Reviewby Jacob Chapman, Jan 21st 2010
Case Closed: Captured in Her Eyes
A vicious killer has been gunning down a series of detectives, and Conan is hot on the trail once again. The victims seem to share a history working on a dubious suicide case, but before the details can come to light, another detective is blasted away before Rachel's eyes. The killer is still on the loose, and can't let her live now that she knows his (or her?) identity…even if Rachel can't remember it. The shock of what transpired that night has caused Rachel to lose all her memories, unable to recall her own name much less the killer's. Time is running out for his girlfriend and the solution may lie where Jimmy's troubles first started: the amusement park Tropical Land.
Conan Edogawa's 4th foray onto the silver screen spends a lot of time looking back on the first episode, as Rachel is afflicted by post-traumatic amnesia, (the good old Hollywood kind,) and must get her memory back to solve the case, returning to places she has strong memories of like a certain infamous amusement park. However, Vi (Ai's new name) tries to persuade Conan that it would be better if she never remembered him, keeping her safe from the Black Organization forever, so Conan instead tries to solve the case on his own and leave Rachel out of it. Thematically, the movie seems to be focused on the impact of memories and the importance of the past, but it's no deep exploration of these ideas. It's a standard Conan caper with just a little more going for it than the previous three films.
Putting Rachel at the forefront of the story gives the characters more room to interact so the movie doesn't only consist of Conan running around solving the mystery while everyone runs behind him. More rarely seen characters like Serena and Rachel's mother Eva get a role in the story, and the Junior Detective League even gets to take down an assailant themselves in Tropical Land, where the best parts of the movie take place. The last third or so of the film is a series of chases and showdowns at the amusement park, albeit interrupted by Conan's epiphanies about the case, and a total blast.
The first two thirds of the movie is a little weaker without all the fun action, but remains engaging as each murder suspect attacks or evades the case in their own way and the detectives and Rachel's friends scramble around doing whatever they think is best for her. Still, it is akin to a 90-minute episode of Conan, and therefore full of talking, talking, talking. It's interesting, but only if you enjoy super sleuthing or are familiar with Conan's colorful cast. While not quite as simple as the previous movie mysteries, it won't be hard to crack the case before Conan does, either. It's a task much easier than in the TV series given the added runtime and of course, learning to pick the least suspicious tertiary character. Following the facts isn't even necessary. Thankfully, it's not the mystery alone that makes the movie worth watching, but the action, the characters, and for some, a little added Jimmy x Rachel content. It stands up well to repeated viewings for fans based on those merits alone.
One slight complaint about the movie is its abuse of the “shadow killer” seen in nearly every mystery of the series to imply that the killer's identity is unknown. This problem applies to a number of the Case Closed movies, but this one in particular. No matter the murderer's gender or physical attributes, they always appear as the same bald, skinny, beady-eyed shadow until their identity is discovered. That's all well and good in the limited-action TV series where the baddie slithers in from the darkness, fires a gun and vanishes, but in the action-packed movie it's just bizarre. The bald shadow runs around under bright lights and remains blackened out even while ramming the other characters in a motorboat chase or as a flashlight shines directly on it. Of course, the moment Conan figures out whodunit, the thing becomes a person looking nothing like the alien-shadow-figure that's been running around for the previous 80 minutes. It's a minor gripe, and some might find it stylistically clever, but it also looks unnaturally silly.
Conan and company's unusual designs still translate very well to a feature presentation, though. The atmosphere is still more cartoony and flat than most TV series, let alone movies, but the animation is fluid and the chase scenes are plenty of fun. While the plot could be mistaken for a “lengthy TV episode,” the much higher production quality would not be. What does come off a little paltry is the music in the feature. Conan's main theme makes an appearance during the beginning's “story so far” part of the film, but after that music is largely absent apart from the occasional synth riff. One of the suspects is a rock singer but even then we get a boring mush of guitar and drums instead of a good insert song during his scene.
The localization problems plaguing the series have again made the dub a little less than what it should be. Shinichi becomes Jimmy, Ran becomes Rachel, and all direct references to Japanese names, locations and cultural elements are absent. In two instances, puns based on hiragana and kanji come into play, but they are explained accurately instead of being awkwardly stumbled over as in The Fourteenth Target's dub, and are far less integral to the plot. Thankfully, the dub itself is well-acted and natural, and R. Bruce Elliot's bumbling Mori, er, “Moore,” is hysterical as usual. The few translation changes Case Closed receives don't really hurt this popcorn adventure, but they are still awkward and always will be. Extras here are limited to a bundle of previews, but on the note of easter eggs, be sure to watch after the credits for an extra, fairly important little scene.
Captured in her Eyes puts its token cast to good use, and it's a better movie for it, particularly compared to other Conan films. That being said, it's still just another Case Closed adventure, and will be most enjoyable for fans of the show, who should keep in mind that solving the (fairly easy) mystery is not the point of the ride. In a movie where Conan skateboards down a flume ride and ollies onto a rollercoaster track before confessing his love to Rachel (well, sort of,) it's more about the fun and thrills.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : B-
Music : C-
+ Good character interaction, a fun caper and one of the better movies
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