Detective Conan Anime Review: Ep 1 - 11

"Like all guys in black are crooks..."

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on October 19th 2022
Last Updated on November 19th 2022
Tagged as:
Detective Conan Season 1

We watched the whole of the Detective Conan anime for the first time starting in 2018, so we're relative newcomers to such a long-running series. But we got into it. After we watched all of it up to its current point, we decided to go back and rewatch it from the beginning, and, while rewatching it, we've been taking some notes episode by episode. We wrote these notes primarily for ourselves, but we think they're pretty nice episode reviews, and when we reread them, we'd like to do so in full formatted glory, so we thought they'd be fun to share here on Staircase Spirit.

For the record, we're not as familiar with the manga version, so our notes are going to reflect that. We're going to specifically talk about the experience of watching Detective Conan as an anime, which has both episodes based on manga chapters and episodes invented by the anime team. People refer to the latter as filler, since they can never further the overarching plot, but we wouldn't tell you to skip those. In our opinion, many of the anime-original episodes do serve the purpose of furthering and exploring pre-existing characterization in ways that strengthen the overall story. At the top of each review, we will point out which episodes are based on the manga, and which ones are not.

For the sake of not reviewing more than a thousand episodes all at once and in the same neverending page, we're dividing these reviews absolutely arbitrarily, just for the sake of having pages with a marginally acceptable length. There is no canon system of divisions that we could use here - Detective Conan has been airing weekly in Japan almost non-stop since 1996, so there is no such thing as a "season". Most fans use the arbitrary divisions as decided by Shogakukan for DVD releases, but we tried that, and the page here ended up being way too long. So, we're just dividing it up based on what suits us. And it's still long. *shrug*

We watched the Japanese version of the anime with subtitles. We've not watched any of the dubs except for a few clips, so, throughout this review, we'll be using the original names and terminology. If we happen to know of something noteworthy relating to other versions, we'll share it.

The Roller Coaster Murder Case

Manga Canon (Volume 1)
First Aired
January 8, 1996
Our Quick Blip
Critically important canon episode
Shinichi throwing the globe
"Check your geography!" - a brilliant line from soulbrothanumbuh3's abridged fandub.

The very first scene of this show is a murder investigation in progress. The cops are there, questioning a guy in a wheelchair about the man who was murdered at his party, when in the front door walks a teenager wearing a bowtie. It's Shinichi Kudo, high school detective. Although he has nothing to do with what's going on here, and nobody asked him to come, here he is, walking in the front door as if it were a stage. He starts proclaiming all of his brilliant deductions and points at the murderer, who is right there... (Toggle whodunit...) It's the guy in the wheelchair! But how could this guy have done the crime while he's in a wheelchair? The teenage bastard assaults him by hurling a decorative globe, and when the guy hops out of the wheelchair, it is revealed that his broken leg is already long healed, and the cops take him away. It's a good thing that Shinichi was right, or else he would have just smashed this guy's face with a globe. But Shinichi is so certain in his deduction that he doesn't even consider what might happen if he read the situation incorrectly. Inspector Megure, who was in charge of this case, thanks Shinichi for all his help, and a horde of journalists gather to interview high school detective Shinichi Kudo. Pose for the fans, pose for the fans!

Unlike later characterization which will sanctify Shinichi into a wonderful genius that can do no evil, episode 1 presents Shinichi in no uncertain terms as a JACKASS. He's smart, he's competent, but he's a smarmy fuck that doesn't care about anybody but himself. On top of that, he's letting his fame really get to his head. One high-profile case, and he's strutting down the street with love letters in hand, which he even shows to his best (and only) friend / love interest, Ran. Their relationship is... complicated. They've been friends since they were children, and have feelings for each other. Ran is starting to understand her feelings for Shinichi, and Shinichi... not so much. He struggles to understand his feelings for her, or her feelings for him, or, for that matter, anyone's feelings about anything. For example, here, after bragging about his love letters, he goes and insults Ran's father.

Ran punches a pole right in front of Shinichi's face
Sorry, what were you saying? It sounded like you just insulted my father, but I must have misheard you. Could you repeat that?
Kogoro tears apart the newspaper article about Shinichi

Ran's dad, Kogoro, is a professional private detective. He's introduced in the anime in a scene with Ran where he sits at the desk of the detective agency, complaining about this goddamn kid in all the newspapers who's driving him out of business. And when you think about it, he does have every right to be annoyed. He's a professional doing this as a job, and we'll later learn that he has altruistic motives for being a detective. He has a lot of vices and he often falls prey to the allure of fortune and fame, but when the rubber meets the road, we can generally count on Kogoro to do the right thing, or at least what he thinks is the right thing. Meanwhile, Shinichi's qualifications are just... he's read a lot of mystery novels. And his motives are questionable: he admires Sherlock Holmes, and wants to be just like him, all the way down to playing the violin (poorly, in Shinichi's case). So, Shinichi waltzes into crime scenes and starts spouting deductions in order to feed into his fandom devotion. And because he's not half bad at it, he becomes a sensation as a teenage detective, and now he's getting drunk on the popularity and stoking his ego. Ran defends Shinichi, but can you really blame Kogoro for being annoyed?

Right after insulting Ran's father, Shinichi also reveals that he's completely forgotten his promise to go with Ran to the amusement park. Reading between the lines, we think what happened is that Ran wanted to go on a date with Shinichi, but she realized that hell would freeze over before Shinichi would ever ask her out. So, instead, she set it up so that Shinichi would promise to take her to Tropical Land as a reward for if she won the karate tournament, which she then won. So, essentially, she asked herself out on his behalf, and he just has to have a pulse. And even though Shinichi does have this unacknowledged crush on Ran, he somehow wasn't excited to take her to the amusement park, and he completely forgot about his promise to his only friend.

however Flareon is the only fully evolved Fire-type Pokémon that cannot learn SolarBeam
Shinichi talking about Sherlock Holmes at the theme park with Ran. (source)

When they do finally go to the theme park, Shinichi spends the whole date talking about Sherlock Holmes, being a bore, and generally making Ran regret a lot of things. At one point, he wants to show off with another Sherlock-Holmes-style deduction, so he takes the hand of another girl and starts deducing her life story based on the marks on her hand... and also because he happened to see up her skirt and noticed bar marks on her legs, which lead him to the conclusion that she's a gymnast. So he's on a date with Ran, and he's taking the hand of a random girl and talking about how he looked up her skirt. We think that, in Shinichi's mind, this is somehow proper courting behavior. He'll show off his brilliant deductions to Ran, and then she'll be so impressed! Ran is less than impressed, but unfortunately the random girl and her friends are, and they recognize him from the news, and Shinichi gets his ego further inflated.


