Sunday, October 7, 2018

Justice For All

「零 - ZERO」(福山雅治)

There is always only one truth
But there isn't only one justice 
"ZERO" (Fukuyama Masaharu)

The first new Detective Conan review of this year! Volume 95 will be released in a few weeks, so expect a review near the beginning of November!

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 volumes 70, 72~76, 78, 82~94 and the films Quarter of Silence (15), The Eleventh Striker (16), Private Eye in the Distant Sea (17), Dimensional Sniper (18), Sunflowers of Inferno (19), The Darkest Nightmare (20) and The Crimson Love Letter (21) in the library)

The Tokyo Summit is scheduled to be held in the Edge of Ocean, a newly built leisure spot in the bay of Tokyo, but one week before the prestigious international meeting takes place, the International Forum in the Edge of Ocean is blown up completely, killing several police officers who were preparing for the summit. While at first it seems the explosion might've been an accident, the Public Security Bureau manages to find a set of fingerprints on the cover of the cable that sparked the explosion, and to the surprise to all, they belong to former police officer Mouri Kogorou, now famous as the master detective the Sleeping Kogorou. Maps of the Forum and other schedules related to the Summit are found on his personal computer, and Kogorou is arrested on suspicion of terrorism by the Public Security Bureau, despite protests of Kogorou's loved ones and his allies in the Metropolis Police Department. While trying to save Kogorou, Conan finds out that he has one formidable opponent this time: the mysterious Amuro Tooru. Amuro, who is known to have no less than three different identities, is seemingly out to frame Kogorou for the explosion and with both the Public Security Bureau and Prosecutor's Office working surprisingly hastily to get Kogorou's trial started, Conan has little time left to find out who's really behind the explosion and what Amuro's true goals are.

Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer is the twenty-second theatrical feature of Detective Conan, first released in April 2018 (the home-video release was released last week). The first Conan film, The Time-Bombed Skyscraper was released back in 1997 as an extra project to accompany the animated television adaptation of Aoyama Goushou's mystery comic series. What was originally intended to be an one-off thing, turned into an annual event however, and so every April, a new Detective Conan film is released in Japanese theaters. While you'd think things would slow down a bit after twenty-two years, the opposite is actually true: the Detective Conan films have been breaking record after record the last few years. In fact, last year's fantastic The Crimson Love Letter was the highest grossing domestic (Japanese) film in 2017 overall, showing how good these films do in the theatres.

Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer is in several ways very different from the very accessible The Crimson Love Letter. First of all, we have a new director, Tachikawa Yuzuru, who replaces Shizuno Koubun who was responsible for the last seven films. Shizuno's films were more focused on action than on the mystery plot, though he peaked with The Crimson Love Letter as a really complete mystery film. And whereas The Crimson Love Letter was a rom-com mystery films with sports and action elements that didn't require much prior knowledge of the series, I'd say that Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer is far less easy to get into. I'd definitely recommend viewers to at least read the manga until volume 85 to get a better image of the character of Amuro, who is the focal point of this film.

The scenario for this film was written by Sakurai Takeharu, who in the past was also responsible for Private Eye in the Distant Sea (2013), Sunflowers of Inferno (2015) and The Darkest Nightmare (2016). Sakurai is known for writing scenarios for various police detective dramas, especially the social school-inclined police procedural Aibou, and in a way, Zero the Enforcer is very much like an Aibou story. The political thriller deals with the goals of the various organizations within the Japanese police and the Ministery of Justice. In a way, everyone involved tries to do what they think is good for "Japan", but the lengths they're willing to go to accomplish their goals are all different, leading to in-faction fighting and all kinds of hidden deals. I'd say that Zero the Enforcer is perhaps the most difficult Conan film up until now for children to follow, as the names of divisions within the police are thrown around constantly and in the end, a lot of the focus lies on the motivations of the characters. Zero the Enforcer is easily the Detective Conan with the strongest theme running across the whole work, but it's sure nothing at all like the far more easy, yet well-plotted entertainment that was The Crimson Love Letter. As a mystery story, Zero the Enforcer is a bit simple, as you basically have one major clue to the identity of the terrorist and almost no suspects, but it is wonderfully well integrated in the grander story of what drives each of the characters and their respective groups. That said though, the ultimate goal of the culprit was a bit drastic. I mean, had they completely succeeded in their plans, they might've been responsible for the most damage caused ever in a Detective Conan film and I assure you, the last few years the criminals have not gone easy on their explosions!

