Case Closed: Case 01 Vol. #01: The Investigation Is Afoot (Second Edition) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B/A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/44.98
  • Running time: 225
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Case Closed (Detective Conan)

Case Closed: Case 01 Vol. #01: The Investigation Is Afoot (Second Edition)

By Chris Beveridge     February 16, 2006
Release Date: February 21, 2006


Case Closed: Case 01 Vol. #01: The Investigation Is Afoot (Second Edition)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Jimmy Kudo is a cocky teenage detective, known far and wide for his crime solving skills. While working a particularly gruesome case, Kudo is attacked in the darkness by two strange men and force-fed an experimental drug. The strong poison renders him unconscious and when he awakes… he is horrified to find that he is trapped in his boyhood form. Obsessed with finding the men responsible, the detective sues his unlikely new identity, Conan Edagawa, to flirt with the fringe of the criminal world. From the dining car of an explosive-laden train, to the dusty halls of an art museum, danger lurks in the shadows… and Dectective Conan is there.

The Review!
Shin'ichi Kudo is the brilliant teenage detective with an obsessive fixation on Sherlock Holmes that leads him down a path to years and years of mysteries to be solved.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a pretty basic stereo mix and not all that much noteworthy in terms of forward soundstage directionality. We didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback. We did sample portions of the English language track and I liked how some of the 5.1 remixing came out, as it punched up the opening sequence a bit and gave a bit more clarity to the voices, but it's a trade-off I don't want to do with the changes made to the English "reversioning."

Video:
Originally airing in 1996, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for Detective Conan looks good but shows signs of its budget and how well the materials have been taken care of since the original airings. The opening and ending sequences, which are done as alternate angles with one being geared towards the Japanese credits and the other with the English credits, show a fair bit of nicks and dirt throughout each segment. The main show itself is relatively clean but the style of animation used allows for some of the darker backgrounds to look a bit shifty and pixilated at times. It avoids outright macroblocking through but the colors are not as solid as they should be when it comes to night scenes with blacks and blues. Cross coloration also shows up here and there throughout the show as does some aliasing, but neither to really bothersome levels for the most part. If you flip back and forth between the angles during the opening and ending, you'll note that the English version looks a bit more full in color and depending on how fast and effective your player is at doing the angle change, there may be a gap between the visuals as well.

One thing I really don't like about how this series is being handled in terms of the materials. To some it will be nitpicky and to others it strikes to their very core. I like to think I fall in the middle of the two extremes on this. The biggest complaint I have is that there's a complete lack of Japanese voice credits on the disc to the best of my knowledge. I really dislike the condensed end credits, where they take things like the directors and other crew members from across a block of episodes, or an entire season, and put them in each individual ending instead of with the episodes they are associated with. I've been a credits whore from long before I really watched anime and am like this with all kinds of movies and TV shows. Beyond finding it disrespectful of the original creators, it makes it incredibly difficult to find out about individual episodes and trying to place voices or designs and so forth. The way this is done is what we got when Sailor Moon first showed up on TV and just about any other show that gets brought over with the main goal of being a TV broadcast and the home video getting the shaft in some form. All right, I change my mind. I'm not in the middle but leaning towards an extreme. I hate this kind of treatment and while it won't bother me while I'm watching the actual episode and won't keep me from watching the show, it is there as something I hold against the studio for doing and will continually complain about.

Packaging:
While the series is still aimed at the market that saw it on Cartoon Network by using the English language logo of Case Closed, the package in general has been nicely reworked and fixes things I really didn't like about the previous style. The dark nature of it is gone for the most part as is the strip along the bottom with the volume name again the yellow and black and the Cartoon Network logo is gone as well. The elimination of those two things and a lighter background format that has the feeling of a case folder works very well. The dark tan used for the folder allows the character artwork to stand out well against it since that's in full color but not quite as murky as the previous series with its black surrounding it. The back cover keeps to what we saw before for the most part though as it lists the episode numbers and titles on the folder and a summary of what to expect. There's a strip of shots from the show along the right and the bottom portion has a good technical grid of what to expect and the usual other tidbits. No insert is included with the release. Overall, the redesign for the series is spot on and I hope they eventually take the time to clean up the previously released Case's if they get a new pressing. Normally I'd make some complaint about a series not having consistency but with as many volumes as this will eventually take there was no way things would or could stay the same for its entire run.