And Ran is even gracefully tolerating all of this nonsense, until they're about to ride the roller coaster. The safety bars are down, and the train is starting to move, and Shinichi is still there rambling on and on about Sherlock Holmes. This is the point where Ran finally explodes and says she didn't want to go on a date with Sherlock Holmes, which is maybe just enough of a hint that maybe goes through Shinichi's thick head that... wait.... Ran went on a date with him because she wanted to go on a date with him? She wanted to go on the scary roller coaster and hold his hand because she has feelings for him? The dimmest lightbulb goes off in his genius brain, like five hours within this extremely obvious date.

The roller coaster ride

During the ride, the train goes into a dark tunnel, and goblins and such go flashing by in the dark. The design of this roller coaster in Tropical Land is similar to one of Denise's real-life favorite roller coasters, The Loch Ness Monster in Busch Gardens in Virginia. The Loch Ness Monster also features a dark tunnel, and back when Denise first rode it in the 90s, there was fog and strobe lights illuminating murals inside the tunnel that made it look like the famous monster was following the train in the dark. A few years later when Denise rode The Loch Ness Monster again, the special effects in the tunnel weren't being used anymore - probably to avoid inadvertently causing seizures. Nowadays the train just goes through the cave in complete darkness. We don't know if any active roller coasters still use these kinds of special effects, so if you were wondering what was up with the random goblins, that's what's up with that.

It is interesting to note that Ran, who we will learn is really afraid of ghosts and anything supernatural, specifically wanted to go on this roller coaster with Shinichi...

Unfortunately, this is all interrupted by MURDER. The train comes out of the dark tunnel, and a passenger is missing their head.

Roller Coaster Murder!
The first on-screen murder of the series is so gruesome, the animation censors it with a random beam of light.
Gin and Vodka

Shinichi gets to put on a whole deduction show of figuring out who murdered this guy and why. But more importantly, Shinichi notices two suspicious men wearing black trenchcoats, who were also on the roller coaster. Shinichi takes one look at them and decides, those are the eyes of a cold-blooded killer. Dude, what happened to being an objective and observant detective? Such unwarranted prejudice, just because you don't like someone's face.

But, okay, he's right. Shinichi doesn't know this yet, but these men are known by their codenames Gin and Vodka, and they are two professional assassins, part of a secret international crime syndicate, the so-called Black Organization. Now these assassins are involved in a murder case, and what's worse, they're not even the ones who did it. They are forcefully trying to get out of this situation, but the police need to finish their investigation, and Shinichi needs to show off some more.

Which is the beginning of his downfall. All of Shinichi's strutting about and making a spectacle out of himself makes Gin notice that oh, so this is the high school detective that the news has been raving about. We think it's in this moment that Gin decides that, if given the opportunity, he should eliminate this guy before he becomes more of a problem, and goes snooping into more business that doesn't concern him.

Ran crying in the amusement park

After the murder mystery is solved, Shinichi continues taking Ran through the amusement park as if nothing happened. He's as chipper as ever, maybe even more so after solving the case. But Ran cannot stop crying. She was already having a miserable day that was maybe leading her to reconsider if she wants to be with Shinichi, and then she went on the roller coaster and someone lost their entire head. It was so gruesome, even Vodka was shocked by the visual. But Ran is also upset by the revelation that the murderer was... (Toggle whodunit...) ...the victim's ex, and she killed him in the place where they had their first date, with the necklace that he gave her... it's sad and tragic and about relationship drama, which Ran is in the middle of right now. But all Shinichi does is puff himself up and say eh, you see a lot of dead bodies when you're a detective, people get killed all the time, you should get used to it. And Ran is horrified by this conversation.

It's like Shinichi doesn't understand that when he's investigating a murder, there's a person who just died. He knows there's a murder mystery to solve, but he's oblivious to the humanity of the situation. He's not thinking about how there was a living person who is now dead, or about how that person probably had a family and friends who are now in the midst of grappling with the fact that the person they knew is dead, and that the murderer is also a person who reached the point of committing murder... Shinichi does not understand that a murder is a tragedy. He only sees a puzzle. He doesn't see any difference between reading a murder mystery and being in the presence of an actual murder.

We think Shinichi is a very interesting character, but if we knew him in real life, we would probably hate him.

Vodka runs past Shinichi and Ran while Ran is crying and Shinichi is being an ass.

So, while Ran is crying and a decent person would be trying to console her, Shinichi decides that it's time to leave her behind to chase the men in black. Ran tries to follow Shinichi, but when she sets her foot down, the entire bow of one of her shoelaces somehow gets ripped clean off, torn in two places, as if it exploded off the shoe. Shinichi continues running away, and Ran no longer chases him, because she's having an intense premonition of dread. All the unimportant surroundings of the amusement park disappear into blackness, and all that's left is the two of them... and the torn bow on the ground. What's up with the bow? Why is it so emphasized? The best we can come up with is perhaps it was intended to be symbolic, as some sort of bad omen about the thread of fate? As she stands there, she thinks this is the last time she's going to see Shinichi, and in a way, she's right.

Ran's shoelace is torn Ran is filled with dread Why is the shoelace a detail here?
Gin hits Shinichi with a pipe.

The men in trenchcoats were doing a shady deal involving blackmail: they get a briefcase full of money in exchange for the incriminating evidence regarding weapon trafficking. Shinichi is peeking from around the corner, thinking this is all very intriguing and interesting, when Gin hits him on the back of the head with a lead pipe. Brilliant detective Shinichi Kudo knew there were two shady guys, and didn't account for the whereabouts of the scarier of the two, and didn't even position himself to be obscured or for his back to be protected or anything intelligent. And since he just told Ran to go home without him, now he's going to die in an amusement park alley, and nobody will even think to look for him.

Gin helps Shinichi take his medicine
Gin helps Shinichi take his medicine.

Gin decides to test out the Black Organization's latest assassination method on this great detective. It's a poison that supposedly leaves no trace, so when the cops will find Shinichi's body, it'll just look like he dropped dead for no reason, and there's no way it could have been murder? He must have had a heart condition or something. Gin pulls out the pill from a little case, and he even has a cup of water handy to help Shinichi drink it down. How thoughtful. When this event will reappear in flashbacks, later versions of this scene will omit the little cup of water, because, lol, yeah, that comes across as kind of silly for what's supposed to be such a tense and terrifying moment.

Gin and Vodka leave and consider him sure as dead. Unfortunately for them, this new drug has a rare unintended effect on certain individuals. Shinichi gets to be one of the lucky ones who doesn't die, but instead his body painfully combusts until he reverts to the size of a child.

Shinichi has shrunk

The Kidnapping of the Company President's Daughter

Manga Canon (Volume 1)
First Aired
January 15, 1996
Our Quick Blip
Critically important canon episode
Shinichi sees his reflection after being shrunk

Continuing from last episode, Shinichi wakes up a few hours later, alive, but feeling weird. He runs home and very slowly realizes that he's a lot shorter than he used to be. And when he happens to pass by a shop window and he sees the face of a child as his own reflection, he begins to realize what happened.

