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"Case Closed": Hooked Early On

imageTwo of the biggest complaints about the Case Closed DVD releases have been the skipped episodes (FUNimation released the first four episodes, then skipped to Episode 53 to bring up sales by picking up where the Adult Swim airings left off), and the limited episode count (except for the occasional 4-episode volumes, they’ve all been 3-episodes). FUNimation has solved both of those problems with the release of The Investigation is Afoot.

Jimmy Kudo is your average teenager. He solves complicated mysteries in minutes, he’s extremely observant, he’s rich, and he lives next door to a kooky German engineer. OK, so he’s not so average. In fact, he’s on the cusp of super stardom when he meddles in the wrong crime. His punishment: death by poison. Fortunately for Jimmy, the poison doesn’t do its job. Unfortunately, it shrinks him down into his child form. So, until he is able to find the poison again and get Dr. Agasa to make an antidote, young Jimmy Kudo must live his life as the even-younger Conan Edogawa. He ends up living with his secret love Rachel Moore and her father, a bumbling detective. With their help and Dr. Agasa’s inventions, Conan hopes to find the men in black and get back to normal once and for all!

imageBecause this is the beginning of the series, we focus more on the antics of Jimmy/Conan and the supporting cast. This mainly involves his relationship with Rachel as she tries to find out what happened to Jimmy (and comes close many times this early on in the series). This allows us to get a feeling for our characters and to see how they interact with one another, although we get far too little of Dr. Agasa. Though Conan and Rachel are the stars of the show, the supporting characters, including Richard Moore, Inspector Meguire, and the kids Mitch, George, and Amy, are all entertaining in their own ways and provide entertaining banter between the various mysteries, especially since the settings have barely just settled in.

However, because the majority of this disc focuses on the main characters, the mysteries suffer. The mysteries on the first six episodes are fun diversions, but aren’t all that special or endearing, particularly since most of them are just background clutter compared to the bigger storyline (usually Conan about to slip up and reveal his identity to Rachel). Though the last three episodes have some really good mysteries, including a very dangerous madman, one of the bloodiest murders seen on TV (especially compared to the likes of Scooby-Doo and Carmen Sandiego), and a culprit with a seemingly rock-solid alibi. The way these cases are solved may seem contrieved, especially the last episode, but they’re actually pretty clever as the writers think outside the box (which is a refreshing change as Richard doesn’t have a room full of high-tech computers like every single other cop show does nowadays). In fact, even this early on the crimes are pretty clever, what with a picture code in one episode, another where Conan has to deduce what could look like a chimney, and another where a guy is beheaded two rows back in the middle of a roller coaster ride. You don’t see stuff quite like this on CSI.

imageAnimation is both bright and fluid, especially in these early episodes. True, it doesn’t compare to, say, Pokémon Advanced Generation, IGPX, or Fullmetal Alchemist, but it still gets the job done. However, FUNi’s doing something new with these discs. Before, all episodes had different angles, one had the English logo/credits/character names, while the other had the Japanese words. The alternate angles return for the credits, but they disappear for the episodes themselves. I’m guessing there wasn’t enough room, but FUNi doesn’t even include subtitles to translate the various titles when they appear. And for some reason, only about 1/4 of the titles actually appear. Most of the characters names aren’t shown on screen like they are in other episodes, either in English or Japanese, and it gets really hard to keep track of the various names without help.

For the music, the main change from the previous releases is the return of the first opening theme, which is probably the biggest difference in quality between the English and Japanese themes. While the English one rocks and is very catchy (though it cuts out before the song ends), the Japanese sounds like the singer is drunk, and the music isn’t as clear. The English dub is slightly better voice-wise due to Richard’s voice being much better than Kogoro’s, but by now, anybody getting this disc knows which language they like better. Both versions stumble a bit since they haven’t fully gotten into their characters, but they’re still enjoyable to listen to, even during these early times.

imageUnfortunately, FUNimation has skimped on the on-disc extras. We only have trailers, and those are in the format of the old “one-long video” trailer selection like the old days. The original release of the first four episodes had a “Crack the Case” game which eventually led to bloopers, but those bloopers are nowhere the found (unfortunately) on this disc. To make up for this, FUNi packed in a keychain and wall scroll in the Starter Set. Now, FUNi could have been cheap and just had one of those clear laminated keychains with a paper inside, but they decided to be cool and give us a high-quality rubber keychain of Conan shooting his wristwatch gun, which is really awesome. The wall scroll is rather nice looking, though it’d take some serious pressing to get the creases out. Also, because the scroll doesn’t come with the headers to hang it up, you need to buy empty ones somewhere else if you want to hang it. However, due to the large width of the scroll, most headers won’t fit very well.

Overall, this is an excellent release for Case Closed/Detective Conan fans. If you’ve held off until now to view the series in order, this is the perfect time to start.

Episodes on Case Closed Case 1, Volume 1: The Investigation is Afoot Starter Set:
Episode #01: The Big Shrink
Episode #02: The Kidnapped Debutante
Episode #03: Beware of Idols
Episode #04: Fish Marks the Spot
Episode #05: The Time Bomb Express
Episode #06: Tragic Valentine
Episode #07: The Case of the Mysterious Gifts
Episode #08: The Art Museum Murder Case
Episode #09: Festival Fiasco

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