Friday, June 24, 2011

『奇妙な集まり』

「探偵はその跡を見てなんくせつける…ただの批評家に過ぎねーんだぜ」
『名探偵コナン』

"You detectives are nothing more than critics who look at what we leave and complain about that",
"Detective Conan"

The second part of this series of....  memos...? What I thought about the series and the stories as I re-read them. So once again expect spoilers, as I link things with future cases, if such a link happens to pop up. The first 10 volumes were a bit uneven in quality, but from these volumes on, the series really starts to shine.

And I decided just now that I'lll discuss the Conan movies too. If I'm writing a series of Conan posts, I might as well include them as well, right?

Detective Conan manga & movies:
Part 1: Volumes 1 ~ 10
Part 2: Volumes 11~20; The Timebombed Skyscraper (1) / The Fourteenth Target (2)
Part 3: Volumes 21~30; The Last Wizard of the Century (3) / Captured in Her Eyes (4)
Part 4: Volumes 31~40; Countdown to Heaven (5) / The Phantom of Baker Street (6)
Part 5: Volumes 41~50; Crossroad in the Ancient Capital (7) / Magician of the Silver Sky (8) / Strategy Above the Depths (9)
Part 6:  Volumes 51~60; Private Eyes' Requiem (10) / Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure (11)
Part 7: Volumes 61~70; Full Score of Fear (12) / The Raven Chaser (13) / Lost Ship in the Sky (14)
Part 8: Volumes 71~80; Quarter of Silence (15) / The Eleventh Striker (16) / Private Eye in the Distant Sea (17)
(You will find the links to the reviews of volume 70, 72~76, 78, 82~87 and the films Quarter of Silence (15), The Eleventh Striker (16), Private Eye in the Distant Sea (17), Dimensional Sniper (18) in the library)

Movie 01: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper
Release: April 19, 1997
Characters: Moriya Teiji
Police: Lieutenant Shiratori Ninzaburou 

The first Conan movie and it sets the more action-oriented tone for the rest of the movies. A bomb-terrorist is not a common enemy in Conan, but they occasionally pop in the manga. The movie only has two 'suspects' though (of whom one is ruled out pretty much immeditately), so it's not must-see for the whodunnit. The trick  with the train-bombs is pretty neat though. Oh, and I totally forgot: the first movie also introduced the Conan movie must-have: the introduction! Movies based on running series are usually hard to get into, as they require extensive knowledge of the series, but the Conan movies always begin with a short introduction of the main story and the important characters of the story. It changes every time, depending on the storyline in the movie and no Conan movie would be complete without such an introduction!

Volume 11
Keyhole: Kisaki Eri
Cases: Snowy Mountain Villa Murder Case; TV Station Murder Case; Coffee Shop Murder Case; Mist Tengu Legend Murder Case
Characters: Kisaki Eri
Item: Button-shaped speaker
Location: Nichiuri TV
Plot: Ran attempts to get mother back

I really like the opening story, which is an inverted story, where a TV show hosts commits a murder while on air. Reminds me very much of Furuhata Ninzaburou's Sayonara DJ ("Goodbye, DJ") episode and is just as fun. It's also the first time Kogorou is invited to a TV-show in the series and he makes some comments about his time at the police force annd not being all to great with firearms (which is expanded upon in the second Conan movie, The Fourteenth Target). A second story introduces the lawyer Kisaki Eri, Ran's mother, which establishes her as a smart independent woman (with judou skills learned from Kogorou). Strangely enough, in the recent live action TV special of Conan set 100 days before Kudou shrinked, he interacted with Eri, while he doesn't recognizes her at all in this story. Finally, a great impossible crime story with a Tengu who hangs people (another of those Japanese myth stories). Also the first time Conan uses the speaker on Kogorou, allowing Conan to move around a bit more in later stories.

Volume 12
Keyhole: Tsuburaya Mitsuhiko
Cases: Secret of the Moon, Stars and Sun; Game Company Murder Case; Holmes Freaks Murder Case
Black Organisation: Tequila
Plot: Tequila dies, discovery that the BO wants a list of programmers

