Thursday, August 11, 2011

『よくあるパターン』

「でもさ、 桜は警察の人がみんなつけてるマークだよ!強くて優しくてカッコイイ正義の花なんだから!!」
『名探偵コナン』

"But the sakura is the mark of the police! It is a strong, gentle flower of justice!!"
"Detective Conan"
 
It's been almost a month since the last post, but here's the seventh part of the big Detective Conan series overview. This is also the last post in this series for the time being. The newest volume, Conan 73, is scheduled for September and it will probably take almost two years before volume 80 is released (assuming the series won't stop before volume 80). If a volume is interesting enough, I might do an individual volume review whenever a new one arrives, but I think I prefer these bigger overviews on the series, as it's easier to pick up the little details that make up the big storyline of Conan. So yeah, spoilers to be found here.

For me, this particular set of Conan volumes is a bit special as I bought most of these volumes in Japan. On the release day of course. I associate these volumes, the stories very strongly with my time in Japan, so I might sound a bit too positive at times. But ignoring nostalgia (which can be quite dangerous, as Tezuka told us in Phoenix), volumes 61~70 does really feature some great stories showing Conan is still going strong after almost 20 years of (very!) active duty.

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)

Volume 61
Keyhole: Suzuki Jiroukichi
Cases: Kaitou KID's Teleportation Magic; Blue Spark of Hate; Deduction Battle! Shinichi vs. Okiya Subaru; A Delivery from the Real Culprit
Plot: Conan asks Ran not to tell Okiya too much about himself

While KID stories seem to pop up rather often, Kaitou KID's Teleportation Magic is a real treat. How is KID able to steal a jewel and teleport away to the top of a building in mere seconds? A great impossible crime story with a devious hint to the solution. This story is a lot like Kaitou KID's Miraculous Air Walk (volume 44), with Suzuki Jiroukichi challenging KID, an big open, urban area as the battlefield and KID easily acquiring his target. I think Teleportation Magic is the better of the two stories, but they're both great. Blue Spark of Hate is a Detective Boys story that involves murder, which is not too often. The main problem is finding out how the main suspect managed to set fire to the garage, blowing up the victim; the solution is a simple, yet effective one that is hinted at at many stages in the story. Deduction Battle! Shinichi vs. Okiya Subaru is an interesting story, as the type of storytelling used here is usually reserved for Hattori stories: in this story Conan and Okiya simultaneously solve the mystery behind the paper airplanes that have been found on the streets the last couple of days. Interesting is that it's the first time that Ran (and Sonoko) get to know that Okiya is living in the Kudou residence and Conan asks Ran not to tell Okiya too much about him (Shinichi). Aoyama is clearly trying to set Okiya up as Black Organisation member Bourbon (who was mentioned in volume 60). A Delivery from the Real Culprit is a short story involving the brother of Poirot waitress Azusa, who is the main suspect in a murder case.

Movie 12: Full Score of Fear
Release: April 19, 2008

After the disastrous Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure, I was kinda afraid to start with this movie, but Full Score of Fear is luckily not a total disaster. Conan's keen ears (despite being unable to hold a tone when singing) were already mentioned in Dissonance of the Stradivarius (volume 46), but as this movie features music heavily, this ability of Conan gets abused. The plot is decent enough, I guess, but that's probably because anything after Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure feels good. I can remember very little of this movie actually, which is usally not a good sign. Actually, I can only vividly remember the last scene, with Conan confronting the murderer and a scene somewhere in the middle, with Conan in a boat trying to use a phone by singing and me rolling my eyes very hard because things were getting a bit too ridiculous. People who have seen it, should know what I mean.

