For all its overly sweet visual glamour and historical inaccuracies, Gosick has a surprisingly dark and compelling plot. To be fair, even I had been quite vocal about some of its outstanding weaknesses—in addition to the earlier amateurish cases, the anachronistic fashion and aesthetics are especially jarring—but still, Gosick manages to weave together a sophisticated story. Set around 1924 Europe, the series opens with Kujo, a Japanese exchange student in Sauville, a fictional small state near France. When Kujo befriends an odd, secluded little girl, Victorique, the two unravel various mysteries that eventually lead to a darker web of political machinations and hidden secrets spanning generations. As well, the adventures reveal the mysterious background of Victorique, whose life has always been integral to those events present and past.
The complex puzzle of plots are wonderfully incorporated into the general historical context (with a few minor hiccups). At the cusp of World War II, Gosick ties the adventures of two children to the larger attitude changes facing a small nation with ambitious minds. The transition from the small scale mysteries to world-wide geopolitical schemes is, in fact, the strongest element of this series. Although I had previously scoffed at the simpleness of the earlier arcs, especially those locked-room mysteries, as the story deepens, I found myself inexplicably drawn into the more intense reveals as well as all the questions that necessarily come with these revelations. Of particular note are the urban myths and fairy tales. These, upon first glance, seem to be mere symbolic stories. However, as the story continues, their significance and parallels become more obvious. The little stories, along with other threads, are wonderful motifs that string together and push forward the seemingly disparate subplots. And, By the end of the series, Gosick would have the audience completely immersed in its pace and its story.
Similarly, the tone shift flows with a wonderful delicacy. Gosick begins with a fairly light attitude toward its murders; it feels not unlike a children’s detective story à la Scooby Doo. Sure, there are murders and other serious crimes, but these are easily diluted by the adorable Victorique, flowery setting, and easiness of story. Yet even in the first scene, the seeds of darker themes are subtly planted. For example, the myths and the brief explorations into Victorique’s past are hints of a much grander and wicked story. Indeed, there is always an undercurrent of something far more serious that is, in hindsight, very evident. Thus, when the tone shift happens midway through the series, it feels very natural. The last arcs of Gosick deals with war, murder, cult mind, rape, and so many other terrible aspects of humanity. It feels completely different from the comical and almost-immature mysteries of the first arcs. Yet, there is no single jarring turning point in mood.
With such an involved and fluid story come fairly solid character developments. Victorique and Kujo are both delightful to watch. Although Kujo is often fairly bland, and at times, especially in the early episodes, leans on the chauvinistic side (which is one of my biggest pet peeves about male leads), the story and Victorique make him somewhat tolerable, perhaps even likable. On the other hand, Victorique is the clear star of Gosick. She, sitting at the heart of all the subplots, not only drives the series, but she gives the anime its fantastic personality. A cute little loli with an unparalleled brilliance, Victorique packs a very distinct and colorful set of traits. Moreover, as we delve into her past, her mystery only makes her that much more fascinating, so much so, in fact, that she brightens up all the other characters (yes, including the slightly boring, cliché Kujo), as well as give the story that extra liveliness.
However, even with all the intrigue surrounding Victorique and the plot, Gosick falls slightly short of making a lasting, strong emotional impact. Perhaps our detachment to the anime is a result of the over-complications; there is always this sense of unreal to the mysteries and the characters, as super fun as they are. And, in the tiniest sense, the cutesy acts and plot twists tend to get a little bit exhausting after a while.
I guess, in that way, Gosick is kind of like cotton candy. It is overly sweet, delicious, and perfect for a brief short time. Yet by the end of it, one will not remember much of the flavor, and walks away with just the faintest discomfort, an icky feeling of the sticky textures on one’s teeth.
Well, on second thought, the sprinkles of adorable Victorique moments are more than enough to outweigh any flaws!
- The visuals and the costumes are one of the best parts of Gosick, and deserve yet another mention (despite the inaccuracies). Victorique’s clothes are so so gorgeous!
- It has been a while since I wrote anything. The past weeks have been one of the longest hiatus ever on this blog. Needless to say, life has its ups and downs. But I am super glad to be back. Love~
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