Kudou Shinichi is an extremely popular 11th-grader who dreams of being the world's next Sherlock Holmes. The son of a famous mystery novelist and lovely actress, Shinichi has made a name for himself as a brilliant detective, always helping the police solve baffling mysteries much like his idol Holmes.
This obsession with crime-solving tends to grate on his pseudo-girlfriend Mouri Ran's nerves, though. She can't help but feel a bit threatened by Shinichi's dangerous lifestyle...and by the popularity it brings. So she jumps at the chance to get Shinichi alone on a "date" to an amusement park where, much to her dismay, a murder occurs that Shinichi *naturally* solves.
However, when Ran and Shinichi split up for just a short time, Shinichi witnesses a suspicious negotiation between two mysterious men in black. He is caught eavesdropping, and is poisoned by the two men and left to die. However, rather than killing Shinichi, the poison reverts him back into an elementary-school boy!
Bent on finding the mysterious men in black again, and discover a cure to the poison, Shinichi takes on the name Edogawa Conan and lives a double life as "Shinichi's cousin," in order to keep his survival a secret from those that poisoned him. He is taken under the care of Ran and her father, Kougoro, a burnt-out, divorced detective who is past his prime. On the road to finding those mysterious men in black, Conan and his friends solve case after case, all while keeping his true identity a secret.
My purpose in this review is not only to give you a good idea of what this series is essentially like ... but honestly, I'm going to try to convince you with all of my being that this is one series that is worth watching every. Damned. Episode.
Yes. All three-freakin'-hundred-something of them. And the movies. All--what, seven of them? Eight?
Let me first tell you how I stumbled across this series. It was actually because I bought one of the soundtracks with the theme song collections on it. Detective Conan has the best theme songs of any anime series out there, and the animation to go with them (especially around season 10 or so) is breath-taking and downright AWESOME. Just watching the theme song for this show makes my blood pump! The adrenaline rush from this show is unbelieveable!
I'm totally getting ahead of myself here. Seldom does an anime series remain engaging after two seasons. I can only think of ... oh, one series that did that for me other than this one, and that's Rurouni Kenshin. But that quickly died after the Kyoto arc.
Here we've got a series that's been going since 1996, and still has a strong, solid following. Its fanbase hasn't died out; it's only grown larger, and internationally widespread. During these past few years of college, I've lived as the only white girl around a ton of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean international students. Something they all had in common: they've all watched Detective Conan. It was something we could use to bond with each other, something we could all enjoy and agree on.
Detective Conan's plot is the same for every episode, but the difference with it is, like the long-running hit prime-time series Law & Order, it stays fresh each go-'round. Think of it like Encyclopedia Brown, but with murders or kidnappings. But that doesn't do it justice.
Some might be turned off initially by the character designs. Frankly, the untrained anime viewing eye would not consider Ran to be a cute girl, or Shinichi to be a cutie. The designs are nearly identical to the manga, with strange "not-quite-there" noses, huge, ungleamy round eyes, and what I've heard as "jug ears." The character designs are far from typical, but they're so distinctive, you can't picture the story told any other way. This series' writing and plotline is so strong, it doesn't need to rely on eye-candy as a vehicle.
The characters are lovable. Simply. There's not really any obvious angst in the episodes...the writers are really good at leaving it up for viewer speculation, because oh, is the potential there! However, the writers are indulgent enough to give us a glimpse of the struggle Shinichi and Ran are going through during their prolonged separation. There's no hiding it, the two are totally sweet on each other, and the viewer wants nothing more than to root for Shinichi to get cured so he can finally look Ran in the face again and ease her anxieties. (But at the same time, we don't want the series to end! It must go on FOREVER! Waaah!)
Sadly, I haven't even gotten to the episodes where one of the most popular characters, Haibara Ai (played by Hayashibara Megumi) joins the cast. I've been told this is one of her most popular roles, and seldom do I see a Newtype magazine without both her and Conan on the list of most popular anime characters. All I really know about Ai is that she is somehow involved with the poison that turned Shinichi into a little boy.
The animation is average towards the beginning of the series. I mean, come on, it's the mid 1990s! It's actually quite good, considering. I have seen later episodes (specifically, episode 314 and an hour special titled "11 Million Hostages.") and the animation is stellar. Even just the theme songs! The THEME SONGS!
But what puts Detective Conan as my #1 all-time favorite anime (so far) is the superb writing. I soak up Detective Conan like a good book, I get so drawn into every episode that everything around me just sinks away and it's just me and the episode. It's engrossing. I can't think of another word for it. Like I said, every episode is fresh, and every mystery that is solved is profound. The kid's a prodigy, and you can't blink while watching an episode of this wonderful series--or you'll miss something important, no doubt.
"Shinjitsu wa itsumo hitotsu." There is only one truth. Detective Conan is one long-running anime series that is, unusually, NOT over-rated. And that is a fact.
I need moooore ... mooooooooooore!!!!! — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: I would say kids 13 and up is an appropriate audience. This one is for both girls and boys. Not too heavy on the action, smart enough to appeal to the intellectuals, but not too smart to overwhelm those that simply want to be entertained. Conan is also a great mirror of what Japanese life is really like. It's not too exaggerated, and doesn't patronize viewers at all, like some anime titles do. You can be in ANY mood to watch this title ... if I've got a list of new anime episodes to watch -- even with magical girl shows -- Conan is ALWAYS the first one I watch.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelase digital source
Review Status: Partial (43/649+)
Detective Conan © 1996 Goshou Aoyama / Shogakukan / YTV / TMS
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