Author: Kazuki Sakuraba
Length: 9 volumes
Manga adaptation: Yes
Anime adaptation: Yes
Gosick is fundamentally a gothic thriller. The mystery is not nearly as important as the mood. Gosick wants to freak you out, not challenge you with an intellectual puzzle.
Now, this may be my bias. I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels, so I’m used to adult mysteries, with a large cast of suspects and a complex murder investigation. Christie and her ilk provided cerebral challenges, spiced with interpersonal drama.
Gosick is, well, gothic, in the sense of Victorian gothic novels filled with cloudy skies, crumbling manor houses, strange servants, and eccentric house guests.
Volume 1 of Gosick introduces us to Kujo, a bland Japanese teenager whiling away his days at a prestigious European boarding school, and fellow student Victorique (“Victoria” in some translations), a doll-like young girl who is clearly modeled on Sherlock Holmes: aloof, perceptive, unbelievably intelligent, and horrified of boredom.
She’s a tsundere, yes, and she has a reason for being one. Her rapacious intellect has consumed so much information that most people are perfectly predictable to her. Nobody interests her. I appreciate this; so many tsundere characters have no motivation for their behavior.
However, I grew tired of Victorique’s attitude by about the halfway point. Kujo’s a nice guy sacrificing a lot of his time for her, and she consistently puts him down. There’s a strong streak of unjustified brattiness to her behavior. Fortunately, the reader can basically ignore those bits.
And by the end (no spoilers here), they do grow a little closer. As with any good adventure story, the plot of this volume allows for a bit of welcome character development, particularly on Kujo’s part.
Fair warning: the plot includes some disturbing content, including violence towards children. I personally had a tough time with that material, and ended up skimming a few pages.
It’s also a bit strange to read a light novel that feels like it’s being written for animation. There are several bits–particularly the police assistants who hold hands and talk in unison while skipping together–that made absolutely no sense and felt like sight gags.
But overall, this is a moody, fun read, with intense characters and a strong atmosphere. I’m looking forward to reading the second one.