In the Reverse Thieves time-honored tradition we watched Detective Conan Movie 1: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper out of order. Actually we were going to watch the 5th movie but then about 10 minuets into it realized that it was making reference to the first movie. In a somewhat Encyclopedia Brown-style moment the movie begins with Conan solving a case unrelated to the main story. After this intro we soon discover that a good deal of explosives were stolen recently and several acts of arson have been committed. The person behind both crimes tries to contact Shinichi to challenge him to find the bombs he has placed around the city. This felt like a standard episode that was forced to be a movie’s length. The whole affair with the criminal giving Conan clues to where the bombs are mostly seemed there just to stretch the length of the premise. It was an entertaining movie but so far the weakest of the movies we have seen.
The first Detective Conan movie feels like the first. You can tell they don’t quite know what to spend the hour and a half on, the pacing is a bit off, there aren’t enough suspects, and the climatic action happens after the culprit is caught. I find this only a little odd because they had produced very good one hour specials prior to this feature. Though I did find the ending scenes in the skyscraper with Ran and Shinichi (Conan behind a wall using his bowtie voice changer) properly tense and sweet. Since we accidentally knew the identity of the bomber thanks to starting the 5th movie, it is hard to assess whether this mystery was properly difficult to solve. But I think it is one of the few that you can really grasp who it is as well as their motive long before Conan cracks it. There are still a few twists like how the bomber knows Shinichi and what he learns about him and uses in his scheme. This movie isn’t bad by any means but it isn’t especially memorable.
This week we finish our spring review later than most with the first episode of Tatami Galaxy. The series is based on a novel by Morimi Tomihiko and directed by Masaaki Yuasa of Kaiba fame which should be obvious when you see the first episode. The other thing that should be obvious is characters talk VERY quickly like most of the characters are being voiced by John Moschitta, Jr. The main character spends his day with his Count Orlok looking companion Ozu going around and breaking up couples as their hobby in college. He keeps running into the attractive Akashi who he has a crush on but seems unable to connect with beyond a promise to show her a mysterious nocturnal ramen cart. The anime is quirky in every way a show can be, the animation, characters, character design, dialog, and even over all plot structure is unconventional. This is definitely a good anime for someone who wants a very art house series with a dark comedic twist.
Tatami Galaxy adds to the myriad of styles in this very eclectic spring season. The story pace is very erratic and unconventional, as is the dialogue and cast of characters. I saw it as very much a weird play. The characters actions are almost what I would call hyper-human, like everyone is on overdrive letting you know exactly how weird they are in their head but it isn’t just in their head. We obviously get this the most from the main character who is more than a little neurotic but then again his friend looks like an ogre and he did run into a god of match-making at a ramen stand. The speed at which things are said and appear on screen are such that you must pick what you pay attention to. I found it all as surreal as it means to be. I think Tatami Galaxy is a great addition to the library of experimental anime works out there, but it isn’t something I find myself really drawn to.
Since the weather was wonderful I spent the day of May 1st walking around Manhattan for Free Comic Book Day. All the comic books stores were packed for the event. I picked up a bunch of free singles and a nifty white and gold Flash ring. Since Jim Hanley’s Universe had everything in the store 25% off I grabbed Mobile Suit Gundam École du Ciel 9 and Maria Holic 3. While I heard some amazing conversations while waiting in line the best was still one guy in back of me trying to impress his friend with how clever he was. He shared the fact that all American comics are actually science-fiction comics and all manga are girls’ comics. Most importantly he said it in a completely serious tone. I was amazed how someone could be so utterly ignorant of both American and Japanese comics, yet be a fan.
Had a chance to see the Magic Kaito special (not be be confused with the one-hour special Detective Conan: The Birth of Kaito Kid, which I have yet to see) which was made because the next Detective Conan movie involves everyone’s favorite phantom thief Kaito Kid. This particular special animates the beginning of manga-ka Aoyama’s story that came before Conan, and you can see how it is a prototype to the tiny detective. Kaito longs to become a great magician like his late father. One night he accidentally discovers a secret room in his house which reveals that his father was actually famous thief Kaito Kid and has left his legacy to his son. There is a Kaito Kid already running around so Kaito dons his father’s old outfit and heads out to see just exactly who it is. This story has comedy from Kaito’s not always successful tricks and a little romance provided from a girl very, very much like Ran. As he catches up with Kaito Kid a major mystery that would set the tone of the series if there was more is revealed. Kaito is really striking as the phantom thief and levees the right amount of play and mystery. A fun romp indeed but leaves me wishing this was a full-blown series.
This picture is magically able to work for both Detective Conan and Magic Kaito: