Kudou Shinichi is a seventeen year-old high school detective whom people call the "Modern Sherlock Holmes." However, one night after a date with his childhood sweetheart, Ran, Shinichi witnessed an illegal trade and, caught off his guard, was knocked unconscious and fed a drug that was supposed to kill him... but he woke up and found himself shrunken to a seven year-old. In order to track down the men who did this to him, Shinichi hid his identity and lived with Ran, whose father happened to be a hopeless detective, and with that came a series of murders and mysteries that he must solve.
Meitantei Conan was awarded the 46th Shogakukan Manga Award for best shounen manga in 2000. It has sold over 150 million copies as of 2015, making it the 5th highest selling manga series of all time.
The series has been published in English as Case Closed by VIZ Media under the Shonen Sunday imprint since September 7, 2004 (the Funimation dub name changes are kept in the publication). It is also published by Shogakukan Asian as Detective Conan, keeping the original Japanese names.
Seeing as how few reviews of this – undoubtedly very popular and influential – manga there are, I thought that it deserved more attention and decided to write myself one.
But before proceeding to the main body of the review I must mention that despite my personal tastes and subjectivity – as you can see I gave this manga the highest possible ranking – I understand that not everyone’s tastes coincide with mine, and I’m aware that some people may not like what I happen to like. That’s why in this review I will try to name all the ‘pro’ and ‘contra’ arguments as to if
you should read this manga or not.
Also I must warn all potential readers that this review may contain MINOR SPOILERS – but I’m sure that everyone who considers a possibility of reading Detective Conan may already know that information, because, I think, before indulging oneself into a long read it is quite natural to look for some information about it on the Internet. Basically, these spoilers are well-known facts, but just in case – be alert.
And last, but not least: this review is going to be a LONG one. If you don’t like big amounts of text, better stop reading now or skip the main part and go to the conclusion right away. But then again, if you think of reading DC, which is one of the most text-heavy mangas out there, that means you are prepared for reading quite a bit of text. So it would be better to read the whole review.
Well, enough with the introduction. I’m fairly sure that nearly everyone had heard about the initial premise in DC. A high-school student, who also happens to be a genius detective, was turned into a grade-school kid by some mysterious organization, so he tries to uncover its evil deeds and get back to his original form, cracking alongside all the tough cases he encounters – his everyday life seems to be packed with them. Basically, that’s all that there is to it. But let’s dig a little deeper.
One can divide the plot in DC into lesser sub-plots – Black Organization plot (considered to be main plot), Conan’s identity plot, multiple love storylines, Kaito Kid cases, cases concerning characters past, the so-called filler cases etc. Mind you, this division is not an ultimate one – sub-plots may differ depending on the story arc; there may be different opinions on the point of what to call a ‘plot’ – are the recurring characters enough or there must be a continuity of events; sub-plots tend to overlap in most of the cases.
I haven’t done a statistical research as to how many chapters relate to the main plot, but I can surely tell that not many. Usually, BO cases happen once in 100 chapters – Gosho puts them as every new one-hundredth file (so all DC fans are now eagerly anticipating file 800). They provide elements of thriller, suspense and action in the series – in my opinion, they are excellent and really fire up mostly deduction-oriented plot. But that doesn’t mean that there is not enough space for the brain activity – they include intricate planning on both sides(Conan and BO), mind games like ‘I know what you think, but you know that I know, so I won’t do what you think I’ll do and will do that instead’. BO arcs are real gems and are definitely worth checking out.
DC is also defined as ‘romance’ alongside with a detective – and that is no coincidence. We already have countless pairings in DC – some were added in 700+ chapters, and there are signs of more to come. Nearly every recurring character has a love story, or a love interest – even kids – so it is easy to conclude that DC is not only a detective manga. Personally, I like romance in DC, though a lot of people may find that love lines tend to drag on forever, and thus are not very enjoyable – that may be true, but nevertheless characters’ interaction is still good, and there are signs of speeding the love stories up(but these signs are visible in the 700+ chapters).
I won’t say much about Conan’s identity plot in order to avoid spoilers – but they are also very good. I love to see how Conan tries to remain incognito and how smart he can be whenever he finds himself in a tough situation.
Leaving other plots aside, the rest of the manga consists of cases, mostly murder ones. But I won’t call these cases ‘filler’, because they are nearly always intertwined with love stories, characters’ past or they may even give us hints considering the main plot – in my opinion, they are not ‘filler’. Fairly recently, though, there had been an increasing number of cases that have no relation to none of the plots whatsoever, and on top of that they weren’t interesting – maybe Gosho is running out of ideas. Time will tell if that assumption is valid – and I would even lower my ranking if that turns out to be the case, but now I think it’s too early for such a conclusion.
Speaking of cases, they are, for the most part, very good. Having been raised on such fine examples of detective literature, such as works of Conan Doyle, Christie(my favourite author), Stout and many others, I thought that the cases in detective manga would be much worse – and I admit that I was wrong in that aspect. Yes, it would be an exaggeration to say that DC reaches the highest level of detective fiction, established by the above-mentioned authors – but in some cases it comes close to that.
