I’ve been marathoning Detective Conan as of late (it’s pretty much all I’ve been doing lately). I watched a lot of the anime before and was even up to date with the manga at one point. I’ve been really enjoying my rewatch of the show, but have found it hard to articulate exactly what it is I love so much about Detective Conan.
Irrespective of what muddled words I come up with in this post, I want to emphasize that Detective Conan (or Case Closed) is a legitimately great show everyone should try.
What keeps me watching Conan is how easy it is to watch in the background. Detective Conan is very much an anime designed for a long run on the TV. It is something folk can turn on, half tune in and go about their day, even more so if you’ve seen most of it before.
The mysteries often have lots of small details involved and the astute viewer might try and guess the culprit before the characters do, but it is only rarely possible. Most of the cases are pretty convoluted and hard to predict. I can’t blame the show at all for that. I mean it is got 800+ episodes, you can’t expect all of them to hit that perfect mystery point between too obvious and too convoluted. That is not to suggest that the mysteries nor the actors involved are lacking.
On the contrary, Detective Conan has some fantastic cases. There are several somber cases where the murder realizes just how much of a mistake they made right at the end (like a woman crying over the body of the younger sister she just killed) or a police officer gone wrong who regains pride in his position. Another brand of Conan case that I love is when the main cast (especially the Detective Boys) end up in danger. The episode then turns into a mystery action thriller as both the mystery needs to be solved and our cast has to try pretty hard to keep from dying! And if we are talking danger, we can’t forget the Syndicate.
If being easy to watch makes it easy to load up the next episode, it’s the mystery of the Syndicate that makes me want to. After the first episode, it took until the 54th episode before Syndicate crew made an appearance, and it was a small, small cameo. We didn’t learn more about the organization until episode 128 and then 129. My memory is shot, but I think I got up to 700 episodes or something before and the Syndicate, despite being involved in numerous cases, still remains mostly a mystery. It is fascinating just how long information on this central organization has taken to unravel! And their clashes with Kudo are the bits that so many fans of Detective Conan want to watch the most!
Well executed mysteries are one thing, but it is always the actors involved that make them great. While suspects, criminals and side characters in Detective Conan range from meh to very good, the central cast is really, really good. If by the end of Conan, you haven’t come to love the Mouri Agency crew, the Detective Boys, the Osaka crew and basically every recurring police officer, then you are clearly not me. Heiji and Kazuma for example are fantastic compliments to Kudo and Ran. And of course some of the FBI/misc characters released later on and the complex plot lines they weave are absolutely fantastic.
And let’s not forget the romance. I might talk about it more some other day, but the romance present in Detective Conan is so, so good. Well, if you look at it in aggregate anyway (too many small developments to keep us entertained most of the time). Ran really loves Shinichi and he in turn loves her back so much their close-but-separated relationship carries with it so much pain, it is so good. Don’t even talk about Ai whose chemistry with Kudo is amazing and makes not shipping them really hard.
So, I enjoy this show because some mysteries are legit good, the Syndicate and its members are fascinating and frightening and because the romance is so on point (if slow). But, there is one more reason. And that’s because Detective Conan is legit cool, both the show and the detective at its heart. One does not read Sherlock Holmes for the perplexing mystery, but for Holmes himself. The detective that can solve every case and look pretty badass doing it is the main draw of Holmes. The same is true here.
This show is goofy. We have a ~6 year old kid with a bow tie use a tranquilizer dart to knock out an old man and imitate his voice in open sight to solve cases. The show features lots of goofy expressions, ‘oy oy’ sarcastic lines and lots of Conan head smacking. Some of the comedy is hit and miss (mostly hit), but it’s a goofy show.
Of course there are serious moments, many of which end with some action sequence like Conan kicking a ball into a culprit’s face and those action scenes are cool, but the coolest moments are often when Kudo drops a really cool line or two.
I say Kudo because it is Kudo at that point. There is Kudo acting like a childish Conan to trick folk. There is Conan playing detective and then there are moments where he totally throws off the Conan persona and becomes Kudo Shinichi, a serious, badass detective and these moments are unequivocally, unquestionably amazing. And he is not cool because it is a 17 year old in a kid’s body. Not all 17 year olds are cool. No, he is cool because he is Kudo Shinichi, one of the best detectives in Japan.
It is hard for me to explain and even harder to provide examples, but it happens! And it is not only Kudo, the show itself just has this amazing undercurrent of cool that it articulates through several characters. Heiji Hattori has some amazing cool moments, as do several other detectives. Everything out of Haibara Ai’s mouth is gold and there is this camp scene later on where she saves the kids from a fire and it is so cool. Heck, even the Detective Boys have some really cool “HELL YEAH” moments. Ran’s Karate is mostly used for comedic effect but there are moments of exceptional badassery (please watch this) from her. Also Sato, the most badass police officer. And don’t even get me started on Shuichi.
Of course this cool thing applies to the villains too. The men in black all wear, you guessed it, black. And boy do their smarter members like Gin totally pull off the look. Gin is frightening. Kudo is lucky he’s barely run into the guy. And the show doesn’t try to hide this cool side either. Look at the openings and endings, many of them are composites of some really cool imagery.
The openings frequently feature Kudo/Conan looking cool as they hunt down stuff or they explore the relationship between Ran & Kudo through umbrellas, mirrors and all kinds of stuff. Many of the openings/endings totally feel like they are showing off a cool crime show and in many ways Detective Conan very much is that.
Detective Conan, despite it’s extraordinary length, does many things right, but its best moments are when you are making a fist going FUCK YEAH. In that respect, it is no different from most Shonen, it just happens to be a really good one with an amazing central plot line and a varied, very interesting cast. I’m only about 162 or so episodes into my rewatch (with many skipped episodes), but it is so cool. So very cool. Detective Conan is a fantastic series. If you can handle a long running, still running, series, please do check it out or rewatch it for I’m sure this was a childhood anime for many. Also if you want a cut list, please use what Detective Conan expert Yogshi recommends.