Home > Episode Reviews, Gosick > Gosick Episodes 2 and 3 – The Prophet Motive

Gosick Episodes 2 and 3 – The Prophet Motive

Gosick’s premiere was promising, but didn’t feel quite good enough to guarantee that this would be a successful show. Having seen the following two episodes, which bring some form of conclusion to the larger mystery surrounding the fortune teller murdered in the opening act, I can now say with confidence that Gosick is promising, although I can’t guarantee it will be a successful show. Isn’t that an improvement?

Seriously, Gosick doesn’t do all that bad of a job with its first major arc. Despite being set in the 1920s for reasons which will soon be obvious, it maintains the backdrop of a Victorian-era mystery throughout, particularly in its suggestion of supernatural menaces which are then debunked through proper sleuthing. And while I am increasingly convinced the mystery elements are not Gosick’s main draw, the show does succeed on its own terms.

There are occasional moments where suspension of disbelief is required. Why, for example, are none of the guests suspicious about dining in a room so dark you can't see who is next to you?

These two episodes revolve around the Queen Berry, a ship which eerily resembles one that sank ten years ago under mysterious circumstances. After all the guests on the ship (including Kujou and Victorique, who got on board through the murder victim’s invitation) succumb to a drugged meal, they awaken in a locked stateroom, where Victorique notices there is one more person than there were chairs at the darkened dinner table.

From there, things get weirder: lights go on and off, writing mysteriously appears on the walls, and the room—and it seems the whole ship—is filled with booby traps. After one of the guests is killed, the rest panic, and almost all of them get themselves killed foolishly trying to escape on a lifeboat in turbulent seas.

When the ship's inhabitants realize that the ship is a trap, they panic and try to leave. That seemed unwise even before the wave hit

The survivors include just our heroes and three others, so there’s not too many options about who the killer orchestrating it all is. The more interesting point is that none of them are innocent, aside from the killer, the other two had a hand in forging the tragedy that befell the original Queen Berry ten years prior.

In the show’s one concession to supernaturalism, the fortune teller Roxane really could predict the future through auguries, and in this case it involved human beings. The idea was to predict the outcome of a coming catastrophe (World War I, as it happens), but dropping a bunch of orphans of different nationalities in the boat and inciting them to kill each other (with booby traps and weapons scattered throughout the ship to help things along). The survivors belonged to the nationalities of the countries that would win the war; that knowledge helped the men who set up the scenario to profit from the outcome.

Although, given the remaining perpetrators of the original Queen Berry go insane when they realize they are going to be subjected to what they put other poor innocents through, perhaps the ones who tried to flee had some excuse

Of course, a bunch of kids wound up dead as a result, and not all the survivors were willing to accept a large cash payout as sufficient recompense for their ordeal. The rebuilt Queen Berry was meant as a tomb for the instigators of that event; had Roxane not already been dead and her invitation discovered by Victorique, the culprit likely would have succeeded.

This mystery is reminiscent of the first one, which is unfortunate since it had to stretch three to four times as long as the first one did. Victorique drawing conclusions off of one or two seemingly minor bits of data worked for a five minute mystery, but the one here felt like it needed a little more meat. Particularly when you toss in the flashback scenes, it’s not hard for the audience to have figured things out by the end, and that’s a problem. The key to a successful mystery series is to let the audience think the puzzle is solvable, but to not actually solve it until the story’s sleuth reveals the culprit.

Victorique is surprisingly unmoved by scenes of bloodshed and violence in general ...

Gosick is not just a mystery series, of course; there’s also the burgeoning relationship of Victorique and Kujou to work out. Kujou, despite looking like he’s all of twelve in some shots, manages some decent character development. At first driven by his sense of familiar and national pride (which is quite reasonable to expect from a Japanese youth of that era), he eventually comes to realize that his desire to defend Victorique stems from genuine affection as much as his desire to prove himself a man.

Victorique, by contrast, seems a bit inconsistent in how she moves from icy cool to little girl scared in a matter of moments. At least some of that can be explained by the fact that she, too, cares for Kujou and worries that he might be hurt. But there are other scars at work in her, including several due to her family life.

... but as she's spent a good chunk of her life in solitary confinement, what does and does not disturb her is far from normal

Her brother Grevil (half brother, as it turns out) might take advantage of her detective skills, but he’s still relatively nice to her. Her father, who had her by an illicit affair, has kept her more or less imprisoned throughout her life. Her current situation of being confined to the school grounds is actually the best set-up she’s ever had.

There’s a clever bit of development to have Victorique’s tragic past help her identify with the tragic past of the culprit, and thus identify the culprit. Likewise, Kujou’s own status as a third son constantly striving to prove himself isn’t a throwaway bit of characterization, but directly affects how he deals with adversity and how he relates to the also rejected Victorique. He might be drawn like a standard milquetoast anime protagonist, but he doesn’t think or act like one at all.

Apparently training in Japanese military families around the 1920s included regular beatings. Actually, that might be accurate

I wouldn’t have expected the relational aspects of Gosick to be more compelling than the mystery aspects; while this might be a knock on the latter as much as it is praise for the former, it still points to solid characterization of and genuine chemistry between the two leads. Combine that with the show making both the murderers we’ve had so far more sympathetic than their victims, and the show is looking more and more like a character drama, and not a mystery show per se.

Where Gosick goes now is completely open. While some of the other survivors of the original Queen Berry are still unaccounted for—giving the writers an angle to return to that plotline if they wish—I suspect the ghost stories Kujou was reading in the library before finding Victorique (the first of which was on the Queen Berry) will form the basis for the remaining mysteries for the show. The more interesting part is that the mystery isn’t what will bring me back next time.

There have been an increasing number of shows (at least, it seems like it's been increasing) that pay lip service to real historical events. I don't have a clue why this is the case

You can watch the episodes here.

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