What They Say:
The petite detective and her confidant return! After a pleasant summer, their new semester starts off with a strange case involving an alchemist named Leviathan. But even after successfully solving this case, the duo cannot rest when Victorique is suddenly swept away to a convent. And as more is unveiled about the Gray Wolf’s powers, these two find themselves with their biggest mystery yet!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the newly produced English language track gets a 5.1 bump to it. The show is one that is largely dialogue focused so it doesn’t have a lot in the way of big standout moments but the 5.1 mix has its uses in some of the bigger scenes it does get with certain reveals and the like. The show works the dialogue side well with placement hitting some good notes throughout while the music score itself is one that blends well into the background but heightens the mood of many scenes. What we get is a show that may not stretch your soundsystem much but is well represented with what the original mix was intending to heighten the mood as needed and provide for some good ambient moments throughout. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout for both mixes and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Bones, Gosick has a very appealing look to it with some richly detailed backgrounds, great looking character designs, and an earthy color palette that fits the 1920’s period well. It’s not a slick and glossy show in a way but it has such a solid visual design to it that it helps sell the location and characters very well. The encoding captures all of this very well since there aren’t a lot of high motion sequences for the most part and that lets the detail stand out in a big way, especially for the backgrounds. I love the look of this series and it was one that made an impression when it first aired that looks great here to finally have in physical form.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork, albeit with bright and better colors thanks to the cardstock. The front cover image is a good one with our two leads in Victorique’s favorite place but with the framing used it’s given an additional bit of elegance about it that works very well. The lighter backgrounds, the more illustration style look of it, and the appealing expression of the characters all come together in a very good way. The text block on the front cover is just a little too unnecessary but it was part and parcel of the overall design. The back cover is just as detailed with its framing in a very natural kind of way and we get some decent if small images from the show here that lets you know more of what the final work looks like. The summary of the premise is a bit small in terms of font size and content but it covers a decent bit and sets the tone for it. The rest is made up of the usual with a clean look at the extras as well as the technical details of the release. While there are no show related inserts here we do get artwork on the reverse side that has more of the Japanese cover artwork with the cast that’s just as detailed and appealing as the front cover.
The menu design for this release doesn’t surprise too much as we get a simple static piece for it and not a clip based one. The left side features the key artwork from the broadcast period that was used of the main characters and it works well to set the tone for the show with the softer colors and the illustration style approach. The right half is given over to a large clear space that has the series name across it while the bottom has the navigation strip in a light brown where we get the standard selections that all load quickly and easily. It doubles as the pop-up menu as well and while it may be a bit bland it gets the job done and works without issue.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
The first half of the Gosick series was fun to reconnect with after so long but at the same time I felt like I enjoyed it a lot more when taken in weekly installments as the mystery and dynamic of the show revealed itself. The series is one that has its fair share of mysteries to unfold which are part of a larger plan to bring Victorique more into the world to achieve other goals but the draw for me was taking in these small character moments and prodding at the mysteries. When you shift gears to marathon it and things are revealed quickly in this context it loses a little something of that magic, especially with it not being a shared experience of discovery with other fans at the same time.
With some initial material that’s just light and fun, such as a trip to the movies, the show doesn’t wait too long before getting back into the mystery side of things. This happens when a man dies in Kazuya’s arms, complete with one finger covered in purple ink of some kind. Having a murder of some sort occur in the clock tower puts Kazuya to task to figure it out, but it’s actually Victorique that gets drawn in as she can’t pass up a mystery. She has an interesting case ahead of her though as she’s tying it to an alchemist that died two decades prior to it, which confuses the hell out of Kazuya. We get an extended background piece here which is really nicely animated, and I do enjoy seeing the Philosopher’s Stone brought into play in any show since it reminds me of one of my favorite series, and that helps to set the stage pretty well for what’s going on.
Victorique’s move into the real world, at least temporarily, has certainly left her unhappy as she ends up taking classes alongside Kazuya and getting her first meeting with Avril. Victorique’s not one to be around people in general, nor to take instruction at all, so having to spend time in a classroom is one of the few places she doesn’t want to be. Add in that Avril is right behind her, talking to her about all sorts of things, and even going so far as to tug on her hair to get her attention really just pushes Victorique over the edge. And her reactions aren’t a surprise as she flings a desk at her, further earning the name of the gray wolf.