The first Detective Boys/Agasa code cracking story. Many, many will follow. Sigh. The story does explain that Agasa earns money with patents, like with the technology used for Conan's voice changing bow-tie. The second story is actually quite important, as it introduces the new Black Organisation member Tequila. Who is killed off in the same chapter. The story is important as it is the first time we 1) get to see more BO members, 2) we get to learn a bit more about the scale of the organisation and 3) a bit about what the BO is trying to do. A small organisation wouldn't blow up a whole cafe just to cover tracks. As for the BO's goal, the list of programmers the BO wanted will turn out to be important many, many, many volumes later. The same story also introduces the game company Mantendou, not sure if that pops up again though. The final story is another important one and the second of Hattori Heiji's appearances. The Holmes Freaks gathering is pretty funny (especially Hattori's comment that he likes Queen more, which is met with a lot of glaring). The comment that he likes Queen more actually makes a lot of sense. Anyway, hilarity ensues as Conan tries to convince Hattori that he's just a normal boy. It's also the first time that Hattori and Conan help each other with their deductions, using the other as a soundboard. It makes the story more enjoyable to read, as just reading thoughts is a bit strange. With two equal minds, the story/deductions develops more naturally.

Volume 13
Keyhole: Suzuki Ayako
Cases: Holmes Freaks Murder Case; Triplet Mountain Villa Murder Case; Illustrator Murder Case; Great Kaijuu Gomera Murder Case
Characters: Tomizawa Yuuzou, Gomera
Location: Taihou studios
Plot: Hattori discovers Conan's real identity

Hoho, Hattori Heiji finds out about Kudou's problem. Which is pretty interesting, as Hattori deduced it from the way Kudou deduces, something he has heard only once. Anyway, they become best of friends rather fast. The murders themselves weren't too interesting, except for the first one which, for an alibi trick, was quite good. The second story is a classic which-of-the-three + alibi checking problem, although it's interesting as the three suspects are triplets. Tomizawa Yuuzou is the fiance of Suzuki Ayako, who we hadn't seen for many volumes. They don't appear that often in later stories. Or not at all, maybe. The third story is an inverted story, which reminds me a lot of Higashino Keigo's Ochiru ("Fall"), using a complex mechanical contraption to arrange for an alibi. Both stories are very similar in their execution. I'm pretty sure this story precedes Ochiru though. Finally, the final story introduces us to Taihou Studio's Gomera, a kaijuu movie series.The premise is good, with a kaijuu killing somebody, but the trick is rather easy. As kaijuu series are meant for children, many if not all of the following stories featuring kaijuu feature the Detective Boys/Agasa.

Volume 14
Keyhole: Kudou Yukiko
Cases: Cornered Great Detective! 2 Great Murders After Another (1); Cornered Great Detective! 2 Great Murders After Another (2); Ski Lodge Murder Case
Police: Yamamura Misao (Gunma)
Item: Earring-shaped Cellphone
Plot: Yukiko poses Conan off as own child

The first story in a long time where Ran suspects that Conan is Shinichi. It took her a while to see through Conan's Clark Kent glasses. Even though she grew up with him. Anyway, also the first story that establishes contact between Eri and Kogorou (over the phone) and the first time magicians appear in the series. A locked room murder with a strange message is solved rather quickly, but anyway, magicians! It might be foreshadowing for an upcoming guest appearance? One of the magicans here actually appears two volumes later. The second story is a more classic murders-in-a-rich-family Conan story. Fun because: Yukiko saves Conan from Ran's suspicions by saying he's a distant relative, because Yukiko later introduces Conan as her second child to a friend and because of the first appearance of Inspector Yamamura Misao, the worst officer ever in the police force. It's a miracle he makes it to chief inspector later. His design is a bit different from later though. Yuusaku is also portrayed as being way better at detecting than his son. It was hinted at in the first story featuring him, but we'll see again and again that Kudou's father is brilliant as a detective. The final story with an old teacher of Ran and Sonoko may be a sign of the Jessica Fletcher-trope of bumping into an acquaintance at the strangest places. Also introduces the Earring-shaped Cellphone, which has a direct connection with Conan's bowtie. Too bad cellphones become mass consumer products very soon. Why would Agasa make a earring-shaped phone for Conan anyway?! And I wasn't really looking for him, but I think this was also the first time we saw the infamous shadow commiting a murder. You know, when they want to show a murder is being commited without showing who.

