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Aug 6, 2015 1:53 PM
Anime Relations: Detective Conan
In every fandom, there are always a couple of characters that everyone (well, not literally, but a lot of people) just loves to hate. They are bashed without mercy whenever they show up, they are whined about endlessly, and they are scarcely given any serious attention or consideration beyond the aforementioned complaints and mockery. In the Detective Conan fandom, Conan’s group of child friends, the Detective Boys, is often the recipient of the kind of vitriolic bashing referenced above. The complaints are typical and generic: they are annoying, obnoxious, pointless, get in Conan’s way, and are a drag to have around. This strong negative attitude has interested me for a long time now, because I personally consider the members of the Detective Boys to be some of the best and most well-written child (as in 6 years or so) characters I’ve seen in anime, with vibrant personalities that result in some fun and sometimes surprisingly complex character dynamics. I thought I’d cast some light on this under appreciated bunch of brats. This blog post is going to be a sort of analysis/defense of the group (similar to the Bourbon Conundrum series, in that regard) that is so often abandoned on the wayside by DC fans who see them as nothing more than trivial annoyances that distract from the real meat of the show.

Not counting Conan and Haibara, the Detective Boys consist of three members: Ayumi Yoshida, Mitsuhiko Tsuburaya, and Genta Kojima. They are all 6/7 year olds who share in common an adventurous spirit but little else. For all of their childish antics, they are exceedingly mature and intelligent for their age, almost to the point of being slightly unrealistic. However, for the most part they act like children their age can be reasonably expected to act. Their incessant curiosity and naiveté has gotten them into a lot of trouble in the past, which is what has led to many complaining of their irritating tendencies of making problems for themselves and Conan. However, those blunders are usually what make their cases so interesting and fun (more on that later). Their group is basically DC’s tribute to the Baker Street Irregulars, the network of street kids in the Sherlock Holmes canon who used to aid the great detective through intelligence investigation. The DB do this themselves with Conan on several occasions, consolidating the reference.

Before I get into examining each of its individual members, I’d like to discuss the Detective Boys as a group; specifically, their purpose in the narrative. Contrary to what many might believe, the Detective Boys fulfill a crucial role, so important that I’d argue that DC as a story cannot function without it. Specifically, they provide the audience with a window into Conan’s life as a kid. The necessity of this function should be obvious: it’d be ridiculous for a show to have a central conceit of its protagonist becoming a kid without exploring the sort of life that forces him to lead among people who are actually children. The comedic and dramatic potential of such an arrangement is high, and DC is able to exploit it so thoroughly via the Detective Boys, through their rich interactions and influence upon each other. More so, their various adventures and trips provide DC with a nice degree of variety, acting as a respite from the constant never-ending murders, a privilege that a series like Kindaichi, for example, doesn’t have. The Detective Boy cases are in no way inferior to normal murder cases; if anything, they are of similar if not greater quality. Somewhat ironically, DB cases have produced some of the best horror and suspense stories in the whole show. Consider: the Blue Castle case, the Kaitou Kid mansion case, the Piano case, etc. These cases stand out for their uniqueness, excitement, and sense of adventure.

As important as the above function is, however, I’d say the Detective Boys have an even more critical one; namely, acting as catalysts and markers of both Conan and Haibara’s character development throughout the show. For Conan, they are the intimate, close group of friends that he never really allowed himself as a child. The brief glimpse that we get of Shinichi’s childhood in the Childhood Adventure flashback case (episodes 473-474) shows us a kid who bowed to social pressures from his companions, so much so that he insisted that Ran not call him by his first name in public despite their closeness, and in fact preferred that she not hang out with him as often. All of that demonstrates insecurity and a fear of being ostracized if conformity to social norms was not maintained. This all relates to Shinichi’s general social awkwardness and ineptitude. It is easy to infer from the above that Shinichi never really developed close bonds with anyone his age the way he did with Ran; Heiji represented his first true and genuine friendship with another guy, with the Detective Boys following suit. They are the group of close friends that Shinichi never had as a child, and the fact that he allows himself to act his true age around them without deception or trickery is in an indication of the intimacy of the relationship they share. With the Detective Boys Conan has been able to embark on various fun and enjoyable adventures and trips, many which he likely never had the chance to experience when he was a kid. With them, Shinichi could relive the childhood that he never got the opportunity to fully exploit or appreciate.