Because of the murder in the clock tower, more of Sabure’s history starts to come to light as Cecile talks about how this isn’t the first time a murder has occurred there and that previous ones have been the same way with the purple finger where the murder was attributed to poison. With that information and more given to Kazuya from Blois who talks about how the school used to a front for the royals in arms making, and that the country itself has a dark history, only adds to what’s going on and expands the mystery as you know all of it will tie together. And having Kazuya, Avril and Victorique suddenly working together is amusing as the three of them are certainly quite different on just about every level.
There are a lot of little things that come out throughout all of this as they explore some of the past of the academy and the nearby village, especially in talking about the things that happened between the Catholics and the Protestants years before. Mixing in a time when a large number of African’s lived there, whose songs are still sung by kids today, and it’s a growing mystery that’s only made more intriguing when a red haired man shows up in the clock tower as Victorique investigates on her own. He brings in the connection to the Oriental man that was murdered, but there’s more to it than that as he very much feels like a monster, though Victorique cops to taking that title herself.
The past of Saubure is examined a bit as our masked man talks of how events unfolded years ago with his love and how alchemy itself was put on trial. Seeing all of this unfold before Victorique in the clock tower is a nice way of going through it all as his emotions in explaining it out, while visualized, certain runs high. Especially considering how events work out with Ian as he’s killed by having the insides of his body turned to liquid gold in a very disturbing manner. While we don’t see it actually happen, the end results are gruesome in their own way, especially as it was all done through the use of anger and emotion when it was the last thing that Leviathan actually wanted to have happen.
The exploration of events and manipulations that were occurring before the world enter a global war, with Saubure trying to find its own place in it to secure the lands and potentially make gains, is fascinating to see unfold. Especially as there are those that wanted to use Leviathan in order to help make new things that would help them overall, though there are obviously other plans within those plans, as they talk of automated soldiers and homunculi. A dark history indeed is explored as the time of kings who are unaware and those seeking the black arts in order to gain position and power come against each other. Victorique’s understanding of it all comes easily, but when Kazuya makes the accusations towards the red haired gentleman, it results in quick and simple actions which puts him in quite a bit of pain.
Digging into this past is definitely intriguing as it works through the alchemy angle and what it means, and how the nation was being manipulated then. Like any good mystery, there are surprising things that are discovered, and with the basis of the story dealing with the murders in the clock tower, the clock tower itself becomes quite the character in it as there are things hidden within there. There’s a beautiful moment of revelation, the payoff for a segment of the storyline that really strikes wonder and just builds upon that by tying more into the past as we learn, to some degree, who Leviathan was. With Victorique working the story through in summation, she brings together some very interesting things that shows just how far he manipulated things, but how much he fell off the rails so to speak in achieving his dreams. It’s a somber piece filled with a real beauty.
While not surprising, the next arc for the series moves us into some familiar territory. While Kazuya and Avril are getting along well and enjoying spending time together, Avril continues to realize that Kazuya is very much focused on Victorique when it comes to all things. Just a simple shopping through the market has him picking out foods that will please Victorique, since as he says, getting the wrong thing will put him into a world of punishment. You can see some of the hurt in her expression of this as she continues to see a nearly insurmountable wall she has to overcome in order to get him to even look at her in a meaningful way, never mind to win him over. Avril’s persistence is definitely one of her better traits, but you do also wonder when she’d just give up and start to move on.
When Victorique goes missing, it doesn’t take much for Kazuya to become even more single minded when it comes to her as he tries to figure out what happened but has no clues from which to work. Amusingly, he intends to just head out into the world and one of the first things he does is to pack her a significant amount of clothes, which has Blois giving him some grief over as he pairs the wrong things together. When he is told where she is, kept up in a convent known only as Beelzebub’s Skull, he hits the first train that he can to go there and rescue her. But there’s an interesting twist to it as he gets on the train and meets other passengers who tell of the special party that’s held there once a month in secret that certain people have invitations for. The whole event has a strange feeling right from the start and everyone is so open with information about themselves and where they’re going that it feels like a whole lot of misdirection.
