Reviewby Carl Kimlinger,
The second season of Case Closed kicks off with a two part tale of murder, this time closer to home, as one of Mori/Moore's college friends is offed during a class reunion. Then it's on to four more tales of killing and logic as Conan winnows out the truth about: a suspicious heart-attack, a TV studio shooting, the slaying of a high-powered lawyer's spouse, and a locked-stall public-restroom murder.
Bloodshed follows Conan wherever he goes: hot springs resorts, television studios, even the toilet. Nowhere is safe from the murderous curse of Conan. You'd think the guy would be shunned. If there was a premeditated murder every time you went somewhere with a kid, wouldn't you stop hanging out with him? Naturally these kinds of coincidences (how is it that Conan conveniently observes exactly those incidents necessary to solve the crime each and every time?) are par for the course when dealing with mystery stories, something that anyone who has watched or read any sort of mystery series knows all too well. Fans of mysteries must simply take them in stride. The real show isn't the setup, it's the mystery.
There are four necessary elements in solving any (fictional) murder: the identity of the killer, the process by which they committed the crime, their motive for doing so, and concrete proof of their guilt. Case Closed is primarily interested in the process and the proof. Motives are usually revealed at the very end, either as afterthoughts or in order to create sympathy for the guilty party, and often the identity of the killer is revealed early on. The criminals in Case Closed are invariably clever fellows with a strong desire to outwit and mislead the investigators of their crime. Thus, the process of unraveling how the victim became a victim becomes a battle of wits between Conan and the perpetrator. Herein lies the show's true strength: the demonstration of Conan's deductive capabilities as he constructs the truth from the tiny fragments of it left scattered throughout the criminal's manipulation of the crime scene. It's formulaic—Conan encounters crime, snoops around, reconstructs the truth, tranquilizes Mori/Moore, reveals the truth to everyone, presents ironclad proof, and the criminal confesses, roll credits—but it's an effective one (you don't put out as many episodes as Case Closed without doing something right).
That said, this volume is best when breaking the formula. The class reunion murder reveals a serious side of perpetual goof Mori that proves that he didn't survive as PI for as long as he did by being a total incompetent. In response, Conan allows him to solve the murder (with a little help, naturally) without putting him down with anesthetic. The toilet stall murder case begins with a comic sequence in which Conan's deductive prowess falls victim to the blinding effects of jealousy, and he learns a little more about Ran/Rachel's family life. Good mysteries are essential, but good characters are just as important.
One of the most notable aspects of Case Closed is the disjuncture between its slightly silly look and its gruesome content. Characters are skinny-faced, pointy-nosed caricatures with giant ears and gangly limbs; Conan himself is little more than a giant head, four limbs, and a bow-tie. Movement is minimal overall, not because of budgetary restrictions (although, given the volume of episodes produced, that is most definitely a contributing factor) but because sleuthing simply isn't an action-oriented pastime. The effort is better spent on detailed, meticulously constructed crime scenes, character's faces, and the bloody, artistically composed tableaus that mark the initial discovery of each new corpse.
The major musical themes have yet to change: they're simple, effective, and a tad odd. Music is used throughout, but is rarely intrusive. It wouldn't sound good on its own, but in the context of the show it's not only appropriate but devilishly catchy; it's hard not to hum along once Conan's "thinking" theme starts up as he forges the final links of his chain of logic. The opening and closer are catchy pop-rock tunes that, while not brilliant, definitely grow on you.
Funimation's dub for this title remains problematic. Not because of the acting, either in terms of quality or appropriateness (both of which are impeccable), but because of how far it strays from the original Japanese. Normally this wouldn't be a problem as long as the tone and meaning of the show are retained (Funimation excels at doing this, and Case Closed is no different). But in Case Closed, as detail-oriented as it is, clues are sometimes glossed over or completely lost due to changes made in the script. This volume features a few of them, and while it doesn't really affect the outcome too greatly, and most fans likely won't even notice it, it is taking artistic license a bit too far. I don't mind the name changes; I don't care about the elimination of mild sexual innuendo or the lessening of Conan's sarcastic sense of humor. Heck, even the fact that they live somewhere where every sign is in Japanese, yet everyone has English names doesn't phase me (just imagine that they live in an alternate reality in which Japan took over America during World War II and you'll be fine). But when the script starts to affect the mysteries (the entire reason that I watch the series) I can't help but bristle a little.
Other than Funimation previews, there are no extras on this disc, but with six whole episodes of crime bustin' fun, who cares.
It isn't the best starting point for newcomers to the series (although few will have problems picking up the basics of the show), but with six episodes, solid mysteries, and not one but two instances of the show's rare character moments, this is a cornucopia of Conan goodness for established fans.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : C
Music : B-
+ Mori/Moore gets a rare chance to shine; as fun in it's second season as it ever was.
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