Case Closed: Case 04 Vol. #03: Like Old Times (of 5) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, November 22, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What They Say
Contains episodes 59-61!

Conan is walking on air when an invite to an elite mystery tour arrives that has him rubbing elbows with fellow mystery fans. What should be a weekend of mystery nirvana becomes a nightmare of survival when the contest's organizer seemingly commits suicide. Can this group of mystery lovers solve the case before the killer strikes again? The Junior Detective League is also back on the case a boy they are tailing in a shopping competition becomes the plot for a twisted target of revenge! the live of many depend on one... Conan Edogawa!

The Review!
Going into hardcore mystery territory, a two-part adventure with a group of Sherlock Holmes fanatics have to deal with a very confusing set of murders.

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."

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 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.

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 using his bowtie to change his voice while a slumped Kogoro is slightly behind him. 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.

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.

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 that I have no interest in solving these kinds of things.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As more and more volumes of this show slowly come out, I'm starting to find that while I would have preferred a season style set for the show in order to maximize the benefit to the fan, I'm thinking that I would have burned out on the show very quickly with that release format. With a set of three or four episodes per disc, I'm able to get a couple of mysteries together and actually enjoy it for the most part. Once you start to go beyond that though, it feels like it's easy to burn out on the show because of its very formulaic approach. While the content changes easily enough from mystery to mystery, the style of how it's solved so far is very repetitious. I can't imagine doing twenty or thirty of these in a row without wanting to pull my hair out.

Dipping into the Case 4 realm again, we get three more episodes that tickle that mystery bone in your body fairly well. There's an interesting two-part adventure as well as a standalone single episode tale that's just strange without the murder itself. The two-part tale is rather enjoyable, but it suffers from something I've noticed in previous two-part adventures as well; it's rather good throughout the first episode, but it feels just too long by the end of the second episode as the explanations start to take too long. The stories are good enough for two episodes but the pacing for it just makes it feel like it's stretched out a bit, particularly in how they continue to reverse-engineer solving each of the mysteries.

The two-part storyline here, "Footsteps of the Hero" has our usual group of characters in Conan, Ran and Kogoro heading out to a private hotel for a weekend devoted to Sherlock Holmes lovers and fanatics. Conan had entered them without telling them since he's obviously such a huge fan of the property and it's a chance to just have a lot of fun with his idol and fellow fans of his idol. Kogoro's naturally grumpy about it and even makes the mistake of not being all that impressed with Holmes in general. Actually, his mistake is in saying things like that and not being up to speed on Holmes that gets him into trouble. Never say stuff like that around fans of something unless you want the dirty looks and stares.

The mystery plays out nicely as the fairly sizeable group of people have come for varying reasons and the owner of the hotel is set to have fun with them by offering a chance for a first edition copy of one of Doyle's books that he has. Nobody's won it in past attempts so there's always a chance to get it. Conan's even allowed to participate though it's all supposed to be for adults. But the entire weekend goes to hell when the hotel owner is suddenly murdered and drives his car off a cliff. Conan and Hattori, one of the other Holmes fans there and someone we've seen previously according to a flashback, try to stop the car but are unable to do so (even though neither of them actually tried opening the drivers side door.

There was a lot of fun in watching this one play out for the most part since there are subsequent murders and the mystery is fairly deep in trying to figure it out since there are so many personalities involved. Hattori's presence in particular adds a lot to this mystery since he's trying to figure out Conan at the same time and realizes that the kid isn't just playing at detective but is actually a very strong analytical person who matches Kudo's style and personality. Conan for his part is also rather good in this set of episodes. Since he finds himself with a group of adult detective wanna-be's, he lets his guard down some and ends up talking and acting a bit more like his old self and how the various pieces fit into the puzzle.

The stand alone tale is just a bit weird and not one I'm all that keen on since it features the Junior Detective League. These kids just bug me and they typically present the kinds of mysteries that just don't appeal. This one centers around a local shopping competition where a couple of groups of kids are given money and shopping lists and are sent into the shopping district sponsored by the store owners to buy things on that list. Parents and on-lookers can't help the kids at all and other groups follow each group and videotape them. It's all then compiled into a story for TV news that shows how kids of today are handling consumerism and what does and doesn't work. Some kids buy themselves toys, spend time at the arcade, go crying to mommy or just get lost.

One little oblivious tyke though ends up walking off the course and into a building that's about to be demolished only to see a murder take place. Actually, he doesn't see the murder but he's seen enough that the murderer tries to spend the rest of the episode killing the little boy and failing at each turn. With the Junior Detective League realizing what's going on when the boy they're following goes missing, they kick into detective mode and try to solve the mystery with the tools on hand. But for some reason I just can't enjoy these kinds of stories with them since something about them just has me rolling my eyes half the time. While I understand why Conan does hang out with them, I can't imagine him doing it for long without becoming so frustrated that he'd want to strangle one or two of them. Or maybe that's what I want to do…

In Summary:
A bit of a mixed bag of a volume, but overall this one wins out in the plus category with an engaging two-part tale that doesn't feel too terribly long in being solved. The stand alone tale is one of the weaker ones to come out since the series started and is easily written off into the history books never to be revisited again. Conan has a chance for a bit of growth here in the two-part tale, particularly with regards to Hattori, but since it's still so early in the series they opt to avoid going that route and instead continue on business as usual. And that sort of is what this series is all about.

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)