Gosick is easily the best anime I've seen in years. Just having come off of rewatching one of my personal favorite series, Spice and Wolf, I didn't think another series had the potential to drag me away from my thoughts, and into theirs, but they did. Gosick’s only flaw is that it is paced poorly in the beginning, allowing the ending to really hit you hard. This may push some viewers away, but I strongly encourage you to stay with it!
Story: 9 out of 10
The story of Gosick feels like a reflection of Russian literature. A time-spanning tale of romance amongst war, the lose of youth, and hidden symbolism every step of the way. We begin our story with Kujo, an oriental boy, who attends a school in the fictitious country of Saubure, a quiet country tucked away in Europe on the border of Germany (?). The country is full of superstitions and fairy tales (Which later, brilliantly demonstrate the power the Ministry of the Occult has gained over the years,) and Kujo is named a "The Dark Reaper Who Comes in the Spring" and nobody will talk to him.
Due to his social ostracizing, he finds himself in the world-renowned library the school owns, a massive, tower full of books. Looking up, he catches a glint of something golden, and walks up the many flights of stairs to find a small girl with golden hair at the top. Enter the new friendship of Kujo and Victorique. But things aren't that easy. There is a long road of hazing and bullying before they understand their feelings for each other.
The series goes on like this for awhile. Things feel slowly paced and almost episodic at times, but just before we are too bored to continue, things take a leap for the better. Little things from previous episodes that felt insignificant at the time start to piece together like a puzzle, and soon, we are introduced to the truth of the nation of Saubure.
Royal murders, secret political struggles, mad men in power, and even the onset of World War 2 come out as the series starts to near its end. Key characters show their factions, and problems from the first major war that were swept out from under the rug appear again. Innocent, but brave, Kujo and Victorique take a step back from the picture, and instead just want to be together. This is where Victorique's mysterious mother steps in, and carries out a plan to strike back at Albert, the cruel father who forced himself onto Cordelia so that he may have a child with the legendary "Grey Wolf" blood mix with his own "superior" blood.
I won't give away the ending, but it is a touching moment in anime, and perhaps one of my all time favorite scenes.
Animation: 9 out of 10
As expected of a new series with a nice budget, Gosick is truly a beautiful anime. Not only are the characters drawn incredibly well, but the minor things get their details. The landscapes and impressive architecture that span the world hold an authentic European charm, while also allowing enough fantasy element in to give "Saubure" its own lifelike artistic feel. The fashion of the series also feels genuine, but with a touch of anime flare.
Sound: 8.5 out of 10
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. To the general audience, sound is usually overlooked. I'm proud to say that this is proven wrong with Gosick. Whether is be the incredible use of background music and effects, or the brilliant voice acting, Gosick is great. Aoi Yuuki is absolutely PHENOMENAL, and the scene where Victorique is crying will rip your heart right out of your chest. Brilliant. The only downfall is a medicore opening song, and a downright annoying ending song.
Characters is easily the best part of Gosick. The relationship that grows between Victorique and Kujo is only outshined by themselves as characters. Victorique is cold, calm, and collected, but when the kind, and blissfully ignorant Kujo arrives, we immediately see the ice queen start to soften. Throughout the series, Kujo's youthful sense of duty to protect his friend turns into a brave stand to defend the one he loves from everything the world has to throw at them. Cherrywise, Victorique learns what love is, and as the series progresses, we see so many fault lines starting to appear in her, that she turns from methodic goddess, into a wonderfully fractured princess. Even though she is becomming "weaker" by her standards, the audience can't help but love her all the more.
Even side characters such as Avril and Cordelia undergo change. Avril is a friend of Kujo and Victorique (sort of), and she has a crush on Kujo. However, Kujo, who has never had any friends, and wants a golden haired girlfriend, passes up Avril at every occasion to hang out with Victorique (whom we are unaware of his feelings for at this point). Avril goes from bubbly character, to one who plays out a very believable young heart ache, and then a wonderfully mature acceptance of things. Avril is a sweet character, and only wants to chase ghost stories down with Kujo, and because of this occult belief, Victorique takes every opportunity to belittle her. Victorique appears as a bully at first, but we later realize she is just jealous, and this makes us love both the characters a little more.
Cordelia, AKA Victoriques mum, has a haunting past, and has seen everything from rape to murder happen to or from her. Even so, she pushes on to help protect the daughter she was never allowed to hold, from the shadows. She ultimately plays the main hero type character, saving the country from war in a fiery speech near the end. She is a beautiful character as well. Her stepping in takes the series from a typical anime, to something feeling like an actual story. It feels realistic that a little 15 year old girl couldn't stand up to a full-grown adult tyrant, especially when she knows nothing about his (Albert) past. Cordelia, who was essentially the Victorique of the first war (I hope thatm akes sense) knows that only she can end what they started.
It's a wonderful ending, in that it wasn't children fixing the world all by themselves like so many titles childishly do. It wasn't old characters coming back to end the things they started so many years ago either. It was good, versus evil, in a classic sense, and it was something much deeper than this. Cordelia knew that everything from their past needed to be burned, so she gave her own life to take Albert's. In doing so, all the ghosts from their past could finally be laid to rest, and the children could grow up to change their future, and hopefully avoid the mistakes the older generation made in their time. How cynically beautiful!
Overall: 9 out of 10
Overall, Gosick is one of the best series I have seen in a long time, and its only fault was poor (possibly deliberate) pacing in the beginning. Everything else was magnificent, and this has easily made my top 10 list of anime. I do hope you take the time to watch this incredible series, and come to respect both Kazuki Sakuraba and Bones for making a series that can so capture the idea of young idealistic love, through the symbolism of a fake country being torn apart by war. Absolutely incredible series.