Friday, September 4, 2015


「I'll help you! I'm Holmes' apprentice!」
"Detective Conan"

In 2011, I had the ambitious, but crazy plan of going through the complete Detective Conan manga right from the beginning. It meant reading, and writing something on about 70 volumes and 14 theatrical releases of Detective Conan. I discussed ten volumes per post (fitting in the films with the release schedule of the manga) and it resulted in seven, very lengthy posts. In the last post of the series, I noted that the manga was 'only' at volume 73 at the time, so it would take several years before I could do another of those posts. But with volume 87 released recently, I thought it was about time I discuss volumes 71 ~ 80 of Detective Conan.

Most of these volumes I had only read once and I had forgotten the details of many of them, so rereading them felt surprisingly fresh. Also, I was in Japan from April 2012 to March 2013, so volumes 75 ~ 78 also felt special as I bought them in Japan (and also watched The Eleventh Striker then). So this was also a short trip in memory lane. Many, but not all of the volumes discussed in today's post I already discussed in smaller, single reviews the last couple of years by the way.

These posts do not contain spoilers for the mystery plots of each individual story, but because I consider these posts as one big overview of the whole Conan series, I do reveal story spoilers, like the identities of certain characters, certain important events etc. I also note some clues of the overall story, that are of significance later on in the series. So read at your own risk. Also, while I do discuss the Conan films, I did not include 2013's Lupin III VS Detective Conan here, as it's obviously not part of the main series (that review, you can find here).

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 71
Keyhole: Minerva Glass
Cases: Detective Chiba's First Love; The Revelation of Holmes
Police: Miike Naeko (Traffic Division)

By now, we know very well that Aoyama Goushou is almost insanely fond of childhood friends falling in love. In Detective Chiba's First Love, we are told that our favorite slightly overweight police detective also attended Teitan Elementary when he was a kid, and that he had a crush on a classmate. The classmate had to move away, but had left Chiba a message in the audio/video room of Teitan Elementary. He never did find it, but this time, Chiba has the help of Conan and the Detective Boys. A cute story, but a bit weak for a detective story, even if it makes interesting use of memories in it its storytelling. The big story is The Revelation of Holmes, which has author's intent bringing Conan to London, home of his beloved Sherlock Holmes. A riddle message found by Apollo Glass, little brother of Wimbledon contestant Minerva Glass, seems to be suggesting a bomb will be set off somewhere in London and while Apollo didn't manage to find the real Sherlock Holmes, "Holmes' Disciple" is just as good. The story reminds me a lot of the bomb story in volume 36, both being grand-scale stories involving a riddle, people running around town and featuring a romantic subplot. Better remembered for its scale, setting and exciting endgame, than for its puzzle plot.

Movie: Quarter of Silence
Release: April 16, 2011
(See also single review)

Quarter of Silence is the movie I remember for its absolutely horrible guest voicework (by war photographer Watanabe Youichi). Granted, Conan films have had horrible guest voicework in the past too, but Watanabe's appearance was really one of the worst performances. As a detective film, Quarter of Silence is pretty boring too. There's a rather sober investigation into a murder that is never really appealing. Where's the time-bomber?! The serial murderer who killed people with numbers in their names? The only 'special' thing about this film is the snow-setting, but that's it. Oh, and the movie has some of the most ridiculous action scenes of Detective Conan history. Ever since Crossroad in the Ancient Capital, the directors have tried to make the stakes higher and higher with each film and by the time we got by Quarter of Silence, things got really ridiculous with Conan's skateboarding (and snowboarding). Easily one of the worst Conan films.

