RELEASE DATE:   02/06/2007
  REVIEW DATE:   01/30/2007

The incredibly popular anime inspired by the still ongoing manga finds some more involving mysteries and dastardly murders to uncover for one pint-sized detective. Known more commonly by its Japanese title “Detective Conan”, the English manga and anime series released in North America has had to go by the name Case Closed due to a licensing issue with the name “Conan” because of “Conan the Barbarian”. The story of Case Closed revolves around a high school senior who is bright and has a natural talent for detective work and deductive logic. However, one day he is ambushed by men in black from a secret crime syndicate and drugged. He ends up transformed into a much younger version of himself and must go into hiding. He finds shelter with an eccentric scientist who vows to help him discover a cure to return him to normal. Going by the name “Conan” (after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels) to hide his identity from his enemies and protect his friends. He stays close to his almost girlfriend Rachel (in the Japanese version her name is Ran) and helps her bumbling police inspector father solve crimes.

This volume starts off with a lighter adventure as he and his younger friends go off in search of a treasure after they locate a treasure map. The episode serves as a strong reminder that although Conan may appear to be a little boy, he is actually mentally and emotionally nearly a grown man. That leads to a lot of the humor in other episodes between him and Rachel as she has no idea that he is really the guy she likes trapped in the younger boy and meanwhile he has to contend with his feelings and yet never voice them in order to protect her. It leads to moments both sweet and others quite funny. Speaking of the thwarted couple, Rachel finds herself in dire danger when the two go out to a mountain villa and a gruesome axe murder takes place. The murderer though seems to have set his sights on Rachel! Can Conan save the woman he secretly loves in time? Next, a murder has taken place but the person Conan believes did it has the perfect alibi. Can he crack it and solve the case? The volume ends on the case of an arsonist and a burning need for revenge.

As can be seen in this volume, the cases of Conan vary from stand alone episodes to multi-part stories. Each mystery however is self-contained, meaning that each case, whether it is a one episode or a multi-episodes case, doesn’t lead into other episodes. This way you can pick up either the very first disc or this one (2.2) and not feel lost in the overall story of Conan. The stories themselves follow the classic formula of serialized mysteries perfectly and the anime stays faithful to the manga it is based on. Each time the case baffles the authorities or adults present. Each time it is up to Conan to uncover the clues and unveil the murderer at the end. Each case has its own unique twists. However many seem to involve the motive of revenge and often (though not always) the murderer is shown as a tragic figure turned wayward due their extreme grief in the face of tragedy and wrongs done to them. Conan always shows a strong compassionate streak that is tempered by a keen sense of justice.

In regards to the content, for parents looking for anime for their children, do pay heed to the parental guidance advisory on this series. This is the uncut version so it includes some mature themes not suitable for very young viewers, such as murder, revenge, etc. Also there is some violence in it as murderers once caught sometimes attack Conan whom they believe is a young child (this one volume contains a scene with a culprit strangling Conan). There are also scenes of a dismembered body and a decapitated head. I would think this show more appropriate for at least 13 and up because of the content.

The animation is well done. This is a slightly earlier series that began in the late 1990s and so isn’t bogged down by heavy computer animation as so many anime are these days. The art style is held very true to that of the original manga done by award winning Gosho Aoyama.

For anime and manga fans of the series there’s good news. If you’re a fan of the English version which was originally translated here with Americanized names such as Rachel from Ran, Jimmy, etc. The English dubbed version keeps all those English names and even has the opening and ending theme songs dubbed in decent English versions as well. For purists, you’re not left out. This DVD series also holds the original Japanese voice cast with English subtitles using the proper Japanese names. In other words, this is the best of both worlds.

The only bonus features on this disc are trailers of other FUNimation titles. However the disc does hold an impressive 6 episodes. For more episodes per disc I would go without extras any day.

Case Closed is a compelling and spirited mystery series. Fans of serialized mystery shows like Poirot and Columbo will enjoy this type of anime.

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