Case Closed: Case 02 Vol. #01: The Explots of Genius (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, December 07, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2006



What They Say
Murder is in the air and life is cheap on the streets... Luckily, Conan Edogawa finds value in the truth, and won't let any bad deed go unpunished.

A disgruntled hacker makes a high-powered tech millionaire feel the heat, while a deadly love triangle plays out to the tinkling of a delicate music box. From shattered dreams among old friends at Richard Moore's class reunion, to a killing at a diner where today's special is intrigue... Trouble seems to follow Edogawa around, but we're all better off with the pint-sized sleuth on the scene. Don't even try it... Nothing gets past Conan.

Contains episodes 28-33:
Richard's Class Reunion Part 1
Richard's Class Reunion Part 2
The Computer Murder
The Missing Melody
Murder at the Television Studio
Murder at the Local Diner

The Review!
The second case kicks off with a nice box edition to hold all of the releases for the Second and Third Cases while providing some good stories with the disc included.

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 reworked 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.

To launch the second and third Case, a new box was put out for it as well which uses the new artwork style and layout as well. One panel has a look at a number of villains against the case folder, including one of the men in black, while the other main panel has a nice shot of Shinichi in both young and older form in the same pose. The spine gives a shot of the teenage Shinichi with the Cast Closed logo and a spot listing the case/box number. The hard box looks good and has a slick feel to it. Unlike the first Case box, no shiny extras were included here.

Menu:
Completely redone from the previous 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)
Continuing to catch up on the skipped Cases, the second and third Cases reside in the box that comes with this volume. With the discs featuring a fair number of episodes each, they're moving quickly through them and they're short "seasons" anyway. This volume starts things off right with a new two part storyline and then delves into a series of standalone murders that prove once again that Japan is a very deadly place.

The plus side to starting off with the two part storyline is that you get a solid and enjoyable show right from the start. The downside is that the four remaining standalone adventures feel very short and almost rushed in that they don't provide quite the same detailed experience. The two parter kicks off with the trio of Kogoro, Ran and Conan all getting wrapped up in a surprise bank robbery that's easy to foil. It's actually something that sets the stage for something larger as the real storyline takes place with Kogoro going to a reunion of his judo club at a hot spring. Ran has finagled her and Conan's way into going as well since it's a chance to enjoy a good soak. Seeing Kogoro with some of his old classmates is fun since his lazy and drunken ways are very accepted there and they all have a good laugh about it.

Naturally, it doesn't take long for the blood to flow and one of the women is murdered. Due to there being such a small group at the inn and it being just the judo club, the cast of suspects is very small. Even worse for Kogoro is that he has to figure out which of his friends just murdered one of their friends. Conan's all set to just go and do what he normally does but there's such a sense of conviction in Kogoro that he can't bring himself to do it. It's one of the few times that Kogoro really acts like a serious adult and avoids his usual joking while doing an investigation. With the extra length of the storyline, we get to see some of the characters pasts in more detail. The relationships between these characters comes across well though I wish we had seen more of the victim when she was alive.

The standalone stories for this volume are a decent mix of different types of stories that still don't feel like they're doing retreads already. One of them is an amusing piece just because it involves computer technology as it deals with a company president who lives in one of those ultramodern homes with lots of technology to make things easier. He's killed off by someone who takes advantage of that and knows enough to hide his tracks. It's a bit dated just in how the technology is dealt with but they do a good job of keeping it minimal in details. It's just a bit dated in that these kinds of things are found much more easily in more homes today.

Another fun story has a murder taking place in a television studio during the broadcast of a show when one of the people hosting a detective series goes out to the bathroom. It involves a number of very difficult things needing to be achieved in order to accuse any of the suspects, but since Kogoro is there due to the special he's able to provide some assistance as only he can. Conan brings some amusing wisdom to it, particularly in how he reveals that the layout of the station is done in such a way so that guerilla forces can't easily take it over. The details of the murder get a bit more involved in this one but what surprised me was that there really weren't any sympathetic characters in the storyline.

My favorite story after the two parter on this volume is the last one though which is a quasi-locked room story. Conan's at a diner for very weak reasons and is sitting alone watching everyone come in since he's trying to figure out who each person is since they might be the one that Ran is meeting. You can imagine Conan easily doing this regardless of the situation because of how his mind works, so it's not a stretch. As an interesting assortment of characters come in, almost all of them use the unisex bathroom but one of them doesn't come out. Everyone's a suspect for who killed the young woman since many of them can easily fit the model they come up with for the way she's killed.

In Summary:
The early episodes of the series, which this season still represents, has some rather good moments to it and a few surprises along the way. I liked seeing more of Kogoro's past and there's an amusing bit of family revelations in la later episode. The stories in general are fun though the standalone ones do end up seeming to be a bit less detailed than the two parters and it's only more noticeable when those multi episode stories do show up on a disc. The series is still fun to watch and it is far more enjoyable now that there's an average of six episodes a disc. It doesn't feel like it's over in a flash and the general mix of shows keep it nice and varied. This really isn't for everyone but fans of the show are likely enjoying it a good deal now for the most part.

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.



Mania Grade: B
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: 29.98/34.98
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Case Closed (Detective Conan)