You disappoint me, great detective
You forgot something important at the crime scene!
"Detective Conan - A Challenge Letter for Kudou Shinichi"
So in the end I couldn't keep up with weekly reviews of the Detective Conan live action series. Partly because of university, but also because the quality of the series was very inconsistent. While I admit there were some good episodes too in this 13-episode long series, most of the episodes were either average or actually bad, which kinda sucked away the motivation to watch the series and report on it loyally every week.
Which explains why I am doing the final three episodes of the series in one single post now, two weeks after the series ended. The whole weekly posting thing experiment was fun to try, but I guess I found out the hard way that this only works if a) the series is actually fun to watch every episode and b) if the episode actually allows me to comment on it in a semi-meaningful way.
Meitantei Conan - Kudou Shinichi e no Chousenjou (Detective Conan - A Challenge Letter for Kudou Shinichi)
Episode 1 (July 7, 2011): Before he turned into Conan, the high school detective solved the mystery of the adultery murder!
Episode 2 (July 14, 2011): The locked room murder commited on air! Reveal the secret cursed by the psychic
Episode 3 (July 21, 2011): Murder Case in a Locked Courtroom! Reveal the Trick of the Hostess Murder
Episode 4 (July 28, 2011): Perfect Crime! Murder Notice at a Wedding, Reveal the Locked Room Poisoning Trick
Episode 5 (August 5, 2011): The Glamorous Murder Trick of the Actress who lost her Memory - Perfect Murder at the Summer House
Episode 6 (August 11, 2011): The Magnificent Murderous Kiss of Twenty Beauties! The Murderous Intent Hidden in the Murder Equation!
Episode 7 (August 18, 2011): Inheritance Murder Among Bloody Relatives! Reveal the Mystery of the Kidnapping Trick!
Episode 8 (August 25, 2011): A Woman's Determination, Revenge on the Molester! The Murder Trick hidden in the Security Camera
Episode 9 (September 01, 2011): Hattori Heiji and the Mystery of the Invisible Locked Room Murder Weapon! Deduction Battle between the Detectives of East and West
Episode 10 (September 08, 2011): The Mystery of the Body that Moved 200 KM Within An Instant! Reveal the Perfect Crime Scheme of the Evil Woman
Episode 11 (September 15, 2011): A Kiss Is the Reason for Murder, A Revenge Murder After 20 Years! The Mystery of the Perfect Alibi
Episode 12 (September 22, 2011): I Killed Her! 3 Single Murderers? Reveal the Mystery of the Fake Murder!
Episode 13 (September 29, 2011): Ran Dies! The Final Challenge of the True Criminal to the Genius Detective - Reveal the Mystery of the White Room
When the Conan live action drama was first announced, I heard that the series would also include episodes based on the manga, but it was just this one single episode. Episode 11 ("A Kiss Is the Reason for Murder, A Revenge Murder After 20 Years! The Mystery of the Perfect Alibi") is based on Desperate Revival [The Return of Shinichi & The Promised Place] (volume 26). Seeing as the live-action series focuses more on the Shinichi - Ran dynamics, the choice seems logical at first sight, as this case features them in a rather unique situation. Shinichi and Ran are having dinner in a restaurant, with Shinich clearly having something on his mind to say to Ran when a murder is discovered in the elevator of the building. Ran allows Shinichi to go see what's happening, not knowing that Shinichi was planning to propose to her.
The big, big, big problem with this story is that it is set chronologically after Shinichi turned in Conan in the manga. While the live action was already taking some liberties with continuity in earlier episodes(see episodes 3 and 9 for example), the contradictions there could be ignored with a bit of imagination. But by setting this case (and the surrounding events) before Shinichi turned into Conan, the live action series is set obviously in another continuity.
The original story is pretty good, resulting in one of the better episodes of the drama series, but the story loses a lot of its meaning because of the changed setting (in the manga, the fact that the case is set after Shinichi turned into Conan is very important for the conclusion of the story). The dramatization does not offer anything interesting new in return for these changes, resulting in a story that is not quite as good as the original manga or the anime episode.
Episode 12 ("I Killed Her! 3 Single Murderers? Reveal the Mystery of the Fake Murder!") starts out interestingly enough: a bank employee is found dead in the strongbox room of the bank, but the problem is that nobody can enter the room, as the security gate is down. Apparently, the murderer killed the employee, somehow activated the security gate, sealing off the strongbox room and even placed a bomb that goes off if somebody tries to open the gate. Mouri and Shinichi are asked privately to help, but to their big surprise, all three of their suspects confess to the murder, claiming they commited the murder on their own!
