Like most other venerable long-running anime franchises Case Closed (otherwise known as Detective Conan) has featured a solid offering of animated films in its time. Since the series began in 1996 (it's still running by the way) Case Closed has garnered thirteen movies. That's a tall order and a number that rivals the likes of Dragon Ball Z. Owning the rights to both franchises, FUNimation has begun releasing the full-length feature adventures of the young detective.
Because Case Closed is such a well-known series, it's virtually impossible for an anime lover not to know it. Even so, there might be a segment of the population out there who may know the title only, and not what it's all about.
The series follows the life of a young detective named Jimmy Kudo. He's a high school student who is regarded as a genius and all around top investigative mind. His curiosity gets the better of him while at an amusement park and he unwittingly witnesses a crime. At that very moment he was attacked and fed a poison, but instead of killing him the poison gave him a new life of sorts. When he woke up he discovered he shrunk considerably and his aged reversed to that of a young boy. Donning the alias, Conan Edogawa, Jimmy continues his detective work with the assistance of a scientist who develops gadgets for him, and some of his new classmates. They form the Junior Detective League and solve crimes that stump the local authorities.
In Case Closed: Countdown to Heaven Conan and the gang find their way to a pair of towers overlooking Mt. Fuji. There's something of a big to do surrounding these buildings and soon enough they are invited to the top along with Serena Sebastian and Ran and Richard Moore. Upon arriving Conan and his Junior League Detectives meet some of the bigwigs. Soon enough one of them is murdered and an investigation opens up.
From one murder to the next, the case builds and builds as the mystery gets more and more complex. The one thing I've always appreciated about Case Closed was the way it brought you along with the investigation. Countdown to Heaven doesn't show its hand until the very end and throughout you're going to continuously come up with one conclusion or another based on what's happening. The film presents an interesting and entertaining murder mystery done in the way that only this series could do.
As a feature film Countdown to Heaven stands alone with regards to the continuity of the series. Characters such as Gin and Vodka from the Black Organization and Haibara the junior detective all find a home here with an adequate introduction. Because of that the movie is accessible to newcomers and veterans alike. You don't have to have seen all 500+ episodes of the show in order to understand what's going on here and what the relationships of the characters are.
Case Closed: Countdown to Heaven felt more substantial than a typical episode from the show. For starters the 100 minute runtime really keeps the film feeling like an actual feature, instead of an afterthought like Dragon Ball movies. Whether or not you've seen Case Closed Countdown to Heaven is recommended. It's light entertainment and fun from start to finish.
Case Closed: Countdown to Heaven is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio that has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The film looks very good with high quality animation and solid, attractive designs. Despite this, the movie looks quite aged as it features a nominal amount of grain and somewhat washed out colors. Considering the film was released in 2001 these bits were probably part of the design to retain the look of the series. Overall the film isn't bad looking by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not exactly going to wow the pants off you either. Not that you want your pants to be wowed off while watching a show filled with junior detectives...
English 5.1 Dolby Digital surround and Japanese 2.0 stereo are offered here for selectable audio tracks. The quality of the dubs for both was quite good, though I felt the Japanese cast was the better of the two. As far as the presentation is concerned both tracks were a little flat, though the English offering did have some more channel diversification. The use of the channels was minimal, but effective at times though nothing really stood out as noteworthy.
Some trailers are all you're going to find on this disc for bonus features.
Case Closed: Countdown to Heaven was a fun little film that I think will please fans of the anime and newcomers alike. The characters are endearing, the plot keeps you strung along to the end, and all around it's innocently entertaining in a Scooby Doo kind of way. In some respects the movie is an extended episode (theme, characters, pacing, etc.), but it feels like more than that due to the length and developments. All in all I'd consider Countdown to Heaven an easy recommendation, especially if you enjoy the show.
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