Review: Gosick

Today is that liminal period between “winning NaNoWriMo” (YAY!) and “OMFGs DECEMBER IS STARTING!” (“Ugh….”) December and January in this household are the months in which everyone and their dog (including my dog) has a birthday on top of Christmas, which means I have to buy a ton of gifts all at once. Hooray.

I started watching Gosick around Hallowe’en and then took a break from it these past couple of weeks. I’m an infrequent watcher of anime. I suppose you could say that I’m more of a casual fan. I’ve never been to any conventions and the closest I’ve ever come to cosplaying was dressing up as Sailor Mercury for Hallowe’en one year.

So, this latest weird thing from Japan that I’ve seen is Gosick, which I can basically sum up as “boy meets girl” meets Sherlock Holmes. Gosick takes place in the fictional French-speaking European nation of Saubure (anglicized as ‘Sauville’ for some reason) in the 1920s. Our main character, Kazuya Kujo, has just transferred to St. Marguerite’s Academy, where the students are really into horror stories. There, he meets Victorique, a strange girl who spends her days skipping class, reading books in the library, and solving cases that leave the police stumped (yes, really).  The series spans twenty-four episodes, with every three episodes or so dedicated to one case that Victorique has been given to solve. (In a nutshell, things that you see in one episode WILL turn up later, sometimes several episodes later).

However, the focus of the series isn’t the detective work, as Victorique solves cases by essentially waiting until she has enough information to “reconstruct the Chaos” with her “wellspring of wisdom” (A.K.A. her insanely acute powers of observation and deduction. Rather, it’s more about Victorique’s relationship with Kujo. Depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing, these scenes can either be cute or aggravating, because it probably isn’t anything you haven’t seen before: the boy is a dogged nice guy and the girl is cold and emotionless with a soft mushy center, and the boy has this thing where he has to protect the girl, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. Seriously, this is pretty standard stuff, and I found that I didn’t enjoy it as much when Victorique wasn’t being uber-serious, even though her behaviour is completely justified (let’s just say that calling her childhood “neglectful” is a HUGE understatement). Why was I watching this series again? Oh yeah, because I liked trying to solve the mysteries, which can involve everything from Arabic to the language of flowers that was popular in the Victorian era to alchemy.

The other thing I like about this series is its setting. This may sound strange, but Saubure feels very European, and at times the show feels a bit more like a period piece, alternate-history-with-magical-realism thing (there’s a reason Wikipedia lists so many genre’s on the series’ page). I wouldn’t say that Kazuya’s race is really an issue, although it is pointed out that despite being drawn the same as other characters, he is meant to be seen as Japanese, or “Oriental” to use period speak, and characters do tend to mistakenly call him “Chinese” (because, of course, all Asians from that part of the world look alike, amirite?). I don’t say this very often, but I also like the opening sequence, which is done in an art nouveau style.

As far as potentially triggery content goes. Well, there are a lot of murders, including of children (hence all the mystery-solving), the aforementioned parental neglect, and that old chestnut, rape as part of a character’s back story (are you tired of that trope, yet?) as well as references to slavery (including a very creepy song about it) and well, war, which is par for the course for anything set in the 20s.

Overall, I’d say watch if you like a good mystery and have a high tolerance for the mushy stuff I just mentioned. The best part is that you can watch it on Crunchyroll for free. Free is good, free is very good.

BTW, “Gosick” is supposed to be pronounced like “Gothic”, not, you know “go sick”, not that I actually pronounced it that way, ever.

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