Review

by Carlo Santos, Nov 3rd 2004

Case Closed

DVD 1: Secret Life of Jimmy Kudo

Synopsis:
Case Closed DVD 1
Jimmy Kudo (Shin'ichi in the original Japanese version) is a 17-year-old amateur detective with enough talent to help out the police with their
toughest cases. While at an amusement park with his crush, Rachel (Ran), he tails a pair of suspicious-looking fellows who knock him out and feed him a "poison pill." Imagine Jimmy's surprise when he wakes up alive and well -- with the body of a 6-year-old boy! In a panic, he turns to the kooky inventor-next-door (Dr. Agasa) for help. To keep his transformation a secret, he adopts the name of Conan Edogawa (after Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Japanese mystery author Edogawa Ranpo). It's not like the police are going to take a kid seriously -- but it's up to Conan to help Rachel's bumbling detective father solve mysteries. In this volume they tackle the kidnapping of a millionaire's daughter, a murder at a pop idol's apartment, and hunting a stash of Mafia gold.
Review:
There's been plenty of furor over Funimation's handling of Detective Conan/Case Closed -- from the questionable name changes to the dubbing of the theme music to the placement of the show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. But does the show itself hold up to the standards of quality?

Case Closed doesn't try to be a masterpiece, and it doesn't have to. It's basically an episodic detective series in the style of Agatha Christie, where "closed-room" mysteries give you a limited number of suspects and part of the fun is trying to solve it before the sleuth does. In this volume, each mystery is contained within one episode, although an undercurrent of continuity runs through the series with Conan/Jimmy's quest to restore his body. When I first heard of this series, I thought, "Why did he transform into a kid? Why can't he just solve the mysteries as a teenager?" (Snarky answer: If he did, it'd be Kindaichi Case Files.) It turns out that the teen-trapped-in-a-child premise provides a dramatic element to the show: Rachel reveals to Conan that she has feelings for Jimmy, but now that he's trying to keep his transformation a secret, he can't reciprocate. Ain't love grand? Add this to his ongoing search for a cure and you've got a unifying factor in a show that would otherwise be nothing but stand-alone episodes.

The mysteries aren't extremely suspenseful, but I found myself following along with each episode to collect the clues and see who the killer was. Like any good mystery, it's never quite who you expect, and there's often an elegant leap of logic when Conan arrives at each solution. For those who like puzzle solving, this show is right up your alley, providing some interactivity as opposed to other anime titles where you just sit and watch the story.

As a character, Jimmy starts out a little too perfect -- he's intelligent, athletic, good-looking, AND girls fawn over him -- so it's just as well that he gets a blow to his ego by being demoted to the body of the more likable Conan. Rachel is a pleasant if somewhat bland love interest -- she's much more interesting when she's berating her slob of a father, who fancies himself to be a great detective since he doesn't realize that Conan is helping him behind the scenes. The secondary characters, like Conan's classmates and the suspects in each case, tend to be cookie-cutter stereotypes that are either amusing or irritating.

The artwork and character designs are pretty unique; I couldn't place the time period of this show until I finally looked up its year of production (1996, if you're curious). The super-pointy noses and big ears aren't the "ideal" anime look, but it's certainly distinctive. The DVD quality brings out some really sharp colors and lines, but the mid-90's production values restrain the animation to average frame rates and lots of stills and pans.

So how about those translations? Let's get the biggest problem over with: Funimation changed the character names to make them more accessible, yet most of the secondary characters keep their Japanese names. What direction are we going in: trying to Americanize everything or maintaining the Japanese cultural aspects? They even renamed Tokyo Tower to "Todo Tower," which seems pointless since most anime fans already know that landmark from plenty of other shows. And yes, they dubbed over the songs with English lyrics: a superfluous practice, since most other shows currently on Cartoon Network leave the theme songs in Japanese. It should also be noted that there are two versions of the subtitles -- one that matches the dub script, and a more direct translation of the Japanese script. Be sure to select Japanese audio if you want to get the correct subtitles.