Volume 62
Keyhole: Shiragami
Cases: A Delivery from the Real Culprit; Softness Overcomes Mystery; Murderer Kudou Shinichi / Shinichi's Real Identity and Ran's Tears/What I Really Want to Ask
Plot: Haibara's working on a set of antidote pills

A Delivery from the Real Culprit is not a really interesting story though, more like one of those two-hour drama stories. Softness Overcomes Mystery is a fun little story with Eri, Ran and Conan, who are being used by a judoka for her alibi trick. The trick is easily enough to see through, but it's fun to see that Mouri Kogorou can really pull through as a real detective when it's needed. The final story-arc in this volume is the first of three big story arcs in volumes 61~70. Kudou Shinichi apparantly made a horrible deduction mistake one year ago and he is asked to review the case. Conan and Hattori arrive at the village where the incident happened, but due to some circumstances, Conan gets seperated from the rest and what's worse: he has accidently taken one of Haibara's experimental antidote pills. Hattori and the others are thus very surprised when they suddenly discover Shinichi, who is suffering from amnesia. What's even worse, Shinichi seemingly commits a murder! Hattori has much trouble solving the locked room murder case and protecting Shinichi/Conan's secret (having an amnesiac Shinichi does not help), but the case is really an awesome one, with a really sad ending. The hinting is done quite good, I think, and while all the Shinichi cases are fun, this is one of the better ones.

Volume 63
Keyhole:  Kojima Genji
Characters: Kojima Genji
Cases: What I Really Want to Ask/Kaitenzushi Mystery/The Criminal is Genta's Dad/The Witch Shrouded in the Fog

What I Really Want to Ask is a pretty interesting story: a man is found strangled in a running car. A moving locked room! It's a great little case that is sure to entertain; the main problem is fun, the story develops quite fast and the solution is realistic. Kaitenzushi Mystery is a personal favorite, as it features a poisoning in a kaitenzushi restaurant. The location is great for such a story, with moving belts and foodstuffs. The deductions that involve food etiquette within such a restaurant make the story feel quite realistic. The Criminal is Genta's Dad is a mix of the standard which-of-the-three formula with a The Red-Headed League-ish story. Genta's dad is one of the many participants to TV-show featuring people with the family name Kojima and he ends up as one of the three finalists. The one who came up with the show is found dead in the studio; pushed of the stairs. The only suspects: the three participants. Conan has to find out which of the three Genta's dad is, as well as find out who the murderer is. It's clear that the victim had been pulling some strings behind the scenes, selecting the three finalists himself, but why and is it related to his death? The Witch Shrouded in the Fog is a fun urban legend story involving a car that challenges other cars in races down mountains. It's even said that the witch's car can float in the sky! At the core, this is just a which-of-the-three story, but the urban legend makes this a blast to read.

Volume 64
Keyhole: Matsumoto Kiyonaga
Cases: Ikkaku Rock, Where Fish Disappear; Scar of a First Love/Scar that Invokes the Past; A New Scar and the Whistling Man/An Old Scar and a Detective's Spirit/Kaitou KID vs. the Strongest Safe
Plot: Matsumoto Kiyonaga likes the Beatles; Satou and Takagi's first kiss

Ikkaku Rock, Where Fish Disappear features some characters from Tragedy of Marumie Pier (volume 45). The setting is also the same, on a secluded space on sea, but this is not a poisoning story, but a dying message story. I think it's mostly difficult for kids (and foreigners), but it's a fun little dying message that is probably hard to translate. We also have a short Okiya scene who seems highly trained in hand-to-hand combat. Scar of a First Love/Scar that Invokes the Past is a lot like Ellery Queen's The Witch of Time Square (Q.B.I.), with a woman who wants to share some of her fortune with someone she had last met as a child. Her only clue: a long scar on his body. The problem is that two men claim to be the man she is looking for. The solution is easy, but the story mostly serves as an introduction to the next story. Whereas volume 28 explained why Megure's always wearing a hat, this story explains why Superintendent Matsumoto Kiyonaga has a big scar over his eye. The story is also a lot like MPD Detectives' Love Story 3 (volume 27), as both stories feature an old case and a race against the time (statute of limitations). I'm not particularly a fan of the puzzle-plot here though, as the clues consists of some specific jargon, but as a police-drama story, this one ranks with the best. The KID story is a bit tame compared to the excellent Kaitou KID's Teleportation Magic in volume 61. A fake Kaitou KID says he'll open Suzuki Jiroukichi's special safe, but it seems clear that the real KID will appear too.

