Gosick Episode 13 – Fool’s Gold
Well, after two very strong character building episodes, Gosick is back to the mystery format. Unfortunately, said format hasn’t much improved since the last time it as trotted out.
Once again, there’s a hastily introduced urban legend/ghost story, and once again it becomes a focus of some criminal activity within hours of first being discussed. After Kujou watches a horror film with Avril, both of them realize the clock tower in the film bears an uncanny resemblance to the one on the academy campus, and Avril realizes that the film is based off a legend about a Rasputin-like figure, calling himself Leviathan, who claimed to be a master alchemist and once held sway over the nation’s royal family. Rivals tried to kill him two decades ago, but according to the story he survived fatal injuries and fled.
Shortly after this, Kujou spots an Asian man entering the clock tower, and and follows him only to find him dying in the alchemist’s lab. At the very same time, Victorique discovers a book in the library apparently written by Leviathan himself, which is half taunt and half plea. “Figure out how I could seemingly produce gold, and why I killed a boy who didn’t deserve to die,” he writes, “or my restless spirit will keep killing.”
Of course, Leviathan’s restless spirit wasn’t killing anyone until just now, which makes it the third or fourth convenient coincidence the episode throws at us in rapid succession. Gosick really needs to learn how to seed plot hooks in earlier shows; even a few references to the spooky clock tower before would have helped to build up to this episode.
In that vein, I need to give at least mild credit to Gosick for keeping Brian Roscoe involved, even on the edges of the narrative. He was the current traveling companion of the now-dead Asian, and while he didn’t seem to have anything to do with the death, he doesn’t seem heartbroken about it either. Roscoe’s agenda is still uncertain, but it’s one of the few truly intriguing things about this episode.
As for Kujou and Victorique, it’s back to their standard antics. Victorique is jealous that Kujou went on a date with Avril, and takes out her frustration in a variety of ways. While the abuse she subjects Kujou to is amusing, it also doesn’t advance the their relationship much. Kujou still seems a bit clueless about the whole romance concept, putting him squarely in line with most anime protagonsits.
There has been a change with Avril, however. Now that she knows Victorique is a girl, she’s become increasingly jealous of Kujou’s time and attention. She comes back from her summer vacation early to spend more time with Kujou, only to find he still spends time everyday in the library. When her movie date doesn’t spark any chemistry between the two, she starts stalling to keep Kujou from going back to Victorique.
Given this stalling is precisely what introduces the mystery, I suppose I should be happy that Gosick is willing to tie character development and plot development together. But, just as I’m not entirely happy with the plot development, the same can be said for the characters. Adding Avril as an overt rival to Victorique doesn’t take Gosick into harem territory, but it does introduce a variety of plot elements I’ve grown tired of. There’s only so much passive-aggressive flirting by girls in love with a clueless male lead I can take these days.
It says something about Gosick that the highest praise I had for the show came for what are ostensibly filler episodes, and I’m back to being annoyed now that it’s doing its usual thing. Gosick has never really delivered on its promise to general interesting mysteries. This one has a creepy masked alchemist with crimes and deceptions spanning over twenty years, but it’s just not getting me all that excited.
Previously, I excused lackluster mysteries on the grounds that Kujou and Victorique were worth watching in themselves, but this episode shows a disturbing reliance on standard tropes and cliches. I hope that this episode proves an unfortunate outlier and next time we’ll return to the core of a good dramatic relationship. But it’s possible, I must admit, that what I’ve been cheering on is the shiny exterior instead, and that which has glittered will not, in the end, prove to be gold.
You can watch the episode here.