09 Jun, 2010

Gosick, Vol. 2

By: Ken Haley

Written by Kazuki Sakuraba, Art by Hinata Takeda, Translated by Andrew Cunningham
TOKYOPOP, 288 pp.
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Set between the two World Wars, Gosick is the tale of a Kazuya Kujo, a Japanese student sent to attend an exclusive private school in the tiny European country of Sauville. As the only Asian, Kujo finds himself as an outsider with few friends in the school. That is, until he’s ordered to take care of another rather odd student in the form of Victorique de Blois. A young girl of incredible intellect and perceptive powers, she too is an outsider at the school as rumors fly surrounding her origins, rumors that may just tie into the local myth of Grey Wolves. Together, the odd duo finds themselves tossed into mystery after mystery. Their latest may just reveal the secret behind Victorique’s intellect, her apparent imprisonment at the school, and more!

The central mystery in the volume involves a decades-old murder in an isolated mountain village. Kujo and Victorique find themselves drawn into it through an odd ad in the local newspaper, one that references the myth of the Grey Wolves. Victorique, with Kujo in tow, makes her way to the village. The mystery that follows has links not only to her past, but possibly to a centuries-old question regarding a near-mythical race of super people who served to inspire the world’s myths and religions.

I have to admit that I approached Gosick with a bit of trepidation. This is the second volume in the series and I’ve not read the first. On top of that the image of Victorique on the cover, all decked out in frilly lace, had me wondering how this could possibly appeal to me. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong and that it does have quite a bit to offer. The mystery that’s at the center of the novel not only provides a nice jumping-on point, completely erasing any fears I had about coming in on the second volume, but it’s also fairly well put together with red herrings and some fairly interesting characters as well. The interplay and relationship between the two leads, Victorique and Kujo, is enjoyable to watch and feels believable throughout. It’s really one of the highlights, though Kujo’s lack of ability to fire back with much snark was a bit disheartening. Still, he gets his jabs in from time to time.

Hinata Takeda’s artwork is actually quite nice throughout the book. The attention and detail given to the clothing designs and the backgrounds really help to drive home the era that the book’s set in. My only real issue with it is that it absolutely fails to convey the race of the characters. This normally wouldn’t be much an issue, but when one of the major elements in a character’s outsider status comes from the fact that he looks nothing like anyone else, being unable to convey that through the art feels a bit off. Kujo, apparently the only Asian in the country, has nearly the exact same facial features as Victorique, a girl who’s virtually the Aryan ideal.

Overall, the second volume of Gosick was a pretty enjoyable read, though I think I enjoyed the character interaction between Kujo and Victorique more than the actual mystery itself. That said, I’m not a big mystery fan to begin with and I honestly don’t feel compelled to go back and read the first volume, or to pick up any subsequent volumes. It’s not that it was bad; I think it’s just a matter of it not really being my thing.

Volume two of Gosick is available now.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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