So you know next to nothing about Detective Conan's ongoing mysteries but you heard that Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time but you've heard about the immensely popular starring character Tohru Amuro/Rei Furuya/Zero/Bourbon and his mere visage causing magazines to sell out? Whether you're a newbie or a long-time fan, there's something for everyone in Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time.
This series is streaming on Netflix
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Steve, I admit I was a little intimidated when I saw Editorial say we should cover Case Closed
for TWIA. But I'm nothing if not committed to this column. So...I did it. I marathoned all 1,054 episodes of Detective Conan
, just in time to be ready to talk about it, as assigned!
Oh no, Chris, I'm so sorry. There must have been some kind of communication mix-up, because we were supposed to watch all of Kamen Yaiba
instead. No worries, though, there's only 1,053 episodes of that, so that should only take you a minute.
Aw jeez, this is why I really need to do more than skim my e-mails. We might actually need to reschedule this one then. And finding ourselves with nothing else to do here now, where could we spend that downtime?
The game is afoot, Chris! Or rather, the game has been going on for almost thirty years now, so instead of trying to catch up on that game, why don't we instead play a short 90-minute spinoff game based on a guy who works at a café within the game? Also the game is Case Closed
, and this is Zero's Tea Time
Right, this is way more reasonable than actually trying to cover the entirety of the somehow-still-ongoing original Conan
anime (It's almost as long as ten Legend of the Galactic Heroeses
!), and short-form Netflix
spin-offs seem to be our main focus recently, so. This one takes breakout character Toru Amuro and focuses on him in...not necessarily a coffee shop AU, since this is still within the proper Conan
-verse. Let's call it a "Coffee Shop Gaiden." All filler, only occasional killer.
I do appreciate them being upfront about the downsized scale of the show to match its downsized runtime. I know the basics of Detective Conan, but I can't pretend to know the slightest bit about anything in what I imagine must be a labyrinthine web of plots and characters spanning nearly three decades. A guy in a coffee shop, though? I think I can handle that.
And this does begin to get at what the series is really about, because it's not simply a slice of this man's multiple lives. No, Zero's Tea Time
is an anime brave enough to ask you a very important question: what if this man were your husband?
He cooks. He cleans. He cleans his pistol. He goes to bed shirtless. What more could you want?
Come to Café Poirot. We got Rei thirst and thirsty Rei.
And to sweeten the sexpot, may I add that he's voiced by the velvety tones of one Mr. Tohru Furuya
. And may I also note that this is second anime we've covered this year where that dude has voiced someone named Amuro, and neither of those anime have been Gundam
I'm glad you brought that up because yeah, one thing I absolutely wanted to talk about was this character's Amuro association. Like his most-known alias of 'Toru Amuro' intersects with his 'real' name of Furuya Rei to shamelessly name-drop both Mr. Furuya and his most famous role.
The closest thing Zero's Tea Time has to an ongoing story arc is the plot of Rei adopting a puppy. What do you think he ends up naming his adorable new companion? I'll give you one guess.
It's a deliberate and very cute homage, and I'm assuming the manga introduced the character before it was ever certain who would voice him in anime, so props to Furuya for being a good sport and bringing the joke full circle.
What if I told you that the whole setup was almost certainly intentional, as Gosho Aoyama
had pulled the same stunt earlier with Rei's fast-moving archenemy, named Shuichi Akai.
You'll never guess who Gosho requested voice him in the anime.
Case Closed, Birdie Wing, it doesn't matter. It's Gundam all the way down.
Although now I'm disappointed Zero's Tea Time didn't give us a scene of Rei and Shuichi wrestling each other down a grassy hill or something to that effect.
I respect Midori for confidently dropping an awful pun like that in the middle of this already completely unserious series.
But yeah, the lighter atmosphere and regular focus on food (He even cuts the crusts off! A gentleman indeed!), almost bring to mind Today's Menu for Emiya Family. Though Zero's Tea Time is careful to almost always stay laser-focused on Rei himself, with none of the main core Conan cast appearing beyond brief, out-of-frame cameos. The idea seems to be to show how easy things are for Rei when he's not having to participate in major manga-derived plots.