Naturally, there’s something far more involved going on there and Kazuya finds himself drawn deeply into it without realizing it as there are those that want to utilize what’s in this location in order to unearth an ancient power. With this tying back into the previous storyline with a certain character returning, the whole point of it all is to utilize Victorique as the key to things because of her position as a Gray Wolf. The mixture of a party atmosphere outside with the more serious and somber events that are ringed around the edges of it makes for an interesting dynamic, especially when you add in some of the confusion that Kazuya feels and his somewhat naïve nature that makes it easy for him to be nudged into certain directions.
With the two of them checking out the Phantasmagoria event now, they’re able to see the twisted and surreal kind of magic that’s taking place there. It’s done with a lot of style that really lets it work, as the people involved are true showmen who get their stage presence across in a way that really does enrapture those that are watching. But when one of the body switching tricks goes horribly awry, with two bodies covered in blood, it sets a whole other mood. Even worse, the gist of the trick in getting people to fall for it is revealed in a rather glaring way. It’s interesting to see how Kazuya gets shaken out of his view of the events, but his singleminded focus when he sees Brian in one of the windows afterwards paints his obsession in a bad way there. Particularly since he ends up leaving Victorique in the chaos of all the people below.
Kazuya’s chase is pointless in the end, but it leads him elsewhere and he ends up getting a bit more information and a lot more mysteries thrown his way. The same can be said for Victorique as Brian shows up there as well and he imparts all sorts of things to her that are forbidden, things that he says in such an offhand and accidental way that you know he’s just pushing events in a direction he wants. Because of all the misdirection going on and the way various forces are at play, I feel like the show has lost some of its impact in this storyline because it’s had so much going on without a clear enough narrative that when we do get new information, it’s not drawn together to the preceding events in a clear way. It’s a building of information that, on a weekly basis when watched with other shows, can make for a confusing time. Thankfully, Gosick has the saving grace of being a very well animated show that is engaging to watch just on that angle alone.
Train rides can be fertile ground for stories as we’ve seen over the years, though often there’s obviously a certain kind of similarity to them all in what they deal with when it comes to mysteries. With Kazuya and Victorique together on the train, any mystery that creeps up will certain gain their attention, especially as the train has those involved in Beelzebub’s Skull involved. Having the two of them paired together inside a room where a few others find refuge as well just means that there’s going to be some dealings, potential deaths and a whole lot of mystery when it comes to unusual people. It doesn’t take long for Victorique to be clear in that the room is essentially filled with people from the Ministry of the Occult or the Science Academy, which just makes it all the more problematic.
When the six of them sit down for a discussion in the dining chair with something of an interesting item, things start off slowly but then turns quite deadly as the box in question that they’re all after in their own way is used as a catalyst for things. It’s a curious piece as this unfolds because it goes to violence so quickly when the young woman involve nearly dies, barely saved from an instant death by Victorique, only to end up using a gun to shoot one of the others so she can get away with the box. The importance of the box is certainly made apparent, though some are far more intent on the idea of just letting it being buried and lots to the ages, but the young woman is ready to give her life in order to have it, a moment that really has an impact on Kazuya.
This episode has a good amount of tension to it as the events unfold, but the arc that began with the Beelzebub’s Skull hasn’t exactly been all that engaging and in some ways it feels like it’s less than clear about what it is that it wants to be. Which is something that I’ve felt with a lot of the story arcs within Gosick after the first couple, particularly as Victorique herself made her way into the world rather than staying holed up in the library. Getting her involved in action scenes simply feels a bit off, and having her work so closely with Kazuya here when a train derailment is brought into plain certainly has its moments, but it just doesn’t click well for me. Gosick does expand the mystery a bit more as it progresses here, and there are things to like with this episode with the tension and action, but it continues to be a show that leaves me feeling oddly cold towards it.