The problem of the three suspects confessing to the murder seems a lot like Bertus Aafjes' short story De haan heeft gegaapt of de zaak van de vele moordenaars (The Cock Yawned or the Case of the Multiple Murderers), the difference being that the latter is actually fun and this episode is really, really bad. Not the worst episode of the series, but it comes close. With problems involving illogical actions taken by the actors on stage, the awful (absolutely awful) hinting, and a pathetic attempt to make this case seem like a tragic (thus interesting) case, this episode is nothing more than a half an hour of headache-inducing nonsense. In fact, all of the notes I took while watching this episodes were just the keywords of the episode, all followed by a question mark. Why did (s)he do that? Why wouldn't someone notice that? Why would you leave that there? Why? Why? Why?!
The first episode of this series started with Shinichi, Ran and Mouri being locked inside a white room, being forced to recall cases Shinichi solved in the past in order to move on to other rooms, but in the final episode ("Ran Dies! The Final Challenge of the True Criminal to the Genius Detective - Reveal the Mystery of the White Room"), Shinichi finally manages to escape from the white room. Or to be more exact: he was knocked out inside the white room and woke up in a harbor, being found by the police. Shinichi has no idea what happened, but the more shocking discovery is that Ran was found dead besides him in the harbor.
The rest of the episode Shinichi tries to figure out what has happened to Ran and who had captured them in the white room, but it takes no genius detective to solve the case. Halfway through the episode, Shinichi suddenly decides to run from the police, mimicking something Kindaichi Hajime has to do rather often in his stories, but with one big difference: there was no reason for Shinichi to run away. In fact, like with the previous episodes, I had to ask the Why question quite often, and I never got any answers.
A different problem I had with the episode is that is hardly a satisfying finale to 13 episode long series. From the beginning of the series, I had one fear: that the main storyline of the gang being locked inside the white rooms was nothing more than just a method to string the seperate stories together. I really hoped that the writers would have planted hints spread across all the episodes, allowing the viewer to construct a case while watching the series. Which is why I paid attention to the dates the cases occured on and to the passwords in every episode. But that was all useless. The final episode is just a cheap way to wrap up the series, delivering not a single grain of satisfaction. No interconnection between the episodes, no carefully planted seeds across the episodes! Despite the fact that it could have been done perfectly considering who the final criminal was! It's the sort of thing that is done expertly in the manga, as evidenced with the Vermouth and Kir/Eisuke storylines there. Carefully plotted hints scattered over a variety of stories that may or may not be directly connected to the overall storyline. Which makes the lousy way it's handled here more obvious.
Oh, and a random observation: the Beika police station looks awfully like the police station in the Furuhata Ninzaburou episode The Fear of Professor Kuroiwa. Which is really interesting considering the criminal's identity and the overall tone of the episode.
And this finally wraps up my review-series of Detective Conan - A Challenge Letter for Kudou Shinichi. And yes, it was quite tedious, as the material was usually not really worth writing about. I love Conan, and the TV-specials were OK, but this series, on the whole, almost feels like a mistake. Episode 3 ("Murder Case in a Locked Courtroom! Reveal the Trick of the Hostess Murder"), episode 9 ("Hattori Heiji and the Mystery of the Invisible Locked Room Murder Weapon! Deduction Battle between the Detectives of East and West") and episode 10 ("The Mystery of the Body that Moved 200 KM Within An Instant! Reveal the Perfect Crime Scheme of the Evil Woman") are worth a look, but the rest can be missed.
I won't say there was nothing positive at all in the Mizobata/Kutsuna era Detective Conan - A Challenge Letter for Kudou Shinichi series, but I guess my gut-feeling about the original TV special that preceded this series was right: the current creative team just isn't talented enough to (consistently) come up with stories worthy of the franchise name.
Aaaah, at least the manga is still going strong!
Original Japanese title(s):
『名探偵コナン 工藤新一への挑戦状』 サブタイトル「キスは殺しの理由、20年後の復讐殺人! 完璧なアリバイの謎 」
Date & Password: 2010.9.17; エレベーター
『名探偵コナン 工藤新一への挑戦状』 サブタイトル「私が殺しました! 3人の単独犯? 偽装殺人の謎を暴け!」
Date & Password: 2010.9.24; タンジョウビ
『名探偵コナン 工藤新一への挑戦状』 サブタイトル「蘭死す! 真犯人が天才探偵へ最後の挑戦 白い部屋の謎を暴け」
Date & Password: 2009.5.15; ヒロタハジメ