Old Fart Who Loves Japanese Pop Culture 日本の大衆文化を愛する中年

Japanese Dramas, Manga, Anime and Japanese Movies, Jpop, and anything else about Japanese pop culture that I find interesting.

日本のドラマ、マンガ、アニメ、J-POP、その他私がおもしろいと思った日本の大衆文化について

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Zero no Tsukaima Light Novel


English Title: Familiar of Zero

The Light novel is being fan subbed over at the Baka-Tsuki wiki and you can read the first four chapters of volume one and see the full size cover art over there along with the translators notes. You can take a look of screen caps from the anime that’s based on this book at my previous post.

Here’s the beginning of the first chapter to give you a sample of the book and the high quality of the translation.



Chapter 1 - I'm a Familiar

"Who are you?" asked the girl intently examining Saito's face, with the clear blue sky behind her. She seemed to be close to Saito's age. Underneath a black cloak, she wore a white blouse and a gray pleated skirt. She knelt down and looked at his face with shock.

Her face is... Cute. Her reddish-brown eyes danced upon the stage of her flawless, white skin and strawberry blonde hair. She looks kind of like a foreigner. In fact, the girl must have been a foreigner. A cute, doll-like, foreigner. Maybe she’s half-Japanese?

But still, that's some kind of school uniform she's wearing, isn’t it? I don't recognize it.

During this time, Saito had been lying on the ground, face up, though he was unsure of how he had gotten there. He raised his head to take a look around. Many people in black cloaks were looking upon him with curiosity. There, in the distance, on an endlessly rich grassy plain, he saw a huge castle with stone walls, just like the ones in those European tour photographs.

It's just like a fantasy.

My head hurts, Giving his head a shake, he said, "Who am I...? I'm Hiraga Saito."

"Where are you from, Commoner?"

Commoner? What does she mean by that? Everyone around him had some sort of stick in their hand and wore the same uniform as that girl's. Did I wander into an American school or something?

"Louise, what are you trying to do, calling a commoner with your 'Summon Servant'?" someone asked, and everyone but the girl who was looking at his face started to laugh.

"I... I just made a little mistake!"

A girl in front of Saito shouted in a refined voice that carried like a bell. "What mistake are you talking about? That's your usual."

"Of course! After all, she's Louise the Zero!" someone said, and the crowd of people burst into laughter.

It appeared the girl looking into Saito's face was named Louise.

Either way, this is no American school. You won't see those kinds of buildings just anywhere.

Could it be a movie set? Are they filming something? But then Saito thought all of a sudden, But it's too big to be a movie set. Could this kind of scenery exist in Japan? Maybe it's a new theme park? But then, why was I sleeping in such a place?

"Mr. Colbert!" the girl called Louise shouted. The crowd parted, revealing a middle-aged man. Saito thought it was funny, because the man looked ridiculous. He carried a big wooden staff and was covered in a black robe.

What kind of a look is that? He's dressed like a wizard. Is he sane? I've got it, this must be a cosplay gathering. But it doesn't seem to have that kind of atmosphere. Suddenly, Saito was gripped with fear. What am I going to do if this is a religious group? It's possible. They could have put me to sleep somehow and brought me here while I was taking a walk in town. That mirror must have been a trap. If not, I have no other explanation for this. Saito thought to himself that he ought to stay quiet until he understood what was going on.

The girl named Louise was in a panic, talking on and on, saying things like "Let me try again," and "I beg of you," while frantically waving her arms about. I feel sorry for her, being stuck in this weird religious group, since she's so cute.

"What is it, Miss Vallière?"

"Please! Let me try the summoning one more time!"

Summoning? What's that? They mentioned it earlier.

Mr. Colbert, the man wearing the black robe, shook his head. "I cannot allow that, Miss Vallière."

"Why not?"

"It is the rule. When you are promoted to a second year student, you must summon a familiar. Which is what you just did."

A familiar? What's that?

"Your elemental specialty is decided by the familiar that you summon. This enables you to advance to the appropriate courses specialized to that element. You cannot change the familiar once you have summoned it, because the Springtime Familiar Summoning is a sacred rite. Whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to take him as your familiar."

