What They Say
A phantom thief is on the loose, and his explosive capers are knocking out lights all over town! His target is a priceless Russian heirloom that people are literally dying to get their hands on. Pint-sized gumshoe Conan Edogawa is on the case, but there’s more to this mystery than anyone suspects. The good guys seem bad and the bad guys seem good, and not even the boy detective knows who to trust. Worse yet, a rogue sniper is making sure anyone in the way catches a bullet dead in the eye. Things are heating up, and Conan’s gonna need help to uncover the Last Wizard of the Century!
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 1999, The transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Case Closed has always had a particular look to it from the TV series and that has translated to the theatrical features as well where it has a grainy and murky look to it. The transfer here has a high average bitrate overall which helps it from blocking or showing other problems, but it’s the kind of feature that’s likely never to look really great. It’s a generally clean print and there aren’t any serious problems such as break-up or cross coloration and colors are generally pretty solid if you discount the film grain side of it. It does have a very natural film look about it which is very appealing and while it’s not a gorgeous transfer that you’d want from other films, it is one that fits perfectly with this material.
The cover artwork is pretty nice as it uses a large multi-piece shot of different parts of the feature with Conan essentially ripping through it with that smug knowing look of his. The layout is pretty decent with the English language logo along the top, which is the same as the TV, while placing a straightforward text subtitle below it with this particular movie title. The bulk of the cover is given over to the appealing artwork with the clean look of the characters and their particular style which does stand out from other shows. The back cover adheres to what we saw with the TV series releases, though a bit less brown since there is artwork of Kaito along the right side instead of the brown folder we used to get. The few shots from the show are decent as it showcases the various cast members and the summary eases out enough of the story concept to get you interested in it. The bottom has the cute graphic breakdown of his gear which he does use in this feature while the rest is the basic production information and minor technical grid. No show related inserts are 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.
The third movie in the franchise, Case Closed works a rather good story with this feature as it manages some solid pacing, a decent cast overall and a healthy dose of murders that actually makes sense and doesn’t come across as all that forced. Some movies can feel like little more than extended episodes but this one feels much more distinct in how it’s paced so that it avoids the smaller segments and keeps to the more traditional three-part structure.
The Last Wizard of the Century plays in the realm of the Faberge eggs and with the Imperial Family and its descendants. It initially kicks off with the Kaito Kid performing his latest feat which is causing problems for the Metropolitan Police as usual. Conan continues to have a rivalry with him in trying to catch him, but the two don’t meet until Conan comes into contact with Sonoko’s father who happens to have the fifty-first Faberge Egg, one that was previously undiscovered. As is to be expected, there are a few people interested in the egg, such as someone from the Russian government, a supposed descendant of the Imperial Family, a videographer and a woman from China who is an expert on Romanov items.
When the Kaito Kid provides notice, as all good thieves do, that he’s going to steal the egg out from under everyone’s noses, Conan makes sure he’s aware of what’s going on and tries to get involved. There’s a fairly decent if overly elaborate plan by the Kid to swipe the egg but it doesn’t go smoothly thanks to Hattori helping out Conan and the introduction of the mysterious Scorpion. With a history of dealing with those who involve themselves in the Romanov artifacts “business,” the Scorpion is out to eliminate those that are now holding the egg and other associated treasures of the family. The mystery of the egg is still the big thing though as it turns out there’s a second unknown egg related to the first. As with any good mystery, there are more and more layers unearthed and the various characters introduced for the movie have their reveals and adds to the overall mythology of it.
While the Romanov material is fairly worn in the world of mysteries and murder, The Last Wizard of the Century provides a nice spin on things with the Japanese angle and the new Faberge Egg that’s introduced. The feature moves through some good locales, from Osaka to a cruise ship and then to Yokosuka Castle which has interesting history in and of itself. The characters are pretty nicely done as well, though not unexpectedly there isn’t a lot of depth to the show specific characters. There is a good bit of fun with the Kaito Kid as he’s reminiscent of many of the classic thieves of the anime world, from his costume to the way he’s really goodnatured and even leaves the calling cards indicating where he’s going to strike next. While predictable, they each bring key things to the film to move along the plot. Thankfully, most of the attention is truly kept on the main characters of the series and that helps a lot.
Going into a Case Closed movie can be kind of awkward as you can’t be entirely sure you’re not going to get just an extended story from the TV side stretched out to a movie form. So many of their multi-episode stories were longer than they needed to be for no real reason. Thankfully, The Last Wizard of the Century does things just right, working from a good fun story that allows for some trotting around the country while referencing a lot of history and other countries as the mystery of the new Faberge Egg is explored. Like any Conan show though, it all comes down to how Kudo handles everything in his pint-sized form and the kinds of tricks and deductions he has to come up with. On that score, it succeeds for the most part and keeps you entertained and guessing a little bit among the new characters who is who and who is responsible for what. It’s definitely got some very smooth and fluid animation for its characters and overall it left me pretty happy with it. After that somewhat disappointing movie prior to this, I’ll hold out hope that this is the start of an upswing in the movies from the Case Closed franchise.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 29th, 2009
Running Time: 100 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.