The dub voice acting is directly proportional to the importance of the characters: major players like Jimmy/Conan and Rachel are competently voiced and sound like real people, while secondary characters come off as caricatures. For example, Dr. Agasa talks with a fake German accent, and Conan's heavyset friend George gets stuck with a "dumpy fat guy" voice. Overall the dub is a passable effort, and would be better if they'd put some thought into the other characters besides the main protagonists.

The extras on the disc are enough to keep serious fans busy -- there's a full set of character profiles, credit-less opening and ending songs, and a short dossier on Conan's gadgets. You can also activate a "Crack the Case" quizlet in each episode that ultimately unlocks more features. The DVD case, incidentally, has a gritty "case files" style cover that would look so much better if it weren't for the cheesy "Case Closed" logo gracing the top.

Detective Conan/Case Closed isn't an absolute must-have, but it's a fine example of the detective mystery genre. If you want something outside of the usual squealing schoolgirls or fighting explosions and guns, this is a good anime to start with. Or, of course, you could always catch it on Cartoon Network.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : C

+ fun for those who like solving puzzles, interesting characters and art
dated animation technique, lots of questionable changes in dub

Chief Director:
Kenji Kodama
Yasuichiro Yamamoto
Director:
Kenji Kodama
Kōjin Ochi
Masato Sato
Yasuichiro Yamamoto
Script:
Yuuichi Higurashi
Yasushi Hirano
Toshiki Inoue
Shigenori Kageyama
Fumiharu Kamanaka
Takaomi Kanasaki
Yū Kaneko
Kanji Kashiwabara
Kazunari Kouchi
Yoshihisa Matsumoto
Junichi Miyashita
Yasutoshi Murakawa
Takeo Ohno
Umezaburō Sagawa
Seiki Taichū
Masaki Tsuji
Teruse Yatsu
Storyboard:
Shigenori Kageyama
Fumiharu Kamanaka
Takaomi Kanasaki
Kenji Kodama
Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Yoshihisa Matsumoto
Johei Matsuura
Kou Matsuzono
Yasumi Mikamoto
Kazuo Nogami
Hirohito Ochi
Michiyo Sakurai
Masato Sato
Seiki Taichū
Hirotoshi Takaya
Hatsuki Tsuji
Yasuichiro Yamamoto
Teruse Yatsu
Episode Director:
Matsuo Asami
Takeshi Furuta
Nana Harada
Fumiharu Kamanaka
Kenji Kodama
Eiichi Kuboyama
Koichiro Kuroda
Natsuhiko Kyogoku
Johei Matsuura
Aisu Mugino
Yoshitaka Nagaoka
Kazuo Nogami
Hirohito Ochi
Masato Sato
Yoshio Suzuki
Hirotoshi Takaya
Minoru Tozawa
Yasuichiro Yamamoto
Masakazu Yamazaki
Shigeru Yamazaki
Katsuyoshi Yatabe
Akira Yoshimura
Music:Katsuo Ono
Original creator:Gosho Aoyama
Character Design:Masatomo Sudô
Art Director:Yukihiro Shibutani
Animation Director:
Atsushi Aono
Minefumi Harada
Masashi Hasegawa
Masanori Hashimoto
Takashi Hirabayashi
Chiemi Hironaka
Hiroyuki Horiuchi
Takashi Hyoudo
Masahiko Itojima
Nobuyuki Iwai
Tomomi Kamiya
Akio Kawamura
Aki Kumata
Rei Masunaga
Kana Miyai
Michiyuki Nōjō
Haruo Ogawara
Ken'ichi Ōtomo
Masatomo Sudô
Yusuke Suzuki
Hirotoshi Takatani
Hirotoshi Takaya
Michitaka Yamamoto
Junko Yamanaka
Masakazu Yamazaki
Sound Director:Yasuo Uragami
Co-Director:Kobun Shizuno
Director of Photography:
Hironobu Horikoshi
Takashi Nomura
Takahisa Ogawa
Producer:
Michihiko Suwa
Kazuhiko Yagiuchi
Masahito Yoshioka

Full encyclopedia details about
Case Closed (TV)

Release information about
Case Closed - The Secret Life of Jimmy Kudo (DVD 1.1)

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