Home > Episode Reviews, Gosick > Gosick Episode 5 – Clap Your Hands if You Believe

Gosick Episode 5 – Clap Your Hands if You Believe

Gosick is a series steeped in its own mythology; set in a completely fictional academy in a completely fictional country, it also has a completely original set of fairy tales and ghost stories floating around the school. And among those fictions, there are those of the Golden Fairy and the Black Grim Reaper, the campus myths that have been identified with two real people, Victorique and Kujou.

The catch is that the vast majority of the school has never seen Victorique, as she hides from strangers save under special circumstances. She’s so reclusive that her existence and the existence of the fairy are equally mythical (and equally feared) among the student body. While this actually plays a major role in this episode, it leaves the question about why Kujou was excepted from this treatment.

The show is smart enough to acknowledge the question, which makes me suspect that we’ll get an answer eventually. One curious thing about Gosick, however, is how it takes its time revealing anything and everything about Victorique, while rushing through everything else. I realize the relationship between Victorique and Kujou is the heart of the show, but other elements shouldn’t get as short shift as they do.

The Golden Fairy story tells of a fairy who will solve any problem at the cost of a soul. Kujou later reinterprets this so that the fairy wants a soulmate or companion, and by that reading it becomes a myth firmly grounded in fact. It's not the only one

This episode, for example, introduces transcontinental thief, Kuiaran, who has recently started work again after an eight year hiatus. Yet only minutes about the topic has been introduced has Kuiaran been identified with Maxim, the murder victim of last episode, as Victorique offers another wild guess in the disguise of a logical conclusion. And of course, she is right again.

It’s a bit disappointing, particularly as she continues to pull out the solutions to various mysteries surrounding Avril with less and less evidence to base them on. It’s as if Victorique had a direct line to the script and is just reading off whatever the author wants her to know. Oddly enough, and despite the efforts the show goes through to debunk supernatural explanations in most other areas, the simplest explanation is that Victorique does have some sort of unnatural ability.

There's this little animation with Victorique's eye whenever she is about to solve a mystery particularly relevant to the plot, which comes with a quasi-incantation about how she will bring order to fragments of chaos through her "fountain of wisdom". If her gift is something a bit otherworldly, it would all make sense. Otherwise, it's just pretentious dialogue accompanying filler animation

The more complicated a mystery is, the more need there is for exposition, for misdirection and red herrings, and for time for the audience to process it all. When you’re dealing with mysteries presented in five minutes or less before we move on to the next one, there just isn’t enough build up to support all but the most basic of puzzles.

The locked room incident in the premiere was an example of this done right, but it’s been an rarity. For most of the other mysteries—the identity of Kuiaran, the recently revived rumors of a ghost in a warehouse, and the question of Avril’s intentions, to name three in this episode—they are brought up and knocked down in rapid and perfunctory fashion despite being far too detailed and intricate to deserve such treatment. And this makes it really difficult to care.

Another campus ghost story explained: the "black grim reaper" stories came from old reports of Maxim/Kuiaran, who would return to the academy grounds to hide his loot every spring

There are some things this episode does right, mystery-wise. The question of what loot the new Kuiaran is hunting for is hinted at throughout the episode, but only revealed at the end. Likewise, the campus myths and ghost stories, some of which have been around since the premiere, get a fresh spin here, showing proper forethought on the part of the writers. But these elements are feel like window dressing tacked on to far less subtle mysteries.

The simple fact is that while Gosick has the trappings of a mystery show, but it doesn’t have the substance of one. It is instead a romance show about a immature genius girl and the brave boy she falls for. It’s about their unlikely partnership and how that will ultimately bloom into something more.

Victorique gets to be the savior this episode, defending Kujou from an attack by the new Kuiaran. She gets the drop on Kuiaran, ironically enough, because the latter doesn't believe that she exists, thinking that Victorique is a figment of Kujou's lonely imagination obsessing too much on the campus' Golden Fairy story

By tying the mysteries to character development and building up the relationship between Kujou and Victorique, Gosick is showing all the hallmarks of a carefully planned plotline for our two leads. But the cleverness it shows there seems counterbalanced by how poorly the mysteries fare on their own terms.

I’ve noted the problem in my last two reviews, but it hasn’t really grated on me as much as it does here because then I was constantly expecting a new meta-plot, an multi-episode mystery that will provide the puzzles that will keep me interested in more than just the leads. But we’re five episodes in now, and the mystery surrounding Avril has been completely resolved. I’m still looking for meat, but increasingly doubtful that there’s any to be found.

Suspicions aside, by the end of the episode we've learned that Avril was and is a fundamentally good person, even if she is obsessed with ghost stories. Anything more spoilerish than that should *not* be discussed in the comments section

Do these faults make Gosick a bad show? Well, I’m still enjoying it, primarily on the strength of the character relationships. Gosick cares about Victorique and Kujou, and when it cares enough to do something right, it does. And if a show is only to do one thing well, I’d rather it be that the leads have proper chemistry and development.

And Victorique herself has become the true mystery of the show, as her tragic family background and own abilities are slowly unveiled. Last episode Grevil contemptuously referred to her as a “grey wolf,” and based on the next episode title (revealed in the preview) we’ll soon be learning more about what the moniker means. For Victorique, if for nothing else, the show is willing to devote the proper amount of time and build-up to provide for a compelling story. That’s enough to make me, at least for now, a believer.

Victorique's childish behavior is balanced by the knowledge of how little positive human contact she's had. Even now, she will hide in a cupboard rather than interact with strangers

You can watch the episode here.

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