There are some allusions to the more serious aspects of Rei's character, like his aforementioned adversity against Akai, or his lingering attachment to his old police academy squad or his mentor. But those are all brief, context-lite flashbacks for regular viewers to recognize, and those less deep in get to have it as the emotional spice for this cute detective curry.
One place where I would have liked a bit more spice is in the production values. To use Today's Menu
as a counter example, that's a show that wielded its soft aesthetic with a lot of care and delicacy, to serve the audience a nicer (and tastier) side of the Fate
mythos. Zero's Tea Time
, on the other hand, doesn't really have an adaptational hook to match its premise. There are occasional good-looking scenes, but it's rough around the edges for the most part.
They made a cute dog, though. I'll give 'em that.
Guy holding a screwdriver to a baby in a bassinet wins the Anime Criminal of the Year award. Spectacular vibes.
I also really got a kick out the bad guy in the American Ninja Warrior
sketch. Truly, only a detective of Rei's caliber could identify this culprit.
A real Columbo, this guy.
That was another one that made for fun watching, mostly because of the absurd gimmicks of the course we got to see Rei run through. Complete with him getting to the top of some ridiculous Sonic the Hedgehog loop-run to show that even a turbo-genius like Rei isn't above walking into a room and forgetting what he was there for.
Yeah, it would've been nice if the anime had the resources to fully commit to the over-the-top obstacle course bit, a la that one episode of Spy×Family
. But even as is, it's one of the better parts of the show thanks to its silliness.
The series isn't a rip-roaring comedy or anything, but I definitely found myself gravitating to the goofier parts. Like the authentic Indian restaurant experience.
Curry hubris comes for us all eventually.
That's one of those segments where Zero's Tea Time Dilemma
uses the whole bit of Rei's insufferable knowledge of everything for that cohesive comedy. Compare him compounding Kazami's curry-based torment by explaining the scientifics of why drinking water is bad, actually, with him talking down to his sexy secret society boss about not using phones or having drinks before bed.
Listen buddy, I'll accept your spicy food advice, but there are some things in this world you'll never convince me to give up!
Also, sorry, but I don't think I'll be taking sleep advice from the guy juggling several different identities on a nap's worth of zzz's.
The punchline there being that it's not even good sleep he's getting!
I love the part, too, where he gets so indignant about the FBI agent that he starts dissing the concept of tea time.
A) we don't even do that on this side of the pond, and B) my brother in Christ, look at the title of your dang spinoff!
Hey, with the triple-shifts Rei's pulling, it's no wonder he doesn't have time to learn the differences between Brits and Americans. He barely has 90 minutes total to allot to his own titular tea time!
Still somehow he has plenty of spare time to sexily wash his car or teach a neighborhood kid to ride a bike, though.
The man was simply born to be a husband. Dad energy off the charts.
He's serenading a puppy. My god.
So much of it comes off like the premise of Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
, except if Sakamoto were a spun-off character from a mega-popular series that's been running for over two-and-a-half decades, and not played for comedy as much as it is some sort of helpful husband pin-up calendar.
And as neat as the overall vibes are, especially since the miniscule run-time means it never overstays its welcome, so much of it comes off like trying to sell people on the appeal of Toru Amuro "Bourbon" Rei Furuya, except most of the people coming into this one were already sold on this guy thanks to knowing him from the original show.
Yeah it's Detective Conan fanservice plain and simple. Here's more of a thing you already like, just packaged a bit differently. And it's not something that I, a non-Conan-head would have ever sought out on my own in the first place. But having seen it, I do think it's a nice, if slight, diversion. Unremarkable but pleasant.
I can see it working as something of a primer for those curious about Rei's astronomical popularity who don't want to get into the extremely tall weeds of the main series. And hey, maybe those context-free traumatized Toru flashbacks would then actually interest them enough to check out the broader story. That's worked with any number of movies for something like, say, One Piece
True enough. Sometimes all you need is a taste, and next thing you know, you're stuffing the whole thing in your mouth.
But as much as you may want to pour yourself a tall drink of Rei right away, remember everyone, All Cops Are Baristas