In the beginning of the series, Conan didn’t really like the Detective Boys much. He tolerated their presence but otherwise viewed them as a drag and nuisance. The extent of his detachment from them was made clear when he did not bother to so much as give them as a proper goodbye when he believed that he was about to be restored permanently to his normal body and leave Conan behind. When that turned out not to be the case, he lamented his fate, cursed to endure more annoyance at the hands of the three kids who refused to leave him alone. Conan’s attitude towards the overly enthusiastic children gradually changed over the course of the series, as he slowly grew from tolerating them to truly loving them as fellow friends. Episode 700 contains a scene that is a powerful marker of how Conan’s relationship with the Detective Boys has changed, specifically the one that came near its end. Conan races back to the cabin that the kids were staying in to find it engulfed in a raging fire, and he shouts desperately for his friends, one by one, as he is restrained and prevented from rushing in to save them. When for a few terrifying moments it seemed that it was over, Conan seemed shocked and on the verge of tears, before, to his intense relief, they were revealed to have escaped safe and sound.

The influence of the DB on Haibara is even more pronounced, fitting as Gosho once confirmed in an interview that the group was created with her in mind, even if she was introduced over a hundred episodes after them. Like Conan, Haibara was denied a proper childhood, though her situation was undeniably worse. Raised in the Organization, she was isolated from other people her age and never got to taste the joy or innocence of being a carefree kid; the result was the cynical, jaded, detached, depressed, and icy person we first meet in episode 129. Over the course of the series, though, Haibara undergoes an extensive character arc, and the DB plays a major role in that.

The most important person in this regard is without a doubt Ayumi. Her warmth, innocence, naivety, purity, and optimism made for a sharp contrast with Haibara, and her general compassion made her eager to break past the frosty barrier that the mysterious girl had built around herself. Ayumi’s relentless insistence at treating Haibara as a close friend was initially met with resistance; it was an experience with which she lacked familiarity, after all. Over time, however, Ayumi managed to make progress. In many ways, she was the perfect candidate to draw Haibara out of her self-imposed prison, as her personality was a polar opposite to hers in every imaginable object. Her optimism and loyalty was the natural antidote to Haibara’s cynicism and self-centricity.

The Blue Castle case (episodes 136-137) threw into sharp relief the many differences between the two, while planting the seeds for the big changes that were to come to Haibara. At one point during the case, when she and Ayumi remained the only two not captured by the killer, she ordered the little girl to remain outside and count to three hundred; if she hadn’t returned, she was to run away immediately, so that she could at least save herself. When it came down to it, though, Ayumi couldn’t abandon her friend, couldn’t prioritize her own safety above those of her companions, an expression of her fierce loyalty. That Haibara thought Ayumi could have ever obeyed such a command was more of an indication of her narrow and cynical perspective at this point than anything else. It was a reflection of Haibara’s tendency to “run away” when the going became tough. Ayumi’s deliberate refusal to do precisely that foreshadowed her greater influence on Haibara in the far future.

The payoff for this moment came a long time after, in episodes 346-347. In that case, Haibara’s central conflict was whether or not she should sign up for the Witness Protection Program in the aftermath of her near-death at Vermouth’s hands. For the Haibara of the early days, the decision would have been a no-brainer: not only would it allow her to escape from a dangerous life by assuming a new identity, it would also ensure her safety, which is what she once valued above all, even pretty concepts like justice and loyalty. In that same case, though, Ayumi said something that left a strong impression on Haibara and that directly connected to the subtle conflict between them all the way back in the Blue Castle case; namely that if she were to start running away, she would never stop…which is why she refused to run, just as she had refused to do so back at the Blue Castle. She said this in response to Haibara’s advice to keep a low-profile and hide away from the criminal in order to remain safe. Ayumi’s words were idealistic, but that is precisely why they left such a powerful impact on Haibara: they were a sound rejection of cynicism, of cowardice, of fear, an assertion of control and strength. It gave Haibara the push and the encouragement she needed to turn down the offer and continue her existence as Ai Haibara, friends of the Detective Boys, even if doing so was more dangerous. This was a landmark moment in Haibara’s character arc, one of the most significant and one of the most meaningful, and it came about primarily thanks to Ayumi’s purity of heart and surprising wisdom.

