Monday, February 21, 2011

GOSICK (Episodes 4 - 6)

(For a review of Episodes 1 - 3, click here. Some spoilers may be lurking.)

Upon watching the first three GOSICK episodes, I was certainly glad to see a show readjust how mysteries are to be seen in anime. We've had our share of modern-day genius teenagers and tykes beating the adults to the culprit and playing them like a game of Clue, but it was about time that we had someone attempt the Holmes/Watson formula back in a time period further from Milky and closer to Sherlock.

Placing the show in the fictional country of Sauville has done wonders for the story, as long as it didn't interfere with actual events that took place in Europe. With the setting well in place, now that we have seen the pint-sized Victorique in action with her self-appointed assistant Kazuya Kuj├┤, it's time to see how the characters are to develop amongst one another, and that requires the addition of a new character.

While Kazuya has managed to adjust himself to school life overseas, he's still a lightning rod when it comes to gory murder and criminal activity. After having escaped from the sinking Queen Berry with Victorique, he suddenly finds himself witness to a murder, as a random motorcycle rider gets his head severed from his body in the middle of a ride. While the murderer is easily deduced by Victorique, Kazuya's reputation is again sullied by rumor as the "Spring Reaper".

The arrival of an English transfer student, the bright and cheerful Avril Bradley, does turn Kazuya's spirits around temporarily. Avril shares some of his interests in ghost stories, and she may have an apparent interest in Kazuya himself, but he can't get over the fact her hand is bandaged like the girl who murdered the motorcycle rider. On top of that, a corpse falling out of the local catacomb before a funeral and a haunting voice calling for help at a deserted warehouse makes things even more mysterious, especially when Avril is spotted snooping around all of the locations, including Victorique's library.

There's no doubt that the mysteries are easily solved by Victorique's prowess, but an additional mystery suddenly takes its place, one with a special connection. A plate is stolen during a bazaar by a nun, only for the Sister to show up during a trip to Horovitz taken by Victorique and Kazuya when they answer a call advertised in the local newspaper. Somehow, this is connected to the "Grey Wolves" in Horovitz, as Victorique has taken this rare opportunity to leave the study. Her mission is to prove the innocence of her mother, Cordelia Gallo, who was blamed for murders in Horovitz.

GOSICK may not necessarily be an exciting anime when weighed only for its action, but the suspense surrounding the mysteries is quite valuable to the plot. While each arc of two or three episodes has a general mystery to solve, each episode has a smaller crime that requires its own solution. Victorique may be solving them a bit too quickly for the viewer to react with their own possible solution like one might see in a Meitantei Conan episode, but it is nice to have mysteries that mean something for a change.

Perhaps the best thing we're getting out of GOSICK's first six episodes is the interplay between Victorique and Kazuya. There's no doubt that Kazuya is getting sick of being mocked by the "little squirrel" moniker the vain Grevil has given him, but there's also that part of him that is thankful he's being useful to Victorique, even if she acts as a little kid about the smallest things. It's comforting to know that Kazuya and Victorique have that sort of detective/assistant dynamic between them, and the arrival of other female characters doesn't turn this story into a harem anime.

Granted, the pace of the show may be a little uneven, as action is sparse, but it is good to see the attention paid to the time and location of the show. There are no modern devices that come into play, and GOSICK follows its temporal location well, creating mystery in items and places
unique to its era and European landscape. In other words, we're not seeing steampunk robots or out-of-place tropes we'd normally see in Japanese high schools—the aspects of the show fit its location in history relatively well.

Six shows down, it's also refreshing to see GOSICK is to last two full seasons. There may be little dynamic on the surface between Victorique and Kauya, but the opening animation definitely indicates more to the story than simple murder mysteries. The art is clean and crisp, the characters are providing some stable drama scattered with bits of humor, and the general plot isn't boring.

In short, I'm not sick of GOSICK at all, and I won't be for a while.

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