I’ve been dying to check out more mystery-themed anime after the truly under-rated UN-GO. So far, Hyouka has been doing an okay job on the matter: some arcs are just bad and others really deliver. Gosick has been in my plan to watch list for a while and thankfully it was on Crunchyroll and I could watch it late at night when I can’t sleep. Now that probably wasn’t the smartest idea, as some of the mysteries were focused around some really crazy people. But after finishing it yesterday, I’ve gathered my thoughts and despite some bumps and certain characters I feel that Gosick does a great job on its take on the mystery genre.
When you watch the first half of Gosick, be very careful not to have high expectations. I say this because if you are a true mystery aficionado, you’ll have the urge to drop Gosick before it starts to get really good. The mysteries of the first 12 episodes of Gosick are not that great and someone who lives off of Bleach and Naruto will easily solve these, they’re THAT predictable. I do like how these mysteries were brought up and how they started but its everything else that kinda stinks. But I would also say not to skip these episodes because you’ll be missing some vital information that the second half of the series really explores and when the real good mysteries begin.
Now I said that Gosick’s take on the mystery genre is a bit different: yes, there’s a case to solve usually murder or something similar and the investigation takes place. But for Gosick, the main character Victorique de Blois gathers evidence and can actually project how the crime happened once “all of the fragments of chaos” have been assembled which from what I assume is merely evidence, witness testimony or from print sources. Because of Victorique’s almost infinite knowledge of almost anything, Gosick’s mysteries are very character-based. If UN-GO’s mysteries had a bit of flashiness and supernatural and if Hyouka’s mysteries are more than meets the eyes then Gosick’s mysteries are all in one way or another relevant to the main plot and it’s main character duo, the perpetually bored Victorique de Blois and her bumbling reluctant partner Kazuya Kujo.
Our main cast in Gosick consists of the main protagonists Victorique and Kujo, along with transfer student Avril Bradley, Avril and Kujo’s teacher Cecille and Victorique’s brother Grevil. There will be more main characters especially in part two, but it’s hard to talk about them as it’s full of spoilers in itself. From the starting point, it’s almost as if the staff behind Gosick wants you to hate Kujo and if so, they succeeded quite well. Now, I do think there was a lot of promise in Kujo’s character and episode 12 briefly touched upon his home and family but I felt it should have happened a little earlier and with more episodes because that’s a real missed opportunity to give Kujo some positive attention. There was one scene in I believe it was either episode 3 or 4 that Kujo really laid the smackdown on a bad guy, but that was really only one instance of Kujo manning up as for most of the series expect Kujo to say the following:
*Victorique trips* Wow, you’re stupid.
*Victorique crying* Ahahah, you’re joking right? I didn’t hit you THAT hard..
I’m not a baby squirrel! (to Grevil)
I’m the third son of a Japanese imperial soldier!
VICTORIQUE!! (you can have a drinking game out of this..)
Trust me, Kujo is pretty damn annoying and it’s not the constant cries of VICTORIQUE that do it for me. He’s a bit of a wimp, yet loves emphasizing the fact that he is the third son of a Japanese imperial soldier. From the flashbacks, we see Kujo usually getting smacked around by his dad for being weak, his mother protecting him and the reason he’s attending St. Margerite Academy is to become a true soldier before he can go back home.
Now this is where Victorique comes in and pretty much saves this show from being “The Kazuya Kujo Show”. She lives inside the freakishly huge library of the academy not by choice but because she was forced to. More on that in the second half but there’s enough about Victorique’s character and past that will leave you wanting more when all the juicy details start to emerge. She’s adorable as hell, sporting dozens of facial expressions (usually cute) and even acts like a troll in some episodes. You’ll absolutely adore Victorique and that’s before you really get to know her and her past. Next we have transfer student Avril Bradley and she had probably the most interesting introduction I’ve seen in a supporting character: it too revolved around a mystery and how she came here. She obviously has the hots for Kujo and usually is seen arguing with Victorique, who calls Avril a farting whale on numerous occasions. Cecille is the teacher for Kujo and Avril and usually is seen doing something befitting of a character with glasses and huge boobs: being a huge ditz. Strangely she comes into a bit of prominence in the last mystery of the show before the series heads into the final arc, but still you’ll usually get a kick out of her. Rounding out the major supporting cast is Grevil de Blois who usually comes and asks Victorique for help in his cases only to take her help and claim it all for himself. For a while you’ll be annoyed by this but Grevil actually is pretty much the second most interesting character on the show and he does things that are pretty headscratching at first. With that being said, Gosick’s cast is very interesting to watch but they do have some major flaws in their characters. Of the second half, we’re introduced to Victorique’s mother, a magician named Brian and the father of Victorique: I’ll just say he’s a real piece of trash and leave it at that.
On to the production side of things: once again BONES puts their best foot forward, much like they did in FMA: Brotherhood and UN-GO. The art is very appropriate for the time period (1900’s) and the backgrounds are lush and vivid in detail. I enjoy the animation itself but there’s usually some noticeable dips here and there. The music also followed the time period and gave it some classy tunes and even some more quieter tracks in between. Composed by Koutarou Nakagawa, the man behind the fabulous Code Geass music (most of it, anyways) and what a change from the huge bravado of CG to the more subdued and conservative soundtrack of Gosick. The ending themes, “Resuscitated Hope” and “Unity” by Lisa Komine were good but I fell in love with the opening song “Destin’ Histoire” by yoshiki*lisa, because in the span of 1:30 the OP really conveyed every single aspect of the series and highlighted the second half’s more serious tone well. For twenty four episodes this opening song stays the same and I’m glad it did, such a nice mix of happy and more serious packed into a standard opening theme size.
So overall, if you can stomach the first half and hold your fists from breaking the screen whenever Kujo appears, you’ll be rewarded with a really great second half that delves deep into Victorique’s past, the history of Saubure and a really sweet if not predictable ending. I recommend Gosick to anyone yearning for a mystery anime or someone that really likes Victorian-style artwork and music.
Animation – 9/10: BONES have proven themselves in the past with consistently high animation for longer running series, like FMA: Brotherhood. Of course not everything was A+ animated but the Victorian-era designs and architecture were marvelous to watch.
Story – 11/15: I get the point of the first half of the show, but still those “mysteries” were so easy someone who only watches Bleach and Naruto would solve it. Second half is much better, and I really enjoyed the ending even if it was “..And they lived happily ever after”, and it even had a “Fin” at the end.
Characters – 15/20: You’ll love Victorique and hate Kujo with a passion. Victorique is one of the finest protagonists in a long time but Kujo has to be the idiot in order to make Victorique look good, still he gets redeemed in the last few episodes. Grevil turned out better than I thought and everyone else was fine but I felt Brian and his twin needed some more characterization.
Music – 8/10: I seriously love the opening theme song, it represents everything that this show is great at doing
Enjoyment – 32/45: If you can stomach the “mysteries” of the first half and Kujo for the entire series, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a really nice ending and some really nice production values and an interesting take on the mystery genre.
Total Score – 75/100