"There's no winning or losing, no better or worse in deductions; 'Cause there's always only one truth"
Something new: re-reading Meitantei Conan from the beginning. I'm up to date with the Japanese release, but it's been almost ten years since I first started reading Conan. I've forgotten a lot of the stories by now, so I decided to revisit the series again.
By the way, for a short introduction on all things Conan: I recently wrote about the series on Criminal Element.
With this series of posts, I intend to discuss ten volumes per post. These posts won't be real reviews however, nor summaries of the individual cases. It just wouldn't add much to great (Japanese) sources like The Decipherment of Conan, the official Detective Conan Case Report website, or the Mouri Kogorou Detective Agency (in the linkbar). My posts will mostly serve as a short overview of my thoughts on the individual stories, what I noticed about the story-telling and more importantly, how all of the stories interconnect with the overall storyline of Conan. My writings may seem a bit unconnected, as I just jot down keywords while reading everything and sometimes I don't have keywords for large parts of a volume.
I'll be writing this with the power of Hindsight, so I'll sometimes connect stories/characters/themes/motives in earlier volumes with later stories. It's therefore not really spoiler-free, I'm afraid. The series just passed the 70s this year, so this will turn out to be a series of eight posts, if I manage to finish it this year.
Each new recurring character is noted, as well as new gadgets, important locations, etc. Case names are taken from Shounen Sunday's Detective Conan Case Report .
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)
Keyhole: Kudou Shinichi
Cases: Jet Coaster Murder Case; Director's Daughter Kidnapping Case; Idol Locked Room Murder Case
Characters: Kudou Shinichi (= Edogawa Conan), Mouri Ran, Mouri Kogorou, Professor Agasa Hiroshi, Okino Youko.
Police: Police Inspector Megure Juuzou (Tokyo MPD)
Black Organisation: Gin, Vodka (unnamed)
Items: Voice-changing bowtie
Location: Beika-chou, Teitan High School, Kudou mansion, Tropical Land, Mouri Detective Agency
Plot: Shinichi shrinks, moves in with the Mouris
A somewhat uneven start for the series: it's very clear that Aoyama Goushou worked on the light-hearted adventure Yaiba and more importantly, Magic Kaito, before starting this series, as the art-style, the style of jokes and maybe more importantly, the intended readers are definately the same. It results in somewhat easy detectives stories clearly meant for younger children, not unlike a series like Himitsu Tantei Holmes ("Secret Agent Holmes") (which started two years later, but anyway). The first case, the murder on the rollercoaster is spectular, but surely not without its flaws, while the kidnapping case is kinda forgettable. The third story is mostly important as it is the first case to feature the voice-changing bowtie, an unconcious Mouri Kogorou (this time knocked out by an ashtray) and the introduction of idol Okino Youko, who will serve as the series' main link with the entertainment world by introducing new cases to Mouri. Gin and Vodka make one of their rare appearances (of course), but aren't actually named here. I guess that Magic Kaito readers would have related these two gansters to the secret organisation that appears there, though the members of that organisation have different codenames (animals).
Keyhole: Mouri Ran
Cases: Akaoni Village Fire Festival Murder Case; A Strange Search Murder Case; The Haunted Mansion Murder Case
Characters: Yoshida Ayumi, Kojima Genta, Tsuburuya Mitsuhiko
Black Organisation: Miyano Akemi, unnamed Miyano sister
Items: Power-enhancing kick shoes, criminal tracking glasses, elasticity suspenders
Location: Teitan Elementary
Other: Yaiba on TV
Plot: Conan is placed at Teitan Elementary 1B; is witness of the murder of Miyano Akemi
The first inverted story in the series and also the first in a long range of stories where recorded images (photo's, film) are used and where Mouri Kogorou's testiomony is used for an alibi trick. All very Conan-ish. Conan also gains three items, of which only the power-enhancing kick shoes are used regularly to protect himself and others. The criminal tracking glasses are nowadays usually used to track his own friends, while the elasticity suspenders are rarely, rarely used. It seems they are used more effectively in the movies than in the manga. And of course, volume two contains two important introductions: firstly, Miyano Akemi, a member of the black organisation. She is the one who actually confirms that their trademark is black clothing. And we have long-game foreshadowing as she mentions her sister just before she dies. And secondly, the first appearance of the Detective Boys, even though they don't have that name yet.
