Case Closed: Case 02 Vol. #02: Cracking the Perfect Alibi (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, January 29, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, February 06, 2007



What They Say
Madness rains down and murder strikes like lightning under stormy skies... Conan Edogawa braces the elements and trudges through to the truth.

On a wild goose chase of a treasure hunt, X doesn't always mark the spot when motives are hidden away... A trip to the dentist is a brush with evil and a lesson in revenge... A grisly discovery at the fire festival lets loose embers of a suspicious foul play... An axe-wielding masked monster terrorizes a cabin in the woods and Conan flirts with the edge of a slashing blade to protect what he holds dear. A dark cloud hangs over the city tonight, and only the truth provides shelter.

Contains episodes 34-39:
A Hunting We Will Go
Mountain Villa Murder Part 1
Mountain Villa Murder Part 2
Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
Prickly Past
Flames of Confusion

The Review!
Closing out the second Case of episodes, the six episodes across this volume have some decent adventures but far too much of the junior detectives.

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.

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)
Case Two concludes with this volume, though it's all just semantics really as there is very little differences between the "seasons" at this stage of the series. This volume works out fairly much like the previous ones in that there is little focus on the big bad men that did all of this to Shinichi but rather the usual crime and murder that seems to be so prevalent. This volume does manage to have some good material though but as we've come to learn, it's generally at its best when it does a two or three part storyline.

It's likely just a cultural thing but I still have a hard time really viewing this as a kids show. Even though it's populated by kids at times, obviously with Conan, the type of events that play out are just a bit more bloodthirsty than you'd expect depending on the intended age group. It's not that you don't want to expose kids to some of the uglier side of things, especially in trying to avoid that whole area where nobody is ever really hurt no matter the circumstances, but there are some violent moments that just feel more appropriate for a 13+ crowd. This may also just be something that people get more sensitive to when they're dealing with what their own kids are watching. At times I really want to share some of the fun that the show is, particularly in trying to solve the mysteries, but there's just too much of a dark edge that I don't want to expose my kids to yet. For the time being they're still quite happy with the numerous incarnations of Scooby-doo.

The kid-heavy episodes of this volume are some of the weakest for the most part. The opening one is a big treasure hunt that in some ways feels like pandering. When they do the brief cuts between the map and the way the kids overcome the obstacles, the music just feels awful and out of place. The episode in general just feels pointless and exposes more of the weaknesses of Conan being surrounded by the other junior detectives. In one of the other episodes even he notes how low he's fallen by talking about Yaiba and other school age problems. That episode does manage to work out a bit better though as it has Ayumi getting caught up in a murder mystery where she's become the alibi. Involving her dentist, they did a rather nice job of setting up the alibi and making it a challenge to figure out exactly what had happened. Of course, once the gimmick is exposed it all collapses like a house of cards.

One of the standalone episodes that also worked well involved a woman trying to track down a man she was once involved in during a vacation trip. All she has is a rough sketch of his face as well as a drawing of his car and license plate to go on. Kogoro is game for it since he believes it's an easy job but it becomes more involved as Conan starts to unravel some of the woman's true motivations. While the mystery and its intent is somewhat shrouded for a bit and is enjoyable to watch, some of the structure really stretches believability in how they get Conan to go around interviewing people. Not only that but just in how open people are with such a young kid, no matter how charismatic he might be.

The best material on the disc however comes in the two part storyline that has Ran and Conan visiting Sonoko at her family's mountain lodge. It's a pretty secluded lodge that has only a mountain behind it and a couple of other lodges some distance away across a ravine. A ravine that only has a rope bridge across it no less. Sonoko scores some points for complaining that Ran will never get a boyfriend if she keeps dragging Conan everywhere but she loses some by basically tricking Ran into thinking that the whole weekend is a setup to meet older guys. The guys turn out to be friends of her sisters from college who were close but grew less so after one of them committed suicide. Naturally, there's some extended revenge that's going to be brought into this. With the two episodes to deal with it, they're able to be a bit more elaborate in how it comes out and it works well even if they do telegraph the murderer early by their occupation.

In Summary:
Case Closed continues to be an enjoyable show and a lot more so since we started getting it in larger batches of episodes. This volume is enjoyable for the most part as there are some good mysteries to it but I continue to want to throttle the junior detectives every chance I see them. The multi-episode storyline is once again the best material out there but some good standalone episodes are included as well. While this doesn't stand out as the best of the series, it'll certainly keep fans of the show happy.

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