As the series barrels toward its conclusion, Gosick spends a lot of its time in the past and that is actually turning into a frustrating point for me. Victorique’s past, and that of her mother, figures heavily into her present but over the course of the series, perhaps in how it’s been presented so far, it comes across as an awkward smattering and unfocused narrative that continually introduces more material without really tying it together well. Toward the end things open with the coming of the first snow of the season in Saubure and Kazuya is thrilled to finally see it since it’s apparently the first one he’s ever seen. What he learns though is that Christmas itself is the same day as Victorique’s birthday, so he muses about how he has to get both a birthday present and a Christmas present for her.
While that sets up the events in the present, we get a lot of segments to the past about her birth, starting with Cordelia when she was a showgirl doing dancing and singing on the stage and the man who took advantage of her to combine his bloodline with that of a Gray Wolf in order to bring about something more powerful. It’s one of those classically brutal scenes where we see her ready to give birth, tied up in chains spread eagle on a platform with various robed monk types arrayed around her, the visual of blood being poured over her belly and so forth. It hits up a lot of classic things, while tying to her true love itself with Brian who had been watching on but unable to do anything for her for awhile, and the eventual escape she makes from there in order to be free again. The more we see of Cordelia’s youth, the more disjointed it feels at this stage since it’s been spread over so many episodes at different points in time for her.
Little of the episode actually focuses on the present, though there are cute moments with it comes to Victorique’s brother and Cecile with how she is with him. Victorique’s realizations about things have come full circle and she’s realized that it’s time for her to go, through by orders of others of course, and she’ being told that her goal now is to solve the biggest mystery in all of Saubure for the Queen. It’s a disconcerting moment with her brother as she just comes to the realizations herself about what’s going on and what her real meaning to Kazuya is all about. Unfortunately, the moments with Kazuya are the most interesting of the episode and it feels like they’re coming from a different series altogether as he goes through the motions, not even realizing what’s happening around him.
The death of Queen Coco, which we’ve seen being dealt with as a play known as “The Blue Rose of Saubreme” within the city. Having seen the events of the past with Cordelia and her time as a dancer and performer is brought into play again since she was such a memorable person, and that’s giving Kazuya more information about all these connections between them, particularly because of the new play. There’s a haunting nature to the story here as he grasps at all these disparate parts and tries to put the picture together. It’s something that Victorique generally does rather easily, since that’s her main skill, The series continues to be frustrating because of this as we get so many different little bits of flashback, memories and so forth spread across the entire run of the story that piecing it all together as an audience member means needing to write it all down and really looking at it in big picture form. In a way, Gosick makes things too complicated but it has the appeal in that it makes you work for it.
As the episode moves forward, more and more is revealed about Nicole La Roux and how she was mistaken for the Queen at one point and how her disappearance doesn’t quite add up all those years ago, giving room to plenty of rumors and innuendo. And mixed into all of this as Kazuya gets all the bits and pieces is that of Brian himself as he seems to be manipulating the situation, nudging Kazuya from place to place in order to achieve whatever results he’s trying to get. There are some beautifully animated scenes throughout this, especially with the occult ceremony, and Gosick continues to build one hell of an impressive atmosphere. But everything continues to be so spread out, so precise in teasing new bits of information for the viewer, that putting it all together continues to be a task. It builds up to some grand moments here in the final part of the episode, but it still lacks a real connection to make it thoroughly engaging.
The fictional account of the Queen’s life in stage form has its moments, but where things change is during the stillbirth that happens. According to Victorique, this is when the Queen actually died and in place of her was the dancer Nicole who ended up changing the way the Queen was perceived. While they looked very much alike, she was far more outgoing and that caused some problems, but was still manageable. The problem for Nicole as the Queen though came in 1914 as she ended up meeting an emissary that knew the truth upon meeting her, and that led to the fallout that occurred. Watching this in stage form has the audience getting quite into it. With the Queen’s death as Nicole, the use of the preserved body from the Queen herself was able to be substituted into her place, allowing for some legitimacy to events some fourteen years after she really died.
With the mystery of who really killed her in place, the Ministry of the Occult expects Victorique to provide the answer, and they did this entire performance in order to draw out another Gray Wolf named Jupiter Roget. This last minute introduction is interesting as it adds a lot of tension to the moment, an unexpected occurrence to be sure, which leaves you very unsure of where the show will go from there. The show works through a fairly interesting tragedy as the truth of events unfold here, and there’s some interesting aspects to it where Victorique’s claim of not knowing the murderer feels like a ruse on her part, and we get a good sense of how terrible the whole truth likely was in the past. The things that draw to a close here do so in a good way, though open ended of course since the murderer isn’t actually named in the course of the main facing off between parties, but that’s less the point of things in the end.
