A brilliant gothic mystery series, Gosick would easily have to be the best anime TV show I’ve reviewed for hoopla.nu. Imagine Sherlock Holmes with Gothic Lolita fashions set in a fictional European country circa 1924 and you’ll begin to understand Gosick.

Kazuya Kujo (Miyu Irino) is a Japanese teenager sent to study in Saubure, which is situated somewhere near France and Switzerland. His father was a decorated soldier who fought in the Great War and Kujo has been sent to St. Marguerite Academy in the hopes that he will live up to his family’s proud history.Gosick Whilst exploring the school’s massive library, he comes across a girl living in the greenhouse at the top of the tower. Victorique de Blois (Chiwa Saitö) is younger than Kujo but boasts an astounding intellect, as she frequently dips into the ‘wellspring of wisdom’ to solve any mysteries that come her way. And the mysteries come thick and fast. Gosick features an astounding variety of settings, people and objects around which the episode length plots are centred. Ghost ships, chess playing automatons, pagan rituals, locked room mysteries, spectres – all feature at one point or another. The setting and costumes are wonderful, even if we aren’t seeing a realistic portrayal of the 20s.

Like Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, Victorique is an irascible and pompous figure, and quickly grows bored whenever she isn’t on a case. A bond slowly forms between the girl and Kujo, though the former would never admit to it. Another series regular is Grevil (Takehito Koyasu), an aristocrat with ridiculous hair who forced himself into the constabulary simply because he fancies himself a solver of mysteries. Of course, like Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, he’s forever relying upon the real genius to solve the crimes for him.

There hasn’t been an English voice dub of Gosick, which means that this Madman release features subtitles only. This didn’t bother me in the slightest, because I avoid language dubs like the plague, but it is a pity that some audiences would miss out on such a great show. The only problem is that the dialogue is quite verbose, so it’s occasionally hard to keep up with the subtitles.Gosick Even the episode titles are long – for instance, ‘The Hares Exchange Promises Beneath the Morning Sun,’ or, ‘A Blue Rose Blossoms in a Cannibal Department Store’ – which means they flit by before I’ve had a chance to read them.

The production values are superb. Whilst this isn’t a Blu-ray release, the image quality is top notch, and the animation itself is beautiful. Gosick isn’t an action-based show by any means, but on the occasions when there are flurries of violence, the animation captures the action beautifully. The score and voice acting is perfect also.

As I understand it, ‘Gosick’ is simply a bad approximation of the word ‘gothic’, and the series definitely nails the tone with aplomb. It’s not just the architecture and costuming – the show mixes dark and moody remote locations, brooding protagonists and melodramatic romance with the supernatural. Thus far, it hasn’t drifted into the abstract or metaphorical which is fantastic. I’m secretly hoping it stays this way, as opposed to, say, the end of Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040. Gosick is intricately plotted, with regular subtle foreshadowing of plot strands to come, whilst at the same time being funny and touching. This being only one half of the series, I’m looking forward to the second and shall review it soon.

Gosick Collection 1 is available now from Madman.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 1st September 2012
Hoopla Factor: 4.5 stars

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