Case Closed: Case 01 Vol. #01: The Secret Life Of Jimmy Kudo - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • 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 Secret Life Of Jimmy Kudo

By Chris Beveridge     August 23, 2004
Release Date: August 24, 2004


Case Closed: Case 01 Vol. #01: The Secret Life Of Jimmy Kudo
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Within the high stakes world of police work exists a surplus of capable detectives. These detectives work with police to uncover the clues needed to track down and apprehend the most vile criminals. Jimmy Kudo is just such a detective. But there is something unique about Jimmy... he is still in high school!

As Jimmy aids the frustrated Officer Meguire in a homicide investigation at a crowded amusement park, two mysterious men in black assault the super sleuth and feed him an experimental drug, which causes him to shrink to childhood size. Now, as the indomitable Detective Conan, Jimmy must seek out clues to his assailants as he struggles to keep his secret from the one person he cares for most.

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 starting its airing run back in 1996, the full frame 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:
With the cover completely aimed at the English language version of the show, some may find it a bit difficult to get through. The series logo is fairly kiddish with a dark tinge to it that works okay but not terribly well. The front cover uses a yellow police sticker along the bottom to provide the volume name and uses the center area to provide some character artwork for the show, this time featuring Conan and one of the men in black set against a worn down brick wall. Even better, it's got a "As Seen on Cartoon Network" block on it. Has nobody heard of burst stickers? The back cover has a small row of shots from the show along the right while the rest of it is made up in a file folder rough style. The "Case" listing is to indicate what season it is and then it provides the volume title and the episode numbers and titles for each of the episodes. The discs features are listed below the fairly detailed summary that uses all the English language names. The discs features are fairly easy to read and it's laid out well enough. As seems to be becoming more common with FUNimation releases, there is no insert with this release. Considering the length of this series, it should have been in a thinpak case as well.

Menu:
The main menu is a somewhat odd looking piece where on the right you've got the young Conan pointing at you and the left has the disc selections on what I guess could be newspaper clippings? It doesn't click with me as to what it's trying to represent. The background looks to be that of a brick wall with some sections covered over in concrete but done in shades of blue and grey. One area I continue to dislike heavily with FUNimation discs is the language selection. When you make a selection, nothing changes to indicate what it's set at. There's no visual representation showing what the disc will play at when it runs. The menus here have decent access times and submenus load quickly but on the downside the disc did not read our players language presets and defaulted to English audio with no subtitles and to angle one.

Extras:
There are a fair bit of extras here depending on your point of view. The character profiles section, again heavily leaning on the English language version by using names from the dub, provides some small details and artwork on the main cast. There's a section to go to more characters but it does indicate that you'll spoil things before going into it, which is a plus since it reveals kidnappers and other mystery men for the episodes on the disc. Conan's Gadgets section is designed so that when new pieces are introduced they're able to be highlighted, so we only get one here from this volume which has a brief bit about it, some pictures and a quick jump the video section where it occurs ? again, only in English language and no subtitles available. The opening and ending songs, which are the clean versions of the opening and endings, allow for instant switching to either of the languages as well as the English 5.1 mix. The last thing on the disc is some sort of "Crack the Case" mystery game and I'll admit I'm an old fart and have no interest in solving these kinds of things.

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.

As for the show itself, it's definitely more fun than I expected it to be but it hasn't erased all of my fears about it. With it being as long running as it is, you know that the opening premise hasn't been solved yet so there's that issue there, but it's a plot device to serve for launching the show and giving it a hook. What's more of a concern is that with it running as long as it has, how many entertaining detective stories, episodic and small arcs both, can there really be? It's a show that I wonder just when the burn out on it will occur because there are very few shows that really manage that long in general without some kind of fatigue.

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.

In Summary:
Case Closed is a series that will provide a different set of problems for different people, often depending on their level of fanaticism, familiarity with the show and overall attitude about how long series like this need to be handled. There are things I don't like about how it's being handled and I think some can be fixed but others won't be. A show like this is hard to judge overall not only since it's still ongoing, doesn't have any real resolution and is just a mystery of the week piece. Some volumes will have good stories and some will have mediocre or poor ones. I don't have high expectations for the show in general, but I look at it as a series that every couple of months I'll get a set of episodes that will give me some old fashioned mysteries with some anime flair to it. I'll wish that it got the full treatment it deserves but at the same time look at the release and know that it likely would never have come out otherwise.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, 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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