I am always on the search for good detective anime and manga, actually I’m always on the search for good detective anything. So when I happened by this book at the store, I couldn’t resist, even knowing nothing about it. We here at Reverse Thieves will always take the time to check out a new detective related work.
I have to admit that I was mostly intrigued by the way that Narutaki described the main character and the way she looked on the cover. That and it is always nice to see light novels that are not based on licensed anime and manga. Although they just started to write a manga in Monthly Dragon Age based on the novels it’s still unlicensed in the U.S.
Gosick is the story of Kazuya Kujo and Victorique a rather unlikely detective duo. Kazuya Kujo is the youngest Japanese son of a military family sent to Europe to study. Victorique is a reclusive genius. After Victorique effortlessly solves the mysterious murder of a fortuneteller that has baffled the police, she gets an invitation for a cruise intended for the deceased. Kazuya and Victorique decide to go in the victim’s place and wind up fighting for their lives as they try to piece together who (and why) is trying to kill everyone on the ship.
I really like the setting of this series, though I’m still not sure why the author chose to create a new country in Europe rather than just using, say Switzerland. But in any case the early 20th century feel adds some meat and just seems so much more rich than a modern era. This also helped to put me in the mind set of Sherlock Holmes and Poirot.
Kazuya is an outcast as his European dominant school but he is determined to prove himself. He has a quite and sweet exterior and certainly some naiveté mixed in. He has been given the task of bringing the mysterious Victorique her daily assignments since she never shows up for class, this also makes him a bit of an enigma in the school since most people have never met her. He has a protective side, when it comes to Victorique, that comes from his soldier’s son background. Kazuya can never quite grasp the mindset of the lovely Victorique but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Kazuya is the brawn to back up Victorique’s brains. Not to say that Kazuya is a musclebound jock because he comes off as quite intelligent. It’s just that everyone comes off less intelligent than Victorique. So this means his role is usually to be the physical partner and protector of Victorique. Kazuya is both fascinated and somewhat perplexed by Victorique. He definitely seems to be fond of Victorique but is also aggravated by her eccentric nature and caustic personality.
Victorique is a spiky, socially inept, observational genius. She is also very cute like a doll. I think I originally described her to Hisui as a meld between Nagi (from Hayate the Combat Butler) and Sherlock Holmes. She definitely solves things in that unimaginable Sherlockian way. As is proven when she solves a murder in under five minutes without even seeing the scene of the crime. She spends a good deal of her days cooped up in the library and we later learn she has seen virtually nothing of the outside world.
After reading the book myself I think Narutaki’s description is spot on. She is an odd paradox because she is amazingly insightful about certain things but amazingly naive about others. Almost all of her knowledge comes from books but she has almost no real world experience. This means despite her amazing intellect and ability to effortlessly solve logical puzzles, she is still fascinated by things such as traveling by carriage. She along with such habits as smoking a pipe give her an odd mixture of old soul and young girl.
The developing relationship between these two looks to be a fun push and pull that will go on throughout the series. There was an ease of magic to them. This probably stems from their eccentricities which compliment one another. They are completely different and that makes them fit together like two puzzle pieces. We need both characters for this story to work. I was surprised that we the readers had missed their first meeting though. It is described briefly in the book and I can only assume it A. Happens in a later book, like a prequel, or B. Happened in one of the short story collections.
Apparently there are two types of books in the “Kazuya and Victorique” mystery franchise. The Gosick books are full novel-sized mysteries and the Gosicks, with an S, are short story collections. As fas as I can tell they meet in Gosicks I and it is made up of several interrelated mysteries. They both can be very naive but each of them is naive in a different way. They complement each other when they work together letting them cover the other’s weakness. The writer likes to do a little dance about whether or not Victorique has feelings for Kazuya. He will often play up some indication that Victorique does and then he will give us some reason that it meant nothing at all.
This was a mystery that at first I thought to be too simple. I thought I had it all figured out a little more than half way through the book. My personal preference for mysteries is to be mostly clueless, maybe to figure out who did it but not to understand all the circumstances surrounding it. I mean the writer kills off more than half the suspects in one fell swoop which left me wondering, why put them in at all? However, I was pleasantly surprised to be thrown the twist and not see it coming. The book made me assume a couple of things incorrectly, which is exactly what it should have done.
I figured out certain things before the big reveal but was wrong about other things. I had a little more insight into what was going to happen but that was mostly because Narutaki had inadvertently given me some tips when we were discussing the book before I read it. It’s certainly not the most complex mystery and it seems like it was supposed to be a longer story but I still feel it was well executed. We also learn of a larger, over-arcing mystery concerning Victorique. And from what I can tell this is a part of all the books. The next book looks to be dealing with this uber-mystery even more.
This is a light novel so obviously it is sparse on pictures but at the same time I felt there needed to be a few more, even if they were small pieces. For example, the writer constantly, what seems like every chapter, has to describe Victorique in glowing detail. As if Kazuya, nor the audience, hasn’t been along for this ride from the beginning. Even going so far as to take the exact same sentences from previous chapters. Why not just show us a picture to remind us, if you think we need reminding. So at times it seemed like they were in need of a better editor.
These in a light novel magazine not unlike The Sneaker. So if they ran a chapter a month they might have wanted to refresh the reader or tell new readers what Victorique looks like being she is one of the major selling points of the novel. But I am pretty sure that had they threw in a few more pictures as you mentioned, it would have saved them all that trouble.
This was a fun ride with two character that you can’t help but like. Combine that with a rich setting and a plot that has its twists, and you have won me over. I look forward to reading more of their adventures (if we are so lucky). I think this series could also be a nice foray for anyone who hasn’t jumped onto the light novel train yet. One thing I love about the detective formula is that it can continue for as long as you want it to.