Manga Reviews

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Detective Conan

Detective Conan (Licensed as Case Closed)
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Mystery

Warning: Mild Gore, Death

Kudo Shinichi is a famous high school detective, with a brilliant mind. He uses his abilities to help the police solve many mysteries, almost all involving murders. One day he goes to an amusement park on a date with his girlfriend Mouri Ran. At the park he encounters a couple of shady looking men and follows them. He discovers that they're smuggling guns but before he can call the police, he gets caught. Instead of shooting him, which would leave evidence, the men in black feed him a poison that "The Organization" recently created. Instead of killing Shinichi, the poison (which had never been tested before) turned him into a little kid. Shinichi has become a brilliant high schooler, trapped in a 6 year-old's body.

Only he and his neighbor Professor Agasa know who he really is, and Agasa warns him that if the secret of his identity ever leaks out, it will put all those around him at risk. As a result, Shinichi takes on a new identity, that of Edogawa Conan (named after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books). He goes to live with Ran, who's father is also a detective. Shinichi's hope is that, by helping Ran's father solve cases, he'll one day meet up with the men in black again so that he can find a cure to the drug which changed him.

This manga is a series of mysteries, each one spanning several chapters. Shinichi uses his keen observation and deductive skills to trace out the truth behind each crime. To help him reveal the truth, without revealing his identity, Professor Agase creates a series of tools for him, ranging from a tranquilizer gun in his watch to a voice modulator in his bow tie.

This manga plays out a lot like the Sherlock Holmes novels. Shinichi is obviously modeled after Holmes, having great observation skills and impressive deductive powers. However, like Sherlock Holmes novels, not all the clues are presented to the reader until the detective begins analyzing the truth. So if you're looking for a manga where you get all the clues first and attempt to solve it yourself, you might not want to look here.

The characters are developed slowly, which is alright given that the author has been using the same set of characters to solve mysteries for 40+ volumes. The background art is very elaborate, which contrasts somewhat with the simplistic facial and body art of the characters. The characters look fine by themselves as does the background art but together they give off a sense of disjointedness that you have to get used to.

The plot is entertaining because each mystery differentiates a lot from the others. Furthermore, the author makes sure to add mysteries concerning the men in black every once in a while, to give the manga a sense of continuity. As mentioned before, this is not a series for people who enjoy solving things themselves. You'll see Shinichi make large jumps in logic off very small amounts of information, and then you'll see the criminal confess, even when it seems like the conclusion Shinichi drew was pure speculation. The series is a lot more entertaining if you just read, following the story rather than if you try to immerse yourself in that world.

Rating: 7.5/10.0


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