Case Closed: Dubious Intent
At first glance, Case Closed seems like it’s going to fit neatly in the genre of classic kid detective stories, the ones where the brainy 8 year old outwits detectives, crooks, and adults of all sorts. Detective Conan looks like a kid, but has the mind of an adult. An experimental drug was supposed to kill him, but turned him into a kid instead. However, beneath the plain brown wrapper of a standard kid detective show is hidden a very powerful core. Instead of glossing over crimes with a “It was old man McGruder in a monster outfit,” Case Closed deals frankly with murder and death and very mature themes like lost love and revenge.
Episode 65: Movie Mayhem takes us to the set of the latest Gomera movie. Conan and the Junior Detective League are hanging out on the set with the actors and generally geeking out. When the rubbery movie monster begins stabbing people, though, the kids have to track down the culprit.
In The Three Fingerprints, Episode 66, one of Conan’s father’s friends is having a nice day off, but has to depart when a gangster he’s been counseling “accidentally kills someone.” More murders follow, naturally.
Out for a pleasant evening with the family, our detective overhears a man talking to someone that sounds like a kidnapper. Conan and his stepfather investigate, but the only clues to the case are something about crabs and a whale in the appropriately titled Episode 67: The Crab and the Whale.
The show’s writing is sound, considering the genre. These sorts of tales require a willing suspension of disbelief. Catch yourself wondering why someone would put on an elaborate costume and think up all sorts of traps and tricks instead of just shooting the guy in a dark alley, and you’ll miss the enjoyment of the show.
What’s jolting is when it transitions, sliding easily from the usual shouting exclamations and crazy face changes of youth-oriented fare to an on-screen cold blooded killing, Case Closed pulls few of its punches, without wallowing in gore. It owes more to Hitchcock than Encyclopedia Brown. Sure, it doesn’t show blood, but you still sit up and take notice that this “kid’s show” just killed a guy right in front of you.
Case Closed’s animation isn’t quite up to current expectations and looks a little dated. Faces tend to hop from expression to expression without much movement in between. The music is actually really good, with nice intro and closing themes and bouncy jazz or 80s-pop-style instrumentals during the episode. There was a ballad that broke out rather unexpectedly during episode 67 that left me looking mildly concerned, head cocked to the side like a puppy. The on-disc extras will be interesting to a fan of the series, like the ever-popular Crack the Case game.
I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. Spending the last half of the show on wrapup feels a little too “every detective show ever” and when it draws it out with maps and diagrams, well, it feels a little too impressed with its own cleverness. And it’s a little headache inducing with the shouting and the over-emoting and so forth. However, I appreciate the very mature themes. Even if the cases are a little on the thin side, the issues surrounding each case are definitely heavy stuff.
The animation is fairly dated, but the sound is crisp and there’s some nice on-disc extras.
It is what it is and if you can accept that, it’s a pretty good little series.
Episodes: 65-Movie Mayhem, 66-The Three Fingerprints, 67-The Crab and Whale
Extras: 5.1 Surround Sound, Original Japanese Audio, Textless Songs, Character Profiles, Conan’s Gadgets, Crack the Case Game