"But... I've never heard of having a commoner as a familiar!" Everyone around laughed as Louise said that. She scowled at them, but the laughter didn't stop.

'Springtime Familiar Summoning'? What's that?

I don't understand. What are they talking about? How did I end up in a place like this.... It has to be one of those New Religions. The safest thing to do is to take the first opportunity to run away. I mean really, where is this place? Was I taken to a foreign country? A kidnapping! I've been kidnapped! I'm in real trouble, thought Saito.

"This is a tradition, Miss Vallière. I cannot allow any exceptions; he ..." The middle-aged wizard cosplayer pointed at Saito. "...may be a commoner, but as long as he was summoned by you, he must be your familiar. Never in history has a human been summoned as a familiar, but the Springtime Familiar Summoning takes precedence over every rule. Therefore, he must become your familiar."

"You have got to be joking..." Louise drooped her shoulders in disappointment.

"Well then, continue with the ceremony."

"What? With him?"

"Yes, with him. Hurry. The next class will begin any minute. How long do you think you are going to take for the summoning? After mistake upon mistake, you have finally managed to summon him. Hurry and form a contract." Everyone voiced their agreement and began jeering.

Louise stared at Saito's face as if troubled.

What is it? What's she going to do to me?

"Hey," Louise addressed Saito.

"Yes?"

"You should be appreciative. Normally you'd go your whole life without something like this being carried out by a noble."

Noble? How stupid. What nobles? Aren't you just a bunch of twisted cosplaying new-religion freaks?

Louise closed her eyes with an air of resignation. She waved around the wooden stick in her hand.

"My name is Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière. Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers, bless this humble being and make him my familiar." She began to chant these words over and over, like a magic spell.

She touched Saito's forehead with the stick. Her lips then slowly drew closer.

What... What are you doing?!

"Just stay still." Louise said, a touch of anger in her voice. Her face got closer.

"Hey, wait. Well, I'm... Well, I'm not ready for this..."

His face shook a little as he panicked.

"Ah, geez! I told you to stay still!" Louise roughly grabbed Saito's face with her left hand.

"Huh?"

"Mmm..."

Louise's lips touched Saito's.

What?! What is this! This is what that contract means?! The touch of her soft lips confused Saito more. My first kiss! But it was stolen in this weird place by this weird girl whose motives I don't understand! Saito lay there, paralyzed.

Louise removed her lips. "It is done."


Her face is red. Is she embarrassed by her boldness? What an idiot, Saito thought.

"I should be the embarrassed one, not you! You kissed me all of a sudden!"

But Louise was completely ignoring Saito.

You kissed me and this is how you act? How rude. Really, who are they?! I'm scared. I want to go home right this minute. I just want to go home and get online, Saito thought. He had just registered with a dating site, so he wanted to check his e-mail.

"You failed on 'Summon Servant' many times, but you have managed to succeed with 'Contract Servant' in one try," Colbert said happily.

"She was able to make a servant contract, because he was just a commoner."

"If he was a powerful magical beast, she wouldn't have been able to make a contract," A few students laughed while making those comments.

Louise scowled at them. "Don't make fun of me! Even I do things right once in a while!"

"Truly 'once in a while,' Louise the Zero," laughed a girl with gorgeous curly hair and freckles on her face.

"Mr. Colbert! Montmorency the Flood just insulted me!"

"Who are you calling 'the Flood?' I'm Montmorency the Fragrance!"

"I heard that you used to wet the bed like a flood, didn't you? 'The Flood' suits you better!"

"How dare you, Louise the Zero! What can I say? You are a zero!"

"Watch it! Nobles ought to show each other the proper respect," the middle-aged wizard cosplayer interjected to stop them.

What are they talking about? A contract? 'Contract Servant'?

At that instant, Saito's body started to get hot.

"Aaah!" Saito stood up. "It's hot!"

"It will be over soon; just wait. The 'Familiar's Runes' are being inscribed," Louise said, irritated.