He's become so short and small, he can't reach the mechanism to open the gate to his own house. He tries to get the attention of his neighbor, Doctor Agasa, but Agasa does not recognize him. He believes that he's Shinichi only after he does a stupid deduction, and even then, it's not really the deduction that convinces Agasa, it's how smarmily he delivered it. Shinichi's most unique and unmistakable trait is the precise way in which he's an asshole.

Agasa and Conan in Shinichi's father's library

Shinichi lives alone in a mansion full of books. His parents have been living in the US for the last three years, and they left Shinichi unsupervised in Japan. Yeah, Shinichi's parents are... hmm... well, we'll be saying more about them later. Agasa helps Shinichi get into the house, and once they are inside, Shinichi explains all about what happened, and they discuss what they should do next. Agasa is a mad scientist, couldn’t he figure out how to reverse this? Not without any information about the drug that shrunk him.

Shinichi gets only enough time to change his clothes into the one old outfit he can fit into (his ancient school uniform that presumably his parents kept for sentimentality), and Agasa is starting to realize that Shinichi would still be in danger if the men in black learn that he survived, when suddenly, Ran arrives. She's so worried about that bad feeling she had when Shinichi ran away that she went to check on him at his house. Agasa tells Shinichi that he can't reveal what happened to Ran just yet, at the very least not before they have a better plan, otherwise it'll put himself and Ran in danger.

Conan makes up his name
Right, my name is.... (looks at hand) Sweet Cone.

But right now they don’t have a better plan, so all Shinichi manages to do is hide under the table, quickly put on his dad's spare glasses (knocking out the lenses), and make up a stupid fanboy name based on the first two book spines he sees. From now on, he will be known as Conan Edogawa.

Agasa invents that Conan is the child of one of his relatives, but his parents were in a car accident and they’re in the hospital, so, could Ran help take care of him? Conan takes Agasa aside and protests that this is a terrible idea for so many reasons, but Agasa points out that Ran’s father has a detective agency, so that's an excellent place to research these men in black and figure out what to do next. At this point, Agasa and Shinichi both seem to believe this will be a quick endeavor. Haha.

So that’s the main premise of Detective Conan. Shinichi now has to live with Ran and her father as little kid Conan, keeping his true identity secret as he tries to find out more about the Black Organization so he can return to his true self.

Conan and Agasa lying to Ran

But is it actually useful, wise, or necessary to keep his identity secret from Ran? This could be the subject of a whole other essay, but, in short, we don’t think so. Out-of-universe, we think it’s a pretext to pilot the story in the direction the author wanted, but the reason behind why Conan needs to keep his identity secret is not very convincing to us. In-universe, however, we can understand that it was a very rushed decision motivated by fear for everyone’s safety. Still, later Agasa and Shinichi will have more than a thousand episodes of time to change their minds and come up with a better plan, and yet they won’t...

So, Ran walks with Conan back to her house. On the way, she tries to make conversation with Conan. She asks him if there are any girls he likes. He says no. She says that she has someone special that she likes. Conan gets a devilish little face, and asks if it might be that Shinichi that she had mentioned before… And she says yes. She starts saying all the reasons why she likes Shinichi: sure, he’s an arrogant bastard and an annoying detective nerd, but he’s always dependable and so cool.

Conan with a shitty grin Ran's honest answer Why is the shoelace a detail here?

...He is? Are we talking about the same guy who forgot about his date, then left her behind while she was crying, telling her to see herself home? But we can imagine that Ran is thinking of other interactions she’s had with Shinichi in the past, and that she’s trying very hard to make peace with that awful date in her own mind...

Conan nearly confesses the truth to Ran at the door to the apartment

Conan was just being a little shit, but Ran answers with such genuine honesty about all her secret feelings about Shinichi, and now he’s burning with embarrassment over this whole situation. At the door to the apartment, Conan is already about to confess his true identity to Ran. He can’t continue with this charade, and he can’t let her be so honest to him while he’s keeping such a huge secret from her. But the moment is interrupted by Kogoro running out the door, exclaiming that he has a big important case - the first in six months! - and the daughter of a rich man was kidnapped by a man in black.

Conan hears this and hops into the taxi with Kogoro, which forces Ran to also follow. At the scene, Conan tries to help investigate, but he realizes that nobody will listen to what a child has to say. He can be there pointing out the most brilliant things, and he's told to shut up, you're a child and you're interfering with the adults' work. So he has to feed everyone hints surreptitiously and subconsciously. In the end everyone figures out what's really happening and the case is solved. Even if it had nothing to do with the Black Organization after all.

Until a few hours ago, Shinichi could waltz into any crime scene, give his deduction, and point at the culprit, and Inspector Megure would say, yep, that checks out with everything we know, thanks for your help, and the crowd would gasp and cheer, and wow, it's teen detective Shinichi Kudo, pose for the fans, pose for the fans!

Inspector Megure slaps Shinichi on the back
Brilliant detective Shinichi Kudo doesn't understand that Megure is just being polite.

Going back a moment to the very first case from episode 1, we realized this time around that (Toggle whodunit from episode 1...) Megure had already questioned the doctor of the dude in the wheelchair, and had already learned that his leg was fully healed, which means that, even before Shinichi's arrival, Megure already had a pretty good idea of who the culprit was, and he already had a whole stack of evidence. In reality, Shinichi did his whole deduction show thinking himself sooo cool, but he didn't say anything that Megure didn't already know. Megure had to politely thank him for his help, and endure the fact that Shinichi has come to be known as "the savior of the Japanese police", but, in truth, Shinichi's deduction wasn't all that useful. Later we will learn that, actually, Shinichi was more often than not a source of annoyance for Megure.

Conan gets to hear what people really thought of Shinichi. It turns out that Megure was mostly being polite to tolerate his presence, Kogoro thought of Shinichi as this asshole boy that for some reason Ran likes, Ran's friend Sonoko (who will be introduced soon) thought of Shinichi as this asshole boy that for some reason Ran likes, and even Ran herself thought of Shinichi as this asshole boy that for some reason she likes. We thought this would lead to an arc about Shinichi gaining some sort of humility, but that won’t really happen.

A Murder Behind the Locked Doors of a Celebrity's Apartment

Manga Canon (Volume 1)
First Aired
January 22, 1996
Our Quick Blip
This episode is the introduction of Yoko, Kogoro's favorite idol. It is also the first time that Conan speaks for Kogoro with the voice-changing bowtie. There's also some important development for Ran and Shinichi.
Yoko Okino poster
This is the wall of Kogoro's office, where he intends to greet his clients.