To help relaunch the second edition version of the series, a new box was put out for it as well which uses the new artwork style and layout as well. One panel has a look at a number of villains against the case folder, including one of the men in black, while the other main panel has a nice shot of Shinichi in both young and older form in the same pose. The spine gives a shot of the teenage Shinichi with the Cast Closed logo and a spot listing the case/box number. The hard box looks good and has a slick feel to it. Inside it has a couple of neat extras that make it worthwhile. One is a very cute oversized keychain that has rubber Conan poised to shoot his wrist darts and the other is a foldout "banner" wallscroll piece that has a good full image of the characters from the show. Both are good useable extras that let you show off your enjoyment of the show.

Menu:
Completely redone from the previous style, the menus here are still a bit dark with its faded nature but it uses the style mostly from the front cover with a shot of Conan in the foreground and the Case Closed logo along the top. The navigation menu is reworked a fair bit, this time around to include which volume it is and for the actual selections which is done in standard text mode instead of the stylized font they were using before. The layout is different and easier to navigate than the old one. In terms of player presets, this is somewhat better but still a problem. Unlike other FUNimation discs there is only one English subtitle track as no close captioned/dubtitle track is included. The problem comes in that the track is simply numbered and not labeled as an English subtitle track so players are unable to recognize it and don't play it.

Extras:
Neither volume contains any extras whereas the first volume and most volumes in the series have had something. They were never much in general and one was a game we never played so there's no real loss here at all.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While it hasn't made too huge of a dent in fandom over here over the years, there has always been a loyal following of the Detective Conan series since it started airing in 1996. It's one of the few rare series that really rakes up the episode counts, with it being close to 350 as of this writing I believe, which generally meant that there wasn't much of a chance of it seeing broadcast or license over here unless a lot of events occurred to cause it to happen. Such events did happen since we've got the show and it's being broadcast on TV and getting a home video release, but much like other big series that get picked up, it's had some issues with it.

Most of the issues I've described up in the technical area and most of them are surmountable. One of them that likely isn't is the way that the dub has been changed to be "reversioned", a phrase that only FUNimation uses when talking about their adaptations/localizations of anime series. The changes of character names is something that most of the old time fans had thought was mostly passed into the history books and it's something that most new fans don't expect to happen since so many shows have been airing in the past few years without any changes. And changing the lead character's name, even though he ends up not using it all that much after the first episode or two, just compounds the strangeness of it all. And then only changing a couple of them but leaving a number of very Japanese names intact just makes you wonder why it was done at all. Those changes have made it so that I'm not interested in listening to the dub at all, which is unfortunate because I think this would be a fun show for my kids to watch over the next few years as it gets released. I'll let them work on their reading skills instead.

Any discrepancies in the review are due to language changes is all I can say at this point. The show introduces us to ace teenage detective wiz Shin'ichi Kudo. He's the son of a brilliant novelist who has spent his years writing mystery novels and has acquired an immense library of books for reference and much of it has gone to his sons mind as he's read likely a good deal of them. His favorites though are the Sherlock Holmes books of which he's almost obsessive about by relating them to everything in his life. This usually annoys his long time childhood friend of Ran, a very attractive and energetic girl who is a karate champion at school. There's the usual potential romantic tension going on here and they make a cute couple if they'd just realize it and stop pussyfooting around it.

Ran's father is a detective himself and runs that as his business but he's not terribly good and he hasn't had business for months. A lot of this is where Shin'ichi is to blame since he helps the police so often and solves every crime he gets involved with. Ran's father really doesn't like him but since Shin'ichi is oblivious to a potential romantic relationship with her, the two don't come into contact often. For Shin'ichi, his almost arrogant level way of dealing with things is something that's come naturally over the years and it'd clash with her father quite easily. Shini'chi's own parents left for America three years prior and he lives alone basically if not for the slightly cracked scientist who seems to rent out some room in the large mansion where he resides.

