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.