Monday, September 30, 2013

The Most Dangerous Match

『逆転裁判 蘇る逆転』

"It's an old story from China. There was a weapons merchant in the country of So long ago. He appeared before the king and presented two of his goods. The first, was an invincible halberd. A weapon which could pierce any defense. The second item was an unbreakable shield. A shield which could fend off everything"
"Hmmm... wait, that merchant's story, is a contradiction!"
"Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney - Rise from the Ashes"

I just realized that I haven't used Japanese in my post titles for some time now. Visitor-wise, I don't think there's a significant difference though.

1937. The young Kindaichi Kousuke has recently started his own private detective agency, but has problems drawing in clients. As he has to pay his rent, he does not hesitate to take a case even if it means he has to travel all the way to the city of Osaka. He finds himself getting involved with two rivaling pharmacy shops: the two shops used to be one, but when the original master of the shop died without appointing a successor, his two disciples each opened their own shop, both claiming to be the true successor. A kidnapping case and the discovery of a burnt body keep our young detective busy in the bustling Kansai city. Meanwhile, the famous private detecive Akechi Kogorou has recently returned from Manchuria, and he too decides to involve himself with the case, albeit in the background. Thus starts the grand crossover TV special Kindachi Kousuke VS Akechi Kogorou.

Kindaichi Kousuke VS Akechi Kogorou is a 2013 TV special for Fuji TV, based on a story written by Ashibe Taku. Please note that this is different from the 2005 Asahi TV Akechi Kogorou VS Kindaichi Kousuke special, which was a crossover special set in contemporary times. Anyway, as a concept, this is pretty awesome: Edogawa Rampo's Akechi Kogorou and Yokomizo Seishi's Kindaichi Kousuke are arguably the best known fictional Japanese detectives and a crossover between the detectives of different writers is quite rare. This is something big, like a Hercule Poirot VS Ellery Queen. And of course, certain expectations are created by combining the two names (Nishimura Kyoutarou's series featuring Akechi Kogorou, Ellery Queen, Hercule Poirot and Jules Maigret was therefore doomed from the start, I guess).

 Overall, I have to be honest and say I was a bit disappointed by the special. This was not because of the plot of the special though. It was a relatively entertaining story with several good twists that kept the plot going. Hints were layed out very fairly and while the main trick is a bit silly when you actually see it in action (I suspect this part worked better as a written story), the special did provide for an entertaining 100 minutes.

But were the names Kindaichi Kousuke and Akechi Kogorou really needed? The title might say 'versus', but there is no real confrontation, or at least no fair confrontation, between the two detectives. Kindaichi Kousuke has most of the screentime, and a disguised Akechi Kogorou just appears now and then, but it is clear from the start that the famous, more experienced Akechi Kogorou is a better detective than Kindaichi. Akechi is just there to give Kindaichi hints (while Kindaichi doesn't even know he's talking to his idol Akechi Kogorou) and the whole thing feels more like Akechi Kogorou Teaches Kindaichi Kousuke, rather than Kindaichi Kousuke VS Akechi Kogorou. Both characters do sorta resemble their original counterparts, but were these two names really needed for this story?

Like I wrote in the review for Morikawa Tomoki's Two Detectives and One Watson, when you have two (or more) rival detectives in one story, you need to make them comparable in deductive powers to maintain an element of competition. This isn't the case here. Other methods might be having the two rival detectives taking on different sides of the case. Strangely enough, the best examples of detective crossovers I can come up with now, are games: Professor Layton vs. Gyakuten Saiban and Detective Conan vs. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo give each series the same amount of time to shine, without one overshadowing the other in terms of deductive powers/usefulness. In Kindaichi Kousuke VS Akechi Kogorou, Kindaichi manages to come up with good deductions, but the viewer knows that Akechi Kogorou is always one step ahead.

Which is a shame, because the basic story does fit Kindaichi Kousuke in theme I think. The ending especially feels like it could fit in with the canon Kindaichi Kousuke stories. The use of Akechi Kogorou on the other hand adds nothing to the story, and in fact takes away most of the good feeling you'd get had this just been presented as a young-Kindaichi-in-training story.

Kindaichi Kousuke VS Akechi Kogorou is an okay detective story, but it does not live up to the expectations created by putting the two famous names together. Nothing bad, but also a bit more bland than you'd want something with such a title to be.

Original Japanese title(s): 『金田一耕助VS明智小五郎』

No comments :

Post a Comment