Anime Review - Gosick Collection 1

Gosick (-ゴシック-) is the latest in a string of mysterious European gothic inspired anime series. A handful of series such as Black Butler and to a lesser extent D.Gray Man have previously burst onto the scene to great fanfare while Gosick slinked under the radar amid a smattering of controversy. 

Set to be released in the United States by Bandai Entertainment, Gosick's Western release was cancelled when Bandai pulled out of the American market at the beginning of this year. 

Much to the surprise of anime geeks everywhere, Aussie anime company Madman are the only company outside of Japan to official license and release Gosick! To put it another way, Gosick has only been officially released in its country of origin and Australia. So, was it worth the effort?

"The students at St. Marguerite's Academy in the tiny European nation of Sauville love scary stories and urban legends. So much so that it's a little unhealthy. Kazuya Kujo learns this the hard way when the entire student body takes to calling him the "Dark Reaper" and enthusiastically spreading rumours about his evil supernatural influence because of his black hair and eyes. In an attempt to understand their horror-mania, he visits the library to read up on local legends. Weirdly there is a greenhouse at the very top of the library, itself fashioned from a medieval tower. In the greenhouse is a golden-haired girl named Victorique. Victorique takes an interest in the good-natured Japanese exchange student, and before too long they're using her uncanny deductive prowess to crack all manner of heinous crimes."

Based upon a series of light novels of the same name by Kazuki Sakuraba (桜庭 一樹), Gosick feels somewhat like the lovechild of Black Butler and Scooby Doo in which a mystery is solved each episode by our protagonists. This in itself is probably the most disappointing element of the entire series. At times, it feels as though the characters are going through the motions, solving these totally inconsequential mysteries to fill in the time and to serve as a vessel to progress the character development of Kujo and Victorique. The upside of this is that the characterisation of Victorique is strong and memorable enough to carry the burden.

A classic tsundere character, Victorique carries the entire series (1-12 of this collection) with her depth and emotional range. From one moment to the next she could be puckering up a loli-goth pout before delving into a genuinely heart warming moment with the other lead character, Kazuya Kujo. These moments are the saving grace of this release, the emotional glue that holds together a rather fragmented series. The rather large supporting cast is, for the most part, bland and entirely unforgettable. At no point did I feel as though I would want to own a piece of merchandise (a geeky way for me to evaluate the strength of a character) based upon any of the supporting characters.

While the main characters are delightful, the strongest element of Gosick is without a doubt the animation and the life that Studio Bones (Star Driver, Darker Than Black) breathes into the city of Saubure. Bones are one of those studios that simply amazes on every occasion. In this case, they inject so much awe inspiring beauty into what is an otherwise forgettable series. It seems unfair that the animation studio had to save the story from itself. 

The music of Gosick is beautiful and a perfect composition that compliments the general aesthetic of the Gosick universe. Composer Kotaro Nakagawa (Code Geass R2, Bamboo Blade)  manages to infuse even more beauty into Bones already gorgeous series.

Gosick was previously screened for free in the Madman screening room and is now available on DVD for the first time outside of Japan. To say that this is a coup for Madman is an understatement, this release is a medal on the chest of Australia's biggest and best anime distributor. A beautifully realised story helmed by two strong and engaging characters makes Gosick a series that left me wanting more.

Gosick Collection 1 and Collection 2 are available now on DVD from Madman.


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