Gosick Mid-Season Update

not manly

CONTRADICTION,  YOUR [email protected]

So, at episode 12 of Gosick, has this show gotten any better? The answer, manifestly, is a big honking NO. In fact, the verdict is now DOA. Turns out that the first arc was the height of deduction for this series so far, which is staggering for a whodunnit. We’re talking elementary school reasoning capabilities at work and Victorique continues with her staggering leaps of poor logic that gets worse and worse as the cases come along.

Now, I understand (adopts otaku-browbeating condescending tone) that the focus of the show is really the gothic lolita, which is all it takes to sell it the show to the scum that will actually fork out cash for it. But even they have to admit she never gets any better in characterization and makes a mockery of the “old wise crone” act she always loves putting on in terms of maturity. The humour quotient also takes a huge plunge and is just made more insulting by Kujo (who is really one of a kind for Victorique) being the densest, most annoying Watson ever in the history of whodunnit literature in all forms of media. In fact, I would suspect him of being a Watson parody if the writing had shown the slightest bit of cleverness with his character, but instead he’s simply just your dumb harem lead transplanted into a different genre, as shown by his rejection of Avril to settle for the daily dose of ritualistic abusement at the hands of the not so brilliant Sherlock rip-off.

The sheer ineptitude of our muscle help here is demonstrated in the third arc (Golden Wolves) in which not only is he of zero use subduing the killer, but he had to be improbably saved from falling to his death by Victorique (the most laughable case of physics ever). If the aim of the character was to annoy me into a blinding rage, I congratulate the writing team, because they’ve succeeded splendidly. Not only are his lines pure drivel (I dare anyone not to grit his teeth at the constant VICTORIKA?^2) but the voice actor also plays his part in making Kujo pure plot poison every time he opens the mouth. My personal theory is that the character was written in this fashion because of the need to contrast the two archetypes, and Victorique is such a poor sleuth that Kujo HAS to be written in this fashion to make her sound brilliant. Any cliché attempts to beef up his character with the third son of soldier backstory is completely laughable, as shown in the pics. Of course, if the show had been clever it would have tried to equalize the dynamic by fusing the Inspector with his sister and having a more level-headed Watson give acerbic one-liners on the soundness of her deduction.

All in all, this show is a huge dud. About all I can recommend is the art direction for the architecture and background sets, which is generally far more inspired than the work for the character designs. Still it’s clearly not enough to save the train wreck.

Gosick 02: A Berry Trip on the High Seas

“Oh Victorique, you and your impeccable social graces….”

(The second episode picks up from where the first left off, with Kujo and Victorique aboard the mysterious ship. Things soon come to a head with the usual mysterious deaths in/aboard the Locked Room/Villa/Ship and we soon find out what the box/hare metaphor refers to, as the players are whittled down one by one….)

Gosick 02 has some of the common trope issues that Japanese tantei tales have, such as the over-reliance of the Scooby-Doo setup mechanic. Still the whodunit elements aren’t as predictable as what was delivered in the first segment of this arc, and we get to see more of Victorique’s behaviourial tics and welcome comedy relief through the Holmes/Watson exasperation dynamic, including a truly priceless scene after Kujo nearly bites it from a trap. The introduction to a large cast of new characters is a bit of a wash with half of them predictably removed from the picture quickly. The events that set the grisly chain of events in motion are rooted firmly in the sins of the past, another common element of Japanese anime/manga detection.

The interplay between Kujo and Victorique, although reasonable and generally quite amusing, was hamstrung by Kujo being a typical patronizing shounen git, with his laughably cliche backstory leading to the annoyingly paternalistic behaviour we get to experience in excruciating detail, including a doubled flashback.

Now, it’s a reality that Gosick is generally targeted towards the otaku market, and using Japanese characters to placate the ridiculously insular modern manga/anime domestic consumer is seemingly a must these days, but Kujo seems completely like a shoehorned fish out of water, and generally his character buildup only detracts from the story, unlike instances such as Monster, where a foreign surgeon is an acceptable premise and has further plausible plot consequences, as loser-x reminded me.

Still, as a side-effect of all this, we also get another great scene where Kujo saves Victorique from something her lack of inches would never have put her in danger of. Predictably, nothing comes from the anime ever acknowledging it. The cliffhanger at the end of the episode is also extremely pointless, not only because it highlights the above issues, but because we know nothing is going to happen to both the main characters within less than an hour of the season.

Gosick continues to be solid but unspectacular, but that’s enough in these diminished times for the industry. What’s needed is to build on Victorique as a character, since she’s the selling point of this story, and to polish the whodunit elements. Everything else should be second priorites, including wasting valuable time on Kujo’s Japan-ness.