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 gets a nice bump with this release to the 5.1 format at 448kbps. The mix for the film is a 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 2000, 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.
Case Closed utilizes the original theatrical artwork, darkened a fair bit though, which provides four quadrants around Conan’s face which has a reflection of the killer. Each of the sections has a good piece of artwork to offer that brings in something key to the show itself and it has a good dark look to it without coming across as too childish or cartoonish. 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 defaults to English with no subtitles. It did play with the right angle though so it took something in the setup area.
With the Case Closed TV series doing so well in Japan over the years and the success of the prior movies, it wasn’t any surprise that a fourth one would get greenlit as well. While the third movie was fairly expansive with its plot and all that was involved in having origins in Russia with the Faberge eggs, this one keeps it all much smaller and more personal, without having the kind of overly involved plot. Captured in Her Eyes does have a fair bit of involvement to it though, but it doesn’t have quite the scope that the Last Wizard of the Century did.
What helps to set this movie apart a bit is that it spends a lot of its focus on Ran, a character that’s always present and has some good moments, but often times feels like she gets lost in the shuffle of things. That’s actually true of a lot of the characters that orbit Conan’s life, but sometimes it feels like she gets an even shorter end of the stick than others. Her relationship with Kudo is one of the key points to the franchise and we get a nice revisiting of one of their dates when he was as normal a guy as he could be. They’re an unusual couple in some ways but it’s very easy to see how they’d get along so well and enjoy each others company. The separation they’re going through is one that plays out in fun ways at times, but it mostly comes down to Conan trying to not hurt her while Ran spends her time wondering where he is and being frustrated by the occasional call she gets from him.
Captured in Her Eyes keeps us pretty firmly in Tokyo for the story as Conan and the junior detectives league find themselves witness to a murder in broad daylight. While walking through the city, they note a detective that stops into a phone booth to make a call as Conan points him out. It turns bad when a mysterious gray figure steps right up to him and shoots him cold. There are few Conan adventures that don’t have at least one dead body in them and this is no exception as the detective kicks over soon enough, but not without providing an initial clue for Conan to follow later on. What Conan does learn after getting this called in and dealt with is that there are other murders of detectives that have happened and there’s a larger mystery at work here.
Where it becomes really personal is at a wedding reception that’s filled with a lot of police officers that Kogaro and his family are attending, even Ran’s mother. An attack on one of the detectives there, Detective Sato, goes horribly wrong when Ran is caught up in it and she ends up seeing the detective shot in cold blood right in front of her. But not without catching a glimpse of the face of the person who is responsible for it. The situation is so traumatic however that she passes out and loses her memory of self. That in itself is bad enough but now the killer sees her as a loose end to be dealt with and Conan sets to saving her before she’s targeted again. The case of the killer and his motivation obviously gets explored and it’s a bit convoluted as it revolves around a police case that went badly and wasn’t properly resolved, even including an issue with the superintendent’s son.
It’s not that the actual murder mystery story is bad, it’s just that it’s not really the focus of the movie in the end. Much of what makes the movie good and fun to watch is the relationship between Ran and Conan as Conan still obviously loves Ran and is intent on protecting her. There’s an amusing revelation about the kind of relationship they have at the end which made me smile, but it’s the bulk of the film that works the best. Seeing Ran without her memory uncertain why Conan is helping her provides a good emotional tug, as does seeing Conan working so tirelessly to protect her. And seeing others such as Kogoro knowing that they have to keep Conan out of the loop because he’d get involved in things that would be a problem. The relationship between Ran and Conan ne Kudo is really nice done here and makes the movie work as well as it does.
Case Closed movies can go a lot of ways but I found myself really enjoying this one a lot, and not so much because of the murder mystery itself. There’s almost always someone dying in any Case Closed story and there are plenty of fascinating ones, but the ones that spend time dealing with the core cast of characters more than the guest cast tend to be my favorites. Ran and Conan really reinforces their relationship well here as well as painting a bit more of the picture between Ran and Kudo as well. I’ve liked the Case Closed world overall and the movies have some good moments, but this is a movie that worked better than the others because of its focus and has left me feeling very positive about it, even with the weak and somewhat convoluted and fairly uninteresting murder mystery.
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: 105 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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.