September 18, 2012

Lolimedia : A review of loli-worthy material #1: Gosick

   I occasionally come across (or rather deliberately go out of my way to get into my hands) a very lolita-worthy piece of work, whether a book, manga, movie, anime or drama. Since I'm always in search of new ones myself, I'll review what I find in the hope that other lolitas may take their favorite fashion to a new level. I also hope in time to create a vest "loli-library" (lolibrary was already taken...)comiling titles of interest to lolitas.

   Starting off with the anime Gosick! First off, there will be some mild spoilers in my review, but I will also warn you of any major spoilers ahead, so pay attention!

   Very briefly, Gosick (japanese pronunciation of "gothic") takes place in 1924 in the imaginary counrty of Saubure and is the story of Victorique De Blois, held captive in a tower/libary by her father the Marquis, and of Kujo Kazuya, an exchange student from Japan at the Sainte Marguerite Academy. Together, with Kujo's talent for stepping into trouble and Victorique's intellect, they solve mysteries gravitating around folk tales and the elusive Gray Wolves, of which our gothic heroine is a descendant. But they slowly uncover a much darker plot to reshuffle the axis of power in Europe...

   What Gosick is first and foremost, is a hop on the recent trend of europeo-christian gothic fanservice which followed the success of Kuroshitsuji. Nothing wrong with that, and I watched the anime for that reason (thankfully though, it had nothing to do with masters and butlers). So the series starts out on a Sherlock Holmes-y feel - Victorique even has a pipe; you've got to love the un-lolita hoby! It is pleasant, but unfortunately the problems were sometimes too easy to solve. It results in our heroine stating the obvious to a mildly impaired Kujo, and lacks suspense. Little by little the overarching plot is put in place, but always in little bits which were never enough to truly whet my appetite, until the series reaches its conclusion and everything spills forward, making the plot inequally distributed.
However, while this plot is revealed, some very interesting and unusual themes are broached, mostly due to the historical context: war, the occult versus science, slavery, abandon... *Spoiler* and the heroine being born of a rape is extremely unusual coming from the world of general public animation. *End spoiler* I would say those deeper themes are due to the series' light novel origins. Certain arcs were also good finds like Victorique's mother and the Roscoes, the Queen's murder (her name is Coco Rose! Find the pun?). But most of this is developped in the last two episodes. These are the two most interesting for treating the overarching plot, and would have benefitted from more consideration.
My thoughts after watching Gosick were that the plot would have been a lot more exciting if they had scrapped the 'mysteries' and started with episode #23 (before last) and developped the story from there into the #24 episode, if you follow my thought. There were so many more great ideas and finds in those two episodes that a whole plot could have been spun from them. I'll admit it's not much use making a review of what the anime is not, but that is how I felt.

   Now to be a little more positive! What I did like was doll-like Victorique being absolutely beyond stubborn and acting like a spoilt princesse, which is an interesting contrast with her past once it is revealed to the audience; it makes her character seem to be a shell she built around herself rather than innate. What really did it for me though was her seiyuu, Aoi Yuuki. I love her voice, as well as other characters she has voiced, and I think she is an amazing actress. She gives Victorique an undeniable uniqueness and portrays her emotions beautifully. Of course I also liked Victorique's wardrobe, usually doll-like gothic with occasional classic. I wish the dresses in the ending video had been featured in the animation! Perhaps the best thing about her is her house. The perfect pink dreamhouse in the middle of a labyrinth, filled with delicate white furniture and a canopied bed - a dollhouse! Victorique is actually often compared to a doll in the animation.
Sadly I didn't much like Kujo, always a little too naive, whether about their relationship he continually claims is friendship or the mysteries they solve, and his character is only ultimately redeemed in my eyes after he goes to war. (It didn't help that I didn't like his seiyuu either).

A glimpse at Victorique's extensive wardrobe

Her dream house

   Probably the biggest problem with this animation is that that it tries to have a finger in every pie: it is both light and inconsequential with the problem solving cases, but also goes for a world-wide conspiracy over the war that takes place and broaches darker subjects requiring a bit of thought. Yet this proves too much and the result isn't consistent.

   The animation itself can't be faulted; Studio Bones up to its reputation for quality. I loved all the art nouveau inspiration and how it was kept as a constant guiding principle throughout.Opening and ending titles can't be omitted, they were appropriately chosen and rank among my favorite tracks at the moment.

   All in all, though I may have seemed negative at times, I quite enjoyed this show, especially its atmosphere and the country of Saubure, but it generated quite a but of frustration and disppointement over what it suggests it could have been and it remains geared towards fan-service.
  The opening - to convince you to watch it!

Oh, and one last thing: all the french in Gosick was faultless ;)

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