Movie 13: The Raven Chaser
Release: April 18, 2009
Police: Police Inspector Yamamura Misao (Gunma; promotion)
Black Organisation: Irish

Being the first Conan movie I actually saw in the theatre, I particularly like this movie, but with a plot that heavily features the Black Organisation, you really can't go wrong. The trailers promoted this movie as a battle mystery, which it clearly is. Taking cues from Captured in her Eyes, this movie features a big police investigation across several prefectures (enter many guest appearances, including a recently promoted Yamamura Misao). The movie also features an internal affairs investigations, as Satou and Takagi (and Conan) fear someone (the Organisation) might have infiltrated the investigation. Other cues are actually taken from volume 64 (released just days before the movie), but to mention them would be a bit spoiler-ish. But I have to say, it's pretty cool to have the manga and movie work together so well) And of course, the new Organisation member Irish, who actually discovers Conan's identity. This movie just has everything: an internal affairs investigation, the Organisation, a great confrontation scene. One of the must-see movies (but please watch it only if you're up-to-date; being familiar with all the characters is especially with an internal investigations story quite important).

Volume 65
Keyhole: Morofushi Takaaki (Koumei)
Cases: Kaitou KID vs. The Strongest Safe; Detective Boys vs. Robbery Gang (Turmoil/Silence); The Dangerous Duo; Mansion of Death, the Red Wall  [Three Visits/Within My Grasp/Koumei Dies/Empty Fort Strategy]
Police: Police Inspector Morifushi Takaaki (Nagano (local))
Plot: Man resembling Akai Shuuichi appears, is seen by Jodie;

Suzuki Jiroukichi's safe is actually a safe designed by Samizu Kichiemon, a name first mentioned in volume 46. Samizu was a trick artist in the Edo period, specializing in building houses with secret hallways and stuff. Jiroukichi's safe is also loaded with death-traps and other tricks to scare away thieves. Samizu adds something I'm not sure I like or not. Samizu's inventions are a bit unrealistic, but then again, I accept Shinichi being a kid and Agasa's inventions. Detective Boys vs. Robbery Gang (Turmoil/Silence) is very much like The Mysterious Passenger (volume 29); both stories feature a hostage situation, both stories have Jodie in a semi-active role and finally, both stories Akai Shuuichi. Or do they? A man resembling Akai (with a burn scar on his face) appears in the bank, but disappears after the hostage situation. As he should be dead, Jodie is quite confused. The plan the bank robbers have is interesting, but I have the feeling I have seen it somewhere else before. Or did I read it here and forgot where I got it from? The Dangerous Duo is just a misdirection story (that mimicks volume 39's Contact with the Black Organisation - Chase) that leads into the second 'grand' story in this set of volumes: Mansion of Death, the Red Wall. The story introduces us to the highly intelligent Police Inspector Morofushi Takaaki, nicknamed Koumei. The story actually features a fantastic dying message, a really original way of leaving a message to point to a murderer. I'm almost sad I read this story in the manga first, 'cause some elements of the trick aren't conveyed that well in this medium. This is also the second story to feature references to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, after The Red Horse in the Blaze (volume 39). I also suspect some influence of Arisugawa Alice's Soutou no Akuma, as both stories feature a bohemian heaven for artists.

Volume 66
Keyhole: Uehara Yui
Cases: Mansion of Death, the Red Wall [Empty Fort Strategy]; Police Inspector Shiratori, Memory of the Cherry Blossom; Treasure Battle in the Haunted Storehouse; The Whereabouts of the Embarrassing Omamori; Alibi of a Black Dress
Plot: Shiratori tells about his first love

Using a police officer in an alibi trick can be smart, but it's seldom so in Conan. The trick used by a woman to fool the Detective Boys and Shiratori is a bit unrealistic and is only memorable, as a story, because of Shiratori's confession why he's in love with Satou (or so he thinks). Treasure Battle in the Haunted Storehouse features another of trick inventor Samizu Kichiemon's buildings and is a story I don't particular like. Most hints are easy enough to get and seeing the Detective Boys outsmarting Conan is fun too, but it's just... Samizu's buildings are just too fantastic. Even in Conan. The Whereabouts of the Embarrassing Omamori is a short Hattori story, with the gang trying to find out why one of Kazuha's neighbours (who accidently took her omamori with him) was attacked in a sports bar. A standard which-of-the-three story, but a bit too easy. It sorta depends on jargon, but this jargon is widely spread it's a bit too easy (except for children, maybe).