And it’s here where it would be a good idea to actually begin examining the Detective Boys individually, starting with the sole girl-who-is-actually-a-kid. Honestly the above analysis of Haibara and Ayumi’s relationship doubles rather well as an examination of Ayumi’s personality, a testament to how tightly intertwined her story is with Haibara’s as a shrunken adult. Ayumi herself isn’t too complex a character. She is basically the nicest person in the whole show, a manifestation of all that is good and wonderful in the world. This design is very clearly meant to contrast with the colder Haibara; as such, the primary function of Ayumi’s character, more than anything else, is to affect and help Haibara grow as a person. That is why it is difficult to speak too extensively of Ayumi without bringing in her close friend. Ayumi herself is, as described earlier, in possession of a pure and kind heart, brimming with compassion, love, excitement, enthusiasm, and optimism. She consistently sees the best in people and refuses to be judgmental. She is innocent and naïve in the truest sense of the word, a characteristic that is punctuated by her tendency to refer to herself in the third-person. That innocence lends her a level of straightforwardness that grants her the uncanny ability to see through the illusions of a given situation to the simple reality beneath. Her observations can be blunt and simple but full of surprising truth. It’s this ability of hers that sometimes leads her to clarify seemingly complicated issues in the most simple and obvious way possible, clearing away all the ambiguity and obfuscation surrounding them. Her statement regarding the futility of “running away” is one example of this in action. Ayumi serves as an effective reminder that sometimes the simplistic and unsophisticated perspective of a child can cut through to the heart and truth of the matter far better than the more complex and experienced view of an adult.

Ayumi’s love of her friends is one of her most integral character traits, and something that she is extremely passionate about; just see her troubled and tearful reaction to the false friendship she saw before her in episode 330. Her earnest desire to connect and befriend with other people, even the ones she had only just met, showed itself clearly in episode 460, when she was markedly the only one of the Detective Boys to remember the names of the new transfer students to the class. She ascribes a great deal of importance to the proper treatment of friends, a belief that is accentuated by her incredible degree of loyalty to them. She has such integrity that she never dares compromise her principles, lending her the stubbornness that allows her to never run away from any situation, no matter how dangerous or terrifying, if people she cares about are involved. The force of Ayumi’s fervent love for her friends is what allowed her to break past Haibara’s frosty exterior, reaching the ultimately human core of the former BO member. It’s clear that Haibara has come to consider her a close and legitimate companion, and her treatment of Ayumi is kinder and more affectionate than her treatment of virtually anyone else. Ayumi was the one who took the first step towards cementing the intimacy of their bond, by taking the initiative of calling Haibara “Ai-chan” rather than the more distant and formal “Haibara-san,” a move born out of Ayumi’s pure-hearted desire to treat all her friends equally and of acknowledging her friendship with Haibara. Haibara, for her part, noticed Ayumi’s many attempts to call her “Ai-chan” and in the end gave her explicit permission to do so, a significant move coming from the usually inaccessible girl. Interestingly, she granted this privilege only to Ayumi, shooting down Genta and Mitsuhiko when they tried to do the same. At the present point in time, Haibara and Ayumi are true best friends, and Haibara has grown to love all of the Detective Boys deeply, a process that Ayumi had a large hand in jump-starting.

Genta is the self-declared leader of the Detective Boys, although in reality it is Conan that holds that position. The big boy can often come across as a mean-spirited bully, but he is a far more cordial person than his bullish appearance might suggest. For all of his flaws, such as his problematic tendency to believe that he knows best and so rush into dangerous situations (a characteristic that has earned him the ire of a great many number of fans), he has many more redeeming qualities. He loves his friends and enjoys embarking on adventures. He also love food, especially eel rice, and it’s a running gag with him that he usually measures the value of any given amount of money by the numbers of eel rice it can buy. Naturally, he has a voracious appetite and is teased by his fellow DB members for it. It doesn’t seem to bother him most of the time, though he seems to take offense to the suggestion that he is a fat child.

