Movie 01: “The Time Bombed Skyscraper”
Original Japanese Premiere Date: April 19, 1997
Original American Release Date: October 03, 2006
Original Version Written By: Kazunari Kochi
Original Version Directed By: Kenji Kodama
American Version Written By: Jeremy Carlile
American Version Directed By: Chad Bowers & Zach Bolton
Detective Conan’s first feature film rarely tops any fan’s list of favorite movies from the series, and I’m afraid it doesn’t rank too highly with me either. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie (it’s certainly not). It just suffers from a far too predictable story. There’s only one possible suspect, making the mystery easily solvable as early as half an hour into the film. Sure, we’re given a red herring with Officer Shiratori (who makes his debut in this film), but it doesn’t really work anymore considering he’s since become a main character. Anyone with basic knowledge of the series can rule him out as a suspect because of that. Plus, once we see that Kogoro is suspicious of him as well, it becomes all too obvious that he hasn’t done anything wrong.
That’s really the film’s only flaw. Otherwise, the movie is everything a fan of the series could want: our main characters solving a mystery on the big screen. It has an enjoyable climax (with one of my all-time favorite Shinichi/Ran moments), and I love seeing a proof-less Conan trick the culprit into accidentally admitting his crimes.
Although I can’t give the film much praise for its mystery, I have to admit that I do find myself re-watching it more than most of the Conan films in my collection. It sounds corny, but there’s just something special that comes with being the very first movie of a long-running show. I feel the same way about the first movies of Pocket Monsters, InuYasha, and others. Perhaps it’s silly nostalgia, but watching this film with the knowledge that it’s the result of the first time the show’s staff ventured into feature-animation-land gives me another level of appreciation and love for it.
The dub is especially interesting to me because nearly every single rewrite actually seems justified. This is a very Japanese movie, and there are some things here that simply don’t make sense when translated into another language. The changes are really more for an American audience’s benefit than anything else, and while I’m never a fan of rewrites, I can certainly see why all of them were made (well, almost all of them). The good news is that the movie still makes perfect sense, even with the cultural changes. This is really the best of both worlds. It does what a good dub is supposed to do: it perfectly retains the spirit of the original Japanese version (I’m still surprised by how little of the original dialogue was actually changed) while still making it accessible to a non-Japanese audience. It explains cultural differences rather than removing them, and the whole production is top-notch work.
We get an all too rare main character introduction with this film, and I have to say, Eric Vale really does Santos justice. He pulls off the pompous, overly serious douche bag type flawlessly (and yes, I do mean that as a compliment), while still being goofy on the rare occasions when the script calls for it.
Lastly, all three of the film’s vocal songs are faithfully re-recorded, the English version of “Happy Birthday” being my favorite dubbed song in the entire series.
Name Conversion Guide
Ninzaburo Shiratori = Santos
Daizo Kurokawa = Magnus Kornhouser
Mina Kurokawa = Mina Kornhouser
Daisuke Kurokawa = Mortimer Kornhouser
Minami Nakazawa = Minami Goodspeed
Teiji Moriya = Leonard Joel
Sakaguchi = Schwartz
Kurokawa Mansion = Kornhouser Manor
Mizushima Mansion = Chateau de Lac
Yasuda Mansion = Massé Estate
Akutsu Mansion = Anderson Villa
Teimuzu River = Beige River
West Tama City = Lilly Valley West
Minami refers to her husband as Kevin in the dub, though he was never named in the original version. Green Park is merely called the “city park” in the American version. The West Tama City mayor, Shicho Okamoto, and his son, Kohei Okamoto, aren’t named in the dub. One of the train engineers is named Simpson in FUNi’s version, but originally, he’s never named or even seen. The dub names Leo Joel’s parents, too, calling them Lionel and Margaret. Finally, one of the rescue men who finds Conan in the building during the climax is named Johnson in the American version.
I hesitate to call this a dialogue edit because there aren’t any words involved, but I feel this needs to be mentioned. In the film’s prologue, Conan explains how Minami chose to take her slippers off so that Daizo Kurokawa wouldn’t hear her sneaking up to attack him, which we see via a flashback.
During this flashback, the dub has Minami scream as she attacks Mortimer, which doesn’t really make any sense because the whole point of the flashback is to show her sneaking up on him. Why would you scream if you’re trying to be quiet?
In the original version, Minami doesn’t make a sound.
This film is lucky enough to be the only one FUNi received completely uncut and unedited by TMS. All of the Japanese video is retained on the DVD, from the opening and ending credits to the Japanese information boxes. When the dub is selected at the disc’s menu, though, two video edits do pop up, the first being the movie’s title card.
I think it should go without saying which version is which. The English title card was given to FUNimation by TMS, so they just inserted it for the English video. Fear not, purists, for you can still get the original title card when you select the Japanese version on FUNi’s DVD.
Let’s keep things going with a minor change. Originally, Professor Agasa points out that Yusaku’s newest book is on the best-seller list over in America. The dub changes this and has Doctor Agasa say Booker’s novel is on the best-seller list in Switzerland. This was likely done because at this point in the dub, the writers were still keeping the possibility open that FUNi’s version takes place in America.
