What do you get if you take the 1920s, animate them, and then add some nice Japanese twists to world history? Gosick answers this and many more questions. It is a rare and wonderful combination of character driven storytelling, mystery, and alternate history…
The show takes place in a fictional country in Europe, in a town that is deeply superstitious. Kujo, a transfer student from Japan, has come to study here and finds that based off his appearance and when he transferred in he has been dubbed “The Reaper Who Comes in the Springtime” based off a local superstition. This puts him in a situation that is ideal for him to have the opportunity to meet Victorique, our female protagonist. While ostensibly a mystery show, at its heart Gosick is a story about these two characters. And they truly are a perfect fit… it’s hard to say exactly why these two characters work so well together, but their personalities just offer that perfect match.
Kujo suffers from severe feelings of inadequacy caused by his brothers’ incredible success. He also, having been raised in a military family, has a deeply driven need to protect others. Probably the most impressive part of the writing of this fascinating anime is the way it manages to cause Kujo to grow as a character without making it painfully obvious. You’ll notice little things about him that change over time that signal his growth and you’ll wonder when that changed. They manage to create a dynamic character and give you a unique sense of attachment, that I can only compare to a parent with their child – the sense of closeness that causes you to overlook changes until circumstances make you realize them. I’ve never seen a tv show in any format that did this so well and it was a delight when I realized it.
Victorique is the other focus of the story. She’s an interesting young girl, incredibly arrogant due to a supernatural ability to solve puzzles and mysteries… yet thanks to an isolated childhood and an almost slave-like existence courtesy of her family, she is deeply and overwhelmingly lonely. She’s a character who I found myself inexplicably drawn to. The driving motivation behind most of what she does is to find her mother which helps make her relatable, but there’s so much more to it than that. And it’s very hard to explain, because if you just listed her traits, she’d most likely seem like the type of character that would be easy to hate. But the writing and the interactions with the other characters, and the fact that she’s just so adorable, make her both easy and hard to love.
There are numerous other characters, each with interesting yet slightly one-dimensional personalities. However, the other characters being a bit one-dimensional actually serves to help the plot, because you know what to expect when you see them on screen and it adds a bit of consistency to an otherwise very strange story. May sound like a bit of a copout, but if these predictable characters weren’t around things might have lost their charm before long.
Now, I’ve talked a lot about the characters… but there are some pretty interesting mysteries in this show too. They are similar enough to the standard mystery styles we’ve all grown up with to feel familiar… but still manage to surprise you from time to time. It’s a good balance they strike, and it makes you wish the show didn’t end so soon. And while we’re at it… the ending episode was a little too out there. From the episodes leading up to it, you suspected it was coming, but it went from strange to unfathomable very quickly and without much warning. Fortunately, the very ending scene was utterly perfect so I can forgive the awkward ending episode.