The person Genta is most influenced by is easily his father. He looks up to him as a role model of sorts, and would frequently mention him to his friends, long before he was introduced in the series. When we finally see Genta’s father, though, we see how he has rubbed off on his son. He is generally a pleasant guy, but has a short fuse and zero tolerance for nonsense. More so, he has a tendency to start fights with other people thanks to his aggressive and confrontational demeanor in the face of something he intensely dislikes. This temperament likely has at least some of its origins in the fact that he works at a bar, where he comes into contact with idiotic drunkards on a regular basis. As such, he is used to dealing with rowdy situations. Genta clearly picked up on some of this, which is why he uses intimidation tactics on other people from time to time and seems ready to fight if need be. Some of it may be genetic predisposition, and some of it may be Genta simply emulating his role model. Like his father, though, Genta is at heart a good person.

From the glimpses we’ve had of her, Genta’s mom seems to be equally as forceful as his dad, if not more so; her iron will and command are obeyed by husband and son alike. This also helps explain Genta’s sometimes combative behavior. There is more to Genta than just that, though. He seems to have some subtle insecurities which occasionally show themselves throughout the show, and they all seem to be linked to his desire to live up to the authoritative and solid image of his father. His insistence on being called the leader of the Detective Boys, for example, shows a child who feels the need to be seen as the leader and so to be viewed with respect and dignity, even if he doesn’t deserve it; his intimidation of other kids is meant to achieve the same effect. His posturing as a leader who knows best and who doesn’t need to take orders from anyone seems to stem form this as well. Of course, this means that Genta doesn’t like to appear weak in front of others, and he is willing to conceal worries and doubts out of the fear that he will be laughed at or mocked. His behavior during the case where a thief was attempting to kill him (episode 242) is perfectly representative of this particular character trait; instead of confiding in his friends his fears and concerns, he isolates himself and actively avoids them, keeping all his terrified thoughts and feelings to himself despite the pain it caused him. Fortunately his friends managed to get to him and help him eventually, but there was no telling how long Genta would have kept the secret to himself otherwise.

And so, finally, we come to Mitsuhiko, the best developed child member of the Detective Boys and my personal favorite. One of his defining character traits is his polite and restrained demeanor. His speech is remarkably formal, and he is highly organized in even the most trivial aspects. Much of this is a direct result of his regimented upbringing parents who are strict by virtue of their occupations as teachers. Their influence clearly rubbed off on their son, though obviously their daughter (Mitsu’s sister) was less susceptible to their influence. She makes for an interesting contrast with her brother, coming across as a spunky, spontaneous girl with a rather childlike enthusiasm for adventure. Her reaction to her brother’s disappearance in episode 289, far from being one of worry, was one of excitement and interest.

Aside from Conan, he functions as the intellectual force of the group. He is well-read and highly knowledgeable, and is aware an impressive range of factoids and trivia. Frequently, whenever the Detective Boys visit famous landmarks or embark on adventurous investigations, it is he who brings up some interesting, obscure piece of information relevant to the matter at hand. He is highly intelligent, capable of unusually sophisticated deduction for a person his age. Of all the kids who consider themselves Detective Boys, Mitsuhiko embodies the ideal image of a child detective best.

It is a cruel irony, then, that it is Conan who is perceived by both the characters in the show and the viewers watching as the brains of the group. Mitsuhiko, a person with the potential to grow into a truly great detective, often gets the shaft, overshadowed by his shorter companion every step of the way. It’s an unfair reality, as Conan’s mental age is 10 years beyond his physical one, while Mitsuhiko truly is an exceptional child. The narrative of the show doesn’t ignore the logical consequences that Conan’s dominance would have on Mitsuhiko’s psyche, a smart kid who nonetheless doesn’t seem smart enough when judged by Conan’s high standard.

