No question, Gosick was the one of the series I was most looking forward to this season. It has all the right elements in the pedigree – animated by BONES. Source material the outstanding manga written by Sakuraba Kazuki with gorgeous art by Amano Sakuya. Takashi Tomioka as Animation Director. And though there were a few hiccups, on balance the premiere doesn’t disappoint – it’s the best of the season so far.
The setting is definitely Gothic (thus the title) – an exclusive boarding school in 1924 where young Japanese boy Kazuya Kujo has traveled to study, in the fictional European country of Sauville. Urban legend and ghost stories are the rage here, and exotic, dark-haired Kazuya is instantly labeled the “Springtime Reaper” by the European students. His curiosity leads him to the top of a strange tower, where he encounters the blonde, doll-like Victorique. In fact, Kazuya initially does think her a doll and is rather freaked out when she (accurately) tells his short-term future. But she’s no psychic – just a very smart girl. And thus begins a spin on the classic Holmes & Watson scenario, with Victorique (complete with unsmoked pipe) playing the role of Holmes and affable, straightforward Kazuya her Watson. We even have an Inspector Lestrade figure in Grevil, the police inspector who has the oddest hair in Sauville, takes credit when Victorique solves his cases and seems somehow connected with her being kept in the tower. He supplies Victorique and Kazuya with the show’s first case, which she promptly solves, but things aren’t wrapped as neatly as they seem…
If I’m to nit-pick, I found the first half somewhat slow – I was immediately in love with the visuals (the wardrobes are truly fantastic – something I rarely notice in anime) and the setting, but the show didn’t really grab me until the second half. The mystery itself was rather straightforward and we weren’t really treated to a well-constructed bit of Holmsian deductive reasoning by Victorique, more of a deux ex machina revelation. As for the OP and ED, a mixed bag – loved the visuals on the OP but yawned at the song, loved the dark ballad of the ED but found the visuals boring. But once the ep drew me in, I was hooked. I was very happy with the voice work of (the very busy) Aoi Yuki and Takuya Eguchi in the lead roles (though I do wish the great Irinu Miyu had come over from the drama CD as Kazuya). The interplay between the two leads was beautifully written, and seems to bear the prospect of something more than a traditional tsundere relationship – she’s truly an innocent about the outside world and he stood up to her on numerous occasions in the episode. Grevil has the makings of a fine comedic foil, I think, and I love the premise – a real mystery series with an authentic Gothic sense of style.
And that’s what strikes me most after the premiere – that sense of style. It may not be Bones’ flashiest animation but the look is just right, and they’ve maintained the gorgeous character designs from the manga. Things just feel pretty authentic – the sense of time and place is real and not forced.