The Gothford Files

I’ll generally pick up anything animated by Bones, they’re probably one of the few studios for which that’s true. Of course, not every series can bring the A-team, all-star lineup of Star Driver.

As with pretty much every anime for the past however many seasons, GOSICK is based on a light novel series, Set in the early 20th century, this goofy slice of “mystery” cartoon features a Japanese high school student who transfers to a generic European country. This, I suppose, gives the show an exotic air (even to a Westerner, as it’s not only set in the past but run through Japan’s bizarro-world filter), but as always makes me wonder what exactly Japanese kids must think of the West. Hopefully anime is not their only source of information.

As is often the case with exotic settings, especially those in the past, semi-supernatural and semi-fantastic elements live comfortably alongside those that seem more real. Legends abound, and Kazuya’s school features a giant towering library with a botanical garden on top, in which lives a gothic-lolita type named Victorique. I ask myself, is this really the best old-timey Western name that the light novel’s author (Kazuki Sakuraba) could pull out of? Note: the 1920s are not the Victorian era, to my knowledge, but I suppose a lot of stuffy Brits of the time would still name their children after her, and if they lived not in England but in fact in some non-England/France/Spain/Italy like Sauville, they might add a French-sounding flourish to that name. But I digress.

Victorique is a super genius, and as a result is bored most of the time. She spends her days reading books, apparently imprisoned in the library, where her only true mental stimulation seems to involve being exploited by a crazy-coiffed (no, I mean really crazy, even for anime) member of the police force for her superior brain skillz.

What’s the appeal in a series like this? Well, you could go a few routes:

  • The exotic setting. We haven’t seen much of that, but it’s somewhat intriguing.
  • The mysteries themselves. So far, so bad. The first mystery may very well have just been a warm-up, but it made “Lone Island Syndrome” look like a case that’d stump Hercule Poirot.
  • The interplay between the dumber-but-reliable lead and the cute genius girl. This is primarily the well from which Nisioisin drinks in his own Agatha Christie fetish piece, the Zaregoto cycle. But he’s Nisioisin, and if he’s good for nothing else, he’s solid with conversational shit-streams of cleverness. So far GOSICK is not at that level, writing-wise.

I think most anime, even those fighting ones where people talk way too much, are afraid of being the particular kind of talky that Nisioisin does. Even Katanagatari could be tiresome at times, and at least a native speaker would have the wonderful visuals to suck up while listening to the incessant waterfall of words that poured from its characters. And of course Shinbo distracted the viewer in Bakemonogatari with his usual whacked-out technique. A Zaregoto anime (while it might be inevitable) would suffer without a fantasy setting or a layer of Shaft, and so far GOSICK‘s story exhibits no signs of being as solid as Zaregoto. But, of course, it’s too early to tell.

Victorique could turn out to be a real charmer. The two leads barely know each other, so their chances for cute or clever interaction have been minimal. They’ve only barely left the library, so the chances for adventure are likewise not so good yet. But that warm-up mystery seems to be only a gateway into a larger conspiracy, and GOSICK overall has potential.

Fuck these (7) Comments.

  1. digiboy says:

    >>semi-supernatural

    Come now. Never trust the supernatural aspect of a mystery series! The whole point is to disprove it! Haven’t you seen Scooby Doo?

    Victorique is lovely. I liked her in the novel and love her when she’s got Yuuki Aoi, one of my favorite seiyuu, behind her. I think this episode didn’t do nearly as much as the book does to build up her genius. You know those parts where she was reading 7 books at once? Yeah, those were all in different languages.

    I still plan to post on this ep hopefully before the next one airs. Not here though.

    • otou-san says:

      Come now. Never trust the supernatural aspect of a mystery series! The whole point is to disprove it! Haven’t you seen Scooby Doo?

      Point well taken. And that’s appropriate to a period piece as well, since back in the day people didn’t have as much science. You know, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, KRS-ONE…

      I liked her in the novel

      Are there translated volumes available? Or is this one of those newfangled intertube fanslation things?

      • digiboy says:

        There are 2 in English. I’ve got a post going up in like 9 hours with a very in-depth explanation of this all.

  2. VucubCaquix says:

    As long as I get more Victorique rolling around on the ground, I’m good.

  3. Pingback: Gosick – What to Expect | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

  4. jessedziedzic says:

    Probably this blogs best piece on the net!!!