I’ve no inclination tonight so here’s more recycled content presented at awesome engine for the first time
Long running detective series turns disaster movie for eighth cinema outing.
Detective Conan, or “Cased Closed” to give it it’s English name, is arguably the anime/manga powerhouse of the last decade. Running consistently on TV since 1996, it and it’s close rival series “Young Kindaichi’s Casebook” have spawned many imitators who have wanted to get in on the detective market. But Detective Conan has outlasted them all.
It has a simple, yet effective formula for this success. By literally putting a teen detective in a child’s body, then combining this with plots that don’t shy away from murder, it has a very broad age range it appeals to. There are lots of elements that appeal to children such as Conan’s (merchandisable) gadgets and the Detective Boys Club characters. But it also has romance and relationship themes that would appeal to an older audience. Not to mention a dual identing situation that resonates with the western superhero genre.
Also important is the stand alone, episodic nature of most episodes. Much like most detective shows, the premise is set up for new viewers pre titles, and you can happily drop in and out the series as you like. This isn’t a show where if you miss an episode you are going to be lost later down the line. Whilst there is an ongoing story that gets touched upon occasionally, it’s not the main selling point of the series. That is murders, and the solving thereof.
However, in this eighth film outing, the murder mystery is not only secondary, it could well be said to be tertiary.
It deals with the return of an occasional character from the series (and a pre-Conan manga work by Gosho Aoyama), Kaito Kid. Top hat wearing, monocled, master of disguise, magician and thief, Kid is an occasional nemesis/ally to Conan. I’m sure there’s a common influence to these top hatted magician gentlemen rogues who crop in manga (Raffles?), but I’m not investigating it now.
The thing about Kid appearing in the story is that it can make it an interesting mix of a normal Conan story and a Lupin III story (Kid comes with his own Zenigata-alike). And to some extent that is what happens here for the first half of the film. We then get the murder mystery, and the surprise here is it is solved in about the same time as a TV episode. It’s a simple, but logical murder. The lack of red herrings make it relatively easy to guess. With the murder solved quickly you then wonder where the film is going now.
Well it’s heading straight into disaster movie territory.
Considering that you know the characters are in no real danger as they have to continue to appear in the TV show and manga, they do a good job with the tension. And the false light at the end of the tunnel turns into an impressively animated series of explosions.
But all in all, while it was interesting to see them try something different with the franchise, it did feel somewhat light on mystery for a Conan movie. For a better Kaito Kid outing and Conan film, the third movie – The Last Magician Of The Century – is a splendid multi-layer mystery, with some OTT Lupin III-style historical conspiracies and jet-setting tacked onto a solid Conan story.