September 06, 2004
by: Vincent Del Vecchio
"Iím adding Case Closed to my list of must have shows for the foreseeable future."
Review Hardware Used: Panasonic CT-32HL43 Tau Series PureFlat HDTV Monitor, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan Region Free DVD Player w/ Monster Video 3 Component Cables, Yamaha RX-V596 DD/DTS 5.1 Surround Sound Receiver, Klipsch Quintet 5.1 Speaker System w/ matching KSW-12 (400 watt) subwoofer, Monster Audio cable all around.
Within the high stakes world of police work exists a surplus of capable detectives. These detectives work with police to uncover the clues needed to track down and apprehend the most vile criminals. Jimmy Kudo is just such a detective. But there is something unique about Jimmy... he is still in high school!
As Jimmy aids the frustrated Officer Meguire in a homicide investigation at a crowded amusement park, two mysterious men in black assault the super sleuth and feed him an experimental drug, which causes him to shrink to childhood size. Now, as the indomitable Detective Conan, Jimmy must seek out clues to his assailants as he struggles to keep his secret from the one person he cares for most.
Episode 1: The Big Shrink
Episode 2: The Kidnapped Debutante
Episode 3: Beware of Idols
Episode 4: Fish Marks the Spot
Japanese Language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio
English Language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Audio
English Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
Crack the Case Game
Content: (This section may include spoilers)
Mysterious stories, mysterious plot twists, mysterious characters, and a mysterious DVD release schedule. All this and more as ďOne Truth PrevailsĒ in FUNimationís Case Closed!
Case Closed just happens to be one of those really long-running series (I believe about 373 episodes as of this writing). With the DVD release schedule of this particular series, FUNimation has explained to us that they will be releasing the first DVD of season 1 (episodes 1-4) and the first DVD of season 4 (episodes 53-55). Following that, the next DVD releases will be episodes 56+ and after that, they will work their way back to seasons 1-3. Just a little headís up for our readers out there when they read this review and then the next one which will cover the season 4 DVD release of episodes 53-55.
Case Closed starts as we are introduced to young detective Jimmy Kudo. Heís a brilliant young man with a keen ability to uncover clues and solve some pretty tricky mysteries. The mysteries are somewhat believable; which is definitely a plus to start because we can conclude that, for the time being, we wonít be thrown some crazy over the top cases that are just unfathomable. So far, the show has started off in the right direction. Jimmy works with one Officer Meguire on some hard to crack cases that give us the impression that Jimmy Kudo is for real and his abilities are top notch in regards to his detective status. Of course, Jimmy is somewhat of a celebrity in that many people know who he is and heís popular with the high school girls.
Unfortunately for Jimmy, he just happened to witness the wrong crime at the wrong time. While at an amusement park with his friend Rachel, Jimmy solves a difficult murder case. He then comes across a secret meeting later that night between two shady characters. Jimmy is ambushed from behind and knocked out, then given a strange poison thatís supposed to kill him and not leave any traces of its existence. Instead of killing him, it shrinks him down to the size of a child. Now Jimmy has to keep his identity a secret from Rachel and everyone else in fear that if the men who tried to kill him find out heís still alive, he can put himself and everyone else he loves in danger. Out of this bizarre incident, Detective Conan is born.
Rachel and her father take little Conan in where he ďhelpsĒ Rachelís father, who is a struggling detective, solve some pretty tough cases. This in turn helps Rachelís dad save face with Officer Meguire. With Detective Conan on board, thereís no case Rachelís father cannot crack. The episodes here are just beginning mysteries. From kidnapped children, idol murder cases, to grade-school wannabe detectives, Jimmy (Conan) and Rachelís father (Richard) solve cases (well, Jimmy solves the cases and Rachelís father takes the credit) as a ďteamĒ in hopes of finding the mysterious men who did this to Jimmy and to find a cure.
Be aware that I am using the English names given to the characters by FUNimation and not their original given Japanese names. The show has some interesting art and character designs which when mixed with the showís mystery driven storyline provide a unique and interesting viewing experience. The artwork is definitely different than most shows out there today and honestly, it has a very refreshing feel to it. Nothing is too over the top and each individual case offers something different. Some ways that the cases are solved has brought a smile to my face in terms of the sheer thought process that must have gone into thinking up and developing some of the cases presented here. All this definitely brings forth a very enjoyable viewing experience.