Kogoro has a favorite idol, Yoko Okino, who he follows every time she appears on TV. Just a few minutes after he was done watching her show, she knocks on the door of the agency to ask Kogoro to investigate a stalker. Kogoro is naturally overjoyed to help her. But when they go to her apartment to find clues, they end up finding a dead body.

In this episode, Agasa gives Conan a voice-changing bowtie that he made for him, with the thought that it might be useful for maintaining his cover. During the investigation, Conan realizes that Kogoro is about to accuse the wrong person, and, since nobody will listen to a child making forensic deductions, he chooses to kick an ashtray so that it hits Kogoro in the head, and with him knocked out, he won't make the wrong accusation. Kogoro also ends up passing out so gracefully that he looks like he's only reclining in deep thought and about to deliver a dramatic deduction, which Conan exploits by using the bowtie to speak for him in his voice, and explain the truth of the case.

Conan kicks an ashtray Sleeping Kogoro Conan behind Sleeping Kogoro

This concept of Conan knocking out Kogoro and speaking for him becomes a key concept of the series, and it will happen almost every episode. However, this time is a bit different, because Conan knocks him out with a head injury (later, he will get a tranquilizer dart from Professor Agasa), and only as a desperate last-resort to stop an innocent from going to jail (rather than just because Conan is compelled to deliver his deductions the moment he has them).

Yoko Okino poster
Ran notices Conan hiding behind the chair...

This is also one of the very few times in which... (Toggle spoilers...) wasn't murder, it was suicide. So much more common will be the situation of Kogoro thinking it was suicide, while it was a well-disguised horrible murder! To be fair, it is kind of ridiculous that, as time goes on, they just encounter murder after murder everywhere they go. We know it's something that happens a lot in mystery series, but Conan gets the bonus point where not only it's always murder, but it's never suicide. When in reality, suicide would really be a much more common thing to encounter. In fact, so many murders in this series are motivated by someone exacting revenge over the suicide of a loved one... we suppose all the suicides happened last year, and now all the revenge murders are in vogue. Either case, Conan will always roll his eyes any time that Kogoro comes to the conclusion that it was suicide, but in real life, Kogoro would be perfectly reasonable... it's just that, unfortunately, he doesn't know he's in a crime series.

This case's victim is... (Toggle whodunit...) Yoko's ex-boyfriend, who had previously dumped her. During the course of the investigation, she learns that her manager pressured him to leave her, for the sake of her idol role. He killed himself in her apartment as a kind of horrible cruel revenge. Right after learning all of this, Yoko goes on live TV and performs a happy song. Ran understands that she must be going through a lot, yet can still go on TV like that. She must be so much stronger than anyone gives her credit.

Ran and Conan watch Yoko singing on the Jumbotron Yoko singing on the Jumbotron Ran is sad after seeing Yoko singing on the Jumbotron

Then, Ran's thoughts turn to the fact that, ever since she saw Shinichi run away and she was overcome by that premonition of dread, she has seen not hide nor hair of him, he hasn't been going to school, and he has not returned home.... she fears he must be dead.

Because, yeah, Shinichi has been living alone for the past three years. So Ran is absolutely right to think that, if Shinichi died, no one would know, and she's the only person who cares about him enough to check on him. Shinichi has no other friends, and we wouldn't be surprised if his teachers would be glad to be rid of that annoying smartass.

Conan calls Ran from a payphone using Shinichi's voice.

And now Ran is worried that Shinichi is dead, and Conan didn't even consider that she would be worried about this. Seeing Ran so sad spurs Conan to use voice-changing bowtie to call her from a payphone with Shinichi's voice, so that she will know that he's not dead.

Agasa reassures Ran about Shinichi
Don't worry, I'm sure it's just Shinichi being an inconsiderate asshole, as usual!

We suspect that this was at least half - if not the entire reason why Agasa made the voice-changing bowtie in the first place: specifically so that Shinichi could talk to Ran over the phone to reassure her that he is still alive. Ran kept trying to find Shinichi at his house, and ended up talking to Agasa next-door about her concerns. Agasa was just barely able to stop her from going to the police to report Shinichi as a missing person, by telling her that Shinichi is surely just deep in a case and is forgetting about everything else, you know, he's always like that... But Agasa knows that Ran cares too much about Shinichi to do continue doing nothing for much longer. Agasa finishes warning Conan about this, and then immediately segues to, oh right, I have a new invention for you! and introduces the bowtie. So, yeah, we think that was his hope all along, even though he was subtle about it and let Conan come up with the idea on his own after watching Ran suffer a bit more. As we'll see over time, Agasa is much more sensitive than Shinichi to Ran's position in all of this mess.

The Case of the Coded City Map

Manga Canon (Volume 4)
First Aired
January 29, 1996
Our Quick Blip
The beginning of the "Detective Boys"

In these last few days, Conan has had to go to elementary school again. The soul-crushing despair of him sitting at the desk while the class chants 2 x 2 is 4 ! :D Just a few days ago, he was hotshot high school detective Shinichi Kudo with his horny fanclub, and now he's in elementary redoing the twos times table all over again...

Conan and the kids reciting the times tables
Oh no...
Conan flees from Ayumi and the kids.
In Episode 3, Conan managed to run away from Ayumi's attempts at friendship, but not this time.

One of his classmates, Ayumi, wants to be friends with Conan. She thinks he must be so lonely, because he’s the new kid, he has no friends, and he dresses like a weirdo. Well, yeah, he's wearing a uniform that was the style ten years before, and is absolutely no longer the required clothing. In fact, their elementary school doesn’t use uniforms, so Conan stands out like an old-fashioned, bowtie-wearing sore thumb. Ayumi drags her two friends Mitsuhiko and Genta into this outing with Conan, and they are not as interested in Conan as she is, but they agree because they don’t want to disappoint her. Conan initially tries to bow out of this arrangement, but eventually goes to the museum with these kids.

And this first time around, Conan has fun with them, even though he’s actually seventeen and they’re seven. He’s interested by what he saw in the museum, and he's not being condescending to the kids as he exits the museum and talks about what they saw. He's actually genuinely interested. It helps that the exhibit was about ciphers and codes, but still...

With the mood of the room being codes, the kids happen to find a piece of paper with some strange symbols and the word "oro", and they decide this is a coded treasure map. Initially, Conan is only humoring them in trying to solve this code. When they go to the bookstore, Conan checks the dictionaries to see if "oro" is even a valid word or what. Mostly for shits and giggles. Conan then happens to open the Italian - Japanese dictionary, and he sees that oro means gold. That’s when he flips his shit. Omg, this is a treasure code after all? Wtf??

