Jul 6, 2011
Gosick (Anime) add (All reviews)
Archaeon (All reviews)
Detective stories never go out of fashion, but finding a way to make them interesting is another matter entirely. Some leave things open to interpretation, whilst others rely on convoluted mysteries that are more difficult to follow than a city street map. There are also whole bodies of work dedicated to the exploits of well known sleuths like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and more.

So what was the great innovation brought forth by the anime industry? Why loli detectives of course!

Originally a light novel series by Sakuraba Kazuki, Gosick (which may be a play on the word "Gothic"), is set in the fictional European country of Sauville where Kujo Kazuya, the third son of a high ranking officer in the Japanese Imperial Army, begins attending the prestigious St. Marguerite Academy. He quickly discovers that almost everybody in the country is enamoured with tales of the supernatural, and one of the strangest tells of a golden fairy who lives at the top of a tower ...

The plot is generally well constructed and the basic premise is actually quite interesting, so it's unfortunate that the narrative is a bit too linear for the majority of the series. In addition to this there are several rather blatant attempts at moving the story forward by inserting some obvious tokens into specific episodes, many of which could have been handled in a far more subtle manner.

A major issue when adapting a written work into a visual form is that it will undoubtedly lose something in the process, and that seems to be the case here. Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain aspects of a given story will lose a degree of mystery once they're converted into an image, and this is even more prevalent in animation. While experienced authors are able to hide certain clues or foreshadowing elements in a body of text, once the story is adapted for anime the differentiation between foreground and background becomes far more pronounced. This has the effect of "highlighting" the more important parts of certain scenes, and when taken in conjunction with the linear plot, it makes several of the seemingly impossible to solve mysteries relatively easy to deduce.

That said, there is quite a bit of sleuthing going on, and the variety of cases on offer should tickle the fancy of many a mystery buff.

Because the series is set in 1920's Europe, Gosick has a very continental look to it that's reflected in the clothing, buildings, and even modes of transportation, and the majority of the background artwork is implemented rather well. There has also been a decent attempt at giving the majority of the characters a vaguely European caste to their features, and this can sometimes contrast nicely with the somewhat stereotypical design used for Kujo. The one oddity is Victorique as everything from her height to her clothing is very different to that of everyone around her, which raises an interesting thought. Gosick is, at heart, a detective drama, and in the spirit of tradition the leading sleuth must have something that visibly sets them apart from everyone else. In this case, it's a loli wearing ruffles, lace, and a charming array of bonnets.

The animation is pretty decent for the most part, and the majority of character movements have been implemented rather well. Unfortunately Bones haven't really pushed the boat out with this anime so there are a few telltale signs of inattention here and there.

Gosick features a variety of classically themed background music, and while the majority of the tracks reflect the serious tone of the show, there are a few lighthearted pieces scattered here and there. The opening theme, Destin Histoire by Yoshiki☆Lisa, is a J-pop/rock song that seems a bit too action oriented for a series that relies more on utilising the character's brains instead of their brawn. In addition to this the stylised montage that accompanies it drops a few too many hints about events that occur in the story, which is unfortunate as otherwise it's a well made and choreographed piece of work. As for the two ending themes by Komine Lisa, Resuscitated Hope (episodes 1 to 12), is a pop ballad that seems to fit better with the tone of Gosick, both musically and in terms of the visuals used for the end sequence. The second song, Unity, is the one that stands out the most as it's far more melancholy and dramatic than the other two tracks, and the accompanying imagery reflects the darker turn the series takes after the halfway point.

The acting is pretty decent for the most part, with Yuuki Aoi and Eguchi Takuya performing rather well in the roles of Victorique and Kujo (and it's actually surprising to find a tsundere loli that isn't being played by Kugumiya Rie). The rest of the cast also handle their roles passing well, but like so many other titles out there, the script could have been done better. The dialogue is sometimes childish or stunted, and there's a lack of cohesiveness that appears during several conversations which can make the characters seem ... lacking.

Possibly the biggest surprise in Gosick is that there's actually a fair degree of justification for Victorique being not only a loli, but also tsundere. Kujo is the typical "blank canvas" used in so many anime to highlight just how much he develops by the end of the series, but in all honesty neither of the leads is anything really special. The fun actually starts when one looks at the supporting characters as there's literally a wealth of personalities and ambitions on display. While there is some growth to be found for both Victorique and Kujo, it's the amount of characterisation that has gone into the minor roles that makes this series interesting to watch.

That said, the show does sometimes play fast and loose with certain events, and there are several occasions where the situation has clearly been contrived to develop a particular character in a certain way.

Gosick may have its flaws, but that doesn't mean it's a terrible show. There's a decent amount of detective work in the series that raises it above the likes of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes and Hidan No Aria, and while the mysteries on offer can sometimes be easy to deduce, there are also a few that contains some interesting twists on the stories that they've inspired. That said, this isn't an anime for everyone, mainly because it relies more on the characters using their heads rather than the usual shounen tactic of solving problems by hitting them until they've gone away. In addition to this the element of romance in the story can often feel more like an afterthought, something added to give the characters a bit of added dimension.

Somewhat surprisingly, I found that I enjoyed this anime a lot more than I thought I would. The idea of loli detectives is no more laughable than that of a little old lady, an author of crime fiction, or even a mouse, and once I got over my initial aversion I found a show that was interesting at the very least. That doesn't mean I'm sold on the idea though, but that's mainly because of shows like Milky Holmes and Hidan No Aria, which really haven't done the concept any favours.

If nothing else, at least Gosick tries to redress the balance.