Lots of action and a sad and sweet character story all happen here in this fourth movie of the Meitantei Conan series. For those unfamiliar with the TV anime, starting with the fourth movie may prove to be a bit challenging because of the number of characters being introduced. And while there is an effort to recap key information from the TV anime, it can be a touch overwhelming.
Although the mystery itself is not the strongest, it is the character story being told which is truly interesting. Watching Ran go trying to regain her memory and struggling to stay positive (at least superficially) makes for a very touching story amidst the action and unveiling of the various aspects of the mystery at hand.
The one thing that struck me as a touch unusual in the story, is the constant reminders by the various characters of whether Ran remembers anything of her past. It seemed to put unnecessary pressure on the amnesiac. And while friends and family will undoubtedly feel depressed and want the amnesiac to remember their past, I just feel that this sort of constant reminder would be more stressful and harmful. I could be wrong of course.
Lastly, there are some points mentioned in the movie which make reference to events in the TV series or previous movies. These points while not important to the overall plot, may cause some minor confusion for uninitiated viewers.
The emotional aspects of the story of dealing with an amnesiac was very well portrayed. Particularly noteworthy are the voice acting efforts of Takayama Minami and Yamazaki Wakana who portray Conan and Ran respectively. Ran's quiet depression as she tries to regain her memories while having everyone around her constantly asking if she remembers anything is suitably detached and depressed. Likewise, Conan's determination to protect Ran and solve the mystery while struggling with his own inability to reveal his true identity as Kudou Shinichi let alone be Shinichi is solidly done. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that all the voice acting is well done. Takashima, who portrays Kisaki Eiri, came across as a touch overacted, underacted, and even forced. However, most of the seiyuu are solidly in character and do a good job portraying their characters.
As the target audience of the movie is younger kids, more than representing reality, the action and adventure aspects are key. And of that there is plenty while we watch Conan solve the mystery at hand. With scenes varying from quiet, lonely depression to high action, everything comes together solidly. The music in this movie is also very well done and while we hear certain melodies repeated a number of times (including certain theme melodies), overall the music does an excellent job of augmenting the atmosphere of a given scene. Likewise, the final closing theme to this movie suits the movie's atmosphere very well and is one of my favourite j-pop tunes.
The animation quality in this movie is a bit of a mixed bag. With some very good detail and movement in backgrounds it is definitely much better than normally seen on TV as is to be expected. However, I found that Ran's character design, specifically her hair really annoyed me. Looking more like a single horn on her head, this aspect was rather distracting. Also, there is some artefacting, particularly in the lines of characters faces.
All in all, while not the strongest of the Conan movies, the overall storyline and the story being told of the characters from this popular TV series is decently done. This wouldn't be the best introduction to the Conan series for the uninitiated compared to other movies due to references to incidents in previous movies and TV episodes. For those already familiar with the series however, it makes for a fun movie and a sweet character story.
- JYN, 2001.04.24