Mitsuhiko, very simply, has an inferiority complex. He feels inadequate compared to Conan, questioning his true worth in the face of the realization that a great deal of the things he knows he does only thanks to Conan’s big brain. Even when he succeeds in putting things together on his own, Conan is always far ahead of him. Conan’s persistent superiority in terms of deduction undoubtedly has had some negative impact on Mitsuhiko’s self-esteem, though fortunately thanks to the encouragement of his peers it has not been too extensive (and at this point in time mostly nonexistent). The whole situation is quite sad for the boy, as he is not aware that the reason Conan is so far beyond him is due to their massive age difference. Mitsuhiko’s insistence on judging himself by the unreachably high bar Conan sets tragically ironic for precisely that reason, because it is an evaluation doomed to failure no matter his most earnest efforts. Had Mitsuhiko been aware of Conan’s true age, it is very likely that he would never have developed any doubts about his own abilities at all, simply because a child shouldn’t feel ashamed to not be as capable as an adult. As it is, he believes that he is competing with a child he is, totally ordinary outside of his unnatural intelligence. For a person who prides himself on intellect and knowledge as much as Mitsuhiko, Conan’s seemingly limitless genius is a harsh blow. Mitsuhiko confessed his insecurities and anxieties to Haibara in episode 212, where he expressed his admiration of Conan for both his knowledge and leadership ability and lamented his own pedestrian nature in comparison. Haibara helped direct Mitsuhiko towards a more positive line of thought, pointing out that all that mattered in the end was his ability to practically apply what he knows to help others. Those words cheered up Mitsuhiko a great deal, and are reflective of the sort of positive feedback that the young boy is on the receiving end of. In the end, Mitsuhiko’s friends are the reason that his feelings of insufficiency in comparison to Conan have not developed into a more malignant and far-reaching condition.

Speaking of friends, Mitsuhiko’s relationships with them are interesting. Of special note is his dynamic with Haibara. Put simply, Mitsuhiko is infatuated with her. He first becomes aware of his attraction to her during the aforementioned episode 212, when he stares at her in fascination after she makes a particularly mature and not very childlike comment about the significance of the apple from a religious perspective. It’s right after that Mitsuhiko tells Conan that despite Haibara’s usually harsh words, she’s “really pleasant, smart, and mature,” as well as “mysterious.” Mitsuhiko’s stated reasons for finding her attractive actually reveal some interesting things about his character. On the surface level, Haibara is an example of the classic case of someone being desirable simply because there is so much about them unknown and unexplained. Beyond that, however, it seems that Mitsuhiko develops a crush on her because she possesses all the characteristics that he would like to see in himself; she is the ideal that he strives to achieve. Mitsuhiko is indeed the most mature of the Detective Boys, or at least as “mature” as a first grader could hope to be. Part of this likely stems from his exceedingly formal upbringing, but it also seems to be a part of his natural demeanor. Mitsuhiko places a great deal of value on his intelligence, because it grants him, in his mind, a degree of wisdom and sophistication. It elevates him beyond being a mere child (and as mentioned earlier, Conan’s impressive mind strips that away from him by making him look lackluster in comparison). So, naturally, Mitsuhiko is drawn toward the person who is everything that he wants to be. The irony here is similar to the case with Conan; Mitsuhiko perceives Haibara as singularly mature and old because he believes her to be the same age as him. That a child like him could have such a notable aura of adulthood is exactly what makes Haibara so fascinating to him, so “mysterious.”

Haibara, of course, is cognizant of Mitsuhiko’s obsession with her, from the very first episode that he becomes aware of it. Of course, she doesn’t return his feelings, and any potential romance between her 18-year-old self and this elementary school child would be inappropriate, to say the least. Initially she actively tries to sabotage the boy’s feelings for her by making herself appear even colder and more cynical than she usually is, with the hope that Mitsuhiko would be pushed toward Ayumi instead, a far kinder person whom Mitsuhiko actually has a realistic chance with. While this tactic seems to work for a time, it becomes clear not long after that Mitsuhiko still very much likes Haibara; after all, her harsh attitude is one of the characteristics that led him to be captivated by her in the first place. Haibara eventually seems to relent, in that although she is careful not to give Mitsuhiko any false hope by showing him any interest, she does not discourage him from liking her in the romantic sense either. While Haibara does sometimes take advantage of Mitsuhiko’s feelings for her, she generally seems to find his crush endearing and is affectionate towards the boy himself.

