A week or two ago, bored, I was trolling around AnimeNewsNetwork.com reading their articles and reviews, and happened upon one about Gosick. I’d heard of this show before, but had no idea what it was about. A quick check of their encyclopedia’s page later, I had discovered that the show’s main character was essentially a petite loli-goth Sherlock Holmes, a fifteen-year-old shut-in who has the remarkable ability to piece together suspects and clues and to solve cases that boggle the police. This sounded intriguing enough, so I sought it out.
Spoilers after the jump and a trigger warning for rape.
The series is set against the backdrop of the picturesque Sauville, an imaginary European country near Switzerland, in the decade between the world wars. Kujou Kazuya is a Japanese exchange student attending a prestigious private academy where all the students are obsessed with ghost stories. He is shunned by his classmates, who call him “The Black Reaper of Spring” after a character from one of the tales they love so much, but Kujou does nothing throughout the series to merit such an awesome nickname. He is arguably the main character, and the one with whom we as the audience are supposed to connect emotionally, but I personally found him bland and a cookie-cutter copy of other pushover anime boys with bossy tsundere loli companions (Hayate from Hayate the Combat Butler, for example). He is a totally regular kid with a bit of a complex about proving himself because he’s a third child, and his only remarkable quality is the intense loyalty he shows to… pretty much everyone he thinks is a good guy, but especially to our lolita detective.
Because he is randomly hated by his classmates (seriously, is it supposed to show their 1920s-racism toward the Japanese kid or something? He is the quietest, most good-humored student any person could ask for) Kujou seeks refuge in the school’s enormous library, where, at the top of the tower, he discovers a doll-like blond girl. This is Victorique de Blois (which everyone pronounces Victorica rather than Victor-eek, for some reason), the illegitimate daughter of the Marquis de Blois, who is confined to the school grounds and rarely leaves the top floor of the library. It comes out early on that her mother was a Gray Wolf, a term used to describe the citizens of a walled town who are famous for their cunning and intellect, and that the Marquis had hoped that the mixing of his aristocratic blood with that of the Gray Wolves would create some sort of super-child. She was kept locked up in a tower for her entire childhood studying and generally being neglected/abused so she isn’t very good at the real world. She is regularly visited by her brother, a member of the police force, who gets her to solve his tricky cases and then takes public credit for her deductions.
Kujou and Victorique immediately bond, and he becomes the bumbling Watson for her to insult and dazzle with her solutions as well as her knight in shining armor. She is a textbook tsundere, treating him like total crap 90% of the time and crying and blushing every time there is a chance they might be separated. And for all that she is supposedly confined to the school, the two of them go on quite a few adventures.
So there’s the introduction to the main players. And here’s where the show started to grate on me. Kujou and Victorique start solving cases and catching bad guys together, and the bad “guy” in every single casefile-style episode at the beginning of the series is a woman. And just as I was getting really tired of the sexism of the scriptwriting, they decided to switch it up and make it a black guy who was the bad guy. In that episode, an old guy told a story to the golden duo about a ghost who had bumped into him in a cemetery when he was a child. Oh wait, no, it turns out that it was a young African kid escaping from the mass grave the rest of his people had been thrown into and the old guy thought it was a ghost because you can’t see black people in the dark. (I mean, Seriously. What. The. Hell. I practically have bruises from the strength of my facepalming.)
After this dabbling in all sorts of bad –isms, they move forward with the plot. You know how Victorique was a bastard sired on a Gray Wolf woman? Well, at the beginning her mother is absent and portrayed as a cold schemer who wouldn’t have had any qualms about abandoning her child. Well, later episodes shoot that right out the window. Steel yourself for this: turns out that Victorique’s mother Cordelia was actually kidnapped by the Marquis, drugged, raped, and then kept chained up until she gave birth in a cold stone room. And after taking her child, to add insult to horrific injury, the Marquis discards her and has her locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Like okay, what the fuck?! Up to that point I’d rate this show around PG (and underneath it would say “For bloodless violence and dangerous situations” or something). Even Victorique’s abuse as a child when mentioned doesn’t seem to have any real crippling effect on her (she has a few sad flashbacks, but nothing like PTSD or anything). There was no warning whatsoever after all the contrived murders and thefts of the first several episodes that in one episode they were gonna turn the tables and throw rape and emotional torture at the viewer.
All of this combined with the bland characters, the random true fortune-telling (with Professor Trelawney-style trances and everything; in a universe that otherwise has no magic or magic-users, this is really awkwardly shoved into the story) and the contrived romantic ending makes Gosick a mildly unpleasant and forgettable anime. (If you’re still interested in forming your own conclusions, however, it’s streaming on Crunchyroll.)