Director: Hitoshi Nanba
Writer (of original novel): Kazuki Sakuraba
Animation Studios: Bones
Version Watched: Subbed
Sometimes there isn’t just one thing about an anime that you can pinpoint as being the reason you liked it. You can’t just say that you enjoyed the romance, action, characters or themes any more than the series’ other aspects. Gosick (like gothic with an ‘s’) has some drama mixed with some romance and just a little bit of comedy, all balled up in a mesh of mystery that makes the show wonderful to watch. Any one of those components on its own just wouldn’t have the same effect. It’s not going to have you jumping in the air screaming or clamped on the edge of your seat, but the more subtle emotions it evokes are well worthwhile.
Kazuya Kujo came to Saubure in 1924 as an exchange student from Japan. Shunned by his fellow students because of a local legend, he takes refuge in St. Marguerite Academy’s massive tower of a library, and at its highest level forms a bond that will never be broken. Victorique de Blois, the Golden Fairy of the tower, is a tiny girl with flowing blonde hair, a fiery temper and a brilliant mind. Confined, practically held hostage by her father, she spends her days attempting to fend off the boredom that plagues her. In the midst of chilling murders and swirling intrigue, the two desperately struggle to avoid being torn apart.
What can I say about Gosick? It starts off slowly while beckoning for your curiosity to follow it through the twisting halls of its mysteries, gradually placing block after block of new information beneath your gaze before finally entering a grand finale in a crescendo of revelations and emotion. That’s about it. In all seriousness though, while Gosick always has some sort of new or plot device that holds your attention, there are a number of aspects of the show that sort of float around in the background and don’t change a whole lot throughout the course of the story. A lot of things that are introduced early on don’t get much attention until the series’ conclusion and that can be a little frustrating. Despite that, I could never quite say that I was bored during my experience.
For the most part the mysteries are well-crafted enough that it’s easy to follow along with them and the thought processes of the main characters. Some of the episodes are so ridiculously clever that you don’t even care if what you were thinking had been way off the mark because the journey itself was just so much fun. There’s a good mix of high-stake and low-stake puzzles throughout the show, though I would be lying if I denied that flowing back into one of the less important incidents after life-or-death battles of wits could be a little tedious. In one of my earliest posts on this site I talk about what can make a good ending, and Gosick fits one of the categories that you really don’t see very often. Without giving anything away I need to mention that the ending is very well put together even though it features one of my least favourite storytelling techniques of all time. Strangely enough, it also features my favourite type of villain, the kind that you really despise; it’s like they’re taking notes or something.
It’s a little hard for me to get my thoughts together about Gosick’s main characters. On the one hand, the relationship they have can be incredibly touching at times, while on the other hand it’s Toradora all over again (though it’s worth noting that Gosick was written first, which renders this particular complaint effectively baseless). What I can complain about, however, goes back to what I said earlier about some aspects of the plot being less developed than others. The number of times the “girl gets annoyed at boy for no reason, so boy gets annoyed at girl and storms off only to return later with an apology” series of events is used is a little over the top, making it seem like nothing changes between the two characters despite the time they spend together. Having said that, there’s sort of an explanation for it within the show so that one’s out the window too. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, although you don’t see it often, when Gosick’s romance appears on set it’s exceptionally powerful, the kind that makes big, gruff, totally manly viewers like me go “aawww” on the inside but definitely not the outside. Definitely.
I don’t have a huge amount to say about the technical stuff on this one. Neither the character designs nor the animation are particularly special, though the time-specific clothing is novel and much of the background art is superb. If you’re going to set an anime in a fictional European country you should probably take a page out of Gosick’s book. The music used is the kind that grows on you over the course of the series, with insert songs being put to good use near the end, but isn’t particularly special on its own.
Summary – Though it may not seem like it from the review I really enjoyed Gosick. A lot of more subtle components of the story come together to form an interesting and compelling story and most of the complaints I can make are minor or completely unfounded. The mysteries are good, the romance is good and the drama is good, creating a fun and interesting experience overall that I happily recommend, but it’s more of a cult classic than a mainstream hit.
Score: 8/10 – Good