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Pictured above: Shinichi, Ran, Sonoko, Eri, and Kogoro

Well the full title is Detective Conan: Challenge Letter to Shinichi Kudo.  Initially I wasn’t going to check out this drama series.  Some shows are better left to their anime/manga counterparts and rarely can they translate well to live action.  Detective Conan is a show that can translate well to live action, but in the way it’s been handled in previous specials wasn’t done well.  So I was skeptical about watching this new live action drama but eventually I caved in an watched the first episode.  (For anyone who was planning on checking this show out later on, I’d advise you read no further due to spoilers.)

 

Right off the bat I have to say I was hooked.  It starts off with a dark screen with minimal lighting.  You hear people talking but you have no idea what’s going on.  Slowly lights start turning on in the room revealing that Shinichi, Ran, and Kogoro are trapped in a white square room and Shinichi and Ran are handcuffed to one another.  They don’t know how they got there or why they’re there.  They just know they need to find away out.  Shinichi finds a note on the wall from what I can only assume is some sort of stalker and when he turns around there’s a platform on the floor with a sort of computer in it.  On the screen it shows a date which corresponds to a case that was solved on that day.  It’s then when the episode goes into flashback mode and we’re shown the case that Shinichi had to solve.

 

The case opens with a man and a woman making out in an apartment.  The woman (Momoko Aida) breaks off the kiss saying that she can’t do this anymore and she tells the man (Yuuhei Tsubouchi) that he can take his camera back.  She’s feeling guilty for having an affair with her sister’s husband and she doesn’t want the relationship to go any further.  Yuuhei is noticeably angered by this, possibly believing that Momoko had another man.  He questions her on this, but she denies that she does.  But he doesn’t believe her.  He takes to empty grocery bags that were lying on the counter, comes up behind Momoko, and strangles her.  While she’s lying on the floor, he ransacks the apartment to cover up his crime and leaves to meet with his assistant.

 

He and his assistant (Kousuke Kishi) were suppose to meet with Momoko for a photoshoot so playing like nothing happened, Yuuhei goes back to the apartment with him.  Momoko isn’t answering the door and they realize that the door is open.  As they open the door, they see a flash and scream.  Meanwhile, Ran and Shinichi are a few floors below the apartment at a nail salon.  Ran’s getting her nails done and Shinichi’s…just there to carry her bags.  After hearing the scream, Shinichi and Ran run upstairs where they find Kousuke and Yuuhei on the ground with head injuries.  When he asks what happens they say that a robber came out the door and attacked them with what they perceived to be some sort of pipe or tire iron.  They’re also worried about Momoko since she’s inside the apartment.  When they find her, Shinichi announces that she’s dead and thus the investigation begins.

 

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the series.  The way it opened took me by shock and I just needed to know what was going to happen next.  Or why they were trapped in this room.  While the formula for telling a story solely through flashbacks can get a little annoying, I think it works for this show.  You already know the set up.  You know that there’s a device in the middle of the room that won’t allow for them to pass unless they put in a codeword that pertains to the case.  You just don’t know what the case is.  And the audience can have a little fun trying to figure out what the codeword is supposed to be as well.

 

The part I was most worried about was how they were going to treat the characters.  Detective Conan’s been around for 15+ years (counting the manga) so the characters are very well established.  We know their personalities fairly well.  I believe the actors do a very good job of portraying their respective characters.  Ran is obviously not that difficult to portray.  Aside from her “strong” streak, she’s a fairly typical “damsel in distress” type.  I’m afraid most women can pull off that character since it’s a rather stereotypical one.  I have to say my favorite character is Kogoro.  While he’s not my favorite in the series (those would be Conan and Heiji), Takanori Jinnai does a near perfect job of portraying him in both attitude and looks.

 

I think I’m more apt to call this drama a more grown up version of Detective Conan.  While it retains the same spirit and characters as its source material (okay I realize that the source material for this series is a book but the material for the book was the manga/anime), you can feel that this isn’t really for children.  And it shows a bit more in the next few episodes.

 

So far I only have two problems with it.  First, this one’s strictly about the episode itself but the motive for murder seemed amazingly weak to me.  There’s been a couple manga and anime related cases where betrayal in the relationship lead to the demise of either the man or woman involved.  But usually there’s something there that drives that person to the point of wanting to kill the other.  Either one partner is very manipulative and controlling, or there’s blackmail involved.  Here there was nothing.  The woman just wanted to break off the relationship because she admitted that she was feeling guilty about cheating with her sister’s husband.  She told him the exact reason that she wanted to break it off.  For him to invent this other reasoning in his head and pretend like she didn’t tell him the reason she wanted to break it off was unnecessary.  And second, I’m very confused about when this is taking place.  While it’s said that this drama is taking place before all the events that transpire in Detective Conan, the one thing that throws me off is Kogoro.  There’s no hint that he believed he was this great detective before he started becoming famous.  And there’s no hint that anyone even knew who he was aside from close friends and previous co-workers.  In fact you get a glimpse of Kogoro’s life before becoming a household name.  He was just a drunkard who sat at home, watched Yoko-chan on TV, and slept most of the day while Ran handled most of the household chores.  And while he’s still a drunkard, at least he gets work.  The show almost mixes these things together.  It takes place before the events of the manga/anime because Shinichi’s the main character, but Kogoro is still a well known and respected detective.  I suppose you could argue that he always felt he was superior to Shinichi due to age and experience so that’s why in the series he addresses himself as the great detective Kogoro Mouri.  But even then he was never that cocky about it even before the series start.  And even then he didn’t seem to be involved with too many cases until Conan joined his family.  It’s a little bit of a nitpick but something that bothered me about the series regardless.

 

Either way, the series is off to a great start.  Nice story and set up.  It hooks you quickly and that’s something that’s rare with movies and TV shows.  I love the suspense.  The characters are true to form.  And I particularly love how they work the main theme song of Detective Conan into the series.  If you’re a fan of Detective Conan, I suggest you check it out and see if you like it.  Even if you don’t know about Detective Conan and you just like crime dramas or mystery shows, I recommend it.  You don’t need to really know any back story on the particular characters.  It’s a separate case on it’s own and you’ll get a good idea for how each character relates to one another fairly quickly.  So far I’m giving this show two thumbs up and can’t wait to watch more.

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