Case Closed: Case 03 Vol. #01: Behind the Facade - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 150
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Case Closed (Detective Conan)

Case Closed: Case 03 Vol. #01: Behind the Facade

By Chris Beveridge     May 10, 2007
Release Date: April 03, 2007


Case Closed: Case 03 Vol. #01: Behind the Facade
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Crime and punishment afflict the poor and wealthy alike, and everyone has to pay the piper at some point. Kid detective Conan Edogawa defies social convention on his quest for the truth, even when it takes him from the grimiest gutter to vast estates where the rich and beautiful mingle with the malicious.

From seedy dive bars where rock stars taste the kiss of poison to the halls of academia where vandalism and conspiracy rule the school, not even the people closest to the grade school gumshoe are safe from the fickle finger of fate. Old grudges bring new blood... Behind the facade, everybody has a dark side.

Contains episodes 40-45.

The Review!
The Third Case gets underway with six episodes that once again run the gamut of story types.

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.

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 worked 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. 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.

Menu:
Completely redone from the old 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much to my surprise with this volume, the opening two part storyline proved to be the least interesting one on the release. Generally the extended length mysteries are the ones that have a good deal of time to expand on story and characters which gives it a bit more meat. The standalone tales that fill out this volume ended up becoming more interesting and engaging over the couple of days we spread these out.

The opening tale of a young wealthy woman celebrating her birthday but ends up dying just doesn't click. While it's not hugely telegraphed about who was carrying out the deed, the cast of characters assembled for the mystery just didn't connect well. The two parter felt overly similar to a number of similar stories seen so far (before and after this admittedly) with nothing that really had it stand out. It also ended up being one of the few times that I felt that the mystery would have been better resolved within the single episode structure.

Of the standalone tales, a couple of them are pretty solid while one of them is the best of the volume. The opening standalone tale takes place around a baseball game where the championship flag that the team has ends up in tatters. This is a weird tale in general since it feels like Conan and the others are slumming in it but they do have a bit of fun with how seriously sports can be taken at times. Better than this tale is one involving Conan and Ran hooking up with a band that's in the midst of breaking up. The lead singer is going solo but ends up dead in a karaoke booth with them and everyone is of course a suspect. The method of murder her is almost amusing but there's a good spark with the band members and how they interact.

Quite possibly the best story here though involves Conan being kidnapped. It's an amusing setup at first though as apparently Conan's mother has come to collect him and Kogoro is only too happy to shuffle him out of there. Conan knows that she isn't his mother since she and his father are still overseas. He does go along with it though since there appears to be a connection to the men in black that drugged him oh so long ago. He finds himself being caught up in a larger deal with the drug and a planned murder that gets him to light a fire under himself. Episodes that deal with the background mythology of the series tend to be the most appealing ones and this one plays a few good tricks in order to move about in this area.

In Summary:
With just the right number of episodes and a good mix of stories overall, this is a solid entry into the Case Closed franchise. Granted, there isn't anything terribly new or original here outside of the kidnapping story but what we do get are stories that are fun to watch " in small doses. As much as I enjoy these kinds of shows, they are ones that I have to spread out a bit. Weekly would be ideal but one sitting for it is still the worst. Fans of the series will be glad to have another batch of episodes and people who aren't fans are obviously going to stay away in general anyway. Conan hasn't become a real highlight of a series for me but it is close to being a guilty pleasure at times.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player, 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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