The transfer here is pretty good. Thereís a small bit of color bleeding here and there as well as block noise in some darker areas of the video but nothing that really takes away from the viewing experience. The opening sequence definitely shows a few problematic areas but the episodes themselves are usually free of anything that would detract from the viewing experience. Since this part of the show is approximately 7 to 8 years old, some of the colors can appear a little washy at times but mostly in only the dark shaded areas. It also really all depends on the type of viewing equipment used as well. Again, this is nothing that is really an annoyance; but more nitpicking than anything else.
First watching the disc in its native language of Japanese, no audio dropouts or noise could be heard with our equipment. The stereo mix was standard and sounded good. Voices were clear and background music and sound effects played out nicely. After the initial viewing, we went and watched the disc in English 5.1 and this definitely added more depth to the audio experience. Voices came from the center speaker and the front soundstage was very nicely manipulated with music and sound effects. The rear sounded good as well. Keep in mind that when listening to the show in either the stereo or the surround tracks that you will have to bear with the English versioned named and changes.
The main menu consists of a police file looking piece with selections placed as tabs sticking out of the folder file and various other selections strewn about the place. I could be wrong in my conclusion about this representation but thatís what I was able to conclude using my detective skills. Overall the menu is nicely laid out. I donít really like the fonts used in the menu but I wonít detract any points because I understand what they tried to do here. Taking that all into consideration, they succeeded. It works and goes along with the style of the show. Access times for the main and sub menu are fast so there are no complaints there.
We get a lot of extras here with the first volume. Character profiles are nice, although they use the English dub named and references. The Conanís Gadgets section really only has one selectable item here as thatís all that has been introduced in this volume. I guess they wouldnít want to ruin the surprise of all his gadgets by spoiling what they are and what they do all in the first volume. We also get clean opening and closing animations here and thatís always welcome. Thereís also the ďCrack the Case GameĒ which I really had no interest in but I can see how some people will really get a kick out of it as it is a nice little time consumer. Overall, there are some good extras on this volume and Iím looking forward to seeing what else FUNimation can think of dropping in upcoming releases.
Subtitles are nicely sized and timed. We noticed no issues while viewing the disc with subtitles on the screen. Translation seemed very good and they did a good job of subtitle directionality while on screen, keeping them nicely in the center bottom of the screen. The English dub was nicely produced as well. The English character voices are all good and Monica Rial has a role in there too, which is always bonus points in our book.
Yes, the English-versioned names are changed for the release and we can sympathize with purists and how much they want to pull their hair out whenever something like this is done. But, in reality, the changes arenít all that bad. The names are different but that doesnít mean that the show is any different. While it may sound weird to watch the show in Japanese then switch over to English and have to remember the English branded names, most people are going to watch the show in either Japanese or English and not both. In regards to this, itís a razorís edge in terms of if it will matter to you or not. Personally, it didnít bother me.
The Bottom Line:
With a different artistic style than what many of us are used to, some people could be turned off to the show. Especially with the high episode number count, I could see this happening. Well, Iím just going to say that something like that shouldnít be a reason not to give a show a chance it deserves. Now, I donít want to be labeled as someone who tells people what anime to watch but I will say that Detective Conan is a very interesting show and the staff here at Anime Advanced genuinely enjoyed this first volume and are eagerly awaiting the next release by FUNimation. While Iím sure nobody is keen on the idea of watching the show out of order, I found that after watching the first four episodes of the first season and then the first three episodes of the fourth season DVD (review coming shortly) that I didnít quite get as confused as I thought I was going to get. In fact, there was no confusion at all. Conan does have more gadgets to use by the time the 50 count episodes roll around but there was nothing that really stood out that made me think that Iíve missed some life-altering event during the episodes that I havenít seen. This is good and bad for many reasons. One reason being that you can jump from episode four to episode fifty-three and enjoy ALMOST seamless viewing but also that from episodes five to fifty-two could all just be case-of-the-week type episodes with no major plot twists. Of course, Iíll reserve that judgment for a later time after Iíve seen those ďmysteryĒ episodes. In ending, the show has a great start and thatís good considering the amount of episodes the show runs. This will no doubt be a large investment for many, especially if you plan on obtaining every volume release until the finale. The good thing is that this is also an investment that I would look forward to.
I canít say anything for the rest of the series just yet, but for now, Iím adding Case Closed to my list of must have shows for the foreseeable future.