Volume 67
Keyhole: Kir
Cases: Alibi of a Black Dress; The Danger Envoked by the Red Omen; Suggestion of the Black 13/The Nearing Black Time Limit/The Shaking Red Target; Teacher Kobayashi's Love/Police Inspector Shiratori's Lost Love/Cherry Blossom's Love Transcending Time
Plot: Camel also sees the Akai look-a-like; the Organisation is aware of the Akai look-a-like; Okiya is looking for the Akai look-a-like; Shiratori finds out Kobayashi is his first love

Alibi of a Black Dress is a short, rather easy story involving gothic lolita's. The main problem is very easy and the final problem to be solved by the police is a bit easy to if you know a bit about these kinds of styles. Or if you're forced to read about at university courses. The following story is a very short, yet fun enough Detective Boys story who meet up with a nice elderly man whose actions seem a bit contradictory. Saying more would spoil the ending. Suggestion of the Black 13 is a strange story: it features the Black Organisation, the Akai Shuuichi look-a-like, Okiya and the FBI, but it's not really about them. Akai look-a-like, Okiya and Conan, Ran and Kogorou just happen to get caught up in a bomb hostage situation. And it just happens that the Organisation was hunting for the Akai look-a-like. The bomb hostage situation is resolved rather quickly and not particularly exciting IMHO, but it might be important to note that Gin states that nobody actually knows what Bourbon's plans are, even though (s)he has infiltrated the cast by now. The organisation probably doesn't even know who (s)he is at the moment. Thus heavily suggesting that Bourbon is actually Akai look-a-like IMHO, but anyway... Teacher Kobayashi's Love/Police Inspector Shiratori's Lost Love/Cherry Blossom's Love Transcending Time as a love story is cute and all, but the puzzle plot is way too easy. If you make a pick-out-the-odd-one-out-of-three story, you shouldn't create a story with a character who is obviously the odd one. It makes for a story that moves rather slow and actually feels boring at times.

Movie 14: Lost Ship in the Sky
Release: April 17, 2010

And the other Conan movie I saw in the theaters. As this movie isn't a pure detective, but a hostage movie (and includes Kaitou KID), it's kinda hard to compare to the other Conan movies. As a action movie, it totally works, with some crazy stunts by both Conan and KID. As a mystery movie... the movie doesn't work. Depending on what you like, you either like it or not. My companions loved the movie, while for me, the only thing that saved the movie was KID. And some of the action scenes. Strangely enough, Lost Ship in the Sky also reminded me a lot of the movie One Piece: Strong World, which I had seen in the winter. Both movies also obviously action-oriented movies with a hostage situation and they also feature the sky as a background, with the main characters being forced to the ground and needing to find a way to get back up again. Yes, I analyze Detective Conan movies using One Piece movies as a reference point. The way my head works.

Volume 68
Keyhole: Samizu Kichiemon
Cases: Cherry Blossom's Love Transcending Time; The Worst Birthday; The Kirin's Horn That Disappeared into the Darkness/KID vs. the Four Divine Detective Boys; Detective Memoir of a Monkey and a Rake

The Worst Birthday parallels Suspect Mouri Kogorou (volume 27): both stories feature a hotel setting with people moving around and the discovery of a dead body inside a locked room. Suspect Mouri Kogorou obviously had Mouri Kogorou as the main suspect in the story (being inside the same room as the dead body), The Worst Birthday features Eri. This main trick used by the murderer is unveiled rather quickly, changing to main problem to who was able to pull off the trick. The Kirin's Horn That Disappeared into the Darkness/KID vs. the Four Divine Detective Boys is a KID story, so I should like it, but it also features the Detective Boys and one of Samizu Kichiemon's inventions, so I'm not too big a fan of this story. Interesting is how Conan seems to be quite famous in the media nowadays as KID's rival: you'd think he needs to keep a low profile as he's still on the run for the Organisation. At least Haibara is sensible enough to keep a hat on her head. While this is not the first story with both KID and the Detective Boys, it is the first story that actually sets these forces against each other. Detective Memoir of a Monkey and a Rake is a which-of-the-three story featuring a dying message by a man stabbed by a purse-snatcher, but the message is way too obscure to be any fun.