Conan is shocked after checking the Italian-Japanese dictionary The paper says Oro

Much later in the series, Shinichi will be presented as if he's already absolutely fluent in English, and he also will know words in all sorts of languages like French, with the excuse that his mom would sometimes say a few words in French - because, yeah, his mom saying voilá or parfait would make him fluent in French, yeah, of course. And any other language that the situation will need him to pull out of his ass, he will just pull out of his ass. And anything that would be convenient to know in any given situation, he will already know. Everything is always in his ass. But here, Conan doesn’t know, and he has to look it up and research! How refreshing! He has to actually try!

And even when he finds the hint he needs, here, Conan doesn't have the perfect answer immediately. In fact, he leads the kids on two different wild goose chases, because he missed the mark. And there is a moment where Conan is stumped, and Ayumi has a better idea, and Conan agrees, and they try her idea instead. She wasn’t 100% correct, but she was on the right track. It’s nice to see Conan respecting the kids and working with them, rather than thinking himself above them and being condescending, as it will happen more and more in future episodes.

Ultimately, Conan realizes that he’d been doing extreme Japanese puns to solve a code with an Italian word in it, and understands that his method doesn’t check out. It’s really so nice to see Conan being allowed to fail a little bit, and acknowledge his failure and try again.

The mafia
Really subtle, guys.

In the end, Conan and the kids find a bag full of gold coins. But because they had been on this treasure hunt all day, they hadn’t been watching the TV to know the breaking news about the mafia having stolen a bag of gold coins, so they don’t know what they just involved themselves in… And now they are in a dark attic with the literal mafia who will absolutely kill them.

At the beginning of the episode, Genta had invented that, in their treasure hunt game, they would be known as the Detective Boys. But now that shit has hit the fan, and they are tied up by the mafia, and they’re starting to despair and prepare for death, Conan uses, “We are the Detective Boys!” as a rallying cry to motivate them to perk up and work together. In the end, they save themselves and catch the crooks. Woo!

Megure thanks the Detective Boys

In the post-credits, Genta and Mitsuhiko try to take credit for catching the crooks, but Ayumi won't let them. She makes sure that Ran knows that they all depended on Conan for solving the mystery and saving the day.

Ayumi tells Ran about Conan's role in solving the mystery. Ayumi gestures to Conan

The Great Bullet Train Explosion

Manga Canon (Volume 4)
First Aired
February 5, 1996
Our Quick Blip
This one makes you think there's going to be some important development regarding the Black Organization, but not really. Instead, there's a scene with Ran that probably played a role in how she reacts in some upcoming episodes.

At the beginning of this episode, Agasa gives Conan some of his first gadgets. We wonder if it’s because Conan told Agasa about how he and the kids almost died in the previous episode because of how he's a small and defenseless child, and so Agasa invented the shoes that power up his kicks. He also gives him spy glasses with a microphone bug, which Conan will be using in this episode.

Kogoro shaves on the train
If he really had to shave on the train, why doesn't he go to the lavatory for that? Gross!

Today, Kogoro, Ran, and Conan are taking the train. Kogoro is shaving while he's at his seat, and when Ran calls him out on it, Kogoro protests that he didn't have time to shave since was up late having an important meeting with some clients. In the Funimation dub, Ran asks if those clients names were Gin and Tonic, which is a clever joke with so many layers to it, that, unfortunately, much like Team Rocket's retort to "make like a tree and leaf" is completely ruined by the fact that nobody is animated reacting to it.

This trip is so that Kogoro can attend an acquaintance's wedding, and Ran and Conan are invited too... and for some reason all the Detective Boys are coming? The anime team injected the Detective Boys to a lot of the early episodes, and this is one of those times. Kogoro even hangs a lampshade on their presence, saying, what the fuck is wrong with the parents of these kids, just letting them tag along to the wedding of an acquaintance of their friend’s guardian?!

And then Kogoro points at Conan and goes, and what is wrong with your parents, anyway?! They just dropped you on someone that they don't even know, and they haven't even called once to check on you. Now, Kogoro doesn’t know that Conan's parents don't actually exist, but, as for what concerns Shinichi, he’s not actually wrong. Shinichi’s parents have been living in the US for three years, and they haven’t checked on him to know anything about what happened. In fact, as we will learn later: what the fuck is wrong with Shinichi’s parents?

But this the moment where the men in black return! Or at least, so Conan thinks.

It turns out that, on the train, there just so happen to be two men wearing black trenchcoats who look a lot like Gin and Vodka, but not as sexy. How can there even be a Gin lookalike? Vodka, okay. But another tall, trenchcoat-wearing man with long luscious golden hair draped over the collar, and wearing an ascot? What, do they both shop from the Criminal Fashion Catalog?

Not Gin and Vodka
In the Funimation dub, Conan chastises himself with, "I'm such a dork. Like all guys in black are crooks..."
Yes Gin and Vodka

Actually, there couldn't be a Gin lookalike. In the manga, these characters are indeed Gin and Vodka. For some reason, the anime team decided to otherwise follow the plot of the manga case, but to change these characters into other lookalike criminals that are unaffiliated with the Black Organization. We have absolutely no idea why the anime would decide to make this change, which only seems to lessen the tension and make us groan in frustration.

This is also the point in the manga where Conan overhears that the two men's codenames are Gin and Vodka. The removal of this element from the anime episode will cause problems down the line. In later episodes, Conan will act as if this information was revealed previously, even though that's actually just an ass-pull, and the anime changes made it so that there never was any opportunity for anime-Conan to have learned their codenames.

However, all this aside, in the anime, Conan learns that even though these gentlemen are not his men in black, they are also criminals. They've put a bomb on the train, so now Conan has to scramble to try to save everyone from the bomb before it explodes.

And since he's a little kid, when he goes to the train staff to say that there's a bomb on the train, they think he's just playing Ultraman or whatever, and don't take him seriously. Conan is still thinking that he's high school detective Shinichi Kudo, and if he says there's a bomb on the train everyone will believe him and take him seriously, while girls swoon.

Conan nearly confesses

So, instead, Conan needs to find the bomb himself, and his quest is very much hindered by the fact that he's a little kid, and Ran is trying to get him to sit down in his seat already and stop being so rambunctious and quit annoying all the other passengers. It gets to the point where Conan thinks that there's not enough time left, and he must reveal his true identity to Ran so that she will listen to what he has to say, and then he can save everyone. He starts saying, "I am not Conan Edogawa, I am not an elementary school student. My true identity is..." ...but then he has an epiphany, and he’s able to solve the case anyway, so he never finishes that sentence.

But now the question has been raised, and Ran starts wondering.

The Valentine Murder Case

Anime Original
First Aired
February 12, 1996
Our Quick Blip
Despite being anime-original, this episode provides the anime's introduction of both Conan's tranquilizer watch and also the character of Sonoko.

