There are two Gosick light novels available in English, and they’re likely to be the only two unless fans get to work on the others. I bought the first when it came out because it was translated by Andrew Cunningham and he enjoyed it—two things that guarantee it’s good. After that book, Tokyopop cancelled the series, and it looked like there’d never be any more Gosick in the US. Imagine my surprise when two years later I see volume two on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. The second book has no translator credit (it literally says “Translator: “). I asked Cunningham about this, and he said that he’d translated the second book already before they cancelled the series, but had heard nothing about the release. I can’t imagine that they’d continue with another translator (nor do I think it’d be a good idea since Cunningham is the best light novel translator).
I’m curious as to how the mystery will play out in the anime, because in the book, there was a specific prose trick that was the cornerstone for solving it—a certain word that pointedly wasn’t said, and when it was, I solved the mystery. The trick relies on the reader mistaking a character’s identity, which would be impossible if the character had a voice or appearance.
As of the first episode, the adaption is faithful to the book, but cut out a lot of detail from the opening chapter to fit it into one episode, which I guess is understandable, even if it sucks. For one thing, in the anime, Kazuya has just met Victorique for the first time. In the novel, they’re well-acquainted from the very start, and Kazuya details her mannerisms knowingly.
In the opening scene of the anime, Kazuya doesn’t talk to any students. The novel opens on him conversing with a playful female classmate, and she’s the one who tells him the legend of “Queen Berry” that he reads in a book in the anime. I could see cutting her out though since she has nothing to do with the plot (even though she’s quite cute). I guess it’s too much to ask that the students “whisper in their elegant French” about his grim reaper status. (Giant Killing made me increasingly disappointed by anime that don’t bother with other languages.)
Speaking of other languages, I think it’s important to know that when Victorique reads seven books at once, they’re all in different languages and are about exceedingly complex subjects. She’s literally a genius that could only exist in anime. Generally, we learn far more about Victorique in this chapter of the book (such as why, exactly, she isn’t supposed to leave the school) because, again, Kazuya knows her well and tells us everything we need to know.
It worries me that we’ll never know all of this since the show is jumping right into the mystery. I just checked, and the moment that they board the luxury yacht at the end of chapter 1 is on page 72—of a 230-page novel. To me, that says they intend to cover this book in three or four episodes. Just how many books are they planning to stuff into these two cours? All of them? (For what it’s worth, I know the second book appears to be larger than the first, but I haven’t read it.) I just don’t want this to be an Index-style adaption where they cram so much into so few episodes that it becomes an infodump, nor do I want it to be one that throws out most of the info and ends up totally shallow.
I love Studio Bones, but I know they’re not the studio to look to for faithful adaptions. Whether it’s just an alternate ending to an otherwise faithful adaption (Soul Eater), something almost completely different (FullMetal Alchemist), or just stylistically pimped out (Ouran), they aren’t exactly known for pleasing manga readers. (FMA Brotherhood doesn’t count, and is more like the thesis statement of their adaption style, in that they had to completely redo the series.)
If I ignore the fact that I’ve read the novel (not hard since it’s been two years) then I think I’ll be able to enjoy the Gosick anime. Victorique is a perfect Yuuki Aoi role and has me super-pumped about it. Plus I’m likely to give any Bones anime a better fighting chance than another series.
Even looking just at the anime, though, there were things that bothered me. I would’ve complained about the rushed meeting of Victorique segueing immediately into the first mystery because it was so awkward regardless. Kujo Kazuya is ugly as sin in the anime and looks way older than he does in the novel (his face looks the same age as Victorique’s and their heights aren’t as different. The anime makes Victorique look particularly unusual, whereas the novel’s art is consistent.)
Even more worrying, the anime had Victorique wear the same black outfit throughout, whereas the novel shows her in a white dress boarding the yacht.
All in all, I almost regret going over the book again since it just made the anime feel disappointing, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed. So far, it hasn’t exactly shown itself to contain any of the things that make Studio Bones so great, so it’s possible we actually have their first honest-to-god flop in years on our hands.
Related post: Otou-san sees the potential in this series.
Bonus: Aforementioned iconic image. I used it in my review of the novel two years ago, but it sucks so don’t read it.
I think at some of the changes they’ve made will be mitigated by the fact that, at least as far as I gather, the second story arc is going to be based around what was the story of the prequel novel rather than jumping straight into the second book, thus time-shifting things like Kujo befriending Avril.
The height difference between Kujo and Victorique isn’t really that off – it’s mentioned in the first book at one point that Victorique only actually reaches Kujos chest, despite what some of the artwork may have you thinking.
I do have to say though, out of all the trimming and edits they made for this episode, the one thing which really, really bugged me about it is that they made this the first meeting between Kujo and Victorique. It’s not just that it strikes me as being entirely unnecessary (it has absolutely no bearing on how anything, even that scene, plays out), but it ends up making a number of events in the rest of the episode seem really out-of-character. I mean, Victorique allowing someone she only just met to rummage through her luggage strikes me as hugely peculiar…
That bothered me more than anything as well. I’d forgotten that there were prequel stories so it’ll be interesting to see if/how those play out.
Andrew Cunningham… I’ve heard that name before. Does he do anything except translating novels?
Runs a blog I linked to with his name. Also has appeared in various articles to talk about light novels. Besides that, I dunno. I know him best as the translator of the Boogiepop novels. Currently, I’m not actually sure he’s still doing novel translations.
Heroman wasn’t a flop?
I mean I thought it was okay, but I also thought I was in the minority of that sentiment.
Oh right, forgot about that. (Especially since I didn’t watch any of it).
I’m enjoying the anime, having not read the novels.
However, I can say I like to think it’ll be satisfactory. Like your FMA comparison–I’m a reader of the FMA manga, and even though they deviated wildly, I still completely adored the original anime.
The original FMA anime was good on it’s own merits. Whether Gosick will be as well remains to be seen.
Pingback: Even More! Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? 1, Dragon Crisis! 1, and Level E 1 » Shameful Otaku Secret!
The first episode didn’t disappoint. Didn’t necessarily make me want to stop, at least.
Language has always bothered me in anime, especially since when the Japanese try to do it, it always ends up falling far short of the actual spoken language (examples: Asuka’s German, Nuns speaking Italian in Index, anything in Gunslinger Girl, but the eng dub did all right).In many ways, I don’t mind that the Japanese just stick with Japanese, because this really is their thing.
Truly, if an anime wants to catch me off-guard, they should actually get some multi-lingual VAs and do a freakin’ amazing job with multiple languages. Those people are very few and far between, see: Inglorious Basterds. The actor playing Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) was expected to not exist, because he was expected to be fluent in English, German, and Italian. The point is, when it’s done right, it can really be stunning, otherwise, don’t try it or you’ll look the fool.
You should watch Giant Killing. Rather than multi-lingual VAs, they straight-up brought in foreigners to play foreigners.
Also, re: Landa, you forgot French. He was quad-lingual.
I did watch Giant Killing. That was probably the worst attempt at a british accent I’ve ever heard. It compares in terms of quality with Black Lagoon’s English.
Aha, that’s right, Landa did speak French too. Hell of a role.
Did you only watch the first episode? There are a shitton of languages in the show.
Come on man, I’m no casual. I watched the whole thing. The black guys who apparently spoke brazilian or something? I had no idea who those actors were.
Portuguese. Brazillians speak Portuguese. There was also a French guy, I think.
Point stands, it was awful