As for action, the last half hour or so has some nice action scenes. The idea behind the Detective Conan films is also to do things they can't do in the original comics, and this usually means grand explosions and a lot of action, and this one doesn't disappoint. Some feel a bit like alternative versions of action scenes seen in earlier movies, but the finale is really something that befits a film that is about a character called Amuro...

Speaking of Amuro: this film is truly all about Amuro. He is portrayed as a character with various faces, sometimes kind and funny, sometimes cold and calculating, and as he also juggles with various identities and loyalties in both the original series and this film, he comes off as a good character to juxtaposit against Conan, who is far more straightforward in his beliefs and actions. You never really know what's on Amuro's mind and whether you should view him as a friend or foe. I think Sakurai tried to do the same thing with KID in Sunflowers of Inferno, but that didn't work there at all, as "the attempts" to portray KID as a kind thief gone rogue were incredibly sloppy and not convincing at all: with Amuro in Zero the Enforcer, this idea of a character-focused drama based around a character who might or might not be an ally to Conan feels so, so much better.

Zero the Enforcer has been an enormous hit in Japan by the way, especially among the female viewers. The phrase "Amuro's woman" became a catchphrase for all the people who fell for the mysterous Amuro in this film (usage: "I became Amuro's woman!") and even talkshows had segments talking about this phenomenon. With many of the original viewers of Conan now grown up, it's not strange to see that these older fans are attracted to an adult character like Amuro. Personally, I do have the feeling that the last few years, characters like Amuro have been given a bit too much attention in the marketing etc and it appears that author Aoyama himself is also a big fan of the character, giving him all kinds of nice scenes and lines, but I think he worked really well in this movie.

But is Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer truly a Detective Conan film? That's a hard one! It's certainly not the "traditional" Conan film like The Crimson Love Letter was, and the political thriller mode Zero the Enforcer adopts is not a story-type you often see in Detective Conan. But it does work as an exciting thriller with a mystery plot that feels grounded within the Detective Conan universe. I'd never recommend this movie to someone who has never seen Detective Conan as it's not really representative of the series, but as this is the twenty-second film, I do think that it works as "something different once in a while". With its focus on character and the underlying theme, Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer manages to carve its own place within the long history of the Detective Conan films and it works very well as suspenseful action-triller that can stand on its own. As per tradition, the next Detective Conan film (which will be released in April 2019) has also been announced in a post-credits teaser, and I'm interested to see how the new director will continue these films.

Original Japanese title(s): 『名探偵コナン ゼロの執行人』


  1. Sounds interesting. Hopefully Kogoro got some time to shine.

    1. Not really, even Eri has more screentime. It's also due to the direction these films have taken since of course, but Kogorou doesn't seem to have much a presence in them ever since Kamiya was replaced as his voice. Films like The Fourteenth Target and Strategy Above The Depths and Captured in Her Eyes are of course exceptions, but even in the other films he usually had more to do, but nowadays he's always pushed to the background really fast. I think the last one where he really got involved with the plot was The Eleventh Striker?

  2. Replies
    1. Fortunately enough, I'm having far too much fun with the movies to be even remotely bothered by that :D

      The movies are canon for the anime series by the way, as the anime original episodes that coincide with the release of the movies always explicitly mention the events of the films. And little bits and pieces of the films always do find their way back in the original manga, like Kazami's little appearance in the Haibara phone strap story in volume 94. As Aoyama's always involved with the story to some degree, he also loves to put story ideas for his story in the movies, like last year's one being the single explanation for Momiji's link to Hattori and this year there was that phone call scene where one character had an unvoiced line, but you could lip-read it and it seemed rather suggestive.

    2. These movies will keep coming even after the manga ends so it's going to be interesting to see how they will handle these plotlines and characters from the movies from that point on.

    3. It'd be funny if there'd be a Shinichi film eventually :D

  3. what is the symbolism behind the egg cracking and the goo coming out of it in the intro of the series Trick ?

    1. Basically the same warning behind every magic trick: don't let appearances fool you (you see an egg, you'd expect yellow yolk).