I’ve mentioned before that Detective Conan is my guilty pleasure series. It’s fun, weirdly logical and illogical at the same time, and I love (most of) the characters.
The series centers around a high school detective, Shinichi Kudo. While on a “date” with his childhood friend, Ran, he encounters some shady looking men in black. Unable to ignore is detective instincts for one day, he decides to follow them and sees one of the men making an illegal deal. Unfortunately he’s not paying close enough attention to his surroundings, thus allowing the other man (or rather giving the other man the chance to) over power him. The shady characters force feed him a drug that’s supposed to kill him without leaving a trace of itself in the body. This, though, backfires as the drug instead displays a rare side effect which changes poor Shinichi into a child. Through out the course of the series, Shinichi disguises his true identity by assuming the name “Conan Edogawa” and continuously solves cases in hopes that he’ll find the men that poisoned him, bring them down, and get his regular body back.
Although this series is nowhere close to being finished, since there’s over 600 episode, it’s fair to say that the show deserves the full review treatment.
The premise. I described the basic premise of the series above so I don’t think I have to restate it right here. Off the bat, you already know who the main villains are, what the conflict is, and how awkward the character relationships are going to get in future episodes. And it’s all relatively easy to understand. Of course it’s simple to say there’s going to be moments where the story breaks from this premise. You can’t have every little moment be about the Black Organization. But watching the various non-Black Organization oriented cases can be fun as well.
Speaking of which, the insane and elaborate ways criminals commit their crimes. It’s absolutely laughable how detailed some of these plans are. But it’s plain fun to watch each case get solved and learn how the criminal did it. Clearly these people always commit a premeditated crime and clearly these people have way too much time on their hands to set up such elaborate plans. I’m always surprised that no one ever catches them setting up their traps, but apparently in this universe there just aren’t that many people in the world perhaps. There’s no way if someone attempted to recreate one of these plans in real life that they could ever get away with it. Either they would be caught red handed while they were attempting to set the trap up or the physics of their plan would fail miserably. Regardless, you keep coming back to episodes of the series to see how each plan will unfold because it’s just fun.
Conan Edogawa. Not Shinichi Kudo (though I do like him as well), but I’m specifically talking about his child alter ego, Conan. What can you say? You have a 17 year old high schooler who has to readjust his entire life so that it reflect that of an elementary schooler. Not only that, but he physically lives with the girl he’s had a crush on for basically his entire life and he has to pretend day in and day out that he’s 7 years old…and he’s pretty good at it. I’ll have to give all the credit though to his voice actress, Minami Takayama. When Conan needs to sound like a detective…like he’s being serious, her voice really reflects that. And when Conan needs to sound very child-like, she makes it happen. She’s the perfect person to play the role and she plays Conan flawlessly. That’s not the reason I love Conan so much though. Conan’s such a creepy character. Now I’m pretty sure someone would disagree there. Drawing wise, he’s really adorable especially when he’s embarrassed or really trying to play the part of a 7 year old. But just imagine that adorable 7 year old twisting your words around, or talking in detail about the details of a murder. Really? You’re not going to be even a little creeped out by that? My all time favorite creepy Conan moment has to be when he and this art teacher are alone. Conan’s working on a sculpture and while playing the part of the innocent 7 year old he pretends to show off his cup to the teacher. Impressed, the teacher congratulates Conan for his work but then proceeds to do a bit of fortune telling with the sculpture. There’s apparently lines in the clay that say that Conan’s hiding something. While that’s true, the teacher doesn’t know that. The teacher also doesn’t know that Conan switched the cups when the teacher wasn’t in the room. So the cup Conan was working on…it was the teacher’s. Still playing innocent Conan looks at the teacher with those big, blue eyes of his and says “Hmmm, but sensei…this was your cup. So sensei, that means you’re hiding something…right?” and at the end of that phrase give that teacher a glare that I’m sure sent shivers down his spine and gave him nightmares forever. There’s nothing creepier than a genius child who knows he’s got the upper hand…except maybe a genius child who knows he always has the upper hand and also happens to be a miniature version of the grim reaper. Did I mention Conan’s also that too?
