Case Closed, volume 38: On the Ropes

I have decided that reviews of Gohso Aoyama's marvelous Case Closed (a.k.a. Detective Conan) series will become a semi-regular feature on this blog spot. Yes, I know. It's somewhat befuddling and illogical to start smack in the middle of a series, but I have been reading these stories since 2006 – and I didn't have the time to revisit all those foregoing volumes.

But don't let that stop you from discovering this tremendous and imaginative detective series for yourself and try to catch up with me if you can. It's been done! Just take the time to read these notes and this earlier blog entry, so that you know what to expect, and plunge yourself in the vibrant, ever expanding universe of Detective Conan – where high adventure and mystery awaits all who seek it!

The Trap

The first chapter of this book is the conclusion of a case that started in the previous volume, which involved a murdered software developer who had close ties with the elusive criminal organization that's responsible for Conan's precarious situation. However, they appear to be completely unaware of the death of their computer programmer, and Conan decides to bait a trap with the program he was developing for them, but they remain as intangible as ever.

This story provided another compelling plot thread in the ongoing and increasingly more important main storyline, concerning Conan and his wraithlike adversaries. 

The Stolen Scroll of the Thunder God

Conan and his buddies of The Junior Detective League lend a helping hand to one of their own in the hope of earning a set of beautiful Festival Dolls for Amy, but at the apartment where the dolls reside also hangs a coveted wall scroll worth a small fortune – and, of course, someone swipes it. This is a fairly clued but minor story in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter."

The Man Behind the Mask

Conan, Rachel and her dad, the celebrated sleeping detective, Richard Moore, attend a professional wrestling show where they have an opportunity to meet the star of the company and reigning champion – the famous masked wrestler, Wolf Face. But a backstage rivalry soon leads them to the dressing room of another wrestler, scheduled to face the masked lucha libre in the main event, who was brutally stabbed to death in front of a running camera and the video shows that the perpetrator was none other than Wolf Face!

Conan does an excellent and swift job in deducing who of his fellow in-ring combatants donned one of his masks and done in his opponent – successfully proving that Wolf Face's paws are free of blood and securing his secret identity from the fans and press.

Not a Good Day to be Harley Hartwell

Conan's friend and rival detective, Harley Hartwell, also has a knack for landing himself in tight situations – as he and Kazuha find themselves at the mercy of a ruthless jurist who's trying to force him to decipher a code cooked up by a private detective who has the goods on her. He has to try to keep himself and Kazuha alive while also trying to reach Conan for help. This is more a thriller than a proper mystery, but with the complicated cryptogram worked into the plot an intelligent suspense story would probably be a better qualification. 

The stories that make up this volume are a fairly good, if somewhat unexcited, addition to the series, and will not fail to entertain its fans. 

Case Closed, volume 39: The Adventure of the Scarlet Blaze is set to be released in mid-July, and I, for one, can't wait to get my greedy hands on it.


  1. You know, my one big problem with the series has been the codes, which are almost always 100% unsolveable to the non-Japanese, leaving readers like me left miles behind. I eventually just ignored it and allowed myself to enjoy the story for what it was, but yeah...

    The last volume definitely ended on a thrilling note- I'll have to track this one down sometime soon and see how it ends. "The Man Behind the Mask" sounds like the most interesting story in this volume.

    By the way, what format have the chapter names used this time? Is it the more creative chapter names, or the more boring (1), (2), (3) (etc.) system?

  2. The codes are difficult, if not impossible, to crack for anyone who's not fluent in Japanese, but that's hardly something you can hold against Aoyama.

    However, Kindaichi (of all series!) showed how that problem can be overcome if you have a competent translator who's up on his detective stuff.

    The first seven chapters have individual titles, like "Tarnished Hero” and "The Sunset and the Stairs," but the last story, "Harley's Struggle," has the numeral system.

  3. Ah, reviews of Conan. Something I've thought about, but I still refrain from. I'm not going to revisit 71 volumes and it seems rather hard to discuss plotpoints of the overall storyline, which are a big part of Conanology. Which is why I'll probably stick with my annual Kindaichi Shounen review. And some other detective-manga I still have lying around here.

    Which doesn't mean I won't do Conan stuff though. There is plenty of non-series stuff like the movies and the recent TV-special I reviewed this week. Might even discuss the "Deduction Mistakes" book I have about Conan in the future ^_~

    Oh, and regarding this volume: it's been too long ago O_o I can only recall the story with the programmer and the Hattori story, which is one of the more memorable Hattori stories, I think.