Format: 24 Episodes
Dates: January 7, 2011 – July 2, 2011
Synopsis: It’s the early 1920s, and Kujo Kazuya, the third son of an Imperial Japanese Army officer, is sent to Sauville to study at St. Margret’s Academy. He’s known to the superstitious students as the “black reaper of Spring”, a harbinger of death and misfortune. Cast out by his class, he spends his days alone, until he meets Victorique de Blois, a beautiful blonde girl who spends her days at the top of St. Margret’s massive library. Together, they solve various mysteries and explore their school’s secrets and friendship blossoms between them.
Mysteries: Implausible or simplistic.
Plot: Muddled, with a surprising lack of attention to detail.
Bones’ animation: Still top notch.
Victorique: Holds up the entire show with her little tiny arms.
Mystery and anime are uncomfortable bedfellows. The former requires deliberate understatement and moderation, while the latter encourages excess and exaggeration. Few shows have managed to strike the right balance between the two. As a result, anime mysteries often come off as either ridiculous or overly simplistic. GOSICK, Bones’ newest addition to the genre, suffers much of the same problems as other titles within the genre. The mysteries in GOSICK are simplistic and often implausible. However, the show manages to save itself by drawing attention away from its mysteries and towards its characters.
GOSICK is a story about two people. Kazuya Kujo is the third son of an Imperial Japanese Army officer, sent to the fictional European country of Sauville to study abroad in the early 1920s. Victorique de Blois is a petit, brilliant and sociopathic Sauvillian girl who spends her time reading books on the top floor of the massive library at St. Margret’s, the school that both Kujo and she attend. We meet a few supporting characters along the way, including a British exchange student, Kujo and Victorique’s teacher, and some others — but none of these characters really amount to anything. One of GOSICK’s greatest failures is its inability (or perhaps its reluctance) to spend any time on most of its supporting cast. These characters often serve no purpose other than to advance the plot and their scenes amount to little more than wasted screen time. Even Victorique’s family, the driving force behind GOSICK’s plot, suffer from this malaise. The sinister machinations of her father, the Marquis de Blois, are the main focus of the show’s second half, yet the Marquis himself is curiously underdeveloped. He’s power hungry and evil, but not more than that. Similarly, Victorique’s mother, Cordelia, serves but one purpose in the show — to love her. The supporting cast of GOSICK is defined exclusively by their relationship to the two main characters, and have little personality in their own right.
Fortunately, Victorique’s such a strong character that she can hold GOSICK up by herself. There are problems with her character, too — notably, her unjustifiably mean attitude towards Kujo and her omniscience — but she’s a pleasure to watch. Aoi Yuuki, the industry standard of excellence for haughty, petit girls, brings Victorique to life with a huge emotional range. Without her masterful voice work, Victorique’s metamorphosis from unfeeling sociopath to passionate lover would have seemed contrived, even ridiculous, but I found myself entranced by Aoi’s stellar performance. In all fairness, the details of Victorique and Kujo’s courtship, like much else in GOSICK’s plot, are a bit muddled and unclear. However, Aoi’s ability to gradually expand Victorique’s emotional range as the series went on certainly helped cover up for omissions and hand-waving by the screenwriter.
Apart from Victorique, GOSICK is not especially memorable — but certainly not bad, either. The mysteries may be overly simplistic or ridiculous, but the creative staff at Bones partially fixed this problem by doing away with the “mystery of the week” format followed by many other shows. Though there are clear breaks between the mysteries that Victorique solves, details from earlier cases are often relevant to later ones. I found myself paying attention during each episode of GOSICK, for fear of missing some plot detail that may turn out to be potentially important. GOSICK maintains a constant (albeit slightly slow and deliberate) pace, building up the overarching story over the course of 24 episodes. In fact, the show does such a fair job at keeping its momentum going (especially during the second half) that GOSICK is one of the best-paced two-cour shows I’ve seen in a while.
It’s fair to say that GOSICK’s flaws are mostly solved by Victorique. Watching her develop as the series progressed was fascinating. It’s truly fortunate that Bones chose to focus on her relationship with Kujo as opposed to the mysteries that she’s asked to solve — taking the latter course would have been an awful decision on their part. By turning attention away from weaker aspects of the show and investing time and resources in developing its main characters, GOSICK saves itself from mediocrity. Despite the plot’s lack of attention to detail and muddling about, GOSICK found a way to consistently entertain me through its entire run. By turning what could have been a vapid, low-IQ mystery show for middle-schoolers into a compelling (and sometimes, genuinely charming) romantic drama between two social outcasts, Bones‘ managed to avert potential disaster.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Akira