Keyhole: Mouri Kogorou
Cases: Luxary Cruise Serial Murder Case; Once-a-Month Present Threatening Case
Characters: Hatamoto Natsue, Hatamoto Takeshi
Items: Stungun Wristwatch
The first long story, featuring serial murders on board of a ship chartered by the Hatamoto family. Starts out very Kindaichi Kousuke-like, with the large rich family and even the drawing of a family tree to clear things up. While the story is a bit clumpsy, I think this is the first story where we see that Aoyama is trying to write more mature detective stories for Conan. The previous stories were rather stereotypical for children's detective manga, and here we see it move towards the longer, complexer stories like we see in Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo (which started two years earlier). Actually, it's pretty clear from his earlier works that Aoyama liked detective stories, so it might have even been Kindaichi Shounen's popularity that prompted him to start with his own pure detective series. Also the first time that Ran suspects that Conan is in fact Kudou. It won't be the last. Oh, and the introduction of the stun-gun wristwatch, which is also a staple of the series. It does change the series a bit, as it allows Conan to directly state his own deductions rather than giving hints to the people around him. Probably made writing easier for Aoyama too.
Keyhole: Megure Juuzou
Cases: The Museum Owner Murder Case; Shinkansen Explosion Case; Metropolis Coded Map Case
Characters: Kamen Yaiber
Black Organisation: Gin, Vodka (names known)
Items: Glasses-shaped hidden microphone
Plot: Second meeting Gin and Vodka, hears their code names
Keyhole: Agasa Hiroshi
Cases: Mountain Villa Bandaged Man Murder Case; Karaoke Box Murder Case; Edogawa Conan Kidnapping Case
Characters: Suzuki Sonoko, Suzuki Ayako, Edogawa Fumiyo
Plot: The Sonoko Zaibatsu is introduced
The first time we see Ran's best friend, Sonoko. Who is immediately portrayed as a man-hunting rich girl. Which has not changed much in the last couple of years. Her sister Ayako doesn't make many appearances after this one, but I think you see her occasionally. The first story is the second of the longer stories in Conan and this one is already an improvement on the first. Also because it contains dismemberment. Also important as Conan uses Sonoko as his proxy in this story and high school-detective Suzuki Sonoko will return often (and the police actually starts to believe her as a great detective). The second story is about a murder in a karaoke-box, wherein Conan contacts Megure as Kudou. He does make Megure promise to keep his name out of the papers. And finally, the appearance of Conan's mother, Fumiyo! (?) Who is probably named after Akechi Kogorou's wife in Edogawa Rampo's novels.
Keyhole: Yoshida Ayumi
Cases: Edogawa Conan Kidnapping Case; Antique Collector Murder Case; The Disappearing Corpse Murder Case; Tenkaichi Night Festival Murder Case
Characters: Kudou Yuusaku, Kudou Yukiko, Night Baron
Police: Police Inspector Yokomizo Sango (Saitama)
Items: Detective Boy Badge
Plot: Yuusaku & Yukiko learn of Kudou's problem; the Mouris are officially asked to take care of Conan; Detective Boys established
We officially meet Shinichi's parents and learn things about them that are used in future stories, like Yukiko's talent for disguise and Yuusaku being a famous detective writer and about his fictional character Night Baron. The second story (a man slashed to death) uses a visual clue, which really has become a characteristic of this series by now. Also: kendou is a recurring theme in Aoyama Goushou's work, most prominently in Yaiba, but the Hattoris in later volumes are all skilled kendouka. In the third story, the Detective Boys finally get their transceiver badges and also their group name. They also encounter their first dead body and it won't be their last. Nobody considers sending the kids to therapy or something. And finally, an inverted detective story introducing Chief InspectorYokomizo Sango of the Saitama police. The first non-MPD cop we meet in Detective Conan, and one who often asks Kogorou's cooperation in his investigations in later cases. Foreshadowing of all the other cops we're going to meet in the series?
