The anime blogging community is always a strange little place. As far as I can tell there are three major camps within it. There are the episodic bloggers, the reviewers, and the editorial bloggers. Some blogs combine two or even three of those styles but most people fall firmly into one categories and perhaps dabble in the other two. From what I can tell the greatest divide is between episodic bloggers and the editorial bloggers with reviewers being in the middle. So as writers who work on a mostly editorial blog we both wanted a little insight into the episodic blogging experience. Naturally, we picked a detective show for our test. Now that this experiment has run its course lets us examine what we thought of Gosick and the experiment as a whole.
I wanted to walk a mile in the shoes of an episodic blogger because I am just that curious. Granted most blogs of this nature follow more than one show, but I just wanted to walk a mile, not set up shop. Not only was Gosick a detective show, but it was a series we were already familiar with. But would the format of our reviews ruin my experience of the show?
Gosick is definitely a triumph of the end of a series being able to uplift the work as a whole. The early episodes really suffer from the mysteries being poorly adapted. As a whole the emotional cues were often spot on but the mystery cues were ether way too blatant or non-existent. This means that Victorique’s detective work oscillates between stating the completely obvious or sound like some sort mystical prognostication. Thankfully the last few mysteries were stronger than the initial mysteries. The final two arcs also really excel at tying together everything that came before it. The murder of Coco Rose ties all the cases before it into one grand story of the dark side of the seemingly idyllic country of Sauville. It saves the series and lets the last arc be an amazingly emotional roller coaster. Any story that is the battle of the occult vs science always gets extra points in my book. I really wish we could get the rest of the light novels in English. I could distinctly tell there were sections in which explanations were cut or trimmed. In The Jet-Black Train Carries Several Lies where a whole book is condensed into a single episode. Considering the how the print market for otaku goods is I doubt this will happen any time soon but one can always hold out hope. I am grateful to finally see the conclusion of Victorique and Kazuya’s story. It could have been adapted better but the conclusion was strong enough to let me forgive the mishaps along the way.
Gosick was a series where I loved the first novel then felt rather lukewarm about the second and that was my total experience of it so coming in to the anime I had some expectations but considering my feelings about the later work I had read, was open to some interpretation by the studio. The beginning of the anime was slow goings where I struggled with the pacing and the way clues were directed at the audience. Throughout, the setting was great and so were the character interactions, these only continued to build as the story unfolded. Gosick really starts to pay off half way through its run though and the mysteries right themselves for the most part. The case of the Alchemist’s tower, which ends up tying in to the rest of the series’ events, is by far the best executed with a great pay off. And once we start really dealing with Cordelia, Victorique’s mother, everything is elevated. I was hugely, horrifically disappointed that the train mystery was shoehorned into a mere 23-minutes of fast forward however. But it didn’t bring down the good feelings the second part of the story left me with.
I distinctly see why episodic bloggers can burn out more than an other form of anime blogging. With really strong or really weak episodes you will have a lot to say but supporting or filler episodes can be tough to find an interesting thread to ruminate upon. It is the curse of writing about a mediocre show amplified hundred times as you have less to work with. Plus every season usually has one or two good shows to talk about but not every season has five to six shows worth talking about all the time. You could go back and talk about older shows but I know there is a distinct pressure to talk about what is happening right now if you want to be relevant. I am sure being part of a team blog helps but keeping up that energy is surely tough. I will say that it was nice to have Hoshiko comment on every post. A dedicated readership surely helps maintain the writers interest but you have to build and maintain such a following which might require just as much energy. If your interest start to wane you will probably lose commentators which can easily lead to a feedback circle that makes you drop out. A curious conundrum.
While I won’t be heading out to read a ton more episodic blogs, I still have to give you guys props if you don’t burn out after only one season. Sometimes you just don’t want to watch a show right then but that isn’t an option because of how time sensitive the format is. Heck, even us posting on Tuesdays with Gosick releasing episodes on Fridays is considered pretty distant. Also we had a unique problem because when we review a show, we watch it together. When watching a show that you just aren’t in the mood for right then, I found myself just looking for what I would right about sometimes. Almost capturing it in my mind rather than just letting the show wash over me. I definitely didn’t like that feeling. Though this happened far less when the show started to get better.
I am fairly certain that the lesson we learned from this project is that Reverse Thieves is not switching over to being an episodic blog site any time soon. I know that Narutaki had to push herself more and more every episode and that is generally something we try to avoid on the blog. I think we will still dabble in that end of the pool. The Ongoing Investigations will still look at what we are currently watching, we are experimenting with the S.W.A.T. reviews of the first episodes of certain shows this season, and I will probably do solo episodic reviews of Fate/Zero and Phantasm Carnival. I mean it is Saber is a suit. But other than that I think we will leave the rest to the veterans.
While I didn’t think reviewing it in this manner totally ruined my experience, it certainly colored it differently. But overall I enjoyed Gosick and I enjoyed trying this method out if only to say I have done it! Our dabble in episodic blogging, done Reverse Thieves style, was worthwhile I think but don’t imagine I’ll be doing it again any time soon. Though I am having fun doing the S.W.A.T. reviews but that is probably because I’m tired of writing about the first episodes of the new season.