Volume 15
Keyhole: Hattori Heizou
Cases: Ski Lodge Murder Case; Popular Arists Kidnapping Case; Money Lending Business Director Murder Case; Unnatural Deaths in an Illustrious Family Case
Characters: Deputy Commissioner General Hattori Heizou (Osaka; first actual appearance), Takayama Minami (TWO-MIX), Nagano Shiina (TWO-MIX)

I really, really like the story with Ran's teacher by the way. I think that the atmostphere was a bit more Kindaichi Shounen-ish, but I really liked it. The ending, with Ran solving the case instead of Shinichi was pretty nice too, as interaction between the two characters (if we see Conan apart from Shinichi) is few. The second story, the TWO-MIX kidnapping, is hilarious in a meta-way, as Takayama Minami is the voice actor of Conan (and at a later stadium even the wife of Aoyama Goushou). The case itself is not very interesting, but this is one of the few times real world artists make the jump to Conan in the anime. The third story, with a murder in a money lend-shop, is very much like the karaoke box story in volume 5: figuring out how the victim got poisoned. This time recorded images aren't the vital clue, even though the visual is still very important. The which-of-the-three formula is used very often in Conan, but they're usually quite competent stories. And finally a longer story where we first meet Hattori's father Hattori Heizo, Police Chief of Osaka. He mentions he played kendou, although it hasn't been established yet that Hattori himself plays kendou.The story, featuring a bandaged man and some misdirection is pretty good too.

Volume 16
Keyhole: Kaitou KID
Cases: Unnatural Deaths in an Illustrious Family Case; Seven Mysteries of Teitan Elementary Case; Conan vs. Kaitou KID; Famous Pottery Artist Murder Case
Characters: Kobayashi Sumiko, Kuroba Kaito (= Kaitou KID; Or.: Magic Kaito), Nakamori Aoko (Or.: Magic Kaito), Suzuki Shirou, Suzuki Tomoko
Police: Superintendent Chaki Shintarou (Tokyo MPD), Police Inspector Nakamori Ginzou (Tokyo MPD; Or.: Magic Kaito)
Plot: Volume 7's trauma; crossover with Magic Kaito

^But also a bit tragic. Conan's trauma he got in volume 7 is explored a bit, in turn influencing Hattori. Editor Yamada (volume 7) is mentioned again by the way, as he has left a message on the answering machine! The second story, featuring some school urban legends mostly serves as an introduction of the new homeclass teacher of Teitan Elementary 1B, Sumiko Kobayashi. She'll appear quite a lot in later stories, especially in the last few years. And then our main course, the crossover with Magic Kaito. It was of course just a matter of time before the protagonist of Aoyama Goushou's first full-fledged series would battle with Conan. And it's actually written fantastic. The first chapter sets people on the wrong foot, first by showing Kaito (who looks a lot like Kudou), but not Aoko. At this point, the reader probably doesn't realize what's happening. The story continues with references to kaitou 1412, a name never used in Magic Kaito. Only near the last couple of pages, Agasa tells that a young writer (turns out to be Yuusaku) read the codename 1412 as KID. And then it all makes sense. It's also only from the second chapter on that we actually see Nakamori Ginzou, the main antagonist in Magic Kaito. Aoyama then continues with the red herrings by using a couple of old characters again (Hatamoto Shouji, vol. 3; Mifune Takuya, vol.9; Tomizawa Yuuzou, vol.13; Manada Kazumi, vol. 14),  who all might be Kaitou KID. It's not explained in Conan why KID targets the Black Star, though readers of Magic Kaito will know why KID's targets are always jewels.  Oh, and fridge brillance: Kaito and Aoko have different school uniforms from Ran and Sonoko's, so it's not strange they don't know each other. The only strange thing is that Conan hadn't heard about KID at all, even though a later story confirms that KID and Kudou met once before. The final story, a murder in a pottery, is decent, but not memorable at all, right after the KID story.

Volume 17
Keyhole: Okino Youko
Cases: Famous Pottery Artist Murder Case; Scuba Diving Murder Case; Hospitalized Robber Case; Mysterious Mansion of a Gang of Robbers Case; Jidaigeki Actor Murder Case 

A somewhat tedous volume. The first story with Eri and Kogorou interacting directly with each other and it does show that Kogorou isn't a complete moron, but the case itself is not interesting at all. What follows are a very short story (the only single chapter story in the series?) and a story featuring a house with a hidden secret. While the premise, a house where all the clocks strike at the same time, is interesting, the explanation for it all is rather boring and too farfetched. Strangely enough, houses with hidden mechanisms and such are more a Detective Boys speciality, rather than a Mouri Kogorou one. The last story is the best of the bunch, an inverted story which isn't too hard to solve and I think most readers will get it by the time they finish the first chapter. It's actually pretty much a modern version of one of Queen's more famous stories. What I'm wondering about is why people still try to use Mouri Kogorou for their alibi tricks. It was somewhat logical in volume two, when he wasn't very famous yet, but by now The Sleeping Kogorou should be feared by everyone. Even if I had an alibi trick I believed in, I still wouldn't go with the best-of-the-best detective.