But before that happens, we have the very first anime-only episode. Though, it’s not really completely an anime invention. It is partially based on canon material, because this episode introduces important canon elements: Ran’s best friend Sonoko, and Conan’s watch with the tranquilizer dart. In the manga, the stun-gun watch will be introduced in the Luxury Liner Serial Murder Case (later adapted into anime episodes 22-23), which was published in volume form on October 18, 1994, and Sonoko will be introduced in the Bandage Man case (later adapted into anime episodes 34-35), which was published in volume form on April 18, 1995.

Ran and Sonoko
Sonoko and Ran

Given the release dates, the anime team had plenty of time to have met Sonoko as she appears in the manga, and to have percolated their own opinions on her character. We think they wanted to have a special episode to coincide with Valentine's Day, and they wanted to also include Sonoko in the episode to be able to have a foil for Ran's reaction to the day. Just like in the Bandage Man case, Sonoko has got her eye on a hot older boy who turns out both have no interest in her and to be a jerk.

It's a bit unfortunate that this anime-original episode interrupts the flow of events in the manga-canon episodes around it. In the past several episodes, Ran has been noticing that there is something fishy about Conan, and Conan nearly gave up his secret to Ran at the end of the last episode. In the next episode, Ran will start drawing conclusions and acting upon them. So a fluffy moment with chocolate is a bit out of place here. But it would also be out of place after this subplot has been set in motion, since Ran’s feelings for Shinichi (and Conan) will shift a bit. But if you don’t watch this episode at all, you’d miss Sonoko’s first appearance, and the introduction of the tranquilizer watch, so you can’t really skip it...

But this all aside, the plot of the episode is mostly centered on the murder mystery of the day, but it also explores a bit of Ran's feelings for Shinichi, and Shinichi's feelings for Ran. This episode raises the question, should Ran really be waiting around so long for Shinichi's eventual return, which may or may not ever come some day in the near or distant future, or should she just move on already with her love life?

Ran making the chocolate
Conan tries to really subtly ask if the chocolate is intended for Shinichi. Ran answers, "Shinichi...? oh yeah, I forgot about him."

An important cultural note to be aware of is that, for Valentine's Day in Japan, the custom is that women give gifts of chocolate to the men in their life. This gift can be intended romantically for a special someone, or it might be a platonic gift given to every male co-worker. Often the chocolates are homemade (using kits including chocolate pellets that are sold in stores) so that the chocolate gifts can both cost less and also have a more personal touch.

The murder of this episode is pretty fucked up, as anime-only murders tend to be. Ran goes with Sonoko to a Valentine’s Day party with a bunch of college kids, including one who has a crush on Ran and one whom is being crushed upon by Sonoko. Sonoko's crush is a guy who pretty much couldn't be a worse person. It's to the point where Rosy asked Denise why he's not being kicked out of the party, and Denise had to remind her that the party is taking place in his own house. (Toggle spoilers...) But, in a sense, he does get kicked out of the party. He's murdered... by his own stepmom... who wanted to collect the insurance money... because who the fuck cares about him anyway. And... yeah. One can see why she'd come to that conclusion. But, god...

And the daringness of the method. (Toggle spoilers...) She put the poison in the coffee that everyone drank, and the antidote in the cake that she knew her stepson wouldn't eat. So she poisoned everybody, and could have killed any stranger who happened not to eat the cake. And she almost poisoned her little kid because he snuck a sip of coffee. What if someone didn't react properly to the antidote? She could have murdered like seven random people. And her plan hinged on framing his ever-suffering girlfriend, even though the stepmom had no beef against her, just to have someone to pin the murder onto. But, at the same time, someone else tried to murder the guy, and claimed the murder as his doing, when in reality this other murder plan failed because the stepmom’s murder plan had already succeeded. The victim was a horrible person, but what a series of murder plans around him.

Ran and Conan eating chocolates

After these upsetting events, Ran is understandably a bit depressed. She had made Valentine’s Day chocolates for Shinichi, but Shinichi isn't there, so she says, well, I'm sure he wouldn't mind if she gave them to Conan instead. So in the end, Shinichi did get the chocolates after all.

And the placement of this episode is such that it makes us wonder... how much does Ran think that giving the chocolates to Conan is an acceptable alternative to giving them to Shinichi?

The Threatening Monthly Presents

Manga Canon (Volume 3)
First Aired
February 19, 1996
Our Quick Blip
Critically important canon episode
Conan doing the deduction about the hands

Here is when Ran starts getting really, really suspicious about Conan. In this episode, Conan is extremely sloppy about concealing his secret identity. He’s not even pretending anymore to act like a little kid, and he’s just flat-out acting like Shinichi. He even does the same thing that he did as Shinichi back in episode 1, of mimicking Sherlock Holmes by looking at a person’s hand to make deductions all about their life, and then bragging about it. Even when he’s supposed to be keeping his identity a secret and pretending to be a believable child for the safety of himself and everyone around him, he can’t keep his ego in check, and almost destroys his disguise as early as episode 7.

Ran listens as Conan nearly confesses
Ran listening to Conan nearly confess his identity on the train

Ran has been taking notice of all these things. She realizes that Conan appeared on the same day that Shinichi vanished - and she met him inside Shinichi's house. She notices that Conan looks a lot like how Shinichi looked as a child. She saw that Conan was hiding behind the chair while her father gave a strange deduction. She heard from Ayumi that Conan was the one who was truly responsible for solving the caper with the gold coins. And she heard that weird unfinished sentence that Conan said on the train the other day, about how his name really isn’t Conan and how he’s not really an elementary-aged kid.

So, during this episode, Ran spies on Conan while he is investigating the case at hand. She sees him, once again, acting conspicuously unlike a child. Then, the next time she’s talking with him, and he’s distracted, she calls him Shinichi... and he answers. She caught him. And at that point, Conan can do all of his diverting and acting like a child! Look at me! I play Game Boy! But Ran knows that this whole act is simply a pathetic attempt to deflect.

Ran knows something is up Ran knows something is up Ran knows something is up

But then, Ran also comes to the realization that, if Conan is Shinichi, then she accidentally confessed to Shinichi and spoke openly and honestly about how she feels about him back in episode 2, thinking that she was talking to Conan, who was actually Shinichi, who had intentionally tricked her into talking about their relationship... and this is all fucked up and she doesn’t know how to deal with this.

Ran talking on the phone with Agasa using Shinichi's voice

In the end, just when Conan was about to give up and explain everything, Dr. Agasa calls and uses the bowtie to sound like Shinichi, so that Ran can see Conan is on the couch, and yet Shinichi is calling... and that is enough to persuade Ran that Conan couldn’t possibly be Shinichi. Ha, I guess that was a silly idea. And she puts it to rest. Even though she notes that Shinichi’s word choice is uncharacteristically old-fashioned during this particular phone call… Hmm…

The biggest takeaway we have from this episode is that Ran is just as smart if not smarter than Shinichi. She knows exactly how to trick him into revealing himself, three times. So, we don’t think it’s absurd to think that she’s going with the flow for now, but her suspicions haven’t actually changed.

