A loli, some hair-raising mysteries, and the world’s most ridiculous pompadour. Either Big Bang Theory has really jumped the shark this time, or I’m talking about Gosick.
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Originally a light novel by Kazuki Sakuraba and Hinata Takeda, Gosick was adapted in the Winter and Spring anime season of 2011 by Studio Bones. In the beginning, we are placed in a somewhat alternate history-verse of our world, post WW1. In this world, there exists an extra country, of a mixed Germanic and French culture, called Sauville (note: depending on who is subbing the show, there are different interpretations of the naming, based on the translation from Japanese). It is here that we find ourselves, in the year 1924.
We are introduced Kujo Kazuya, a transfer student to the prestigious Saint Marguerite Academy. Kujo is the youngest son of a decorated Japanese soldier, whose expectations for Kujo are high. While Kujo is exploring the campus grounds, he comes across an eccentric doll-like girl in the highest recesses of the school’s library. Her name is Victorique, and for reasons not yet known to Kujo, she can not leave the library tower. Kujo soon becomes the companion of Victorique, who bosses Kujo around and toys with him at every opportunity. Much to Victorique’s surprise, Kujo sticks with her despite her resistance, and the two form a strange duo.
Kujo is introduced to Victorique’s unique powers of deduction through the puzzles brought by Victorique’s brother, Inspector Grevil de Blois. Grevil tries to inconspicuously trick Victorique into solving his cases on several occasions, and Victorique does so with ease. However, when the cases get more difficult, Victorique and Kujo find themselves pulled into darker and more deadly scenarios in order to solve them. Together, they try to unravel both the mysteries of the local police, and also those of Victorique’s own past.
And voila! That’s Gosick in a nutshell.
What Does This Show Do Well
In my opinion, this show’s true value lies in both the interactions between characters, usually Kujo and Victorique, and in the show’s scenery. Kujo and Victorique are made for each other, and the show starts their relationship off in a very light-hearted way. Kujo and Victorique’s meeting seems to happen completely by chance, but as these characters evolve and become closely attached, it’s hard to believe that they weren’t connected by some sort of fate. They support each other through the darker parts of the show and their silly banter peppers the show throughout, leaving the audience wanting more.
The scenery of the show is another element I found attractive. They seem to have spared no expense in detailing every bit of the backdrop for this show. While I’m sure they took liberties in terms of historical accuracy, I’m sure they can always lie back on the excuse that it’s a fictional work based on an alternate history. Whether they took liberties or not, the final product turned out quite beautiful. For starters, the style of the opening animation that resembles stained glass portrayals of scenes really worked for me. During the show’s progression, we are shown more and more of this world and the sheer detail put into the large scale scenes was rather appealing to me.
What Does This Show Not Do Well
By virtue of it being an adaptation, there will be complaints as to how well it stuck to the original source material. The light novel from which it is adapted is considered pretty decent and the show does stray somewhat from it, both in terms of plot and tone. Overall, this show definitely has a lighter ending, as certain details are modified. As well, this show definitely has dark moments, but the novel has much darker twists on certain details. I shall not spoil them here, in case anyone wants to pick up the novels.
However, I don’t think that’s the main problem with this show. For me, it was of the plot’s progression. While hints of the over-arching plot are dropped in the first half of the show, nothing major really happens to move the plot forward. It seems somewhat like a “monster of the week” show for a little bit, until suddenly details regarding Victorique’s past come to light. While I can sympathize with the plot writer since they may have wanted to ease the viewer into the show’s tone and pace in order to not shock them, I also find it a bit gutless on their part as well. In my opinion, a show can be considered at the very least good if it puts telling a story properly over appeasing a fanbase. I feel that the way in which Gosick’s plot progressed eluded to it crumpling under the pressure of having to sell.
That being said, I think the first half of the show had some cool mysteries and some fun moments, but the dissonance between that and the moments when the over-arching plot was being introduced was too much of a stretch.
Gosick is a show that tries hard to be atypical in the mystery/suspense genre of anime, but it probably doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself completely, in terms of it’s plot. However, if you’re looking for a mystery show that has a lot to do with the urban legends and horror stories, and you’ve got 24 episodes worth of time to spend, Gosick is beautifully-drawn option.
Final score: 7.43/10