Monday, November 11, 2013

One More Time

『名探偵コナン 絶海の探偵』

"No matter how lost I get, you'll find me, right? Because you're a great detective"
"Detective Conan - Private Eye in the Distant Sea"

Some might wonder why I haven't been doing my Conan manga reviews anymore. It's not because I'm not reading it anymore. But with volume 80 released a while back, I figured it would be easier to just do a ten volumes summary review post in the near future. But I need to reread some volumes, so that might take a while.

Detective Conan manga & movies:
Part 1: 『平成のホームズ』: The Heisei Holmes (volumes 1 ~ 10)
Part 2: 『奇妙な集まり』: A Strange Gathering (volumes 11~20; The Timebombed Skysraper/The Fourteenth Target)
Part 3: 『心強き名探偵達』: The Brave Detectives (volumes 21~30; The Last Wizard of the Century/Captured in Her Eyes) 
Part 4: 『白い影・・・黒い影・・・』: White Shadow... Black Shadow... (volumes 31~40; Countdown to Heaven/The Phantom of Baker Street)
Part 5: 『満月の夜と黒い宴の罠』: A Full Moon's Night and Trap at a Black Banquet (volumes 41~50; Crossroad in the Ancient Capital/Magician of the Silver Sky/Strategy Above the Depths)
Part 6: 『探偵甲子園』: Detective Koushien (volumes 51~60; Private Eyes' Requiem/Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure)
Part 7: 『よくあるパターン』: A Common Pattern (volumes 61~70; Full Score of Fear/The Raven Chaser/Lost Ship in the Sky)
(You will find the links to the reviews of volume 70, 72~76, 78, and the films Quarter of Silence and The Eleventh Striker in the library)

Unlike last year, I wasn't able to see this year's Detective Conan film in the theater, so I had to wait for the home release of the 17th movie, Detective Conan -Private Eye in the Distant Sea. The film starts with Conan and the gang boarding an Aegis vessel for a tour. The vessel makes a small trip across the sea while the visitors have a look around the gigantic ship and at its state of the art technology. During the sea tour however, the severed arm of a member of the Self Defense Force is discovered, and strange objects placed on the sea route of the Aegis vessel leads the ship's crew, the police and of course Conan to suspect the presence of a spy X on board of the ship. The Aegis is one of the most important weapons in Japan's military line of defense and it would be disastrous for the country to have information stolen. Can Conan figure out who X is before it's too late?

You might guess from the summary, but Private Eye in the Distant Sea is a bit different from most Conan films. Which is probably because the script was penned by Sakurai Takeharu, who is best known for his contributions to the TV drama Aibou (he also happened to have penned the script for the Gyakuten Saiban film). One can definitely feel the influence of police procedural Aibou on Private Eye in the Distant Sea: Conan might have done a series of heroic things in the past, but catching a spy to protect Japan's international relations is a whole different scale from his exploits in the past, and feels a bit strange. The story of the police working together with the Self Defense Force (Japan can't have an 'army' formally), i.e. government organizations working together, is what you'll see in every other Aibou episode, and gives Private Eye in the Distant Sea its own distinct face despite being the seventeenth movie in the series.

It reminds me of the sixth Conan film, The Phantom of Baker Street, which was penned by the late Nozawa Hisashi. That movie might be best remembered for Ninja Jack the Ripper (TM), but it also functioned as a critique on Japanese society, which gave the film a very heavy atmosphere. The atmosphere in Private Eye in the Distant Sea never becomes that heavy though and I liked it better as a Conan film than Baker Street actually.

As a spy-movie, it's okay, I guess. It is pretty easy to figure out who X is, and the film seems more focused on presenting a police procedural (again, like Aibou) and the workings of an Aegis vessel. The film was made with cooperation of the maritime SDF, and that results in a lot of (not very good) promotion shots of a CG-built Aegis, as if you're taking a tour on the Aegis yourself too. But instances where Conan has to be careful in using his satellite phone as the crew is detecting his signals and stuff do make it feel like a real spy thriller and there are actually one or two real surprises hidden in the story. Oh, and like the previous couple of movies, Private Eye in the Distant Sea features guest voice-acting, but Shibasaki Kou is actually an actress, so she did a great job. Then again, nothing can be as bad as the guest voice acting in Quarter of Silence (by a cameraman) and The Eleventh Striker (by professional soccer players). 

I have also seldom laughed this much because of a Conan film, though probably for the wrong reasons (though the fact that Conan has to go the toilet every ten minutes (to make phone calls) was probably meant to evoke laughter). When the film first started, I was kinda worried. Every Conan film starts with a short introduction for those who don't know the basic story, but one could easily they reused everything from previous movies. So I was wondering where the budget went. Well, it went into 1) an awesome(ly ridiculous) fight scene where Ran stops being a mere human and defies all laws of gravity, 2) a scene where Conan's soccer ball kicking should have deadly results and 3) a fantastic scene where Conan figures everything out with evidence and memories flying past him. All these scenes were ridiculously exaggerated, but so awesome (note: people who have seen Quarter of Silence and The Eleventh Striker might know that you have to get pretty crazy to get an action scene dubbed 'ridiculous' in comparison).

Overall, I did like Private Eye in the Distant Sea, probably because it was quite different from the other Conan films. I mean, you have to do something different when you're the seventeenth movie in the series. It might not really feel Conan-esque, but Ran's action scene alone makes it worthwhile a watch for fans.

Original Japanese title(s): 『名探偵コナン 絶海の探偵』

1 comment :

  1. Somehow the setting sounds like they are trying to cash in on interest in the Maritime Self Defense Forces in connection with the heightened tensions in the Senkaku/Diaoyu conflict in recent years.