We kind of have a theory that she's known since this moment, even as the series keeps going and going and making it ever more ridiculous that she hasn’t acted on her suspicions more since then.

We wrote all of these thoughts about this episode, and realized we haven't yet really talked about the mystery of the day at all. And it's a perfectly fine mystery, it's just, we're much more fixated on what's going on between Conan and Ran, heh.

Kogoro's client is a surgeon who has been receiving anonymous monthly payments along with packages of toys. This has been going on for two years now. He already thought this was strange, but he assumed they were from a grateful patient, and the toys were a present for his son. But this time, the package came with a creepy note that says that the payment is complete, and now he'll "come and get it". It turns out... (Toggle spoilers...)

The surgeon comforts the culprit

...that the packages came from the father of a child who died during an emergency surgery two years ago. The toys were the child's possessions, and the money was the insurance money. The father of the child blamed the surgeon for failing to save the son, even though it was already too late by when he arrived to the hospital, and decided that, once the surgeon's son would reach the same age as his son who died, he'd kill him in retribution. Everyone manages to stop the culprit and talk him down. The surgeon decides not to press charges, because he is also a father and can understand the man's pain.

The Murder of the Art Museum Owner

Manga Canon (Volume 4)
First Aired
February 26, 1996
Our Quick Blip
It's fine, but not particularly important
Kogoro holding evidence
Do you think Kogoro was an inspiration for Phoenix Wright?

It is really nice to see Conan solving a mystery without immediately knocking Kogoro out. In the late series, sometimes Kogoro is even almost about to get to the correct deduction, and Conan knocks him out before he has a chance to think a little more about it.

Here, Conan tricks the culprit into incriminating himself. Often, as the series goes on, Conan will solve the case, but with evidence that he obtained illegally or which is way too circumstantial to stand up in court, but then the culprit confesses to everything, so it actually doesn’t matter. But this time around, Conan uses his deceivingly childlike appearance to manipulate the culprit into producing the critical evidence!

As the title says, this case revolves around the murder of an art museum owner. (Toggle whodunit...) He was murdered by the museum curator as a last-resort attempt to prevent the museum from being replaced with a hotel. And he succeeded. The murder does indeed save the building from destruction and the museum from closing. It actually did solve things. So, the moral is… that murdering capitalists does improve the world, but unfortunately you'll have to go to jail, we guess.

Gif: An armored man attacks the art museum owner. Although this is supposed to be CCTV footage, the camera moves dramatically.
Also this episode heavily features some hilariously impossible CCTV cinematography. So much that the impossibility of the awesome camera angles is even kinda lampshaded by how the cops are absolutely enthralled with the footage, and snuck back into the room to watch it again.

The Tenkaichi Night Festival Murder

Manga Canon (Volume 6-7)
First Aired
March 4, 1996
Our Quick Blip
We are introduced to someone who will become a recurring side character, but even more importantly, we consider this one iconic, for the visuals and for how it plays out.
Yokomizo stunned, in front of a group of his fellow cops
We endearingly refer to Yokomizo as "Officer Curly".

This is the episode where Detective Yokomizo appears! At this point in the series, the only named cop character has been Inspector Megure, who used to be Kogoro’s partner back when they were both in the police force, and who already knew Shinichi before the beginning of the story. Over the course of the series, many more cops will be introduced so there can be more characters around, and because Megure can’t show up at every crime scene across all of Japan. Detective Yokomizo gets to be the second named cop character to be introduced. He currently works in the Saitama prefecture. He’s very earnest and dedicated, and he believes in justice. We like him. We unfortunately won’t see him too often, but, since this series will later develop a compulsive habit of expanding characters via excruciating romantic subplots, maybe that’s for the best. We really don’t want Yokomizo to get an arc over reuniting with his childhood love interest, please don’t.

This episode opens with a writer murdering his co-writer in a hotel room. This is the first time that we have an episode where the audience already knows who did it, and the characters catch up soon enough as well, but how will they prove it?

The culprit brazenly taunting Yokomizo right in the face
Ooooh, Yokomizo wants to arrest this fucker so bad.

The murderer is really brazen and smarmily pointing at his rock-solid alibi. Yokomizo accuses him of manipulating the photos, and the murderer is like, what, how could I have manipulated the photos from the disposable camera that I specifically handed to you to develop it yourself? And then the editor comes in, and the murderer is all, oh, I suppose I must replace my tragically murdered friend and finish the novel in his honor…

Initially, Kogoro had a neutral stance regarding whodunit, but ends up quietly convinced that this guy must be the murderer. Meanwhile, Yokomizo is about ready to punch this smarmy fucker, and Kogoro has to hold him back. Meanwhile, Conan is also seething about the situation. The murderer crafted his alibi through them, and he can't let that stand.

Conan with the silly balloon
Conan spends most of this episode super serious, juxtaposed with the visual of him holding onto a bunny-shaped balloon.

This episode has a super iconic scene of Sleeping Kogoro sitting at the desk with the photos spread out in front of him. Conan plays off Kogoro's earlier incorrect theories as having been giving Yokomizo a chance to solve the case, while lulling the murderer into a false sense of security. But Sleeping Kogoro has found the contradiction in the photos!

Just then Ran grabs Conan, thinking that he's pestering Kogoro at such a critical moment. Conan has to end his speech as Kogoro by saying, "It's up to you..." to Yokomizo. This moment instills confidence in Yokomizo, and he also becomes a diehard fan of Sleeping Kogoro.

Sleeping Kogoro in front of the photos Sleeping Kogoro in front of the photos Sleeping Kogoro in front of the photos

The Noir-ness of this episode is fantastic. There is a moment where Kogoro pauses and gets a cigarette, and the click of the lighter is used for punctuation. Later in the series, the fact that Kogoro is a smoker will quietly fade away, probably because the anime team didn't want to show smoking being cool… and yeah, we get it, and we agree. Smoking is bad, and Kogoro did look absolutely cool in that moment. But it's also kind of a shame that this goes away, because cigarettes give the characters really nice props to move around, rather than being just talking heads back and forth.

Kogoro punctuates his sentence by lighting a cigarette

Also, it is a plotpoint that Kogoro lacks self-control over his vices, and he's gotten especially bad after separating from his wife. If everything about him is sanitized away, how are we even supposed to see this aspect of his character? In his earliest incarnation, Kogoro smokes, drinks, gambles at pachinko and horse races, hits Conan upside the head at the slightest provocation, goes to hostess clubs, flirts with random women, and has a parasocial addiction for a famous idol. Later in the series, many of these traits will be sanitized away, and if you clean that all up, then you're left with an upstanding gentleman whose only remaining vices are that sometimes he's overconfident and has an ugly tongue laugh, and why does everyone still treat him as if he's so gross?