Volume 72
Keyhole: Apollo Glass
Cases: The Revelation of Holmes; Emergency 252; The Operation Room of Screams; The Desperate Karuta Game; The Blade of the Keeper of Time
(See also single review)

The last chapter of The Revelation of Holmes has something shocking to offer for long-time fans who have invested emotionally in the characters, but it's a shame it couldn't have been collected in the previous volume. Emergency 252 has the Detective Boys playing in an abandonded building, that happens to be the base of operations of two kidnappers. Exciting short story, especially because Conan himself is knocked out early in the game and has to figure out an escape for himself, while also saving the others. The Operation Room of Screams is a rather standard story. Three suspects, a mechanical trick, material evidence: familiar elements that add up to an okay story. The Desperate Karuta Game is fun, because it's a Detective Boys story without Conan (who has a cold). A new boy in Ayumi's apartment building claims unknown people are pretending to be his parents, but the boy is knowing for lying and pulling pranks. Suspecting that this time, the Boy Who Cried Wolf is right, the Detective Boys, led by Haibara, try to figure out what is going on. The coded message that is the centre of this story is absolutely ridiculous though (no way a boy would've come up with that in the spur of the moment). The Blade of the Keeper of Time too is a predictable story: a wealthy, but hated lady celebrating her birthday in her mansion filled with clocks; letters going back two years announcing her murder. Elements we know and love. 

Volume 73
Keyhole: Sera Masumi
Cases: The Blade of the Keeper of Time; Deadly Delicious Ramen; A Deduction Confrontation in the Haunted Hotel; The Detective Agency Lock-Up
Characters: Sera Masumi
Plot: First appearance of Sera Masumi; she purposedly lets Conan (& Shinichi) solve the case. Conan thinks he has met Sera before.
(See also single review)

The Blade of the Keeper of Time is also not a very original story. Granted, this is volume 73, so there's bound to be some overlap, but I think that the dynamics behind the suddenly disappearing murderer have been re-used in Conan way too often. Deadly Delicious Ramen also follows a familiar pattern; an impossible poisoning story, this time set in a ramen noodle restaurant. I love this story though; partly because I am a big of ramen noodles, partly because the trick is so practical and realistic (I'd been murdered dozens of time). Fantastic short story. A Deduction Confrontation in the Haunted Hotel introduces us to Sera Masumi, the female, but boyish high school student detective and definitely my favorite 'new' character of the last 5, 6 years. The story involving what appears a murder commited by a ghost haunting part of a hotel has a rather technical mystery plot behind it. Not my favorite story in terms of puzzle, but not bad. In The Detective Agency Lock-Up, Ran, Sera and Mouri Kogorou are held hostage in the Mouri Detective Agency together with three female writers. The three women had gone to a hot spring resort last month together with another female writer, but the latter apparently commited suicide then. The brother however is convinced it's murder and having taken everyone hostage, he demands the Sleeping Kogorou to find out which of the three women is the murderer, so he can kill her.

Volume 74
Keyhole: Goro
Cases: The Detective Agency Lock-Up; The Movie Site Kidnapping Case; Conan VS Heiji - Deduction Battle Between The Detectives Of East and West; Poison and the Phantom Design
Characters: Yonehara Sakurako
Plot: Sera Masumi is investigating the people around Conan, especially Haibara; James Black recognizes Sera Masumi
(See also single review)

Despite it being a who-of-the-three story involving a code, The Detective Agency Lock-Up has quite some twist and turns. Add in the hostage situation and you get a rather suspenseful story, that also gives us more insight in the character of Sera. A call on a popular video site for people to appraise a pot Dr. Agasa found leads to the abduction of Ayumi. It is a bit Holmesian, and I think not very difficult for most people to figure out. Conan VS Heiji - Deduction Battle Between The Detectives Of East and West is one of my favorite stories ever as it has everything I like: a deduction battle between two detectives, a story set in a restaurant and where food and eating culture is actually important to the puzzle plot, as well as an emphasis on dialects! It's also a hilarious story. Definitely a must-read. Poison and the Phantom Design is a story I didn't really like when I first read it, but I've reconsidered a bit this time. It's still a somewhat slow, but deep story, as Hattori and Conan have to solve a murder involving a disappearing dying message that happened one month earlier, and a new poisoning case of the previous victim's son. Both cases are not outstanding on their own (the former being hard to 'show' in the comic format, the latter being a decent, but not remarkable story), but Aoyama does manage to weave all these threads into one complex story.