Keyhole: Yokomizo Sango
Cases: Tenkaichi Night Festival Murder Case; The Moonlight Piano Sonata Murder Case; Pro Soccer Player Threatening Case
Characters: Yamada (editor); Asai Narumi, Akagi Hideo
Items: Portable bentou fax
Plot: the end of the Moonlight Sonata case serves as a trauma for Conan
The editor in the first story (Yamada) is actually a recurring character, though never in the limelight. You'll be sure to see his name mentioned again later. Volume 7 for me was a turning point in the series. The Moonlight Sonata murder case is really a representative story of the series and I think the anime special is rated amongst the better ones by the fans in Japan. It's really creepy, a series or murders all accompanied by the Moonlight Sonata and the minor code cracking, as well as the linguistic clue to the identity of the killer is something that made impression on me. The next story is more like a cute one where we see how viciously jealeous Ran can get and it also introduces the utterly useless portable bentou fax. With real food. With the introduction of cellphones, the bentou fax, as well as the later introduced ear-ring phone quickly disappeared. They were silly anyway. Also the first mention of star soccer player Akagi Hideo, whose name will pop up once in a while.
Keyhole: Suzuki Sonoko
Cases: Pro Soccer Player Threatening Case; Night Baron Murder Case; June Bridge Murder Case
Characters: Matsumoto Sayuri
Police: Superintendent Matsumoto Kiyonaga (Tokyo MPD), Police Inspector Yokomizo Sango (transferred to Shizuoka)
The Night Baron murder case, the first of a long series of murders when Conan and the others visit Izu. Yokomizo of the Saitama police has conveniently been transferred to Shizuoka, so they meet again. Together with the Moonlight Sonata case of the last volume, this case symbolizes the slight change in tone from a slightly serious kids-oriented series to a more serious detective series. Also a case featuring computer programmers, whichi is interesting considering later stories. The last story introduces us to Super Intendent Matsumoto and his daughter Sayuri, who used to be teacher of Kudou, Ran and Sonoko. Matsumoto often appears in big cases as the direct superior of Megure.Oh, and high school-detective Suzuki Sonoko makes her first appearance in front of the police.
Keyhole: Kojima Genta
Cases: Ayumi's Kidnapping Case; Kogorou's Reunion Murder Case; Investor's Daughter Murder Case
Items: Turbo-engine skateboard
Plot: Kogorou is established as an accomplished judouka
Another 'code cracking' story with the Detective Boys, this time by vague descriptions of a location. First appearance of the solar-powered turbo-engine skateboard, which is probably what set of the whole action theme the Conan movies have. If he can ride a turbo engine skateboard, then why not a helicopter/boat/car/train/plane/etc, script-writers must have thought. The second story (a favorite!) is with Kogorou's old friends. It shows that Kogorou is not as dimwitted as he might seem and that his years as a cop weren't for nothing. His considerable talents in judou are also first shown here. The story itself, featuring a Benkei motive, is the first one in Conan using Japanese legends as a motive. Many are to follow and they're all very memorable.
Keyhole: Hattori Heiji
Cases: Investor's Daughter Murder Case; Diplomat Murder Case; Library Murder Case; Snowy Mountain Villa Murder Case
Characters: Hattori Heiji
Police: Deputy Commissioner General Hattori Heizou (Osaka)
Plot: Discovery that Paikaru acts as an antidote to the shrinking (ironic because it's an alcohol?)
First a regular story with no real interesting features, except for the fact that I 'recently' saw the alibi trick used in a Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo story, but much more complex. But the main meat of this volume is the introduction of Hattori Heiji as a rival to Kudou (Hattori of the West, Kudou of East). A layered locked room mystery and the return of Kudou Shinichi make this a very entertaining story. After ten volumes, Conan and Agasa finally seem to have a clue as to how to turn Conan back into Kudou. Heh. There's also a short Detective Boys story, with our kids' second meeting with the dead, set in a library. The last story is the first of the trademark Conan dying message stories, which are hard to solve if you're not familiar with Japanese culture. And even then they're not easy.
With the first ten volumes read, I'm actually quite surprised that some Conan staples aren't even established yet. I would never have thought that by volume 10, Professor Agasa and the Detective Boys hadn't met yet! Or that Chief Inspector Yokomizo is the only identified non-Tokyo cop! Some of the older stories were quite hard to read after this many years and if you compare the stories nowadays with those of the first volumes, it's very clear that they are so widely different. Aoyama really grew in the years he wrote Conan, with the stories nowadays much more better structured and in general, better detective stories. The first volumes are clearly more meant for a younger public, but by volume 7~8 the tone does seem to have changed.
Volumes 11~20 tomorrow!
Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン』第１巻～１０巻