It seems that every month we're reviewing something from Case Closed (Detective Conan) here at DVDTalk. After all, it's a daunting anime due to how many episodes it has, and adding to those episodes there's also a series of films released as well. FUNimation has been tackling the franchise for some time now, and that's no small feat I assure you. At this point in the game it's safe to say that most every otaku out there knows about Case Closed. Even so, there may be a few among the audience still unfamiliar with the exploits of Jimmy Kudo.
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: The Phantom of Baker Street, Conan and company must tackle a virtual representation of Jack the Ripper. That's not all though, there's some crime afoot in the real world as well and the film quickly involves two mysteries at the same time. Unfortunately this split focus hurts the picture in more ways than one due to slow plot developments and unnecessary exposition.
The picture starts out with a tale about a young boy named Hiroki Sawada, who is a Doogie Howser-type genius and has graduated from MIT at the age of ten. Hiroki has some issues, however, and one of his creations, "Noah's Ark", is quite interesting. The Ark is basically a sentient AI program in the form of a game and it's aimed to kill off kids who play it. It's disturbing to say the least and in the end it's up to Conan to figure out what's going on in this virtual world and bring the prospective deaths to an end. What transpires is a fantastic representation of London, the world of Sherlock Holmes, and a tale involving Jack the Ripper.
While the virtual stuff is going on there's also some mystery in the real world considering Hiroki has jumped to his death and some other people are being offed. There's more mystery in the real world and it's up to Mr. Kudo to figure that out while his son takes on the virtual case. The cases themselves are fun, though the virtual bit stands out the most. It's just a shame that the Ripper component doesn't really hit until later in the film and up until that point there's far too much time wasted. As the plot sets itself up the characters not involved at that time seem to just sit back and watch the clock tick away until its their turn up at bat. It allows for the characters to stand out, but I've always felt they stood out most when on the case.
Case Closed: The Phantom of Baker Street has some very good moments, though the majority of them are saved until the end of the film. I loved watching Conan run around a virtual London trying to uncover the mystery of Jack the Ripper, however, the rest of the film just doesn't match up. If you've enjoyed other Case Closed films and episodes, then you'll want to watch this one. Just don't be surprised if you leave with the impression that this outing is merely an extended episode, rather than a cohesive stand-alone film.
Case Closed: The Phantom of Baker Street 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 2002 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: The Phantom of Baker Street may just be the weakest effort I've seen from the film franchise. It's the sixth animated feature for Case Closed and finds itself feeling like an extended episode, rather than a well thought out picture. The virtual London component is great, but getting to that point is a little painful. Ultimately this is one that fans of the franchise will want to check out, but it's not the highest rated film in the lineup.
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