Volume 18
Keyhole: Haibara Ai
Cases: Jidaigeki Actor Murder Case; Memory of a First Love Case; The Girl Who Came from the Black Organisation: The University Professor Murder Case (1);  The Girl Who Came from the Black Organisation: The University Professor Murder Case (2)
Police: Sergeant Takagi Wataru (Tokyo MPD)
Black Organisation: Sherry (Miyano Shiho=Haibara Ai)
Plot: Haibara moves in with Agasa

The first story is the first appearance of inspector Takagi Wataru, who is actually named after his voice actor in the anime (when he (his character) was asked his name, the voice actor adlibbed with his own name). The first 'normal'-leveled police detective we see in the series and one of the more popular characters, I think. I at least like him very much. And then a strange start of a story: Conan, Ran and Sonoko clean up the Kudou mansion as nobody lives there at the moment. Q: why doesn't Conan or his parents get someone to clean up occasionally? It's not like they don't know nobody is living there. Anyway, the mystery club is a theme used quite often in Kindaichi Shounen, as Kindaichi and Miyuki are both members there, but it's actually used pretty much never in Conan. Except here. I don't know, why, but the criminal here has always been one of the more memorable ones to me, even though... he is rather bland. Hmm.  And then we have the introduction of Haibara. Once again a nice piece of misdirection like done with the KID story. The dialogue makes you think that Gin is hunting for Kudou Shinichi, but it's in fact Haibara. We learn a lot more about the organisation, like that they have labs (which they blew up), the workings of the poison APTX4869 (meant to break off cells) and that the Organisation has visited the Kudou mansion twice to see if he's really dead and that Haibara filed Kudou Shinichi away as dead. The final case with a locked room murder is pretty smart, but also very easy to see through as one thing is just way too unnatural.

Volume 19
Keyhole: Tomoya Kazuha
Cases:  The Girl Who Came from the Black Organisation: The University Professor Murder Case (2); Mystery Writer Disappearance Case; Naniwa Serial Murder Case; Stadium Indiscriminate Threatening Case
Characters: Matsuda Samonji, Shinmei Kaori, Tomoya Kazuha
Police: Chief Superintendent Toyama (Osaka), Police Inspector Otaki Gorou (Osaka), Lieutenant Satou Miwako (Tokyo MPD)
Black Organisation: Numabuchi Kiichirou
Location: Osaka
Plot: Information about the BO gained from Haibara; first visit to Osaka; meeting with Numabuchi

The locked room is solved by Conan using Agasa as a proxy in front of Chief Inspector Yokomizo, so Agasa  is slowly making a name as a detective. We also discover that Black Organisation is in possession of the Night Baron virus mentioned in volume 8 and that Haibara is in fact the sister of Miyano Akemi, who died in volume 2. Like I said then, long-game foreshadowing. The second story features the show Tantei Matsuda Samonji, written by Shinmei Nintarou. Shinichi and Ran are said to be fans of the show. Writer Shinmei seems to have disappeared and Mouri is requested by his daughter to find him. The clues are hidden in a manuscript, but pretty much the funniest moment is when Hattori calls the publisher's office saying he solved the code, right when Conan and the gang are there too. It's also the first time Conan tranquilizes somebody whose voice he doesn't know (so he can't use his bowtie). Editor Yamada also appears again (volume 7, 16)! volume 19 also marks the first time the gang vists Osaka. We're introduced to a group of new characters like childhood friend Kazuha and chief inspector Otaki. Aoyama really, really likes his childhood friends, as we have the obvious suspects Shinichi/Ran, Heiji/Kazuha, Kogorou/Eri, Kaito/Aoko and a lot of others to be revealed later. Oh, and here we begin to see why Hattori is more a fan of Queen: with a high-ranking police officer as his dead and a great relation with Otaki, he definately mirrors the Inspector Queen/Ellery/Velie dynamic. The serial murder the gang has to solve in Osaka is OK (looking for a missing link), but not nearly as engaging as the second Osaka story. The story does feature serial killer Numabuchi Kiichirou, who will turn out to be a lower-level Black Organisation member. It's also the first story featuring Hattori where he suffers a big injury near the end of the story. Almost very time he works with Conan, he seems get some kind of injury, strangely enough. And we see that Kazuha's self-made omamori work wonderfully good. The last story is the first in a series where our detectivs needs to determine a single suspect amongst a crowd (here: a football stadium). It's a smart story and it also features a non-speaking cameo of Akagi Hideo (the soccer-player from volume 7) and the first appearance of MPD inspector Satou Miwako, even though she is not named here.

