What They Say
Someone is dealing out murder and mayhem one playing card at a time, and the deck is stacked against Richard Moore! Those around the bumbling detective are on the hidden hit list, with nobody safe from the methodical mayhem of an unknown madman. It’s a full house of faces from the past and clues from the present, but super-sleuth Conan Edogawa might need an ace up his sleeve to uncover the identity of this killer. It’s not going to be easy… Conan just makes it look that way! Time is running out for The Fourteenth Target!
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 1998, 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.
Utilizing the original theatrical poster artwork, the front cover is very goodlooking as it presents a knife pushing into a card as its centerpiece. The knife provides the shadowed image of the villain of the film while all the main characters are arrayed around it to good effect. It may be a fairly standard pose, and let’s be honest in the fact that there are only so many poses to use, but it works well with the clarity of the design and the coloring as well. The logo isn’t overly big and it uses the film name as the subtitle well enough so that one doesn’t overpower the other. The back cover is kept to the same design sense as the TV series as it features a few shots from the show both in black and white and color and a decent brief summary of the film from an English language cast point of view. The technical grid is minimal but covers the necessary basics and it rounds it out with a shot of various gizmos and items that Conan uses to save the day. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
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.
While the TV series has fallen off the face of the Earth in terms of a US release, FUNimation slowly brought out some of the movies back in the day. The first movie, The Time-Bombed Skyscraper, was a fun little piece and a decent first attempt at doing a theatrical length movie for the franchise. The 14th Target manages to do things a bit better as it involves the characters a bit more intimately and plays across a larger field. It didn’t quite feel like an extended length episode that went too far which was a very pleasant change.
After the first couple of episodes of Case Closed, the series rarely paid any serious attention to who the characters themselves really are. We know Conan is trying to get back to his real size and resume his life there but for the most part we spend most of our time going through the misery of the lives of others. And more often than not these people end up dead which means we get to feel sorry for them before moving on to another murder, or attempted murder. Everything revolves around either luck, such as having Conan stumble upon a murder, or something that one of the leads has a connection to. Whether it’s Ran’s friend who knows someone who’s in trouble or Kogoro has a new case that the police just can’t seem to solve without him, Conan has plenty of opportunity to flex his sleuthing muscle. Japan comes across far bloodier than any episode of CSI does these days.
The 14th Target doesn’t deviate from this sort of formula but it actually uses the characters and expands upon them which is, well, surprising at this stage of the game. The film starts with Ran having nightmares about her mother being shot and her being unable to help. The mere mention of her mother alone is a surprise as she’s barely been talked about at all during the series to my recollection. A recollection that is disjointed of course due to the haphazard release style of the series. It turns out that the nightmares are well timed as she, her father and Conan are meeting her mother for dinner. The reasons behind her parents splitting up aren’t out on the table until the end of the movie but it’s fascinating to see them all come together and that there are secrets to be revealed.
The one secret that’s revealed straight up comes about simply because a criminal from Kogoro’s past has resurfaced and is attempting to kill him. Joe Murakami was someone that Kogoro had taken down ten years prior along with Megure. The events of it were critical to the way Kogoro’s life went as the criminal had tried to escape from the police at the same time that his wife and Ran were visiting. With his wife held hostage, Kogoro takes the shot that wounds her and takes him down. It’s very much a surprise to see Kogoro with a gun but even more so to learn that he was once the best shot on the force. His career in the police has been only lightly touched upon in the TV episodes I’ve seen so any revelations here are very welcome, especially since it puts him in such a positive – if cocky – light.
But now Murakami is back and out seeking revenge against those who wronged him. Megure is targeted as are others. What becomes a big clue as to how events will play out though is when Conan discovers that the people being targeted all have numbers in their names similar to a deck of cards. With Murakami being an infamous gambler in his past, it’s a modus operandi that makes sense and starts to tie it all together. The interesting aspect is that it does bring back some recognizable characters from the series for small roles as they become targeted simply because they know Kogoro and have a number in their name. The real mystery is far deeper than that and over the course of the ninety minutes it runs it goes through some curious twists as the murders countdown in name and number.
Though the film doesn’t really provide anything new when it comes to the various murders and mysteries, it succeeds in making it interesting because of the core cast of characters. You really don’t care about the villain but you wonder what will happen because of the relationship of him to the leads. There are some amusing areas when it comes to the murders, especially as the villain gets more involved and starts to reveal himself due to the victims getting together in a group. The locales are decent, though when it shifts to the underwater building it starts to lose some of its credibility. Yet the draw continues to be that this feels like a very personal story for people like Kogoro. That helps to make it much more interesting overall.
While Case Closed isn’t at the tops of my lists of shows I rave about, there is certainly plenty to like about it and I continue to want to see more. It’s the kind of show that works better when seen weekly and not in large clumps. This feature film really works in the same context since getting one self-contained story that doesn’t have to rush through things allows it to flow better. The storyline is more interesting than the first movie which was too large and frenetic at times. The stakes are more personal here and Conan isn’t included in the list of targets, something that allows him to stand back a bit and let others pick up the slack. It’s a movie like this that makes me want to see FUNimation bring out the rest of them while also banging the drum for getting more of the TV series out. If you’ve never seen any Case Closed, this is an excellent place to start with it as it explains everything quickly and then gets on to the really good stuff.
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: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 20th, 2007
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
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.