Gosick was a series of many faces. Probably too many. It was a two-cour series with some room for real development, and indeed we got quite a share of that. But we also got some stand-alone mysteries that didn’t hold together, some romantic diversions that amounted to flat-out time wasting and a few too many plot threads hanging loosely. The two faces that really mattered were those of Victorique and Kujo, and the series shone brightest when it was squarely focused on them.
I will give credit where it’s due. Despite a somewhat rushed-feeling final episode, BONES manages to tie together almost everything in the end, and in a way that made a whole lot of sense. Ultimately the best mystery of the series, by far, was the one that surrounded Victorique, her father and mother, and the royal couple – the one that set everything in motion in the end.
Victorique’s charms are pretty self-apparent. Obviously, she’s ridiculously cute and Aoi Yuuki did a superb job bringing her to life. From her off-key singing to her reaction to a surprise inoculation to her determined dignity in the face of her family’s abuse, she was immensely entertaining from the beginning. There absolutely were some problems with her character, no doubt about it. She was officious, rude, generally started out treating Kujo like a dog and used her situation as an excuse to be flat-out mean.
But of this story is her journey – and it most certainly is – that it’s no less the story of how Kujo changed Victorique for the better. Kujo certainly wasn’t the best Dr. Watson. He didn’t flash much in the way of detective skills early on, and took a terrible beating from some viewers. But the whole point was that he was everything Victorique wasn’t. Practical, kind, trusting, giving. He forced her to come out of the bubble she’d built around herself, and to realize that there were consequences in the way she chose to treat other people. It wasn’t overnight and he didn’t turn her into a pussycat, but Kujo changed Victorique against her will.
That’s really the power behind this story. Two outsiders, kindred spirits though polar opposites in so many ways, clinging to each other in an increasingly cruel and dangerous world. It was pretty miraculous to see Victortique slowly come to admit to herself that she loved Kujo, and it eventually reached the point where she acknowledged that he was her heart, and that everything she did – even learning to fear death – was for the love of him.
The choice to take the series into an alternative history that had echoes of FMA to it was an interesting one. Certainly most of us were expecting something a lot more like the real buildup to WW II, which wouldn’t begin until 1939. That’s a tribute, I suppose, to the fine job BONES did in setting up the Kingdom of Sauebere as a very real-feeling place. All of the seemingly unrelated strands – the memento box, the alchemist (Bones…), the “Queen’s” murder… It all came together in the plot of Albert de Blois to take power and drag the country into war 14 years early, on Germany’s side. And the sense that great events were sweeping Victorique and Kujo up helpless in their wake was very real, and one that surely would have felt familiar to millions living in the 1930’s.
I think the most successful of the supporting characters – Grevil, Cordelia and Brian – were all well utilized in the final confrontation. It was never in doubt for me that Grevil would ultimately choose to help Victorique, and that it would prove critical. The “two Brians” revelation did have a bit of an unfair feel to me from an audience perspective, but their motivations – and Cordelia’s – were well-presented. In the end, everyone else in the story was really secondary and they all sacrificed themselves either literally or dramatically for Kujo and Victorique. They were all pieces on Victorique’s metaphorical chessboard from episode 23, the real dramatic conclusion to the series.
This was generally a successful adaptation in the end, in my view. There were pacing issues, some weak writing early on, and not everything made sense. But the series had a real momentum. It really did get better as it progressed, building in both drama and scope to an undeniably big finish. As all BONES shows do it looked great, with terrific characters designs and lovely backgrounds (especially in Saubere). Best of all, it had a truly engaging and moving couple at it’s heart. The chemistry between Kujo and Victorique was great right from the beginning, and only got better as the series progressed. They’re my favorite couple of 2011 so far, and they’re going to be hard to knock off that perch.