What They Say
The game is afoot! Conan Edogawa may look like he’s only in elementary school, my dear Watson, but he possesses perhaps the keenest eye for detail of any living detective.
Conan’s latest case finds him trapped in a virtual recreation of 19th century London and pitted against none other than Jack the Ripper! To save his friends, Conan must follow in the footsteps of his hero – Sherlock Holmes – and crack a case that’s gone unsolved for over a hundred years. Catching the most notorious serial killer of all time is their only chance of survival, but Conan will have to be smarter than Sherlock to apprehend the Phantom of Baker Street!
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 2002, 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, again where it seems like it’s being darkened, as well as zoomed in ever so slightly yet still retaining all the important aspects of it. Conan being front and center is no surprise, though they give him a few things he doesn’t use in the show, and having the rest of the kids and Ran there is a nice touch. It’s the background with the sunset skyline across Big Ben that works nicely as well as seeing Shinichi’s dad there mixed into it as well. 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 Conan 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 keeps it very basic as it utilizes the cover artwork zoomed in a bit in order to set the mood for things with a minor bit of music playing alongside it. The artwork looks good and the menu version of it looks a bit cleaner and brighter than the cover version does, but it is pretty basic with no frills associated with it. The navigation along the bottom is quick and easy to use as it’s just the film and some unrelated trailers on the disc outside of the actual chapter and language selections.
The Phantom of Baker Street introduces us to a little history first as we meet the character of Hiroki, a genius of a young man when it comes to computers and programming. With the loss of his parents, he found himself in a situation where he’s being taken care of by a wealthy company man who is having him work on creating an artificial brain so they can go to the next level of computers. Hiroki has some issues though as he’s kept from everyone because of the fame that surrounds him so he spends his days high up in an office building, away from other kids and any kind of real fun. He’s almost literally tied to his computer. When he gets close to developing the artificial brain, other things he’s learned have pushed him to trying and destroying it as well as himself, leaving the man who has taken over as guardian for him to pick up the pieces afterward.
Flash forward a couple of years and the company has managed to take Hiroki’s work to where they needed it as they’ve created a hypnosis computer game system with a pod you climb into. When you get into the game like that, it interconnects you with everyone else and you do a group hypnosis of sorts and believe that you’re really living that game world around you. Japan is becoming the debut location for it with a lavish party and opening ceremony, partially because of the companies involved and that Shinichi’s father is one of the story writers for a mystery game involving Sherlock Holmes. With Sonoko’s company involved, it’s an easy way to get Conan and the others to visit even if they can’t play, though Conan ends up with a lucky extra badge so he gets to try out the virtual world along with Ran and the other kids through a lucky circumstance.
With a total of fifty kids going into the egg-shaped cocoon so they can play, the games begin in more ways that one. With the majority of the kids participating essentially being the next generation of Japan’s leaders because of the hereditary system that Ai mocks, a sudden change to the game means all the kids are in trouble. As is revealed when a murder happens, the kids will die if they can’t finish the game properly and any attempt at opening the cocoons will be problematic at best. What the parents and the police have to rely on is that the kids can finish the game, reach the ending and free themselves. There are efforts made to figure it all out from the outside, with Conan’s father working hard at figuring out what’s really being sought here, but they’re under the gun as they see various cocoons close down and swirl beneath the floor to their parents horror.
Within the game, the show focuses primarily on Conan’s group which has the junior league detectives, Ran and a few of the arrogant rich kids. Conan’s excited when he realizes he’s been placed in London at the time of Sherlock Holmes stories but he’s less than thrilled when he finds out that it’s an elaborate Jack the Ripper storyline. Everyone slowly but surely works together to figure out what they need to do, though Conan gets grief for taking point because the rich kids don’t know him and they only want to do what they want. But as they’re slowly being knocked off by various events, Conan’s statute gains as he knows what’s going on and seeks out Holmes and Moriarity so he can gain help of a certain kind to defeat the Ripper and discover what the real cause was, or at least the cause that his father may have written into the game.
There’s a lot to like here once you get into the idea that this is a game, an elaborate one where hypnosis helps to make it as real as it feels. Getting Conan “legitimately” into the time of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper isn’t exactly easy but they do it nicely here and you can see the reverence that Conan has at times. The rich kids are the weak link, especially the lead kid who gets the short end of the stick when the big reveal is made at the end, but they have a good part to play overall and there’s a nice societal push made here a couple of times about entitlement of power. The story itself is also a lot of fun as they hit up some key Holmes mythos pieces throughout it while adding a good bit of Conan style flair there to it.
For the first Case Closed movie to be done by a new writer, I have to admit that I came away pretty pleased even with the faults within it. With some Case Closed stories, the mystery isn’t all that interesting or the villains involved are too plain and clear, lacking enough real personality to hold it up where it should be. When you make your main villain Jack the Ripper, you’ve got a bit more room to move and Jack does it well here. The mystery is solid, the stakes are appropriately high and Conan and the others handle it well, with several losses along the way that makes it all the more challenging. There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief throughout it when it comes to the game itself, but if you just enjoy the Victorian era section itself as a virtual fantasy, it works well and it’s simply fun to watch Conan working in the area of one of his biggest idols.
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: February 16th, 2010
Running Time: 110 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.