Case Closed: Case 04 Vol. #02: The Desperate Truth (of 5) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, October 14, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2004



What They Say
Desperate times call for desperate measures! Conan learns this maxim all too well as the tragic truths behind his next batch of unbelievable cases come to light.

First, Conan investigates the bizarre events behind a looming scandal at a video game company. Conan must figure out how a man stepped on to a train alive, got off as a corpse, and how his killer wasn't on board at all.

Later, a case involving a popular cleaning company gets messy when a large metal beam is dropped onto an innocent man. And is Conan finally getting closer to uncovering the identities of the evil men who took away his body?

The Review!
Moving along in Case 4, we get three new standalone mysteries and some hints into the Organization.

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 running pose while Ran in her school uniform looks on from behind. 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)
In the second installment of the Case 4 season of the series, we get three more standalone episodes that deal with murder cases that are solved within the confines of just that episode. This batch of mysteries is fairly decent though most were easily figured out within the first few minutes of the show when the murder itself takes place but that's balanced out by the fact that none of these episodes contain those kids that I keep fearing will show up and annoy me to no end.

The opening episode is probably the best one of the trio as it takes place during a Mantendo video games conference where Kogoro, Ran and Conan are invited as Mantendo has actually made a game about Kogoro's abilities and his cases. This is amusing in itself since Conan's solved the bulk of them in "recent memory" as Kogoro simply sleeps away. You really have to wonder what Kogoro thinks about all of this when he wakes up and finds that the cases are solved. Since it helps him you know he'll just go along with it since it helps him in the end but it must keep him up nights. Or maybe that's what's driving him to drink so much and resulting in those lovely hangovers.

The story is fairly simple in that through some manipulation of tickets where briefcases are checked in, a swap of potential industry secrets is changed out to high explosives instead and a murder takes place with the wrong person picking up the case. Though the actual set of circumstances is fairly easy to discern in general though obscured by some relevance that only comes out near the end, what makes this episode interesting is that the person who came to get the swapped out briefcase is an associate of the two men in black who cause Conan to be shrunk way back in the beginning of the series. Once he realizes this, the way he goes about trying to get things solved is fast-tracked so he can try to get more information about the mystery man. Though we're deep in the fifty episode range at this point it's good to see that at least some lip service to the main plot of him trying to get back to normal is touched upon.

What's probably my favorite episode so far for sheer amusement factor is the Train Trick episode. It's a very simple episode where we have the trio returning from a trip by taking one of the two trains that run roughly parallel to each other to the same end station. Along the route from their origin to destination there's only one shared station but they don't arrive at the same time so there isn't really an overlap. While returning home, a murder takes place on the other train and the trio end up helping to solve it as they had some familiarity with the group the person was with at the lodge they were all staying at for some kind of medical conference or gathering. This episode is almost in a way hard to solve unless you're familiar with how the Japanese rail system works, but what really amused me with it is that Japan's really the only country where you can cite printed train arrival times from a massive book full of them as evidence in a case like this since the trains never run late. Well, never say never of course but it's so rare that in at least the major cities if the trains run late they actually provide notices to people who need them since their bosses would never believe them otherwise. The way this plays into the story is just amusing and made it a very Japanese way of solving the case.

In Summary:
Case Closed is moving along pretty much as I expected based on it being a fairly episodic show with no real end in sight so we get the murder of the week case. I've always found these shows hard to hand in the Hollywood vein on TV over the years and this show, so far, has many of the same weaknesses. It's not a bad show and I'm enjoying it for what it is so far because it's easy to get into on the way we're being fed it. Three episodes every month or so for just over twelve bucks with discounts? But at the same time, there's the huge fly in the ointment. We're getting no more than an hour at each turn, if you skip the openings and endings like I do with it now, and that's just not going to leave an impact. The series already has the stigma of being a long running one but it's made even worse by the seemingly abysmal release schedule. This is a show that needed seasonal sets more than just about any other anime series.

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 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.



Mania Grade: B-
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)