Friday, 21 October 2011

Anime Comfort Food: Detective Conan

Despite the wealth of anime out there both old and new, whenever you venture into a new series, you never quite know what you're going to end up with. So sometimes, to break up all the trial and error of picking up new anime, it's rather nice just to settle down and watch something where you know pretty much what to expect. For me, one of those shows is Detective Conan.

At a behemoth 630+ episodes, I've still only scratched the surface and am currently less than a third of the way through. I don't marathon it, but instead I go through phases where I want to watch something safe, and this is one of my go-to anime whenever I get that urge.

The format generally remains solid and unchanging throughout. Conan goes somewhere, then shortly afterwards someone dies in mysterious or suspicious circumstances. Then the young boy somehow figures it all out and reveals all to those nearby, normally by tranquilising Kogorou and using his voice-changing bowtie to imitate him. Then the ridiculously convoluted murder method unravels in front of the culprit's eyes until they break down and confess everything. Case closed (pun half intended), the end.

What I love about Detective Conan is that each case manages to be both predictable and wholly unpredictable at the same time. On the one hand there's the inherent familiarity of certain Conan staples that despite their completely ludicrous nature still have a certain charm to them. For instance, that Kogorou miraculously manages to collapse and fall asleep in a perfect sitting position (sometimes even making a pose that presents him as being deep in thought) every. single. time. he's tranquilised is ridiculous - especially when it involves him turning round on the spot or stumbling half way across the room! But somehow, knowing that he's not going to ruin the whole plan and just flop on the floor, snore loudly, and drool a bit is comforting. Likewise, seeing each culprit give up and confess with surprising ease instead of insisting that it wasn't them is so cheesy it may as well be a pizza topping, but again is familiar and comfortable.

The predictable aspects of Detective Conan such as the ones mentioned above and the knowledge that Conan will always reveal the truth may open the series up to becoming repetitive. However, like knowing that your favourite shounen hero will always beat the bad guy, the security that offers allows you to just enjoy the ride until you get to the inevitable conclusion. This leads me nicely onto the other joy of this franchise: the variety of weird and wacky cases. How Detective Conan manages to remain so fresh for so long while relying on the same format is entirely down to the remarkable and convoluted methods that each culprit uses. I've never been one for predicting how a trick is done, but to be honest, even if I did I doubt I'd ever be able to figure out the cases in this series! I love seeing what improbable actions each culprit takes and marvelling how how downright weird, crazy, or just plain stupid their plans are. I remember one particular episode where a murder was committed with fishing wire attached to a bottle of soy sauce and thinking "what in the name of all that is holy was this person smoking when they came up with that?!" and it's that sense of jaw-dropping disbelief that keeps me watching.

Detective Conan is one of the best types of anime comfort food because you know precisely what you'll get from every case, but the unique truth behind each crime keeps the brain engaged. Sure, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love it. In fact, it's been a long day so I think I'll grab a drink, snuggle up under a blanket, and enjoy an episode or two while I unwind.

Oi, what do you mean I'm predictable?

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