Twenty years of murder! Twenty years of never growing up! That’s right, it’s been 20 years since the anime adaptation of Gosho Aoyama’s detective manga, Detective Conan, started. So it seems an ideal time to roll the clock back and take a look at those early episodes.
I want to say I first saw Conan at an Ayacon convention in the late 90s, but my memory could be playing tricks on me. What I definitely did remember clearly was the violent and bloody second murder in this first episode. It’s hard to forget a decapitation by roller coaster in a kids cartoon that’s for sure.
Before we get to that brutal murder, the episode introduces our hero, Shinichi Kudo. We meet him wrapping up another murder case for the police. It’s a classic locked room mystery, and this is just the confrontation and explanation, rather than the investigation.
Here we also meet the first of the series’ recurring policemen in the form of avuncular Inspector Megure. In fact, the whole episode is a great introduction to the main recurring characters at this early stage of the series.
As well as Shinichi and Megure, we meet love interest Ran Mouri, her private detective father Kogoro, the three kids who’ll become the Detective Boys (Ayumi, Mitsuhiko and Genta), Shinichi’s mad scientist friend Hiroshi Agasa and the two main recurring villains Gin & Vodka.
There’s an impressive economy to how quickly the episode establishes the various personalities of these characters. In fact, the only thing it doesn’t satisfactorily establish during this first episode, is Shinichi’s status as a teenager trapped in the body of a small child.
It is played as a cliffhanger in this first episode, with Shinichi poisoned by Gin and Vodka after he gets suspicious of them. Which is fine, as it’s had 20 years since then to play with that core concept.