"There are no major or minor cases."
How I want to see the latest Detective Conan film! Afraid of spoilers, I've only seen little bits of people writing about The Darkest Nightmare, but it's apparently an awesome film, even if light on the mystery-side of things. Guess I'll wait for the home-video release..
Detective Conan's yearly schedule. It's when the latest film is released (just in time for Golden Week), which is also accompanied with the release of the latest volume. In my review of the previous volume, I lamented how utterly boring it was, as it only featured two complete stories, which weren't that great anyway. Detective Conan 89, released last month, on the other hand is one of the best volumes in recent years, despite not featuring a high profile story! It starts with the final chapter of The Girl Band Murder Case, which started in the previous volume. A member of an amateur girl band is murdered inside a rented studio, but 'luckily', Ran, Sonoko and Masumi were also at the rental studio complex to rehearse for their own girl band. The problem revolves around a security camera that was partially blocked off and what the other band members did as they went in and outside the studio. This is a very decently constructed mystery story, with a fairly clever way of getting rid of the murder weapon. At the core, this is a very by-the-numbers story, with three suspects, a limited setting and a gimmick trick, but the trick is both simple, yet smart and I'd say this is a fantastic example of how to do a good short story.
And the same holds for Inconsistent Testimonies. During Dr. Agasa's Christmas shopping for the kids, a chef of a restaurant in a department store is stabbed. The attempted murderer runs down the staircase, and Conan quickly gives orders to the Detective Boys, who are all on different floors, to keep an eye out for the person. In the end, three persons trying to quickly leave the department store are detained, but the Detective Boys all make conflicting testimonies about the person they saw fleeing through the staircase. The gimmick of inconsistent testimonies is something that has been done earlier in the series, but it was not done as elegantly as in this story. Like many of the short stories, this story revolves around a gimmick, but the gimmick is transformed and rearranged three times, to result in the three different testimonies. A lesser writer might've stuck with the initial gimmick, but Aoyama cleverly changes this in a much more complex story, without making it feel cheap. Once again, a prime example of a good short story.
The title of The Suspect Is An Alien tells it all. Mouri Kogorou is hired to find out the truth about an UFO a high school student saw flying some time ago, and during the investigation, the gang stumble upon Detective Chiba, who is investigating a murder apparently commited by an alien. The editor of a magazine on extraterrestials was choked to death and his body left on (at the time still) wet concrete. A UFO maniac was found lying next to the dead body in the concrete, who claims an alien killed the other man. The man is obviously regarded a suspect, but the footsteps left in the concrete show that it was unlikely he could've commited the murder, and gotten rid of the murder weapon. As an impossible crime story, this one is okay. It is mostly built around some trivia knowledge, which is something I seldom like in detective stories (if not properly hinted at), but there are some other features about the impossible situation that are actually quite neat. And there's a running gag about Chiba suddenly losing weight A LOT which is hilarious.
In Search For The Lost Marriage Registration Form!, Yumi of the Traffic Department has mislaid a rather important document: a marriage registration form already signed by her boyfriend (Yumi: "Ex-boyfriend!"), who is a celebrated shougi player. The caretaker of her apartment building (and hardcore shougi fan) has found the document, but refuses to return it to Yumi, unless she solves his riddle and proves she is actualy worthy of marrying the shougi master. Luckily for Yumi, she's accompanied by Detective Satou, the Detective Boys and Conan. Usually, I'm not a fan of code cracking stories, and the way the old geezer messes around with people's private lives is more than a little bit disturbing, but I thought the code was surprisingly fun, though that was probably because it's connected to some random trivia I do happen to have learned recently. If not, it's kinda random, and overall, this is the weakest story of the volume by far. The volume ends with the first chapter of The Message Cut Out With Scissors, which will apparently reveal a bit about the history of the toxin that shrunk Conan to his current size.
Detective Conan 89 was all in all a huge improvement over the previous volume. It might not have big, long stories, but it shows that good short stories are still good and this volume has a good collection of those. With volume 90 appearing in the summer, we'll finally have reached that last stretch before the series'll hit the 100s. Perhaps I should start working on my big Conan posts on volume 80-89 soon.
Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌『名探偵コナン』第８９巻