Destin Histoire: Gosick Review

On air in the first six months of 2011, Gosick finally wrapped up in early July with the grand finale of its 24th episode. After just a few episodes in the start, you would quickly realize that it is one of those “mainstream”, “family” animes with a story enjoyable by almost anybody. Frankly speaking, there is nothing too innovative about Gosick: conservative character design, predictable story development and all the detective mystery cliches you’ve seen in Detective Conan for a dozen of times (which is understandable considering the ginormous length of latter). However, even fully realizing the problems mentioned above, I still kept on watching Gosick till the end, and sincerely feel it is destined to be marked as a classic among the titles of 2011 (probably winning several awards, that is to say).

You have no choice but to get this rosy (albeit blue) feeling about Gosick from the very start

Although not rendered in the “ultra-detailed” animation style, which is observed in numerous animes in recent years, the world of Gosick nevertheless has the charm of its own. The environments depicted in Gosick is full of contrasts: from the extremely colorful and bright St. Margaret Academy (especially Victorique’s garden in the library) to the monotone grayish medieval town where danger lurks. Overall, the early 20th century feeling of Sauville is successfully delivered. A small yet politically important country in the Alps, Sauville’s over-the-top “sound of music”-ness definitely appeals to anyone who is emotionally attached to the old continent (aka Europhile-classiques… : ) out there.

St. Margaret Academy is a mostly normal place except for its library with Hogwarts-ish stairs. The elevator is obviously a well-hidden secret, and most students never come to this place anyways

The story of Gosick is well-rounded but may not be satisfying for those looking for complexity and depth. Set in 1924, the story has lots of potential as an alternative history adventure, yet it chooses to stay mostly inside the sphere of detective drama for better or worse. Talking about detective drama, there isn’t much depth to the mysteries presented in Gosick, unfortunately. The cases range from murder on campus, ghost ship to WWI mysteries and conspiracies around the legitimacy of the King of Sauville. While the anime devotes 2-3 episodes to each single case, I could responsibly claim that 99% of audiences could work out the details of most cases on their own with the information given in the first 30 minutes. There is no logical reasoning required really, identifying  over-abused tricks in detective classics would more than suffice. The rest 1 or 2 episodes are sort of like a half-heart charade in which main characters (especially our extremely non-observant yet hot-blooded hero Kujyou) opt to simply ignore or forget critical leads. Despite the fact that I am personally fond of the ever-so-lovable Victorique, I can’t help but feel that the credential for her “wellspring of wisdom” is greatly undermined by those obvious tricks of murder and espionage… regrettable.

Exposed to a bunch of murders the brutality (and political importance, btw) of which far exceeds their complexity, Victorique is so bored she rolls on floor in agony

What saves Gosick’s story from the damage of cheap detective cliches though, is an over-arching plot involving the aftermath of WWI and a gradual descent of Europe into the “second world war”, which is an alternative version of the real WWII taking place 15 years later. No matter how minor, all seemingly independent cases of mystery experienced by Kujyou and Victorique are invariably connected to the underlying war plot, which is quite brilliant and gives you a very good reason to keep on watching. In later episodes when our heroes are torn apart by the development of history unfathomable even by Victorique, Gosick truly gives the audience a sense of “destin histoire”. In other words, the overwhelming power of the steady, irreversible movement of the wheel of history. Without glamour or aesthetic violence, the eventual coming of war is depicted as a real tragedy that makes one shiver at the shadow it casts on individuals.

Gosick visualized my long time fantasy of forming a fascist political party wearing pink rabbit costumes

Another thing I really love about Gosick is Victorique, the “kiniro no yousei” (the golden pixy) and “haiiro no oogami” (gray wolf). Her abilities way exceed these nicknames really, since she could handle everything from solving murder cases to reading the development of war and politics with a chess game (as seen in later episodes). Except for Victorique’s special bloodline as a “gray wolf”, her main source of power seems to be books… Yes, open books lying on the floor around her among all sorts of desserts, providing her all kinds of knowledge including the technique to use a pistol… In episode 18, before the last shot at the IED (is it appropriate for me to use this word? : P) placed on a rail bridge, Victorique utters with her killer-doll sternness: “the so-called experience is nonsense for barbarians. I have never used a gun, but I know its theory word by word.” Re-definition of epic-awesomeness, anyone?

"At this distance, you also need to take Coriolis effect into account." Nah, I've got Victorique so why bother

The sound track of Gosick is quite generic and doesn’t leave much impression. However I do like several tracks that bring out the heaviness of history, such as renktsu he no kyoumei (連結への共鳴). The opening and ending songs are quality produce as well, and the vocal of Yoshiki*lisa really stands out.

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