Movie 16: The Eleventh Striker
Release: April 14, 2012
(See also single review)

I have a soft spot for The Eleventh Striker because I watched it in the theatres in Japan, but in hindsight, it wasn't that good a movie. It's a lot like Quarter of Silence, with a themed story (soccer this time), over-the-top action scenes (an insane skateboard scence on top of a soccer stadium) and bad voice-acting. Well, at least the bad voice-acting came from professional J-League soccer players voicing themselves... Interesting is that the last half of the film is set during a soccer match (several simultaneously, actually) and we get a lot of action shots. Detective Conan is usually a rather static anime with the action concentrated in very specific scenes, so in terms of animation, The Eleventh Striker can feel a bit different. The Eleventh Striker is a must-see for Detective Boys fans though, if they exist. The last bit where Conan saves the day is a bit predictable, but oh-so-awesome.

Volume 75
Keyhole: Miike Naeko
Cases: Poison and the Phantom Design; Mr. Kogorou Is A Nice Person; A Joint Investigation With Your First Love; Wedding Eve
Character: Amuro Tooru
Plot: First apperance of Amuro Tooru
(See also single review)

Mr. Kogorou Is A Nice Person is another story with a Kogorou imposter, though this time, it's actually a nice person. The murder case in a small apartment building is not particularly inspiring, as it's rathe basic and plain, but at least the use of a TV as an alibi is still a fun element, I think. A Joint Investigation With Your First Love has police detective Chiba working on a case involving a car vandalizer with Miike Naeko of the traffic division. Because he hasn't recognized her as his first love, the Detective Boys try to nudge him in the right direction (but are hilariously thwarted by Yumi of the traffic division, who doesn't want to be the last one without a boyfriend). The story is very similar to the story in volume 28 ~ 29 involving Inspector Megure's hat, both being car-related and connected to a budding love story set at the Police Department. Wedding Eve is without a doubt one of the saddest Conan stories ever. The mystery of the woman who burnt to death on her wedding eve actually serves as the introduction to new recurring character Amuro Tooru, another young private detective, but man, this story is tear-inducing! In terms of puzzle plot, it's a bit technical though.

Volume 76
Keyhole: Amuro Tooru
Cases: Nocturne of the Detectives; Not Even 1 Milimeter Allowed; A Life-threatening Live Love Broadcast
Plot: Amuro Tooru becomes Mouri Kogorou's No. 1 Disciple; Bourbon is shown to be Sera Masumi, Amuro Tooru or Okiya Subaru
(See also single review)

Nocturne of the Detectives is a great story; it starts off with what appears to be a simple story of a someone hiring Mouri Kogorou to find out what a certain key opens, but halfway through it develops into an exciting kidnapping case with a car chase. Despite that, the original mystery plot is still resolved very satisfyingly. This story also confirms (for the reader) that Bourbon, another member of the Black Organization, is one of the three recent new characters. Not Even 1 Milimeter Allowed is a short story where a couple's fight ends in a struggle against death in the hospital when the husband accidently stabbed his wife while defending himself against her. Definitely not one of Conan's finest. It's a story that can only be solved through pyschological analysis of the characters, but man, if I ever saw unpredictable and hard-to-read characters, it's in this story. There's just no way to predict character X would take action Y. In A Life-threatening Live Love Broadcast, danger-prone police detective Takagi Wataruis is kidnapped and left bound to a plank high up a construction site. A webcam provides a live broadcast of Takagi's pinch, and is viewable through a special tablet delivered to the police.

Volume 77
Keyhole: Date Wataru
Cases: A Life-threatening Live Love Broadcast; Foam, Steam and Smoke; Kudou Yuusaku's Cold Case; The Shadow Closing In On Haibara's Secret
Plot: Amuro Tooru was friends with Date Wataru; Sera Masumi and Okiya Subaru learn more about Kudou Shinichi; Okiya Subaru spies on Conan using his voice-changing bow-tie, Sera Masumi recognizes Conan for someone, footage of an adult Haibara wearing a Mystery Train ring is seen by both Amuro Tooru and Okiya Subaru, who are also both hacking Mouri Kogorou's computer.

