Mystery, or more specifically, a detective piece of fiction isn’t my cup of tea and you might have figured it out based on the anime titles I used to mention in various sites. Ironically, I have always enjoyed watching Detective Conan because of its thought-provoking scenarios that have squeezed my mind from gathering the fragments of a particular case to finding out the real culprit behind it. Danganronpa is a good series, too, as it requires deep analysis and critical thinking to ascertain a tragedy, and that way, I was able to utilize my mental capacity to its extent. These kind of thrillers are undeniably good to watch, but mystery isn’t one of my top preferred genres in the anime universe, and everyone seems to know about it.
However, recently, while I was searching some anime recommendation which has a little resemblance to Spice and Wolf, since I just learned to like a fictional romance in a European-based setting, I came across with a not-so-old popular title, Gosick, which sounded like “Gothic”, referring to the gothic-styled blonde girl in a particular illustration. Her doll-like disposition, her flat affect were kind of boring to my visually-oriented eyes, like I was going to waste my time watching a dull-looking series as it would closely depict. I asked, “What makes this anime similar to Spice and Wolf? Is it because of the small girl? The European epic setting? Buy hey, she doesn’t seem to possess a strong persona as Holo.” To be honest, I became too judgmental for the love of Spice and Wolf. I got a little bit of time to scrutinize Gosick‘s plot and I thought it wasn’t merely a mystery anime. Curiosity ended.
I can easily determine if a show would best offer me a promising storyline by watching the first two episodes. You know, if I don’t like it, I wouldn’t waste my time to continue further. I believe, first episode should possess a strong introductory course, and that way, audience tend to be more interested for the arching of the narratives before getting into the character analysis. Gosick is able to deliver a good start as a mystery-labeled anime for one main reason, Victorique de Blois. Her witty prediction, her in-depth dissection of a certain case can already be seen in the beginning of the show, and I thought, she is a brilliant character. Along with the ordinary Japanese boy, Kujo Kazuya, the third son of a high ranked officer of a Japanese Imperial Army, who was sent by his family to study at St. Marguerite Academy situated in the country Sauville, the story centers on the journey of these young people as they work together to discover the mysteries that revolve around their school.
After a couple of episodes, the plot seems to fall under an episodic-type course as the presence of a particular thriller to be solved with a culprit-of-the-week sequence, and Victorique’s judgment is at constant level and predictably the sole person to solve a particular mystery, though I was expecting Kujo to use his mentality to contribute a lot for the narrative. There is no definitive plot for the first half of the series as it is about getting the excitement out from the daily adventures of the leads. With this mini scale plot however, I pretty enjoyed watching the show because mainly, Victorique’s strong character and her deep reconstruction to solve a mystery, though predictable at some points, is the real entertainment of the anime which I find as a simplistic approach to make the show a lot more engaging than any other series of the same genre.
Despite the culprit-of -the-week sequence, reaching the second half of the anime becomes more detailed as to the actual narrative and a settled plot is depicted which mainly focuses on two highlights – the antagonist of the series, Marquis Albert de Blois, Victorique’s father, with his ultimate goal to gain more power and authority; and a flashback story pertaining to Victorique’s past with her mother, Cordelia. These events in the story make up the melodramatic element of the show which, in fact, breaks the line of the adventurous journey of both leads which partly dissatisfied me. Although with the sudden change of atmosphere as a large scale plot is introduced, it still follows a good blend of mystery which turns out to be more challenging, mind-blowing and the fragments of such mysteries become interlinked to one another which is quite hard to gather and internalize to unfold these mysteries.
In addition to the mystery element, what is absolutely more engaging is the chemistry of Kujo and Victorique. Early episodes show the hate-to-love interaction of these two lovable leads. The splash of romance makes the mystery genre more compelling which prevents the whole narrative from its dullness and proneness to drop the show. Without the romantic involvement, I don’t really think the series would gain, at least, an average rating from the various viewers. Kujo is a dumb-ass protagonist which perfectly suits for a tsundere female lead which is an overused chemistry especially in a harem type series, but this is different. The mixture of mystery and romance is depicted smoothly with the thrillers as the main point and the reserved lighthearted romance as another pleasing aspect to watch out for.
Surprisingly as it vaguely seems to happen, the near finale or let’s say the remaining one- eight portion of the show depicts a closed portrayal of the World War II which covers up the political perspective of the show. Though I was also expecting Kujo to carry on his role anytime in the series as the third imperial son of the Japanese high ranked officer, the finale isn’t something to anticipate with. While romance has been developed which should end up with a smooth resolution, darkness as a battle of throne doesn’t serve a purpose for a definitive solution to Marquis’ unjustifiable authority to be the Prime Minister. A mini action scene, a match between Marquis and Cordelia, drew me a shocking response which I felt it was forcefully done to achieve and develop the character of Marquis. Still, he gets the worst characterization in the entire show.
Victorique’s development is evidently seen throughout the series. From her strong, socially aloof role, dense nature and tsundere character, the show doesn’t have a hard time to make her metamorphosis, transforming her into a sentimental, loving girl and a good friend to Kujo. It’s all because the existence of her past that makes the whole thing different from the small scale plot from the beginning. Kujo, on the other hand, despite delivering a fair volume of dialogue to solve a particular mystery, he remains static with his character. He possesses a simple disposition but most of the time looks so dumb and annoying in front of Victorique until I learned to appreciate him in the near finale.
The weak point of the series is the inability to provide the supporting cast a decent role to build up the plot. There’s too much spotlight for both Kujo and Victorique, but others seem to add a small amount of time on screen and none of them make essence. For instance, Avril’s love interest towards Kujo is fun to watch. She is quite entertaining with her flirtatious annoying appeal but only exists for the sake of romance, and in reality, she doesn’t contribute a fair amount of role for the large scale plot. I also have a problem with Marquis de Blois’ existence which doesn’t appeal to the most part of the story, that is, he lacks exposure as the main antagonist. I was a little confused as to his whereabouts, and I only knew him as a power-thirsty old man who wants to rule everything in front of him.
The animation is pretty well-done. I am completely satisfied with the decent visual of the characters and background setting by Bones studio. It has a neatly created outline and a fairly contrasted scheme which doesn’t look too light or too dark. It doesn’t have something special to offer in the first place, but I don’t demand either. I’ve been always fascinated with the visuals of various anime by Bones such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club, and it wouldn’t be impossible for me to get attached with the same studio.
The opening theme titled “Destin Histoire” by Risa Yoshiki has a cute shoujo-ish melody which blends perfectly with Kujo and Victorique’s adventure. Listening to the song made me anticipate that the anime could offer a mixture of mystery and romance with a splash of fictional world of Europe. The two ending themes, “Resuscitated Hope” and “Unity”, respectively illustrated for the half of the series, is performed by the same artist, Lisa Komine. Her wonderful voice complements smoothly with the well-performed instrumental of the song.
Overall, Gosick is an average mystery anime I could easily find along the corner. It could have been a potentially masterpiece work if the series consistently follows the adventurous sequence of the two main leads. The routinely problem-solving approach would be much entertaining than incorporating the macro scale plot that centers on Victorique’s family issue which is depicted in a rushed manner. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the 24-episode anime series. The romance part is worth watching which makes the series a lot more special. I still recommend it for those who seek a not-so-deep mystery fiction that is made with a basic mentality. However, if you’re a hardcore mystery enthusiast, Gosick isn’t something to get hooked up with.