


I love cute things.

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5 Responses

  1. zztop says:

    Just a little change
    Small to say the least
    Both a little scared
    Neither one prepared
    Beauty and the Beast…

    All that’s left is some musical numbers, a waltz and some talking utensils to complete it… ;D

    PS. Apparently the live Beauty & Beast movie only opens in Japan this April 21st, with Kon Natsumi (Isshukan Friends OP) voicing Emma Watson. I wonder if local viewers will make the connection?

    • Vantage says:

      More like Loli and the Beast :D Speaking of musical numbers, I was a little disappointed that they decided to withhold the OP for this week. White Fox had a bad habit of doing that with Re:Zero.

      They might! It never came to mind for me as the genres are rather different, but now that you mention it, both are about an ostracised but kind beast who wants to be human again forming an unlikely relationship with a human girl.

  2. Wanderer says:

    All right, stop. In the beginning was ok, but proceeding to do it throughout the whole review was too much. Please call her Zero. I get that you like Kancolle. I liked the anime myself, and want to see more, although I draw the line at playing a game which I not only can’t understand, but which (last time I checked) was deliberately designed to not accept new players unless they jumped through ridiculous hoops. Regardless, Zero in her anime form does not actually look all that much like Shimakaze. She really doesn’t. Her eyes are the wrong color. Her hair is the wrong shade. I suspect she’s more well-grown. Her personality is different. She has more conservative taste in clothes. Her face is a different shape.

    Please show respect for this character by recognizing her as who she is.

    • Vantage says:

      But what if her true name (of which she keeps a secret) is Shimakaze

      Okay, okay. It’s just a hard habit to shake off after having followed the light novel first on and off for a year and being exposed to its illustrations and so forth, because there the resemblance is actually uncanny.

      Kancolle is indeed difficult to access for anyone outside of Japan. It’s the same with many Japanese mobile games, which tend to actively exclude anyone with foreign IPs. It’s nothing that can’t be circumvented with a little time (and there are step-by-step guides online that tell you how) but I know the feel. The message it sends is that ‘you’re not welcome’ purely because of your location.

      • zztop says:

        It’s interesting to compare with mobile games like Granblue Fantasy – it’s a Japan only release with the same foreign IP limitations, but it provides an English dialogue and text option for overseas players. Plus, the English localization is pretty good too.

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