A Life-threatening Live Love Broadcast has a great background story (though a bit easy for non-Japanese readers). The actual plot surrounding Takagi's imminent death... not so. In the end, they find out where Takagi is because of trivia, and not deductive thinking, so that's a bit disappointing. Foam, Steam and Smoke is the standard who-of-the-three story: an evil publisher is pushed out his window, and the three suspects all claim they were in the room enjoying their beer, tea or cigarette in their own rooms until they heard the ruckus outside. The fact the beer is still foaming, steam is still coming from the tea and the cigarette is still lit are supposed to show that their alibis are solid, but obviously, one of them is lying. Simple story, nothing particular bad or good about it. Kudou Yuusaku's Cold Case is disappointing; when Ran stumbles upon a deceased man with the word "death" (in Japanese) written in blood next to him, she remembers that when she was a kid, Shinichi's father also walked away from a case with the exact same features, saying this would never happen again anyway. And indeed, the case is very implausible and asks a lot of the readers' will to suspend disbelief. The Shadow Closing In On Haibara's Secret has the Detective Boys (sans Conan) on the run in the forest for a murderer, but is mainly remarkable because it is used as a set-up for the following story. Footage of a (temporarily) adult Haibara/ex-member Sherry wearing a Mystery Train Bell Tree access ring as she is saving some children leaking convinces the Black Organization that she'll board that train to escape the Tokyo area and they plan to kill her on the train.

Volume 78
Keyhole: The Man With the Scars
Cases: The Raven Black Express Mystery Train; Conan in the Locked Room / Mystery-solving Bourbon; Conan VS KID - Blush Mermaid
Plot: Bourbon's identity is revealed. The man with the scars is revealed to be a disguise of Bourbon, hoping to find if Akai Shuuichi had really died. Sera Masumi says she has a deceased brother called Shuu(-something). Haibara is thought to have been blown up by Bourbon and Vermouth.
(See also single review)

The Raven Black Express Mystery Train is a great story, with a Murder on the Orient Express set-up, but also includes an impossible crime (a whole carriage appears to disappear in seconds!) and adds in the trap of the Black Organization for Haibara. Similar to volume 42's Confrontation with the Black Organisation - Double Mystery under the Full Moon and volume 58's Clash of Red & Black, we have multiple parties trying to outsmart each other while a "normal" murder case is being investigated, and it results in a very exciting and thrilling story that has some consequences for the whole of Conan canon, as it also reveals some minor storylines that had been going on since volume 59, like the identity of the man with the scars, the identity of the Black Organization member Bourbon and explains some of the strange events that had been going on the last few years in the comic. Conan in the Locked Room / Mystery-solving Bourbon is a little locked room mystery where Conan is locked up together with a corpse. The story is nothing special, save for the fact that it basically baffled all readers by having Amuro Tooru (revealed as an enemy agent in the previous story) still hanging around as a friend of the Mouris for unknown reasons (basically because he wants to know more about Conan).

Movie 17: Private Eye in the Distant Sea
Release: April 20, 2013
(See also single review)

A very different film compared to the previous couple of movies. The influence of Aibou scenario writer Sakura Takeharu can be felt throughout, as the plot revolves around a spy running around on the Aegis, a state-of-the-art vessel and one of Japan's main lines of naval defense. The story takes the form of a police procedural, with international politcal implications playing a big part in the story, rather than the whodunnit plots of most of the Conan films. This film is probably best compared to The Phantom of Baker Street, which also featured a non-Conan scenario writer coming up with a very unique and different type of story than we're used to. Private Eye in the Distant Sea is not my favorite Conan movie, but it does feel very refreshing after a long series of rather predictable movies. Oh, and while there's less over-the-top skateboard action from this film on, the producers somehow managed to still make this one of the most action-packed Conan films, with an actual hand-to-hand fight to the death being one of the highlights of the movie.

