Home > Episode Reviews, Gosick > Gosick Episode 22 – Repeating Past Misakes

Gosick Episode 22 – Repeating Past Misakes

What seemed from the preview to be a lighthearted Christmas themed episode quickly turns more serious, as Gosick finally moves into its final act. It feels like it’s been Christmas for a long time, with the previous arc exploring Victorique’s historical connections to the holiday. Much of the rest of this episode also feels like it has been done before, and not in a good way.

The Occult Ministry under Albert de Blois is about to take action and Victorique, his key pawn, is crucial to that end. Of course, the show has been running off of this plot outline since episode 16, this being the third time de Blois has dragged his daughter away from the academy in what poses as a permanent separation from Kujou, for reasons that seem rather pointless in retrospect. While this instance does seem to be more serious than the previous ones (and not just because there are only two episodes left), it’s not quite a “third time’s the charm” scenario, either. Much of the emotional potency this event should have had is muted by the force of repetition.

Having a rabbit serve as a monstrous guardian might work in Monty Python, but only because there it's meant as a gag. Here, we're expected to take it seriously

Another motif making a return this arc is the “conveniently revealed urban legend/local myth/ghost story that just happens to have a direct parallel in the plot.” This one is the fable of the Monstre Charmant: a fairy-like creature, mostly benevolent, who helped those in need. Eventually her powers were coveted by a local ruler, who killed the rabbit-like creature protecting her only to discover that the rabbit was the monster’s heart personified, and by killing one he had killed the other.

It’s another one of those stories that seems more crafted with the protagonists in mind than with any real story that would have arisen as a parable. Because the show loves being as unsubtle as possible about these things, Victorique and Kujou wind up wearing costumes on that theme at the Academy’s Christmas costume ball. You shouldn’t need such an obvious marker to figure out the application, and several characters (including Roscoe and, last episode, de Blois) had already called Victorique a Monstre Charmant. It’s only now that we learn what it means.

Kujou finds that being in a bunny costume calms the other students, who normally are too frightened to approach him. By contrast, it's hard to tell that Victorique is even in costume

Such a legend is meant not merely to exemplify Victorique’s power as a tool, but also her connection with Kujou. That, too, is something everyone seems to realize. Roget’s men come to deport Kujou under the pretext of expelling all foreigners due to concerns of unrest, but really they want to place Kujou outside of the reach of the Occult Ministry by getting him back to Japan. Unfortunately for Kujou, he escapes from his captors only to unwittingly turn himself over to that very group.

Thus, de Blois has a lever by which to manipulate Victorique: Kujou dies if you don’t cooperate. Knowing the legend, de Blois won’t make the mistake of killing off Kujou to get to Victorique; rather, he knows having Kujou, Victorique’s “heart,” is the key to making her work for him.That being said, he doesn’t reunite them either, perhaps to ensure Victorique can’t easily conceive of an escape attempt.

Victorique actually threatens to commit suicide rather than participate in her father's war plans. She has no interest in furthering the spread of another conflict, and has matured enough to care about the thousands whom wars kill, displace, or make orphans. She cares far more, however, about keeping Kujou alive

As always, de Blois is playing the long game; I suspect the violent mobs besetting the country claiming to follow the returned Monstre Charmant are also at his beck and call. He might be planning a formal coup or something more akin to what Mussolini did in Italy (two years, in fact, before Gosick takes place), but regardless he’s up to no good. While he seems to need Victorique as much as a symbol as a tactician—the Monstre Charmant fable seems to have an outsized influence on the population of Saubure—he needs her, and now he has her.

Honestly, the show seems to be getting far more mileage out of this one legend than would seem possible; it feels like having a radical political movement forming around a reincarnated John Bunyan in the US. I’ve talked before about Gosick’s tendency (and the tendency of anime in general) to read Japanese culture into European culture, but I doubt this would work on the Japanese of the 1920s either. It’s just all very odd.

Maybe it's just me, but I think if the Italian Blackshirts wore bunny-eared masks instead, fewer people would have taken them seriously

The most annoying part is that what this legend is supposed to represent, Victorique and Kujou’s inseparable ties, is illustrated far better by more mundane forms of characterization. During the Christmas party, Victorique uses her deduction skills to figure out what gift the self-effacing Kujou would take from the gift exchange (thus making sure that gift is from her). Meanwhile, Kujou just directly gives his gift to Victorique (or at least intends to), signaling his own increasingly forthrightness about their relationship.

One thing to like about Gosick is how it has let the relationship between Victorique and Kujou progress naturally, or even progress at all.The days of tsundere antics are over, as even Victorique is relatively open about her affection for Kujou. Her pitiful cries as she watches Kujou being taken away, perhaps forever, are enough to eek some drops of emotional impact from a storyline that otherwise should have been drained from overuse.

Even Avril has accepted by now that that Kujou loves Victorique, not her. How often does that happen in anime love triangles?

The fundamental strength of that relationship, which has been tested in unique ways even within repetitious plots, is what will make Gosick’s finale worth watching. Kujou begins and ends this episode with a pledge to always be by Victorique’s side. Now he just has to fight to make that happen.

You can watch the episode here.

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