Case Closed: Case 05 Vol. #4: Phantom Thief Kid (of 5) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2005



What They Say
When a priceless jewelry exhibit comes to town, so does Phantom Thief, a famous burglar who leaves a note announcing his intentions to steal the Black Star—the most valuable pearl in the world. When the police corner Phantom Thief on the top of a building, it looks like his amazing career is over until he uses a flash bomb to blind his would be captors and make a harrowing escape. All that remains of the Phantom is a note announcing his next move: to steal the Black Star during an anniversary party on board the Queen Isabelle. The impending threat withstanding, the ship sets sail as planned with the Black Star on board and an army of police to guard it. But Phantom Thief is a genius impersonator and moves about like a chameleon adopting the persona of others until the time is right to strike. Can this brilliant Thief outwit a sea of police and manage to steal his prize? It seems that he may succeed, but with Conan hot on his trail has Phantom Thief finally met his equal? Find out on this exciting double episode that will keep you guessing until the end.

The Review!
Another special and a two part storyline, Conan gets a pair of mysteries that are a bit deeper and more engaging than usual.

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 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:
The mixture of the kiddish looking logo and the darker almost CSI-like backgrounds continue to not mesh that well here. 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 his bowtie and tiny suit while the Phantom Thief stands 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 is common with FUNimation releases, there is no insert with this release.

Menu:
The main menu is another basic Conan shot with him angling his watch gun at the viewer while along the left it 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. Conan's Gadgets section is designed so that when new pieces are introduced they're able to be highlighted, 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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Case Closed goes for four episodes this volume and it's a welcome change since there are two two-part episodes here. Or rather, a special extra-long episode that was split into two episodes on reruns (and earning two episode numbers) as well as a two episode mystery. Having both of these here, essentially two one hour long mystery dramas, makes this one of the more worthwhile releases and one that doesn't feel like it goes by quite as fast.

The Phantom Thief Kid special is a good bit of fun though it does get a bit annoying in one or two places. The story revolves around a particularly well known thief known as the Phantom Thief Kid but also has a name as Phantom 1412, which is supposed at first to be something like maybe his case file number that took on a life of its own. While not an implausible idea, the way that it's sounded out in Japanese isn't all that bad but it's pretty stilted when it comes to the English side. Ran's friend is all a twitter over the fact that the thief is supposedly in Japan now and she goes on about how hot he must be and just drools over the prospect of seeing him.

While it's not her idea, she does have a lead for that to happen. Her incredibly wealthy parents are throwing a bit of a party and they have a very valuable jewel that the Thief will want to target, the Black Star. Kogoro normally wouldn't take a job like this but it pays well and it involves a cruise at one point so he's game for it. There's a few bits before the lead-up to the ocean going part of it but the real fun is there when there isn't any way on or off the boat and they find out that the Thief is on board and after the jewel. In an interesting twist, everyone on board is wearing a version of the jewel as fake broaches are handed out as part of admission so it's a mystery as to who has the real one. The people on board the ship are pretty varied and with a number of services there to protect the jewel, it gets chaotic easily. Ran in particular gets to play a really fun role in this plus she gets to dress dead sexy which makes it worthwhile.

As much fun as the special was, the two part story that followed, "Mysterious Masked Murderer," I thought was more fun just because the murder mysteries tend to have a bit more danger to them and an element you don't get in standard thief stories that get done. Kogoro's brought in to the Dufour family residence, one of the wealthy families out there, in order to find the company president's missing girlfriend from decades ago. The president is a good hearted old man who lost track of her some time ago but now he's bed ridden and ill and wanting to reconnect with part of his life. He's ably assisted by a young woman who is engaged to one of his sons who happens to have been the one who rescued her from a building fire some twenty years prior. Kogoro's still confused as to why he's been brought here over other people but then when they find out that the police captain of that particular town is actually the father of Heiji who was the one who suggested Kogoro.

Everything changes though when the president's son is killed and the killer appears to be plain as day the disfigured son who wears the wrapped mask. It looks to be an open and shut case as everyone races downstairs to get him but he's managed to escape but hasn't left the property. The police arrive quickly enough to secure the area and the search starts to get underway in more detail but they find his body in one of the pools on the property along with a suicide note. The case turns on its head at this point and with so many people around and several with motivations and deceits, this is one of those stories where there is a very obvious one or two people who may have done it but there are others as well and up until the critical point you can't be a hundred percent sure for quite awhile. There's a lot of fun to this two parter as it plays out and I liked having Heiji back on the scene which always adds a bit of tension for Shinichi but also a partner who has just as sharp of an eye.

In Summary:
While the standalone stories are fun they definitely have a very structured feel to them. The long stories, even the two part ones, use a very similar structure but have much more time and characters around in order to provide much more interesting stories. This volume doubles that up nicely and both are a lot of fun and different enough that you don't feel like you just saw the same thing twice. I'd still rather have seasonal sets but at least the four episode volumes help mitigate the pain somewhat. This is a good release in general and good set of stories.

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, 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: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Case Closed (Detective Conan)