I find that one has to be in a certain mood for Case Closed. If one’s not into it, its episodic nature and the knowledge that even 60 volumes in, Conan’s secret still hasn’t been discovered can be annoyances. If you’re in the mood for a short mystery, though, the series can be a lot of fun.
Five cases of varying lengths get solved over the span of these two volumes. There’s the one where the nefarious Men in Black have planted a bomb on a train, the mystery of a coded treasure map, and the mysterious poisoning of a musician in front of several witnesses. As ever, Conan relies on the various gadgets he’s been given by Doc Agasa to both conduct his sleuthing and reveal the solution. The repeated motif of tranquilizing an adult and using the voice modulator in his bowtie (yes, really) to accuse the culprit used to bug me, but now I’m resigned/used to it.
My two favorite cases are each the first in their respective volumes. In volume four, a museum has been purchased by a greedy businessman who is on the verge of closing it down when he seems to be killed by a suit of armor in a medieval gallery. This one was low on gadget usage and featured some neat things like reviewing the murder on a surveillance camera and particularities of ballpoint pens.
In volume five, a group of college friends has gathered at a villa where they are menaced by an axe-wielding man wrapped in bandages. This one reminded me of a story in another volume (25, perhaps), but that’s a fairly common occurrence in this series. I actually figured out a little bit of the mystery before Conan did, which is usually difficult considering how unlikely some of these scenarios can be. It occurs to me that the stories I’ve singled out for praise also had the goriest moments in these two volumes. I’m not going to think about what that says about me.
Ultimately, Case Closed is not the best thing I’ve ever read, but when I finished volume five I wished I had the next one on hand, and that’s worth something, at least.