We started watching Gosick last week on a whim. We had finished our last anime and had no idea what we were in the mood for. I don’t know why I remembered 2011’s Gosick. I had seen the Alphonse Mucha inspired OP and liked it some time ago, so when it popped into my head I thought...why not an episodic mystery show about a gothic lolita Sherlock Holmes and her Japanese Watson? At least, that’s what Dyram and I thought we were getting into. Gosick is that and a lot more, and worth taking a look at.
Gosick is the story of Kujou Kazuya, a Japanese exchange student in the fictional European nation of Sabure. In 1924, he meets a strange girl named Victorique who never leaves the garden at the top of the school library. Kujou is soon wrapped up in Victorique’s world, and together they solve many dark and fantastic mysteries, including the mystery of Victorique herself.
The Titular Adjective
Morie: I read a lot of gothic and gothic-inspired literature in my formative years, and it’s probably still my favorite genre. Now, we hear a lot about tropes as anime fans (so much so that I’ve grown to detest the word trope and hate myself even now as I write it), but the gothic genre could probably rival anime in tropey-ness. I was thrilled to see that Gosick sticks fairly close to the conventions of gothic fiction. Girls trapped in towers, dark magicians, ill-fated love stories, creepy convents - none of this would be out of place in a trashy old novel. Even when the show gets fairly ridiculous, it’s not straying from gothic style. I mean, it’s in the name after all! If you want shit going down in private boarding school and/or dark manor goodness, and some of that 999 or Murder on the Orient Express vibe, put this show on your list. Just watch the gorgeous OP for a taste of what you get visually and thematically:
Historically On Point...ish
Morie: This anime’s setting is awesome, guys. It’s SO rare to get a show set in early 20th century Europe. What’s more, it’s quite historically accurate in how it addresses WWI. The technology and costumes are also time period-appropriate (except Victorique but she is acknowledged in-universe as dressing oddly). It’s such a rare treat to get this kind of world. Unfortunately the care taken in depicting history is kind of thrown away near the end of the show, but the worldbuilding up until then is good enough to earn it a spot in the “great” category.
Dyram: I love the historical fiction. It’s an incredibly believable setting and stays fairly consistent throughout. The use of French is absolutely brilliant as it was the world language of that time (the US still wasn’t a major world power yet). It also allowed a stage to be set where a Japanese student could be going to school in Europe.
Dyram: I think this is the first time I’ve seen an accurate map of Europe in anime! This goes in line with the language thing. They actually usurped part of Italy to make this fictional nation that borders France, Italy, and Switzerland. Again, French makes perfect sense for this.
Victorique and Kujou
Morie: The two leads of Gosick are a HoloXLawrence tier OTP for me. And beyond shipping, they just really work as protagonists. Victorique is brilliant and endlessly quirky. She carries the show, makes up a lot of both the emotional and comedic weight, and is probably one of the most gif-able characters around. Kujou is not unintelligent himself, and balances out Victorique with his gentle and level-headed nature.
Dyram: Victorique and Kujou are an amazing couple. Victorique is a tsundere that doesn’t just seem shoehorned in. She’s internally consistent, and it makes some sense considering her upbringing. She’s also the most competent character in the show. This contrasts nicely with Kujo, who is a bit more timid, but learns to toughen up as the show goes on. That’s not to say he’s a wimp though. He’s a very kind soul with a real sense of Japanese honor and duty. Thus, when confronted with real danger, he stands up and protects Victorique and the other characters despite his fear. He’s the picture of courage and is overall a very likeable character. Together, they create this incredible relationship dynamic that you can’t help but root for them through the entire show. Also, Victorique is literally the cutest character to ever exist in an anime ever.
The Entire Cast
Morie: Some of the secondary characters are more annoying than others. Victorique’s half-brother, Grevil/Glaviel, an inspector who relies on his sister to solve complicated cases, seemed like he might be one-note, but throughout the show became one of the most interesting and likable characters. Another fantastic side character is Leviathan, the star of one of the mysteries, a dark and charismatic figure whose story is told though his narrated memoirs. In the could-do-without category is Avril Bradley, an English exchange student who goes from a piece of a certain case to friend of Kujou. She really serves no purpose except to act chipper and then pout about Kujou not noticing her. In a show that pushes VictoriKujou from the very early episodes, the attempt to force a love triangle here was just stupid.
Dyram: Side characters are hit or miss. Grevil is great. Avril is stuck in there to add romantic tension, but ultimately winds up falling flat to the point that even the show admits she’s useless.
Morie: The mysteries themselves were also hit and miss for me. Great: survival game taking place on an ocean liner!!! and the mysteries that arise from the intertwining stories of Sabure’s late Queen and the alchemist Leviathan. It’s also cool how the mysteries increasingly raise the stakes and often involve elements of the characters’ pasts. Another minor gripe is that sometimes it seemed like the twists relied too heavily on using Victorique herself as a plot device.
Dyram: Unfortunately, the story hurts itself the most when it deviates from actual history and has World War II starting in 1924. I think the show would have been better served either taking place just before WWI or closer to WWII. I found it hard to suspend my disbelief when WWII started early AND ended in only 5 years.
Morie: Yeah, I have no issue with alternate histories, but why build up a story and world that follows actual history only to break it down like that? Everything up until the last few episodes pointed towards WWII being a flash-forward, but they just kind of jammed it in to the 20s anyway.
Dyram: On top of the above, the ending was horribly rushed. The entirety of the war was compressed to about 2 episodes. This show could have used another season to further flesh out the characters and build up to WWII. I think a better design choice would have been to make the show take place somewhere between 1929 and 1931.
Morie: I’m not sure how the novels pace the ending, but there was just too much resolution packed into the last one or two episodes. The issue is that they wrapped up the last big mystery arc, but then went “oh darn, I guess we have to do something really big with Victorique and her fucked up family AND give everyone a post-war ending.” At least it gives Victorique and Kujou a well deserved conclusion.
Morie: I just loved Gosick. It was very unique and memorable! If your tastes are anything like mine, definitely give it a try. Its faults really don’t take away from the many great qualities. Just sit back and enjoy these lovable characters, beautiful art, and fascinating world.
Dyram: Overall, this was an amazing show. The faults are incredibly minor and it suffers from a weak ending, but the journey it takes you on, and the love that you see blossom is more than worth your time. Also, it’s much darker than you would expect. I would gladly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys good world and character building, as well as thought-provoking storylines.