Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hello Mr. my yesterday

『名探偵コナン 過去からの前奏曲(プレリュード)』

"Since ancient times locked rooms have been constructed by criminals, and deconstructed by detectives
"Detective Conan: Prelude From the Past"

Welcome to a new entry in Short Shorts, where the topics that don't convert to proper stand-alone posts are banished to. I actually wanted to post this Short Short later, because I usually gather at least three topics per post. But then I noticed I was already nearing the 200 character limit for the labels for this post with just two topics. Darn tags!

I really miss having a television in my room. I love Japanese variety programs (even if they are highly commercial and capable of rendering viewers brainless) and TV dramas. And this season in particular is full with interesting-looking detective series! A series based on Higashigawa Tokuya's Houkago wa Mystery to Tomo ni, a series based on Akagawa Jirou's Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri ("Calico Cat Holmes' Deduction")... and the one I am actually watching at the moment: Kagi no Kakatta Heya ("The Locked Room"), a series based on the three books in Kishi Yuusuke's Security Consultant Detective Enomoto Kei series (The Glass Hammer, Kitsunebi no Ie and Kagi no Kakatta Heya).

I'll admit right away that part of my enjoyment of the series derives from looking at Toda Erika playing the young attorney Aoto Junko. While there are some minor changes in the setting, the basic formula of this is still the same as the original novel series: attorney Aoto Junko (and her superior Serizawa Gou) come across suspicious suicide and accidental death cases. Their feeling tells them that it must have been murder, but these cases all occur in locked rooms. Enter security consultant Enomoto Kei (played by Arashi leader Ohno Satoshi), who with an expert knowledge concerning locks and other ways to lock rooms for their cases will find a way to open the locked rooms for our laywer duo.

It's pretty very rare for a TV series to focus completely on locked rooms (so it's not 'just' an emphasis on impossible situations), but Kagi no Kakatta Heya pulls it off perfectly. Which is also because of the fantastic source material. Especially awesome are the little models of the rooms Enomoto constructs every episode, which he then examines through a small fiber camera. It really feels like they did their best on this production, as this is an era where we usually go for easy-made CG models for these kind of reconstructions. Anyway, an awesome mystery series that has is a must-see for those people who especially like locked rooms. And Toda Erika.

And to get back to the TV-story: I also want a television to play videogames on. As of now, I just have to be content with my PSP and DS though and the last two weeks of April were mostly dedicated to playing Meitantei Conan: Kako Kara no Prelude ("Detective Conan: Prelude from the Past"), the newest Conan videogame. It's a direct sequel to last year's Detective Conan: Rondo of the Blue Jewel, featuring an almost identical game engine (with a few little new parts). Like the previous game, Prelude From the Past consists of a series of loosely connected cases which the player, assuming the roles of Conan, Shinichi and Hattori, has to solve. This time, the story concerns a case that spans over time (hence the title), Starting with a case Shinichi solved before he turned into Conan, and the culmination of that case in the present. Oh, and Kaitou KID appears fo no reason at all in the story. But he appears, so that justifies having him featuring prominently on the cover, right?

The gameplay is practically the same to Rondo of the Blue Jewel, so I refer to that review for the explanation of the deduction system. And if I concentrate on the story in Prelude From the Past, well.... it's also very similar to last year's game. The plots of the seperate stories range from the mediocre to the average, concerning impossible disappearances (which you will understand instantly) and crafty alibi tricks (which are not that crafty). The biggest problem however, is the slow, slow pacing of the stories. Most of the stories are not that difficult to solve, but it takes ages to go through all the dialogues in order to progress the story. The way the game feeds the player information is highly flawed. Compare to Gyakuten Saiban, where you still have to figure things out even after you formally finish your investigation: even as you are standing in court defending your client / accusing other people, you have to process new information. Plot-twists keep pushing you to the wall, forcing you to come up with new hypotheses and deductions on the spot. Which makes the story-telling of Gyakuten Saiban fast-paced and exciting. In Prelude From the Past, you are just talking, talking and talking, until you get to the point the game decides that is time to stop the investigation, after which it just leads your train of thought by asking questions that obviously point to the murderer.

The two things I did like of this game: the story is actually written in a way that it does not upset Conan-canon (unlike the TV drama) and the introduction of the game is hilarious with an unexpected person being pointed out as the murderer. In all other aspects, it's a clone of the previous game, but I personally liked the overall story of Rondo of the Blue Jewel better than Prelude From the Past.

And yes, Short Shorts are usually less interesting to read. Ah well, at least tomorrow's post is slightly better.

Original Japanese title(s): 貴志祐介(原) 『鍵のかかった部屋』, 『名探偵コナン 過去からの前奏曲(プレリュード)』


  1. The locked rooms in Kagi no kakatta heya or rather their solutions have been a mixed bag so far, but I've liked 3 of 5 so far and I've really liked those a lot. Especially the latest one. Even if some aspects of the settings are obviously based on existing material, I think every case is very imaginative for a short story frame. I had a minor nitpicking with the 1st episode and the solution to the locked room with the spiders in episode 4 still boggles my mind, but I want to believe that the rest of the series will make it awesome overall.

    Mikeneko though... While the whodunnit isn't exactly intriguing in either of the two series, in Kagi it's because the focus is on the howdunnit of the locked rooms. But in Mikeneko it's really just too obvious and boring therefore. The locked room in the 1st episode was rather neat though and I get why it was featured in 密室ミステリの迷宮 (even though it was rather easy to guess).

    I'll continue watching Mikeneko, but not only are the whodunnits lacking so far, the protagonist's actor is annoying the hell out of me! And I don't say that because he is an Arashi member. I think Sakurai Sho as Kageyama in Nazotoki and Ohno Satoshi as Enomoto in Kagi are a treat to watch. I don't know if it's the actor or the role itself that annoys me. It might even be both though...

    I'll have to catch up on Houkago in case it entertains me, as I didn't find the episodes online when they began airing.

    1. I am looking forward to Kaki no Kakatta Heya's take on The Glass Hammer: it's probably safe to assume that this will become the multi-episode finale to the series.

      I haven't seen Mikeneko yet, which is admittedly also because Aiba is the smallest bip on my Arashi radar ^_~' I have the first novel somewhere, so I think I'll read that first before I'll see the series (probably months after it's finished...). Maybe by that time, Ninomiya is starring in his own detective series too =_~

      I saw the first episode of Houkago wa Mystery to Tomo ni yesterday, which was pretty disappointing actually. It naturally misses the budget something like Kagi no Kakatta Heya has, but it also misses the charm the short movie (available on Youtube) has. It's really mediocre.

    2. Yeah I also guessed they save the first book for the finale. And the series really has a surprising budget. The OST is also neat from what you could hear so far. Nothing spectacular like Nazotoki but it still gets me excited every episode. Arashi's theme song also turned out comparatively decent, even though I usually don't listen to much Pop aside from rare otaku-esque exceptions. I definitely hear Magic Girl from Alstroemeria Records at the beginning of Face Down every damn time though and it kind of bugs me.

      I'll watch Houkago during the next hours. If I finish the series I'll do a proper review once it finished airing, as goes for the others´series as well.