Movie 02: The Fourteenth Target
Release: April 18, 1998 
Plot: Explains why Mouri left the police; seperated with Eri. Conan has learned to use a gun in Hawaii with his father.

The second Conan movie is one of my favorite Conan movies. It's a classic whodunnit murder case with a neat motive for the murders. The movie also explains why Ran's parents don't live with each other again and also explains a bit about Mouri's time at the police. This movie also introduced that strange, strange recurring joke of Shinichi having learned practically everything in Hawaii with his dad. Gunshooting, handling cars/boats/planes/spaceships. Every time Conan needs to do something out of the ordinary in the movies, they say Hawaii. Oh, and Conan actually used the elasticity suspenders in this movie!

Volume 20
Keyhole: Takagi Wataru
Cases: Stadium Indiscriminate Threatening Case; Magic Lovers' Murder Case; Locked Bathroom Murder Case; Search in the Old Blue Castle Case
Characters: Kuroba Touichi (Or.: Magic Kaito)
Plot: Magic Kaito confirmed to be in the same world as Conan 

The murder amongst a group of magician lovers is the main story here and a great one too. The impossible murder, with a body lying in a field of untouched snow is visually impressive, as you actually see all the white (instead of reading about it). The reference to the deceased magician Kuroba Touichi is foreshadowing the end of this story. The fact Conan has caught a cold and wears a cough-mask will actually prove to be very important, as it is used several times to fool the readers in later stories. The appearance of KID is a surprising one though: the appearance in volume 16 might just have been a one-shot crossover (like KID vs. Yaiba in Magic Kaito volume 3), but here KID is finally established as a recurring character. It's also the first time KID gets involved with actual murder, as Magic Kaito was a more light-hearted series. The second story, with a locked bathroom murder is not very memorable and neither is the last story, a Detective Boys/Agasa code solving story in a mansion with mechanical contraptions and hidden doors and stuff.

Wow, volumes 11~20 are much better than the first ten volumes. By now, the formula has been perfected, with the Sleeping Kogorou being asked to assist in a wide variety of cases (or something a murderer tries to use him for an alibi trick). The somewhat clumsy, childish stories have been replaced with more mature stories, with stories that make optimal use of the visual medium of comics and most of which are plotted quite good. More innovative stories and also slowly more stories that are.. modern. Alibi tricks using (cell)-phones and other technology are pretty mainstream in Conan now.

The crossover with Magic Kaito was probably a somewhat bold move, as the KID in Conan is very different from the one in the original series. In the more recent Magic Kaito stories, KID has indeed been more like the Conan!KID rather than the original KID. In these volumes, KID makes no less than two appearances, while Hattori seems to pop up every other volume. By now he acts as the default character to turn to when Aoyama wants an equal speaking partner for Conan. The introduction of Haibara is also interesting, as until now all the leads to the Black Organisation... err.. died. Haibara does make the Detective Boys stories more enjoyable, as the ratio is now 3 brats to 2 smart kids, rather 3 to 1. Haibara serves as the main catalyst for the Black Organisation stories up until around volume 50, so yeah, she's quite important for the main plot.

Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン』第11巻~20巻 / 『名探偵コナン 時計じかけの摩天楼』 / 『名探偵コナン 14番目の標的(ターゲット)』

3 comments :

  1. I have to agree that these volumes are far better plotted than the first 10; the stories really take off by this point, and the Kaito Kid story is particularly brilliant.

    But, major objection over Movie #2. The murderer has a great motive for *one* murder in my opinion- the woman model (or whatever her profession was; it's been a while). The motive for the other deaths/attacks *really* stretches credibility; it plays the insanity card but pretends it's the "just desserts" card.

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  2. Hmm, I re-read the manga, but I didn't have time for the movies, so I wrote it from memory and tt has been years since I last saw the movie. But now that I think about it, I have to admit only the motive for the main murder was interesting, the rest was more like 'as I'm busy killing off people anyway...', if I remember correctly.

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  3. From what I remember, the movie also suffers from another problem: how did the murderer knew these were the people who did *that* to him/her?

    ** SPOILER ALERT **

    ** SPOILER ALERT **

    ** SPOILER ALERT **

    He was hit by the car who immediately drove off and I don't think he was in a state, after being hit, to observe the license plate. It was never explained how he traced his victim.

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