There are also certain types of cases that follow the usual pattern – three files on a single case (murder – investigation – solution), three suspects etc., but it’s only an outside similarity, every case is different. True, some ideas are used several times – for example, many cases feature technical devices and gimmicks to commit a crime(Gosho’s brother helps him to come up with sometimes elaborate ways of killing people); ‘dying messages’ are also frequently encountered, there is quite a number of ‘locked rooms’, but I can name only two or three examples of exact repetitiveness – a very small number if you think about the whole number of cases(and even in that situations, it was not enough to deduce the whole truth – mysteries also remained). So, in my opinion, DC is not repetitive – it only follows usual standards and patterns set up by the author, who also breaks them once in a while.
I’ve already mentioned detective classics – if I were to compare DC to them, then surely it resembles Holmes’ stories the most – short, yet difficult, thought-provoking(even mind-boggling), original. Holmes is also often mentioned throughout the story – clearly he was the inspiration for the main character. Poirot’s influence is much lesser, but it is clearly felt in ‘isolated mansion’-type cases, and sometimes Poirot is mentioned directly (even the café the characters frequently visit is called ‘Poaro’). Other famous investigators mentioned in some way or another are Jules Maigret, Ellery Queen, Cordelia Gray, Victoria Warshawski, Kogorou Akechi etc., but as far as I can tell they are not much of an influence(except for Akechi, who’s clearly is a very important character, but I’m not very familiar with Japanese detective fiction). Another fact that proves Gosho is familiar with the classics of detective fiction is that he sometimes uses murder or alibi tricks described in famous detective novels in his own cases – but rather than accusing Gosho of the lack of creativity, it can be considered as a fanservice to hardcore detective fans.
What makes DC even more enjoyable apart from the mysteries is a wonderful cast of characters. Here you will find a variety of brilliant sleuths, dumb (though still loveable) police officers, ingenious (but not ingenious enough) culprits – everything you’d expect to find in a detective fiction. But that’s not all – comic interaction between characters provides consistent laughs throughout the manga. Memorable characters are a necessary component for a long-running series – when you get tired of complex murder plots, you still may want to continue reading because you have grown a strong bond to some characters – and that’s exactly the case with DC. It is one of the strongest points of the manga – many people would find it interesting not because of the cases, but because of the characters in it.
Throughout the seventeen years of its run, the artistic style of Gosho has changed (though it’s not as visible as in Magic Kaito) – from a more comic, light-hearted one (as in Yaiba) to a more serious one. Aoyama is a wonderful artist, and I love the way that he draws – even with attention to the utmost detail of surroundings, which can become one of the clues later on(so pay attention to the surroundings, it may help you uncover the truth before Conan). Character design is also very good – I’m talking about the main ones (minor characters, which differ from case to case, are often drawn similarly, but I don’t consider it a shortcoming) – it makes the characters even more loveable. But I must say that the drawing style is quite different from what you will find in other mangas, so it may take you some time to get accustomed to it. After a while, I think you will get used to it.
Having finished the general overview, I also feel obliged to say about some aspects of DC that will make this review more thorough – I think that these points would help to determine if this manga is for you or not.
The first of these points will be the one addressed to anime-centric fans. Despite this review being the one based on the manga, I can’t omit the manga-anime comparison. ‘There’s an anime more than 600 episodes long, why should I read the manga then?’ – You may ask. Here is my advice: if you decide to dive into DC, start with the manga. Yes, the anime is well-made, follows the manga closely, features a superb seiyuu cast, but manga is better. The reason for this is the beginning – major anime changes led TMS into trouble, though later problems were resolved, but not very smoothly. Since then, luckily animators haven’t improvised, but to have a full grasp of events I suggest you read the manga first, and always keep this schedule – to be ahead in manga in terms of plot development. After all, it’s the original.
One more thing – if you want to read this manga, then it would be better to obtain a licensed version (Viz Media currently has it covered up to volume 41, I guess), and then read the scanlation. Why? Because it’s legal and because the quality of many scans from around volume 20 to volume 40 is horrible – bad image quality, often from Chinese or Vietnamese sources, poor translation with spelling and grammar errors, which make some cases very difficult to understand. So, be warned: if you decide to go on a long detective journey, your happiness may be overshadowed by poor scans – so choose the legal version.
Another point of concern is possibly the detective nature of the manga. In short, it is nothing but cases. For a detective fiction lover, it is close to heaven. For someone, who has no thing for a crime literature, the whole thing may be boring and tedious. ‘One case after another – what’s the point of this?’ – I can hear such a question. If you don’t see the point of solving cases with powers of deduction and logic, then I’m afraid I can’t help you. Then I suggest you to avoid DC.