Volume 69
Keyhole: Akagi Hideo
Cases: A Request from the Swamp; Scenario of a Locked Steam Room; White Day of Betrayal; The Secret the Diary Plays

A Request from the Swamp is a spooky story, with a man seemingly drowned by a kappa in his own home. The trick is rather easy to see through, but the story-telling makes up for it. Yamamura Misao's promotion in The Raven Chaser is also maintained here, and he is still having trouble getting Mouri to call him by the title of police inspector. Scenario of a Locked Steam Room is a great little locked room story at an onsen resort. The resort is being used for a movie shooting by a famous movie directo, who had filmed one of his earlier movies (a locked room mystery!) at the same place. He is found dead in the women's bath one morning, but he was the only person to have entered the building. The solution is good and the set-up and execution of the whole plot is great. White Day of Betrayal is more like a Kuitan story, with its strange emphasis on the workings of food. And like Kuitan, it's kinda hard to solve completely without some specific food-related knowledge. The Secret the Diary Plays is a Detective Boys-in-a-haunted-house story with a lot of misdirection. I don't like the story at all, but I have it a lot with this type of stories.

Volume 70
Keyhole: Chaki Shintarou
Cases: The Secret the Diary Plays; Conan vs. KID - Ryouma's Treasures; The Victim is Kudou Shinichi/Inubushi Castle - The Flaming Demon Dog
Characters: Kaitou Shukujo Phantom Lady

I actually discussed this volume in a seperate post, but to keep up continuity: Conan vs. KID - Ryouma's Treasures is a great story, with Kaitou KID saying he'll return some items of Sakamoto Ryouma, stolen many years ago by the female thief Phantom Lady (and it's heavily implied at the end that Phantom Lady is actually the current KID's mother, which makes things really weird). Changing the problem from 'how's KID going to get away with the loot' to 'how's KID going to enter with the loot' makes for a very interesting story. The Victim is Kudou Shinichi/Inubushi Castle - The Flaming Demon Dog is a fairly long Hattori story, that begins very strong: Conan and Hattori encounter a locked room murder and solve it practically instantly. The problem is that this murder is probably just the first in a series, as an inheritence dispute and a legend of a flaming demon dog are the standard ingredients for a juicy and long serial murder story. The story, naturally, reminds of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but features loads of original elements (actually, only the demon dog reminds of the Hound). I'd be the one who'd have to translate/localize this story though. The plan of the murderer is pretty complex and reminds of Ellery Queen. Though Queen novels don't really feature demon dogs and legends and stuff.

Compared to the previous sets of volumes, these 10 volumes are kinda tame. Not boring or anything at all though. This set has some excellent stories like Kaitou KID's Teleportation Magic (volume 61), Murderer Kudou Shinichi / Shinichi's Real Identity and Ran's Tears/What I Really Want to Ask (volume 62-63), Mansion of Death, the Red Wall (volume 65-66) and The Victim is Kudou Shinichi/Inubushi Castle - The Flaming Demon Dog (volume 70), which rank among the best of Conan stories. But the overall storyline with the Black Organisation is certainly not as strong as in the previous sets of volumes. Volumes 40 ~ 60 featured great Black Organisation stories, but there is only one Black Organisation story here and even then it's not really interesting. The whole Okiya/Akai Shuuichi look-a-like/Bourbon storyline is moving rather slow (and a bit too much like the Vermouth storyline), so it's hard to see where that's going.

As for the movies, The Raven Chaser deserves a special mention being a movie featuring the Organisation in a way that fits the Organisation as we have seen in the last couple of years. Countdown to Heaven also featured the Organisation, but its presence was never so intense as in The Raven Chaser. For Conan fans, The Raven Chaser is a must-see.

Going through 70 volumes in a relatively short time period was kinda exhausting, but never boring. It's almost 10 years since I first started reading Conan (and despite that, Conan is still in the first grade), but re-reading this series from the beginning again confirmed it: this is an awesome series. Conan's body may have shrunk, but the mysteries he solves are still those worthy of a Great Detective.

Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン』第61巻~70巻 / 『名探偵コナン 戦慄の楽譜(フルスコア)』 / 『名探偵コナン 漆黒の追跡者(チェーサー)』 / 『名探偵コナン 天空の難破船(ロストシップ)』

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