Case Closed vol 1

UK Distributor: Gollancz Manga

Author: Gosho Aoyama

Suggested Retail Price (SRP): 4.99

Number of Pages: 192

ISBN: 0-575-07739-5

Reviewed: 29th January 2006

Reviewer: Tom (Webmaster)

Jimmy Kudo is a smug teenager and has every reason to be.  At just sixteen years old he is hailed by the media as the 'saviour of the Japanese police force' due to his extraordinary detective skills which enable to solve even the trickiest of cases.  On top of that he receives dozens of fan letters and is clearly on the verge of starting a relationship with his long-time friend Rachel Moore.  Once he finishes school it appears that his dream of becoming the greatest detective that ever lived is going to become true, but then a mysterious 'man in black'  poisons Jimmy, transforming his body to that of a six year-old.  Jimmy's mind remains that of a sixteen year-old but with a child's body being taken seriously as a detective is not going to be easy. 

The above plot of Case Closed is all explained in the first chapter and author Gosho Aoyama accomplishes this with excellent characterisation that firmly establishes a character in just a few panels.  Aoyama continues this into the chapters after Jimmy has been transformed back into a child, notably when we are introduced to Rachel's father who's character is summed up in one page - a lazy detective who is so incompetent he does not even realise that he is taking the credit for Jimmy's detection skills.  This is due to Rachel taking the pint-sized transformer under her wing thinking it is a relative of Jimmy's and not her life-long friend.  Only the stereotyped 'mad scientist next door' knows Jimmy secret and it will remain that way until Jimmy finds a way to transform back into his original self. 

Taking no shame in referencing the great detective novels it is clearly influenced by, it may at first appear that Case Closed has delusions of grandeur because of this but by the end of this first volume this was not the case.  This was my opinion in the opening chapter when I was introduced to the overly smug hero Jimmy, but once he was transformed into a child that all changed.  The hero suddenly finds himself constantly overrode by authority and, no matter how difficult the case he solves, is never taking seriously.  This led me to sympathise with Jimmy a lot and made me feel that being a child is more difficult then most people think, a point I feel that Gosho Aoyama achieves very well.  Everyone remembers thinking that they knew everything as a child but in Case Closed the child does know everything - far more then the adults. 

Because Jimmy isn't taken seriously he has to let the adults know how to solve the case somehow and it is here where Gosho Aoyama shines.  The ideas that he comes up with to have Jimmy point out clues is inspired throughout.  Jimmy will often use his football skills to point out several obvious clues and also state the obvious.  Many of the motives behind the crimes that Jimmy solves kept me guessing until the end as well as Gosho Aoyama has clearly given these stories a lot of thought to keep the reader guessing until the truth has been revealed. 

Although very entertaining there are some problems with Case Closed - most notably how ludicrous the circumstances which led to a person's death are.  I can't go into much detail as it would give away plot but the over-the-top nature may leave some readers cold.  Although lovers of old detective novels will love watching Jimmy slowly deduce a crime, others may find that this drags and is just stupid.  As there are few similarities to Case Closed it is difficult to know whether you will love or hate it but I would happily recommend Case Closed to anyone.  After all it is no more over the top then the most popular current cop series such as 24 and CSI.  I admit that Case Closed may happily ignore modern crime-solving techniques and world politics and that is it exactly what makes Case Closed so refreshing and - due to the heavy influence of our literature - a certain British charm. 

Although this volume is the first in a long series and Jimmy's detective exploits could become repetitive well before the end, as long as there is several intriguing mysteries in each volume I do not mind.  Case Closed is currently a unique release for the UK and certainly one of the best - case closed. 


The back of this volume contains the usual adverts and a manga survey.  Also contains the first of 'mystery library', which profiles famous detectives, as well as a short message from the author himself. 


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