"Don't inscribe them! What did you do to my body?!"

There is nothing I can do, but I can't just lie around quietly. It is unbelievably hot!

"By the way."

"What?"

"Do you think it's forgivable for a commoner to use that kind of language before nobles?"

The hot sensation lasted only for a second. His body rapidly returned to a normal state.

"That was quick..."

The middle-aged cosplay wizard known as Colbert, came to the kneeling Saito and checked the back of his left hand. There, jumping out at him, were unfamiliar letters.

Are those letters? It looks like a wriggling snake in some strange pattern. Saito stared at it and thought, if this isn't a trick, then what is it?

"Hmmm..."

At this point, Saito really lost it.

"These are very unusual Runes," said the middle-aged wizard impersonator.

"Who are you people?!" Saito yelled out, but no one reacted.

"Well, let's go back to class, everyone."

The middle-aged cosplay wizard turned on his heel, then rose gently into the air. Saito's jaw dropped in shock.

Did... Did he fly? Is he floating in the air? It can't be! The others, who looked like students, also floated up in the air all at once.

It can't be! More of them? One person could float in the air by some trick, but all of them? Saito looked for wires or even a crane, but the surrounding area was just a large grassy plain. There was nothing to suggest any tricks or setups.

Everyone who was floating flew quietly towards the stone-walled castle in the distance.

"Louise, you'd better walk back!" "She can't fly. She can't even manage levitation." "That commoner, he's perfect as your familiar!" the students said as they flew away. The only ones left behind were Saito and the girl named Louise.

As soon as it was only the two of them, Louise took a deep breath, turned toward Saito, and yelled, "Who are you?!"

That made Saito mad. That's my line! he thought.

"Who are you? Where is this place?! Who were all those people?! Why can they fly?! What did you do to my body?!"

"I don't know what backwoods you came from, but I will explain it to you."

"A country? This is the backwoods, isn't it? Tokyo is nothing like this!"

"Tokyo? What is that? What country is it in?"

"Japan."

"What? I've never heard of it."

"Oh please! But why are they flying?! You saw it too! They flew! They all did!"

But Louise took no notice of it at all, as if to say, "What's wrong with flying?"

"Of course they flew. What would we do if mages couldn't fly?"

"Mages? What is this place?!" Saito grabbed Louise's shoulders and yelled.

"This is Tristain! And this is the renowned Tristain Academy of Magic!"

"Academy of Magic?"

"I'm a second year student, Louise de la Vallière. I am your master from now on. Remember that!"

All of Saito's strength disappeared. He was getting a really bad feeling about the situation. "Uh... Miss Louise..."

"What?"

"Did you really summon me here?"

"That's what I've been telling you, over and over again, until I'm hoarse. Just give up. I'm giving up too. Why does my familiar a creature that isn't cool at all... I wanted to have something cool, like a dragon, a griffin, or a manticore. At least an eagle or an owl."

"A dragon or griffin? What do you mean?"

"I was just saying that I wish had one of those as my familiar."

"Do they really exist?"

"They do. Why?"

"You've gotta be kidding me," Saito said, laughing. But Louise wasn't laughing.

"Well, you've probably never seen them before," Louise said, with pity in her voice. She didn't look like she was joking.

The mages who flew away and the fantasy words suddenly connected.

He felt a chill run down his spine, and broke out in a cold sweat. "I thought maybe... Since they flew, are you people really witches and wizards?"

"Yes, we are! If you understand that, let go of my shoulders! You shouldn't even be talking to me!"

A dream... This has to be a dream... Slowly, his strength left him, and Saito fell to his knees.

"Louise," he said with a weak voice.

"Don't call me directly by name."

"Hit me."

"What?"

"Hit me in the head as hard as you can."

"Why?"

"I want to wake up from this dream now. I'll wake up from this dream and get online. Tonight's dinner is hamburg steak. My mom said so this morning."

"Get online?"

"No, it's nothing. After all, you're just a part of my dream, so you don't need to worry about it. Now just let me wake up from this dream already."

"I don't know what you're talking about, but you want me to hit you, right?" Louise clenched her hands into fists.