There’s yet one more warning I must issue – having run for 17 years, DC, as every long-running manga, features a very slow plot development. What’s more – it doesn’t seem to end in the near future. Gosho said that he won’t overcome ‘Kochikame!’ by a number of volumes, so all we can say is that there will be no more than 170 volumes (right now 74 volumes of DC were published). Judging by the fact that there are multiple conflicts to resolve, that new characters are introduced in 700+ chapters, and DC is still among the best-selling manga in Japan, I can say that it will run for 5-10 years at least, and it will be no surprise for me if Gosho isn’t even halfway through the manga. So, if you don’t like to wait in anticipation every week or two for a new file to come out(and for a very long time also), better don’t start reading it now – it would be better to read 1500+chapters 15 years later when the manga is finished(I hope).
So, to sum it all up, if you’re not a detective fan, do not like slow plot development and are strongly opposed to long-running series with no end in the near future – DC is not a manga I would suggest you to read.
If, on the other hand, you like classic crime fiction and don’t mind a lengthy, but otherwise worthy read – I strongly recommend Detective Conan to you as one of the best(if not the best) examples of the detective manga. Moreover, other examples of detective genre in manga like Kindaichi or Tantei Gakuen Q are very hard to obtain and require other-than-English language knowledge, while DC certainly beats Zodiac P.I., Remote and other detective mangas. And if you choose DC for its cases, as an option, you would receive great and suspenseful overarching plot, touching romantic storylines, excellent comic moments and a memorable cast of characters. Clearly, DC is more than just detective manga – that’s what makes it really special.
For all of you detective fiction lovers out there, there is only one truth – read Detective Conan now!
The first time I read this series was when I happened to pick up a copy at the library. At first, didn't really think much of it, but eventually it's grown on me.
Story: most of the cases they present are really entertaining, and often suspenseful. I find myself anticipating what will happen and I enjoy the suspense; I think that's what pulls you to the story. However, having read so many chapters now, with almost one case every 2-3 chapters, you start to find some ideas being repetitive. Overall though, it's still good.
Art: not much to say for art. It's
a little different to the typical drawings of manga, but that doesn't make it bad. The more you read, the less you'll mind the drawings.
Characters: repetitive use of characters can be good or bad. Good thing is you familiarize yourself with them, bad thing is it does at time get boring. However, I like the cast of conan, it fits with the story pretty well, so, in this case I don't mind repetition :)
Enjoyment: same as for the story. At first it's very thrilling but I find it's slightly repetitive now, so it's not as good as when I first read it. But the cases itself are really cool, you learn a lot of new things. Sure, not all the things are probably accurate, but they are cool nontheless.
Overall: I think the only two aspects that kind of pulls it down the score are story and characters. But overall, it's worth a read if you're into crime solving stories. There's also slight comic relief in this manga which contrasts nicely to the seriousness of the cases.
Right let start at the beginning, this is my first review "EVER".
Now onto the review,
When I got to this manga I expected there to be some stories that I would not enjoy and some stories that I would enjoy.
This manga's story regarding the BO is brilliant everything surrounding them is well planned and executed however the other stories regarding investigations after a while got so boring that I wanted to quit multiple time over because they were basically the same with different characters which made the reading more of a chore instead of enjoyment.
For me the actual cannon material that I mentioned above "The Black
Organisation" is the most amazing stuff you can find anywhere, it grips you and doesn't let go until the end. However the filler arcs are my problem at first I thought like this wow its pretty okay, after 200 or chapters of filler I wanted to k*ll myself but instead of doing so I took a break for a few weeks and continued onwards until the point where I had to take a break again because it was so boring.
Throughout the story we meets thousands of different characters however they are mostly minor and almost never reappear again, with them I have no problems whatsoever because I know that there is no need to develop minor characters that will disappear in a few chapters. My main problems are with Ran, Mouri, Kazuha, some police detectives. Starting off with Ran she witnessed hundreds of cases but still believes there are ghosts when people say so = where is the logic in that???, next Mouri over the 924 I have not seen any character development whatsoever which is to say that he was retarder and will continue being retarded, Kazuha with her I don't have much of a problem because she is a minor character that appear rarely but she is basically like Ran but practises a different Martial Art. And Lastlty detectives in this story are even more stupid than or are on the same level as Mouri for example; A kid says something relevant to the case, what do the detective do? scream at them for interfering. Great Huh?
To be honest I don't have anything about the art it is pretty decent.
Overall my enjoyment of the series has been killed by the continuous filler arcs which ruin the entire series. The ONLY time I was enjoying myself was when the story revolved around THE BLACK ORGANISATION.
Me having no life I been able to read almost 500 chapters of case closed. I
must say this series about as old as me is a good series. What first grabed my attention in this book was the way the crimes were pulled off and I stayed hooked.
After abot 75 chapters or so I started to feel the series was repetitive with some ideas over used. But once you want to stop reading it, it beings you back in from random cases to plot effecting the characters whitch make me want to keep reading.
POSSABLE SPOILER it seems so far everyone has some
kind of love intrest END SPOILER
to conclude you will love this series if you treat most cases as the "plot" and not a filler.
If you have patience and get into the characters you will enjoy as much as me.
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