Mitsuhiko, like the other two child members of the Detective Boys, is at his core a wonderfully innocent and kind human being. He has an iron will and the determination to see any task through to the end, no matter how difficult. He’s always thinking of ways to make his two romantic interests, Ayumi and Haibara, happy, and is more than willing to deliberately place himself in some tough situations for the sake of the people he cares about. This was probably shown best in episode 289-290, when Mitsuhiko arranged an elaborate trip for himself to a place far from home, all for the sake of retrieving a firefly for Ayumi and Haibara. He refused to call for help when he found himself lost in the forest because it would mean abandoning the firefly cupped in his hands. This intense dedication is one of Mitsuhiko’s greatest character traits, and just one of the many things that makes him such a likeable, good-hearted kid.

The romantic component of the relationships within the DB is both hilarious and fascinating. It’s quite a complicated web among the four members, with one unifying theme: unrequited love. At times this is one of sadder aspects of the group dynamic of the DB, as each member (or almost each member) pines after someone who simply doesn’t return their feelings; at others, it’s fertile ground for comedic gold. One of the most interesting questions the fandom asks is how in the world Gosho intends to resolve the messy tangle.

As discussed above, Mitsuhiko is infatuated with Haibara. He also likes Ayumi. At first glance, t might seem odd that Mitsuhiko would be attracted to two such diametrically opposed figures, but on closer inspection it makes sense; just as he is allured by Haibara due to being the manifestation of his model self, he is drawn in by Ayumi’s ultimate personification of his kinder and more gentle side. Unfortunately for Mitsuhiko, despite his best efforts to impress, neither girl returns his feelings. They certainly like him as a friend, but neither considers him a serious contender for their affections. In an almost pitifully ironic twist, both girls are interested in the one person who always seems to be one step ahead of Mitsuhiko: Conan.
Ayumi develops strong romantic feelings for Conan shortly after they meet. Similarly to Mitsuhiko and his fascination with Haibara, Ayumi sees Conan as a perfect role model for her, someone whom she can look up to, rely on, and strive to eventually become. Conan displays the exact kind of qualities that Ayumi herself holds dear: bravery, loyalty, and determination. As a bonus, he’s smart and quick on his feet, traits that give him an air of dependability. Ayumi is confident believing in and trusting in Conan as a friend and hero. She is very open with her affections, which has the dual effect of making Conan uncomfortable and the other two boys in the group, Mitsuhiko and Genta, angry and jealous.

Haibara is a bit more complicated when it comes to her feelings. Unlike Ayumi, she holds her thoughts and emotions close to her chest, only letting her guard down occasionally. At no point does she ever explicitly confirm her romantic interest in Conan; it can only be gleaned from several suggestive interactions she’s had with him throughout the show, including mysterious looks and dialogue heavy with subtext. A full analysis of Conan and Haibara’s complex relationship is beyond the scope of this essay; a brief overview should suffice. Basically, Haibara’s love for Conan seems to have established itself gradually over time, as she got to know him better and better. She was always interested in him from the get-go as a test subject who survived the drug that she developed. Eventually, though, Conan seemed to intrigue her as a person, as she came into contact with his decidedly different perspective on the world. In contrast to Haibara’s self-centered, cynical, and bleak outlook on life, Conan was selfless, idealistic, and optimistic. He was essentially everything that Haibara herself wasn’t, and his severe opposition to Haibara’s beliefs captivated her. Conan was a foreign thing, an enigma whose mind was difficult to comprehend, so different was it from the way Haibara understood the world around her. It’s only natural that she would be drawn to that; more so, she would come to admire Conan’s noble characteristics, and it wouldn’t be long after that they would begin to manifest in the shrunken scientist herself. The fact that Conan saved her life twice and always seemed to be there to look out for her would have only strengthened her feelings for him. The two are already intimate companions in a non-romantic manner; after all, they are both stuck in the same boat, waging a silent war against a syndicate that most of the world doesn’t even know exists. No one understands their situation like each other, and seeing as they are both fellow adults, they share the responsibility in looking out for the DB and frequently confide in each other. This hasn’t escaped the attention of the Detective Boys, and both Mitsuhiko and Ayumi have asked her directly whether or not she likes Conan on the basis of seeing the two of them talking privately often.