Heiji Hattori. Aside from Conan/Shinichi, Heji is my other favorite character and it’s a shame that we don’t really get to see him as much as we probably should. I know. He’s not the focus of the show but as one of the few people who know who Conan really is, it’d be fun to see him more often that we do. Every time Heiji’s involved in a story, you know it’s going to be good. He’s not only a good comic relief character but he’s the perfect partner and friend for Conan/Shinichi. And it’s always fun to see the two competing with each other. Shinichi basically comes out on top every time but that doesn’t diminish Heiji’s work. He’s still a brilliant teenager who’s solved plenty of cases in his life time (even though he admittedly counts finding lost pets and objects as “solving cases”). Not to mention he’s literally the only character in the show that can speak any good English. But that’s a rant for later on.
The music. Most of the songs are either complete hits or complete misses so I couldn’t leave this section to “great” or “bad”. Most of the older songs worked better for the series. There’s nothing like listening to Giri Giri Chop or Shoudou by the B’z to get you pumped up for an exciting case. And a song called Nazo (Mystery) is a perfect song for a series about mysteries. While many of the newer songs are good, their themes are basically centered around romance. Which I suppose is okay because a good portion of the series is about the relationship between Ran and Shinichi. But lately it seems like the majority of the songs only focus on this aspect which while it’s an important part of the series, it isn’t the point of the series. The show is about 1) finding the Black Organization so they can be defeated and Shinichi can be changed back to normal and 2) solving mysteries. So far I’ve just talked about the opening songs. The endings are a little bit more touch and go. Either they’re good, or they’re not. As for the background music in the episodes, it fits the mood just fine and most of it is very beautiful. Or very cutesy whenever they’re dealing with the “Shounen Tanteidan”. It’s not the best of music though this is going to fall under personal preference again. I dislike the emulation of real instruments when you can just as easily find a real person to play a real instrument that will drastically improve the quality of the song. A good example would be Kimi ga Ireba, an insert song that frequently played throughout a few episodes and the movies. Has the potential to be a really good song. The synthesized instruments ruin it a bit though.
Shinichi Kudo. Well you’re probably curious why I separate out Conan and Shinichi considering they’re the same exact person. And while that’s true that doesn’t mean that I don’t like one over the other. You get to know the alter ego more than the real person. So it’s only natural that you’ll have a stronger connection with Conan than with Shinichi. Since he can only change back for short periods of time you don’t get to see him all that much except on rare (and I do mean rare) occasions. Usually his changing back into himself has been used as a plot point though in recent cases I believe it’s used more for comic effect than anything. But as a character I still like Shinichi. He’s just your regular (albeit famous) teenage kid who was thrust into a situation that he would never ask for in a million years. So you’re just rooting for him to be the victor in the end.
Ran Mouri. Her character had so much potential to be a strong female lead. She’s a champion in karate so you know she’s tough. And in the beginning of the series this was how her character was developing. Of course things like a dead body would freak her out but in situations where she or her family or friends could potentially be injured she could easily defend herself without turning into a sniveling crybaby first. In more recent episodes, she’s seen as completely reliant on other people, especially Shinichi. In rare instances when she desperately needs to protect someone she’ll still show off her karate prowess. But usually she’s a useless crybaby and her sole purpose in the series is to be the damsel in distress or the “love interest”. Her character’s actually developed for the worse over the course of 620+ episodes. She’s nothing but a stereotypical female character who’s scared of everything and completely infatuated with and tied to “her man”.