"Yes, please."

Her fists began to tremble. Louise's expression became unreadable, but it seemed a lot of thoughts were going through her head. "Aren't you concerned at all about being summoned?"

"How should I know?"

"How could I, the third daughter of the Vallière family... I, a noble who takes pride in her proper pedigree and ancient lineage, end up having to make someone like you my familiar?"

"How should I know?"

"...And just who decided that the contract had be sealed by a kiss?"

"How should I know? Look, will you just get it over and done with? I hate nightmares."

"Nightmare? That's my line!" Louise clobbered Saito in the head with all her strength. "That was my first kiss!"

Perhaps she was a bit too forceful... Mine too, though Saito, as he lost consciousness.

* * *

Hiraga Saito. Seventeen years old and in the second year of high school.

Athletic ability: normal. Grades: average. Duration without a girlfriend: seventeen years. Overall: no positives or negatives.

Teacher's evaluation: "Ah, Hiraga-kun. He refuses to give up, and he has a strong sense of curiosity, but he's a little slow."

Parents' evaluation: "You should study more. You're a little slow."

Being slow, he is rarely bothered by accidents, and accepts pretty much anything, relative to most people. Earlier, when he saw people flying, he made a commotion, but given that an ordinary person would have been so shocked as to be brought to their knees, he owed much to his disposition.

To put it badly, he just doesn't think too deeply about things before acting.

Also, he has a fiercely competitive spirit. In that sense, he might be quite similar to Louise in personality.

Anyway, a mere thirty minutes ago, Saito had been walking down a street in Tokyo, Japan—on Earth.

He was on his way home after having his notebook computer repaired. He was quite happy in fact, since he could go on the internet once more. He'd recently registered at an online dating site, and he might even have found himself a girlfriend.

Though what he really wanted was something to spice up his otherwise monotonous daily life. However, instead of discovering it on the internet, he found it in the middle of the street.

He'd been walking past the train station on his way home, when suddenly a shining mirror-like object appeared in front of him. Saito stopped to take a good long look at it. Remember, his curiosity is about double that of a normal person.

It was a large ellipse, about two meters high and one meter wide, with no substantial thickness. Then he noticed it was actually floating a little above the ground.

This piqued his interest. What kind of natural phenomenon is this, he wondered, as he scrutinized the sparkling mirror-like object.

I have no idea. I've never seen or heard of any kind of phenomenon like this. He considered sidestepping around it, but his curiosity got the better of him. He wanted to see if he could walk through it.

No, maybe I shouldn't, he told himself. But it's just a couple of steps, he reasoned. What a hopeless personality.

But first, he picked up a pebble and threw it in experimentally. The pebble disappeared into the middle of the mirror-like object.

Oho, he thought. When he checked the other side of the mirror-like object, the pebble was nowhere to be seen. Next he pulled his house key out of his pocket. He poked the mirror-like object with the tip of the key.

Nothing happened.

Withdrawing the key, he examined it, but nothing about it had changed. Saito judged that there wouldn't be any immediate danger if he walked through. Which only tempted him further to do it.

In the end, even though he knew he shouldn't, he stepped forward. It was much like opening up a manga just after deciding you were going to do nothing but study from now on.

He immediately regretted it, as an intense shock assailed his senses. He suddenly remembered back to when he was a child, when his mother had bought him a strange machine that supposedly made a person smarter by running an electric current through their body. It felt a lot like that.

Saito fainted. When he opened his eyes...

He was in a fantasy world.

* * *

Finish this chapter and read 3 more here.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey!! Thanks a lot for the post!!

This a wonderful novel! (^^)

5/18/2007 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger HoutenAnime said...

WoW I didnt know baka-tsuki was translating Zero no Tsukaima. Thx for the data, right know downloading the first 12 volumenes of the light novel, so this translation will be handy.

Thx =p and nice post

5/07/2008 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

@HoutenAnime They got a lot more done since I posted this a year ago. Great job Baka-Tsuki, thanks

5/07/2008 11:29:00 AM  

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