Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere is a noble in the land of Tristain, in which all nobles possess magical abilities and are served by commoners. She attends the Tristain Academy of Magic, but unfortunately for poor Louise, she’s a bit of a loser. All her classmates call her “Louise the Zero” because it seems as though she has no innate magical abilities. Whenever she does manage to cast a spell, people had better run the other way, as it usually results in explosive destruction.
The manga opens on the day of an important coming-of-age ritual: in front of the entire student body, young magical students must summon the familiar who will serve and accompany them for the rest of their lives. Louise’s classmates summon some cool familiars: bookworm Tabitha gets a wind dragon, while attractive Kirche gets a fire-breathing salamander. However, when Louise casts her spell, she summons Saito, a human boy from Earth! Mr. Colbert, one of Louise’s teachers, promises to investigate the weird binding mark that has appeared on Saito’s hand. Meanwhile, Saito desperately tries to get others to listen to him; he isn’t a Tristain commoner and he wants to go home!
The omnibus edition collects the first three of seven volumes in a hefty tome at nearly 500 pages. However, it reads pretty quickly, setting the stage for future books through little vignettes about the world in which Saito finds himself. These adventures include a fight between Saito and playboy Guiche that leads Mr. Colbert and Headmaster Osmond to think Saito has a connection to a famous familiar; Osmond’s secretary Ms. Longveville asking discreet questions about the school’s treasure room and a magical weapon called the Staff of Destruction, later stolen by a thief known as Fouquet the Sculptor; a sword-buying excursion in which Louise purchases a cheap talking sword for Saito and Kirche purchases an expensive sword for him as a sign of her affection; and numerous instances in which Louise treats Saito like a dog because she sees him as a servant and not a human. The collection ends with the introduction of Princess Henrietta, an old childhood friend of Louise, who is being forced into a political marriage. Henrietta asks Louise and her friends to retrieve a rather private letter that could destroy her engagement and risk the safety of her people. Readers also meet Viscount Wardes, a dashing older gentleman who has a secret past with Louise. These little stories set the stage for the wider conflict of the series: a potential war between the Kingdoms of Albion and Tristain.
This fantasy series is really fun and I highly recommend it for fans of Harry Potter who are interested in manga in the same vein; Louise is basically a girl version of Neville Longbottom. For those who want more, Seven Seas has also published a spin-off series, Zero’s Familiar: Chevalier, which is complete in four volumes. A third series was also published in Japan, but there is no word if Seven Seas will be publishing an English version.
Zero’s Familiar Omnibus 1-3
by Noboru Yamaguichi
Art by Nana Mochizuki
Seven Seas, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 12+