Conan is aware of Ayumi’s feelings and oblivious to Haibara’s. Either way, he doesn’t reciprocate the affections of both girls, as he himself only has eyes fro his childhood friend, Ran. Conan has the distinction of being the only member of the Detective Boys who doesn’t have a romantic interest within the group itself. This means none of his friends know whom he likes, if he likes anyone at all. Certainly they would never consider on their own that Ran is the person whom Conan desires. As for Genta, he has the least presence in this emotional cobweb. He has a crush on Ayumi, likely due to her kind and innocent nature, but it does not appear to be as intense or serious as Mitsuhiko’s. While he does get jealous when Ayumi shows Conan special attention, it may be partially due to his perception of it as a threat to his image and supposed “leadership.”

So to summarize: Mitsuhiko and Genta like Ayumi (and the former Haibara), who both like Conan, who likes Ran. It’s both sad and funny that no one seems to reciprocate the other’s feelings, resulting in hopes and dreams that are unlikely to ever be realized. Still, despite such romantic entanglements, the DB members never allow them to seriously endanger their friendships. The group is tight-knit, and they do virtually everything together. This sort of loving companionship is heartwarming to see, especially in terms of what it means to Conan and Haibara. Conan functions as the brave leader, Haibara the team mom, both looking out for the kids who have enriched their lives so much. The kids themselves, for all the trouble they get themselves and others into, are in the end wonderful, kind-hearted children being children, embarking on fun and memorable adventures that they’ll never forget.

I’m of the firm opinion that the Detective Boys simply don’t deserve the dislike they get. They fulfill their many purposes (ones essential to the success of the DC narrative) and go beyond that to be genuinely fun characters in their own rights. They aren’t the most well-developed or the most compelling, but at least they’re well-written, actual characters with clearly defined personalities. They have great and varied interactions with one another, and help each other grow. Characters as young as them (6/7 years old) are rarely given any serious attention in anime/manga, and even when they are, they are often mere caricatures or stereotypes of actual kids. A group like the Detective Boys is a rarity in anime, and for that they deserve some recognition. Detective Conan as a series would not be as good without them.
Posted by MrAM | Aug 6, 2015 1:53 PM | 2 comments
MrAM | Nov 7, 2015 7:25 AM
Yeah, I like to write, lol. Sadly these days I don't have much time for leisurely writing, so I don't know when I'll get around to writing another blog post. But yes, the Detective Boys are wonderful characters who get a baffling amount of hate. I thought a defense was in order to counter the endless negativity.

Thanks for the observations about the Blue Castle case. The scene you're referring to happened in the fifth movie, Countdown to Heaven. It's a good point, but ultimately I don't think I can consider it since all the movies are non-canon (though I will concede that they can give an insight into some characters that isn't present in the manga/anime.

Yeah, it's a shame how often Kogoro is neglected. He's a great character in his own right, as is most of DC's cast, so it can be frustrating to see that fandom usually only focuses on a handful of characters and neglect the rest.
Naala | Oct 26, 2015 7:30 PM
You really write a lot XD I searched about hate on the Detective Boys after reading one of those many mean comments on them and was surprised to find someone who wrote about them recently. I feel sad for them, because like you said, they are well written and DC wouldn't work without them. Especially Genta, I'm glad that Gosho also portrays him as a good friend and not only as fat and dumb (there are way to many characters in movies who are like that...). Since I'm currently rewatching the Castle episode, I also noticed that Genta actually gives Ayumi his bread for Conan. I also think, that it's good that Mitsuhiko learns that you don't need to be brightest
You forgot that Ayumi does know that Conan likes Ran though - there was a time when Ayumi and Mitsuhiko both had a conservation about love with Ran at a restaurant (I think it was during a movies or OVA) and Ayumi asks Ran to turn Conan down.
I also think that Kogoro deserves a bit more attention besides being Conans puppet. I love it when he is serious and I think he deserves more AMVs and such and also characters like Sonoko. DC has so many wonderful characters, but most people focus on Conan, Heiji and Kaito Kid, they are interesting characters, but not the only ones.