General disclaimer: This entry is only concerning the first season.
For those already aware, my feelings towards this show aren’t pretty. However, those feeling were founded upon watching it back in mid-2012 when my critical thinking skills regarding anime titles were still in their infancy. Re-watching it with more of a level head and far more experience packed inside my draining cranium, the sentiment is mixed. Zero no Tsukaima is an interesting show. It has an interesting premise and paints the world that the characters reside in well enough to make the viewer interested. It’s easy to be absorbed into a show like this for fans of fantasy and what-not, that of which I am. The animation and overall design suits this purpose well and makes it hard not to look over a show like this on its surface.
So it has its appeal, but nothing beneath it could hold up as well as any intrigue one could have going into it. The characters vary between miserably archetypal and downright imbecilic. They show little of what’s underneath, and if they do, it’s what any like-minded person would do within their situation. So aside from being relatable in difficult or stressful situations, the character cast is otherwise dull. The biggest growth among characters concerns the two main characters, Saito and Louise, which is unfortunate because they’re so incredibly unlikable. Saito is stock main shounen hero times infinity, with an extra sprinkle of absurd retardation that rivals that of the male lead from Infinite Stratos. Louise is stock female tsundere voiced by Rie Kugimiya who gets jealous and upset by things Saito does when she could easily appease herself by doing something as unthinkable as basic communication.
The humor is based around clichés, the plotlines are based around clichés, and the overall experience is nothing new to the anime spectrum, though perhaps it may have been somewhat new at its time (originally published as a light novel in 2004). It’s worth watching to kick off an anime-watching hobby, but it’s hardly recommendable to seasoned veterans. The best I can say is that it’s enjoyably dumb.
To give it more valued credit, it started better than it ended.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.