Volume 79
Keyhole: Hinohara Hikaru
Cases: Conan VS KID - Blush Mermaid; Everyone Saw It; Hattori Heiji and the Vampire Mansion

To be honest, stories starring the phantom thief KID have lost a lot of their allure ever since they became a regular thing. Conan VS KID - Blush Mermaid is an okay impossible crime story, but not nearly as impressive as those earlier in the series. In fact, I mostly remember this story for the awesome panel with both Sera Masumi and KID (you know the one). in Everyone Saw It, everyone saw a man commiting suicide in an elevator (just as the gang was leaving a building where an apparent murder was revealed to be a suicide). An original and very modern story, that shows Aoyama is always keeping up with the times. Not a remarkable story on its own, but these little stories that feature new technology, new social changes and things from 'now' are always welcome. The first time I read Hattori Heiji and the Vampire Mansion, I thought it was a bloated story. This second read, I still think it's a rather long story. It has a family legend about a Vlad Tepes-like ancestor, a head of a family who likes to sleep in coffins and avoids the sun, a mysterious murder in the past and family reunion in an old mansion with fighting siblings. It has horror-elements, it has impossible crimes and more. It feels a bit too busy in this story, that isn't particularly longer than other long stories. The solution is also a bit hard to swallow, as it basically sketches one person as the biggest idiot around. It has one (visually) hilarious solution for an impossible crime though.

Volume 80
Keyhole: Haneda Shuukichi
Cases: Hattori Heiji and the Vampire Mansion; The Sweet & Cold Delivery; The Treasure Box Filled With Fruit; The Neighbour of the Crime Scene Is Her Ex-Boyfriend; Jodie's Memories and the Flower-Viewing Trap
Characters: Haneda Shuukichi 

In The Sweet & Cold Delivery, the Detective Boys are locked inside a cooled delivery van, driven by two murderers. The escape method is kinda only workable in Conan, where there are genius detectives all over town. The Treasure Chest Filled With Fruit is about a box with fruit used in a cooking competition TV show. The box is usually locked twice so nobody knows what's inside except for the one filling it, yet the ruling champion appears to be getting his hands on the information anyway. One of the food judges investigating the case is found dead inside the treasure chest during the recording of the show. Fantastic setting, has some solid deductions, but figuring out how the trick was done is a bit difficult because of lack of clues. In The Neighbour of the Crime Scene Is Her Ex-Boyfriend, Yumi of the traffic division finally gets her own Metropolitan Police Department Love Story, after having played the role of both Cupid and distorter for over ten years. Her ex-boyfriend (who is still in love with her) is one of the suspects of a suicide-that-appears-to-be-a-murder. One of the witnesses is volume 74's Sakurako, who is now a housekeeper at the victim's place and is also revealed to be Miike Naeko's friend since elementary school (being one year younger). (Police detective Chiba actually recognizes Sakurako, but not Naeko...). The murder is rather easy to solve, as it makes (clever) use of something I think a lot of people will have experienced in their daily lives. This volume ends with the first chapter of Jodie's Memories and the Flower-Viewing Trap, in which Conan gives Jodie an update on what happened in volume 78's Mystery Train, but then the two run into a murder of a pickpocket.

Despite having read the series for so many years, and me having already these volumes at least once, I still enjoy the series a lot. These volumes miss a big impact perhaps, with the only really big event being the Mystery Train story of volume 78. Yet, the introduction of Amuro Tooru and Sera Masumi definitely has had impact on the series on a whole, which we'll also see in further volumes. For me, most of the volumes after the overall story in volume 58 marked a 'resting period', and it's only with these volumes that the story started moving again.

As for the mystery plots, I'll admit that volumes 71~80 have few big surprises. Part of it is of course that Aoyama has been going on with it for twenty years, so it does feel a bit repetetive at times. Yet, things like the Mystery Train story or the stories that use new technology show that Aoyama still has a lot up his sleeves.

The same dynamic change can be felt in the films; Private Eye in the Distant Sea marks a change in the tone of Conan films, which had been rather predictable and boring the last few years. The change started with Private Eye in the Distant Sea continues with the following films.

At the current rate, volume 90 will be released around summer of next year, and I'm more than excited to see where the overall story is going.

Original Japanese title(s): 青山剛昌 『名探偵コナン』第71巻~80巻 / 『名探偵コナン 沈黙の15分(クォーター)』 / 『名探偵コナン 11人目のストライカー』 / 『名探偵コナン 絶海の探偵(プライベート・アイ)』

No comments :

Post a Comment