The Blackmailed Pro Soccer Player

Manga Canon (Volume 7-8)
First Aired
March 11, 1996
Our Quick Blip
Minor character introduction, and an important scene between Ran and Shinichi

This episode also introduces a minor recurring character, the soccer player Hideo Akagi, or more commonly known by his nickname Hide. We also forgot that he was introduced so early. Also, for some reason, he looks a lot like Shinichi. Will that become a plotpoint eventually?

At the beginning of this episode, a girl comes to Kogoro's detective agency and claims to be Shinichi's girlfriend. In her plan, this bold statement would make Shinichi appear and then she could ask him to investigate her case… somehow that will work. So while she's telling the room her whole story about how they're totally dating and they even kissed -- Kogoro asks which base they got to, lol -- Ran looks to Conan with daggers in her eyes. It's as if she still totally believes that Conan is Shinichi and that he's been messing around. She doesn't even act surprised when Conan tries to defend Shinichi's honor, which, honestly, should be seen as super weird. And, in fact, when Conan says that he'd rather stay home than follow this girl, Ran insists that he come along too. Why else would she insist on this point, if she didn't think that Conan is actually Shinichi somehow?

Ran angrily looking down at Conan

Back in episode 7, when Agasa called Ran using the bowtie to sound like Shinichi, Ran said, oh, I must have been silly (and your word choice is kinda old-fashioned...), but that doesn't mean that she really and definitely believes that Conan isn't somehow Shinichi.

At the end of this episode, Conan is finally able to placate Ran somewhat by making her think that she encountered Shinichi for a moment. He creates what appears to be the silhouette of Shinichi in the headlights of Agasa's car, and he tells Ran that he's not been messing around, and please don't cry, or else he will worry about her. After this brief shadowy encounter, he acts like he leaves, and Ran is left reeling from this emotional roller coaster.

The ending scene with the shadow of Shinichi The ending scene with the shadow of Shinichi

The Piano Sonata "Moonlight" Murders

Manga Canon (Volume 7)
First Aired
April 8, 1996
Our Quick Blip
A big-deal one-hour special episode... that actually we didn't enjoy a whole lot... but it does set something up that will be referenced later.
The famous pianist playing the piano as he burns to death

Kogoro receives a job request from a client who lives on a remote little island. But when Kogoro reaches the island and asks around about his client, he's met with the knowledge that the supposed sender of the letter has been dead for ten years! He was a famous pianist who apparently set his house on fire and committed suicide with his whole family. The mystery of the day involves finding out who wrote the request to Kogoro, and unveiling the truth behind that long-cold case.

This is the first time that it happens, but this series loves the setup of a calm little island town which is actually an epicenter of crime and corruption. Like, come have a wonderful vacation at our lovely little island! We've got it all: (Toggle spoilers...)

Today's quaint little island

This episode is a big deal hour special, and the introduction itself points out that this is a big deal episode. But, to us, the episode itself isn't that great, the plot is particularly gnarly, and it didn't leave us with any major impact. But, in future episodes, the events of this episode will retroactively gain an importance that they never had at the time. (Toggle spoilers...)

Much later, Conan reflects back on how he was right there, but couldn't do anything to stop multiple murders and, particularly, could do nothing to stop the culprit from committing suicide right in front of him.

Conan tries to pull the culprit out of the burning building Ran comforts Conan as the building burns
Visually, this scene looks like it's must be having a deep impact on Conan, but, at least at the time, the plot doesn't really go there...

Reflecting back on these events will later fuel an emotional sub-arc between Shinichi and Heiji. But, for now, there is no exploration on how Conan feels about the events that are happening. There is just a mystery to be solved, and he solves it, and the events unfold as they unfold. We imagine if someone watched those later episodes without having watched this one, they would get the impression that they really need to go back watch this episode to get the full impact of what is being referenced, but actually... no.

There is however one other thing we want to point out about this episode because it pisses us off. (Toggle spoilers...)

The crucial deduction of the mystery is that the murders of the episode must have been done by a man because of the level of strength required... Eventually it is revealed that the pianist also had a son, and that the apparently female and waifish-looking doctor is actually the son in disguise. So, because it is revealed that this doctor is secretly male, it's suddenly reasonable to think he did all those things, because he is a man, even though it's not like after the reveal we see he was hiding a bunch of muscles inside the lab coat. The doctor still has twigs for arms whether he's a man or not.

The doctor thinking The doctor providing directions to Kogoro

Whenever Conan says something like, "Based on the strength required, it must have been a man!", we roll our eyes so hard. He says that with Ran, the karate champion, standing next to him. Two episodes from now, we'll see Ran jump out of the second-story window and smash a car window and nearly kill a man. And if Conan thinks, well, Ran is special, he can't just discount that any other woman could also be a martial artist or a bodybuilder or just someone who is naturally strong. This train of thought will become ever more ridiculous as Conan will also meet Kazuha, Sato, and Sera, any of whom could also throw anyone out any window.

Another reason why we didn't care a lot about this episode is because it's very focused on a musical code that couldn't be solved by the audience, and, even in-universe, it makes little sense that anyone in the room would be able to decode it. They had to suddenly pull out of their ass that Ran can play the piano to justify some of the solution. And then they had to additionally pull out of their ass that Conan is able to hear a melody and know what notes are being played, and map that to the alphabet, and then translate the romanji into Japanese, all on the fly and without writing anything down. Conan, who is canonically tone-deaf. And even if he weren't tone-deaf, it would still be bullshit.

An illustration of how the piano keys are mapped to the alphabet

In conclusion

For the most part, we like the mysteries in this batch - the only one we didn't really like was the Moonlight Sonata one (although we suspect we're in the minority about that). And we love the look and tone the series has especially in the early episodes.

As the very beginning of the series, these episodes set up the very core of Detective Conan, and it's a strong start. The cast of characters is still small, and the plot at this point is very centered on Shinichi, Ran, and Kogoro, and also the Detective Boys. So we get good introductions to the primary characters, setting up for a thousand more episodes to come.

Ran meeting Conan

The primary arc of this batch of episodes is Shinichi needing to hide his identity and become Conan, and whether or not he has been successful at fooling Ran with this disguise. As we mentioned a few times throughout this article, we hope that the answer is actually no. Or at least that Ran is remaining vigilant, but in a vacillating state of more or less accepting the truth while really hoping it is untrue. Ran is smart and has more than enough clues, and the only barriers to accepting the truth come from the absurdity of thinking a high school student reverted to a small child, the horror of what that would mean about the interactions she's had with Conan in the meanwhile, and the wish to have Shinichi come clean about this mess all by himself.

But while Shinichi seems to be physically incapable of holding in a conclusion he's drawn for more than five seconds, Ran is patient. Really, really patient. We will continue to see her remarkable, awe-inspiring level of patience in the many, many more episodes to come.