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Case Closed Movie 1: The Time Bombed Skyscraper Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Conan gets his first movie but even for one as young as he is, his past is catching up with him for this mystery.

What They Say
The city is in the grip of a crazed bomber and nobody is safe as a crushing wave of terror washes over the innocent citizens. Planes, trains, and massive towers all threaten to light up the night sky; the sick whims of a brutal lunatic played out in sudden balls of fire. Conan Edogawa finds himself in a desperate race against the clock; an explosive game of cat and mouse with a deviant madman… and every second counts. Can he unravel the maniacal malcontent’s scheme before the next timer reaches zero?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English dub sticks to the same in being a stereo mix. The mix for the film is little different from the TV series though it has a touch more directionality and oomph to it since there is a bit more action to it. The bulk of the show does continue to be mostly dialogue though and a lot of it has a full sound to it instead of much in the way of real directionality. Listening to both tracks, they come across the same and have both the same strengths and weaknesses. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally in theaters in 1997, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The materials for this look good overall and on most sets from a normal viewing distance the flaws inherent in the source materials will hardly be noticeable. There is some basic speckling to be found on the print and some jitter here and there but a lot of what you’ll find here are things that come from being animated in the “old” way. A lot of scenes have a lot of good detail to it but others have some varying color depth and shade changes. Simple still stills have a hard time really looking still; take the end sequence for example with the credits rolling over it. The building rubble not only has a hard time maintaining its blacks, but it has a fair amount of shifting movement and grain that it’s hard to really look good. The variable bitrate for the film is decent overall with quite a few peaks but it’s something that could really stand a much higher rate overall as well as a much cleaner print.

Using the original artwork for the film, it’s a rather good looking piece that has the skyscrapers taking up the background against a darkened sky while Conan and friends are all active in the foreground, their colors adding some vibrancy and life to it. They layout is solid and keeping the film’s subtitle clear and easy to swap out with future releases is quite good. The back cover is close to the TV series design but it shifts the colors to black for the backgrounds instead of case files and provides quite a few shots from the film. The summary takes care of the basics of the plot without favoring one language over the other while the technical information is all well covered. No insert is included with the release.

The menu design is pretty simple which isn’t much of a surprise for the Case Closed franchise. Using a zoomed in shot of the front cover which looks quite a bit washed out, it’s different than the TV releases. The logo takes up the bulk of the top center where it’s placed and they do at least provide the subtitle with the movie name. The navigation strip is a very simple piece along the bottom and there’s a brief bit of instrumental music playing along to it. It’s not flashy but it is functional. I had hoped for a bit more since the standalone movies would possibly sell a bit better. Access times are nice and fast but we had problems with the language setup. Not even bothering with using presets, I had gone in and set it through the menus for Japanese with subtitles but when returning to the top menu and playing, it default to English with no subtitles. It did play with the right angle though so it took something in the setup area.

The only extras included are a brief series of character profiles, which are of course decent but use the English language names. The design for this is also lacking in that once you move in to a couple of them, you can’t just back out using an on screen selection; you either have to tab through all of them or a remote control key that might take you back to the menu.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Coming in during the second year of the TV series run, “The Time Bombed Skyscraper” is a surprisingly good romp that takes the best aspects of the multi-episode stories and manages to work it even better due to far fewer time constraints. When you don’t have to plan for weekly cliffhangers as well as commercial breaks, you’re able to get a story to flow much better.

With it still being closer to when Shinichi became Conan, it has a rather fresh dynamic to it since the cast still hasn’t completely pushed Shinichi out of the picture. He gets little note in later seasons but here he’s still someone who is either in the area or close by. Since it was the first movie, it had to do something of double duty in introducing the main cast of characters and the reasons behind Conan’s situation. This is rather well done as it looks like it’s reanimated key scenes from that event so that it matches the smoother feeling theatrical animation and is done as something of a bumper after the opening mystery is solved. Within the first ten minutes, we’ve seen young Conan use a good number of his basic toys and methods to solve a mystery and get familiar with the entire regular cast.

The plot for the film is rather involved which is good since it has a fairly wide net to cast in order to play out. Unlike a lot of the multi-episode stories from the TV series, this one avoids having a larger cast of potential suspects to deal with and keeps things much smaller and more of a mystery in action. After getting an invite to an architect’s gallery as Shinichi, Conan wrangles it so he can go with Ran. Unfortunately, though, he ends up being talked into a date the following weekend with Ran and he’s got to figure out how to deal with that in the back of his head. Since he’s keeping his condition a secret from her, it certainly brings in some additional challenges. Even more so since he’s completely aware of how she feels and sees exactly what she’s doing to prepare for the date.

When some plastic explosives material is stolen, Conan finds himself getting wrapped up in it personally as the man who has stolen it is using it to get revenge on him for something unknown. He’s doing it in a curious way with bombings in different locations after he initially tries to draw him out only to get Conan instead. The bomber takes it as something of an insult or challenge that Shinichi has sent a kid to deal with him but of course, he finds that Conan is more than he seems. As it progresses, the attacks are rather interesting in how they’re achieved. While the radio-controlled airplane wasn’t all that much, I was actually interested in how the mechanics behind the train bomb was planned. Often in the TV series, you can figure out most of the mysteries quickly but it’s some of the setup and incidents themselves that are the most interesting to watch.

One area where this film in particular really won me over was in how it did a number of ties back to Shinichi when he was actively moving about as a detective. Seeing him in his older teenage form handling a case was something of a treat and it added a really welcome element to the franchise. The Junior Detective League gets a fair amount of time as well but their involvement is done better than in the series as well since they’re not a focal point for the entire plot. They come in to be used for a couple of key scenes and some transition in order to achieve more tension, but they’re not going to be the assistants to Conan that inadvertently solve the case for him. Even Kogoro gets some really good screen time here, though more as a parent than a detective.

In Summary:
Conan’s a show that I have firmly in the guilty pleasure section of my library because I enjoy very short term mysteries and the main cast has grown on me after seeing so many of the episodes. It actually worked out well seeing season five before I saw anything of season one beyond the opening set of episodes since I could see that the show had some decent legs to stand on. Of course, I also watch plenty of Hollywood law and order shows and mysteries so there’s an appeal there. This movie only cements that further and it makes me really eager to see more of the movies since this is the first time I’ve been able to see Conan doing something on a really large canvas. I don’t know how this movie ranks against the rest but it’s a solid start and I hope more come out here fast than the Lupin movies did from FUNimation. They’ve got some easily marketable shows and specials for Cartoon Network here.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character Profiles

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 3rd, 2006
MSRP: $24.95
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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