Everything changes for Shin'ichi though after he solves a particular murder at an amusement park when a pair of men in black that he'd been following manage to one-up him and get the drop on him when he wasn't looking. Knowing that Kudo could be major problems for them in the future, the mysterious men in black produce an untested poison created by the organization they work for and give it to Kudo in hopes that it'll eliminate him. The poison works in a strange way though as Kudo is partially awake and recoils in pain as he bones feel like they're melting away from him. When he awakes later as the police find him, Kudo realizes that he's been shrunk down to the relative age of a grade schooler but retains all of his memories and basic skills, albeit with less power to some of the physical attributes.

Realizing what's happened, Kudo works with the professor to come up with a new identity, cutely named Conan Edogawa, so as to let Kudo slip into mystery and use the time to try and track down the mysterious men in black and their organization. Through amusing events, he ends up living with Ran and her father which means he ends up forcing his way onto the cases and being involved without really being involved, often to the point where his little remarks are enough to push the elder detective into realizing what's really going on. Using the resources that come his way, Kudo as Conan works things as best he can and gets himself into the same situations as he used to when he was taller but this forces him to be more creative most of the time.

With Conan as a kid, there are some amusing moments to it and some not so amusing stuff. I like how he's had to play around in an effort to get himself heard as the adults don't take him seriously and working creatively to do just that. The downside material for me right now comes in the form of the "junior detective club" that forms up around Conan with the trio of kids he ends up dealing with on a regular basis. It's early yet so I'll forgive the general stereotypes that they are but they haven't added much to my interest of the show and have only made me cringe, especially having seen some of the later episodes with them in it elsewhere.

The look and feel of the show adds an interesting flavor to it as well. The character designs are fairly minimal in a number of ways but it's not unexpected for a show that's run as long as this one where you want to make it easy on the animators. There's definitely a unique style to it and it works very well for the show in how it's portrayed here, from the diminutive Kudo to the leginess of Ran when she does her patented kicks. The characters have a sort of ease to their motions that reminds me a lot of the old Lupin TV series where they're almost caricatures but stop just short of that to be something more. The animation quality itself looks to be fairly consistent with others at the time and nothing that's terribly striking either for or against. I don't think it'll amaze people but it won't be a factor that will turn a lot of them away either.

The biggest change with this new second edition is that we get another five episodes on a second disc which means that we're basically getting nine episodes for a really good price, unless of course you already bought the first volume like me in which case it's easy to just start on the second volume. Starting on it that way gives me a good feeling of what to expect from what the rest of the releases are going to look like it appears as they're shifting to more episodes per release. Having seen a number of the three to four episode volumes so far, the shift to five is fairly significant as the disc really felt like it had some meat to it with the numerous mysteries that we get to see play out. The three episode discs could be played out in under an hour if you skipped the openings and endings but with the new ones being five or six episodes per disc you get close to two hours worth of material and that does change the experience a lot. Watching the second disc in one sitting really made me get into the atmosphere a lot more and even though they were all self contained stories it was quite enjoyable.

In Summary:
Revisiting the early episodes brings out some of the flaws that have been smoothed over as the show progresses, such as getting past the area where Ran may realize who Conan is, Conan getting his basic gear that lets him do fun things as well as some of the tension about Conan even being in the house. That said, coming back to them with the greater experience that I have now I do find that I appreciate the set up a bit more and how it has evolved in just the first Case to the fourth and fifth Cases that I've now seen. This show is the kind that's really not for a lot of hardcore anime fans I don't think just because of its more mainstream nature and the mystery of the week aspect, something which people tend to be turned off from as they want more lengthy arcs for a series. If viewed with the right mindset, that of how the show was originally intended and broadcast as well as the original manga itself which was just trying to provide quick chapters of fun mysteries, it's very easy to get into and enjoy. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the material that should have been released long before now by FUNimation and then for them to do a good pick-up again with the sixth Case to get us back on track. What they've done here is basically fix the series to where it should have been from the start. While they're hardly admitting a mistake, they are making the changes that are necessary and the end result is a far better release.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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