The relationship between Ran and Shinichi. Now unless you’re an avid fan of the non-canon pairing of Conan x Ai, you’re probably rooting for the happiness of Ran and Shinichi in the end. But let’s be realistic about this pairing. It can’t work. It won’t work. If anything Ran should be infuriated with Shinichi. Not only for lying to her, but also for manipulating and drugging her father numerous times, confiding his secret in a person they’d only met one time prior, and seeing her naked on a few occasions. But in order to make this scenario of “childhood friend turned romantic interest” work, all logistics of how the reality of this relationship would work have to be thrown out the window and be replaced with this fairy-tale like notion of what a real relationship is. But of course when is this not a problem? Let’s say that Ran and Shinichi don’t have the whole issue of Shinichi being turned into a child in the way. Their relationship is still less than ideal. Ran might be Shinichi’s crush but investigations are his mistress. His calling to be a detective is stronger than his love for Ran. While he wishes to love and protect her, his love of mysteries and justice is still stronger than his love for her which could cause drastic problems down the road for them. Yet we’re hardwired to feel sympathetic towards the two of them and wish the best for them and their relationship. They’re fictional characters anyways. Why do we really care (oh wait…that’s what we’re supposed to do…)?
The inconsistent changes from Conan to Shinichi and vice versa. So you have the major component that serves as an antidote to the poison. Yet he can only change back for a day or so. Even worse, the more he uses the antidote, the weaker the effect on him becomes. So that means that eventually even the antidote won’t work on him. Well…what?! So you have a cure for something but it’s only a temporary fix for the problem. Yet you don’t really mess with the formula to make it stronger. You just keep it as is and let Conan keep using it knowing full well that it will only work for a day at most. Firstly, why is this fix only temporary? Why isn’t the ingredient strong enough to warrant a permanent fix? Or even a partial cure? Meaning he’s normal Shinichi most of the time but sometimes he’ll turn back into Conan sporadically, perhaps when his body is weak from illness. Was this too difficult to conceive? The idea for the partial cure works well the first time it’s used. But when it’s used over and over and over again, the concept gets very old very fast. Speaking of the changing back and forth from Conan to Shinichi…
The under use of Shinichi as a character. As the main character of the series, he sure is underused. I find myself “forgetting” at times that Conan is Shinichi until something happens that reminds me. Such as a case with Heiji or some weird flashback. Conan almost becomes an entity on his own that’s separate from Shinichi and that’s not the case.
And last but not least, Kogoro. While he’s a decent enough comic relief character the “Nemuri no Kogoro” (Sleeping Kogoro) gimmick is getting stale. While it’s necessary that Conan does this so that he can conceal his own identity, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the bit is old. 15 years old to be exact. The gimmick is so old that it’s even hinted at once that Kogoro has grown a partial “immunity” to the tranquilizer darts from having so many of them used on him. And that was the last time that Sleeping Kogoro was truly interesting. I wish the Gosho Aoyama explored the possibilities down that road. That could make for some extremely interesting character interactions and unique ways that cases could be solved.
The length. Not so much that the show is clearly and obnoxiously long, but that it’s long and it goes nowhere. As I’ve written up an entire post that deals with this I won’t go into the details of it so much. I’ll just link to the post so you can see what I’m talking about.
Suicide is never an option. It sounds cold to put this under the ugly. I’m not talking about criminals committing suicide because they regret what they did or don’t wish to be caught. I’m talking about suicide as an option to an actual “murder” case. This is always hinted at as a possibility but through some illogical twist of events it turns out that it in fact was a murder and not a suicide. Well, how many people live in this area that so many are just murdered on a daily basis? I know this is a show and everything and to make an episode where someone offs themselves would be dark but if you can do it with criminals why can’t you do with a regular person? Yes I know there’s the one episode where the man almost commits suicide. Since he didn’t follow through, that doesn’t count. Couldn’t there just be one episode where a body is discovered, they go through an entire investigation and it turns out it was just a suicide? Sure it won’t be nearly as interesting. But it would be a different venture than the rest of the other episodes which read the exact same way.
Series Rating (so far): 3.5/5
For as much flack as I give this show for being obnoxiously long and repetitive, I’m hooked on the series. What can I say. I’ve invested quite a bit of time in the series and I’m not going to stop watching it now. All I can hope is that the ending will not be a disappointment. When the series end comes, there’ll be a part two to this review with just the ending. Let’s just hope I remember to do so as I’m fairly sure the end is quite a few years away.