With the push towards war that’s rearing its ugly head more and more, tensions are certainly rising in the nation of Saubure. There are plenty of calls among the elite to not get involved in the war, but there’s still that underlying tension out there that people can’t shake as events continue to unfold. What drives things further to disaster is the revelation about Jupiter Roget, who is actually a Gray Wolf himself and that he’s inserted himself into the position at the Academy that he’s in so that he can rise in the ranks and eventually gain enough power in order to take over Saubure and re-establish the lost kingdom of the Gray Wolves with Seyrun. It’s a tense political moment as everyone watches on and Roget’s facade is sadly not well kept during all of it.
Because of how events have played out, the Marquis is now gaining more power after what he did to Roget and he’s definitely cementing it as the majority of the aristocracy agree with what he’s done. That in turn has inspired the common citizenry to take up against the Gray Wolves, fearing what will become of Saubure should they regain power within the small nation. Which is amusing as the Marquis continues to use Victorique for his purposes and advantage. But Victorique is not the type to be easily used and she jabs back at him in subtle ways at times, particularly when she goes on about how he viewed things when he was younger when it came to Leviathan. Understanding what it is that motivates him and moves him is definitely important, especially as he has his strange army now out there in the streetes.
What’s missing from most of this episode, and it does show in the first two thirds of it, is Kazuya. With him in the military now rather than going back to his home country, he’s going through some rough times to be sure, but his bond with Victorique is still very strong and it’s great to see just how much it means to him and how he externalizes it in a ring. The two have certainly grown close over the course of the series, which has been hard to see at times, but it’s definitely there and understanding what he’s going through while she gives in to what she’s been asked is definitely a good part of the show. Kazuya has been the real heart of the show and seeing the lengths he’ll go to in order to survive and to get back to her is certainly heart warming.
It’s definitely interesting to see Victorique and Brian on the run together after all that has happened, and how she’s taking care of him now with a very amusing nod from Grevil. Setting all of it against the backdrop of the war that’s unfolding gives it an almost surreal feeling, especially with Kazuya caught up hard in all of it. But the past is key in all of this, especially as Brian finally does reveal more about his past with Cordelia, the way he and his brother were exiled from the village and the real reasons why they were so protective of her, to the point where he’d even kill Victorique in order to save what he felt was the right thing. It’s all very good defining material for him, but it also brings us full circle with a look at who Victorique is, both perceived because of her lineage but also because she simply is a lot like her mother in so many ways.
The episode spends a good bit of time with Victorique in this setting, but it also spends time with Kazuya as he struggles with being swept up into this world war that’s going on. It’s a particularly brutal thing for him as he goes on no matter what comes his way or the challenges he faces. It’s been a staple of who Kazuya is from the start of the series, never backing away from such challenges, and what he goes through here is beyond rough and cruel, but is simply a part of the reality of the time as well. The story of Kazuya and Victorique has been the central part of the series, and it’s had a very mixed approach to it overall in how it wanted to deal with it, but it always worked better when the two were together rather than apart. And sadly, they spent too much time apart from each other, even though it gave it a classic lost love feeling of romance.
The end of Gosick deals with a lot of things going on and covers it across a bit of time, allowing for some closure to be had for most of the key points, though it’s not exactly trying to do everything since there are plenty of novels and manga, both of which were still ongoing at the time. What it’s trying to do here is to bring the anime audience a sense of closure and it does it very well through the early credits and epilogue scene that deals with the core of the series. Gosick has been a frustrating experience at times, beautifully animated but structured in a way that kept me from really connecting with the character or the stories as it went along, but it kept drawing me back to see more of it. The change of the ages here marks the larger storyline that’s ongoing, with the Gray Wolves, the ministry of the occult and so forth, but they always kept it down to the human element and the bond shared by Kazuya and Victorique. With this ending, you are definitely left with a good sense of closure and while you may want more, you will feel satisfied as well.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.