Case Closed volume 1
by Gosho Aoyama
BW, 192 pgs w/ ads, $9.95 US / Higher in Canada
High school student Jimmy Kudo uses keen powers of observation and astute intuition to solve mysteries that leave local law enforcement baffled. As such, Jimmy has become somewhat of a local legend, helping the cops when all clues have lead them to dead ends. Jimmy is a modern day Sherlock Holmes, possessing the talents that made that fictional detective such a renowned investigator. Jimmy has, in fact, learned his skills from reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories and other detective novels in a vast library belonging to his own father, a famous writer of mysteries.
Hot on the trail of a suspect one evening, Jimmy is bushwhacked and forcibly fed a strange chemical that turns his physical self into a grade-schooler. He takes on the pseudonym Conan Edogawa, a visiting relative of his scientist neighbour. Under this guise, Jimmy attaches himself to his friend Rachel so he can get close to her father, a private eye. He is a detective of little skill, so while Jimmy waits to hear information pertaining to his own mysterious case, he tags along with Rachel’s dad, solving crimes, but in a way that allows Rachel’s dad to take the credit.
There are three mysteries in this first volume, and 33 volumes released by Viz as of January 2010. With so many collections, it’s obvious Jimmy solves a lot of mysteries other than his own. What happened to him is the underlying plot of Case Closed, but it is how Jimmy solves the murders, disappearances and other criminal mysteries that are the real draw. As with Sherlock Holmes, the crime is less important and interesting than the manner in which the case is solved.
Manga-ka Gosho Aoyama is an admitted mystery aficionado, and he shows his knowledge and affection for the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his own individual cases. Case Closed lacks the sophistication and maturity of Doyle’s work, but still manages to maintain an attention to meticulous investigative detail. Jimmy picks through a crime scene with great care, uncovering clues and putting together all the pieces; it’s clever writing with intricate mysteries to solve and slow revelations. Even though the proceedings are filled with humour because Jimmy must do all his investigation while appearing not to do all anything at all, Aoyama’s plots and resolutions are no less outlandish than some of Doyle’s own.
Jimmy as Conan is a cute pipsqueak in shorts and a bowtie, the plots are filled with laughs, and yet Aoyama doesn’t let that detract from the fun of giving the readers a chance to solve the mystery before Jimmy does so. (Chad Boudreau)