Case Closed: Case 04 Vol. #01: Deadly Illusions - 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Case Closed (Detective Conan)

Case Closed: Case 04 Vol. #01: Deadly Illusions

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


Case Closed: Case 04 Vol. #01: Deadly Illusions
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
While taking in the scenery away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, Conan, Richard, and Rachel stumble into the middle of a grisly ancient legend. The terrible Mist Goblin has struck again! Without any hard evidence, it looks as though the Mist Goblin has yet again committed the perfect crime. Or is it so perfect after all?

The search for clues pointing to the men who shrunk Jimmy's body continues as Conan, with Detective Moore in tow, investigates a strange crime with a most unusual murder weapon. When all the facts are gathered, one truth prevails!

The Review!
Case Four kicks off with a two part special and then a regular episode and shows there's precious little difference or change in the first three seasons of the series.

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 though 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.

Please see our review of Case One Volume One for the list of complaints we have with how the release is setup, something that isn't worth adding to each review but is worth referencing.

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 in a thoughtful pose while Kogoro and the Chief provide the background profiles. 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:
The extras mirror previous volumes in general. 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, and we get a couple of them on this volume, each with 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 the first three seasons are airing on TV, FUNimation decided to skip releasing them and go right to the fourth season, or Case, and go forward so that those who are watching it on TV will have new material on home video. While this works for them, all it really proves in my mind is that there really isn't any serious continuity, at least in the first three seasons, that make any difference to the show in general. Conan is definitely very episodic and has little impact from one show to the next. In a way, it almost minimizes the purchase value of the show since you know that things don't really progress much. But if you like the mystery/murder genre, this is definitely a series that will fill that need.

Case Four kicks off with a two part storyline that's presented in it's "special" form, which means instead of the two individual episodes we get the feature length version. This actually doesn't bother me since it's not an uncommon thing with shows like this. While out and about on a drive with a rental car, Kogoro, Ran and Conan are checking out the cherry blossom trees a bit outside of town and are just soaking up the goodness. When it's time to go back, Kogoro decides to use a short-cut and they naturally end up lost and with a flat tire. Their second flat in fact so there isn't any spare to use. Conan does some scouting about and finds a temple just up the road a bit and they head there to try and find someplace to crash for the night since the rain is coming in.

The temple, which is neatly located next to a waterfall, was subject to some heavy police scrutiny a few years ago when one the priests had committed suicide. The current head priest is a bit jittery about visitors in general but the desire for money overwhelms him and he charges them a fair bundle to stay. The trio gets treated to not only food but also the tale of the Kiri Tengu, the mysterious beast that was blamed for the previous death and the three guests find themselves being intrigued by a two year old unsolved case. Naturally, a newer case crops up in the midst of it and the show shifts into its traditional breakdown of clues mode with Conan taking the lead.

The standalone episode at the end of the volume is rather entertaining as well. Our trio find themselves out for a casual evening stroll and you get the usual witty repartee between Conan under his breath and Kogoro only to be walking by the right building when a woman several floors up screams loudly. Being the good and highly curious people they are, they rush inside to find out what's going on. As it turns out, a woman's estranged husband has been killed while practicing his tai-chi on the veranda and there are only three real suspects in the case, each pleading innocent. With the building being set to be torn down within the month and most of the tenants having left, the case has few ways of going and everyone seemingly has a reliable explanation as to what happened.

This set of episodes is pretty good and the two part storyline was a fun way of starting off the fourth case, especially since it does a brief recap of the series premise. It also worked out nicely in that none of the detective kids showed up during these three episodes so it made it less of an annoyance for me since I'm still not warming up to them. The show itself doesn't look much different than the four episodes I've seen from Case One so far so I don't think there's much of a drop or gain in the animation quality. It's still somewhat stylized to the character designs and it looks decent overall but it's got its limits as a long running series where they do take some short cuts along the way.

In Summary:
The first volume of Case Four proved to be an enjoyable trip with the first of the two-part specials that I've been able to see. With seven episodes of the series under my belt so far, the show has definitely proven that it has a working formula and most of the episodes do seem to play by them as things go on. This is pretty standard fare for long running episodic shows, particularly mystery based ones, so it's not something that really gets to me. The characters continue to be enjoyable and that's what makes it all work in the end. If you picked up the first volume from Case One and then jumped here, you really won't miss a beat at all. And that does speak both negatively and positively for the show.

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, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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