Professor Agasa also states that the best-seller is from Yusaku’s Night Baron series, a detail that the dub neglects to mention.
When Conan’s pondering the significance of May 3rd and the days following it, he originally stated that May 5th is important because it’s Children’s Day. That holiday isn’t widely known in America, so this was changed. In the dub, Conan says that the date is important because it’s Cinco de Mayo.
I personally think they could have gotten away with referencing Children’s Day (it may not be too popular in the US, but there are still people who know about it), but it’s a perfectly harmless change that still makes sense.
The dub goofs up a little and calls Santos an inspector. However, Shiratori doesn’t get promoted to that position until episode 146, which takes place after this film. Oops!
I think it’s kind of funny how all of these edits are a result of the show’s Americanization…
Conan’s assumed significance of May 3rd is changed for the dub. In Japan, May 3rd is Japan’s Constitution Memorial Day (since 1947). We don’t have this holiday in America, of course, so the significance of May 3rd is changed to Baker City’s bicentennial in the American version. It’s a similar sort of holiday, so I really don’t mind this change.
Teiji Moriya is so obsessed with symmetry that he changed the spelling of his name so that the Japanese characters in it are perfectly symmetrical. The dub adapts this to fit the English language. In the American version, the character’s name is Leonard Joel. He changes his name to Leo Joel, a palindrome. Since the letters can be read the same both backwards and forwards, it keeps with the whole theme of symmetry. It’s nice to see FUNi putting effort into the dub names like that.
In the Japanese version, the bomber’s voice becomes very high-pitched and squeaky through his voice disguiser. In the dub, however, his voice becomes very deep and low-pitched. This really all just comes down to which version you think sounds best. I will admit that a deep voice sounds slightly more threatening, so perhaps that’s why it was changed for the American version.
The bomber’s riddle involving the cat carrier and the “tree” features Japanese wordplay that can’t really be properly adapted into English. See, in the original version, the bomber tells Conan that the bomb is “underneath a tree.” The answer to the riddle is “roots” (“nekko”). So when Conan sees the cat (“neko”) inside the carrier underneath the wooden bench, he’s able to correctly deduce that the bomb has something to do with the cat.
The dub manages to change this around for American viewers while still staying faithful to the original riddle. In the American version, the bomber tells Conan to look under an “old tree.” The cat carrier just happens to be beneath a wooden bench, which would indeed be a very old tree. Again, this is another nice example of FUNi’s effort to adapt something without completely changing it.
Ayumi never mentions having an uncle named Gus originally. I guess that was just added to take up Amy’s extra mouth flaps since her dialogue for the scene in question had already been faithfully adapted before they stopped moving.
This line caused some controversy back when the movie was first released.
Meguire: “Nobody wants this case closed more than my wife; I’m missing dinner again!”
Originally, Megure just made a comment about how much time they’ve wasted looking for the bombs. I really don’t have a problem with this change. I mean, regardless of which version you watch, this is just a throwaway line. We don’t get any new information. Besides, Megure is married, so it’s not like there’s a continuity error here or anything.
This change is a bit random considering it’s a direct contradiction to the original script. In the Japanese version, the bomb Ran has to defuse doesn’t have a motion detector on it. That explains how she can, you know, actually move the bomb.
In the dub, though, they say the bomb does have a motion detector on it. This change is pretty baffling. Up until now, most of the script changes have made perfect sense, so to see one that says the complete opposite of what was intended threw me off.
We’re getting into slightly more major rewrites now. Right after the insert song “Aitai Yo” (“I Miss You” in English) plays, we get this line from Conan in the American version.
Conan: “The door’s blocked. But I can’t give up! There has to be another way through to her!
Originally, Conan was trying to find his cell phone. He was diving away from the debris when he dropped it, so he never saw it get crushed. In the dub, he doesn’t acknowledge his cell phone at all, even though he should still be considering it his main option at this point. It’s not a huge change, but it’s still a bit confusing.
Prepare for a LONG rant…
This is undoubtedly the biggest change of the entire movie because it completely takes away any suspense the climax was supposed to have. Okay, so let’s review the events as they play out in the dub. First, Conan thinks back to when Rachel was talking about how red is their lucky color. Conan thinks about this, gets worried, and runs up to the wall of debris, screaming Rachel’s name over and over again.
So… how are we supposed to know what Conan’s just realized if we go by what happens in the dub? He’s just screaming Rachel’s name. Did he find out which wire needed to be cut? Is he trying to stop Rachel from doing something? Why did he just get so excited?
The way the scene plays out, it looks like Conan’s trying to get Rachel’s attention so that he can tell her to cut the red wire. After all, that’s what all this talk about red is for, right? I mean, that’s what the scene leads us to believe. That’s not what’s going on, though. The red wire is a trap. Conan’s screaming in the Japanese version because he’s trying to relay that to both Ran and the audience. He’s not just shouting Ran’s name repeatedly like Dub-Conan is.
The reason this change is such a big deal is because it completely loses what makes the climax so suspenseful. Tons of movies have done the cliché “red wire, blue wire” scenario. We all know how it works out every single time. The way the scene plays out in the dub, it’s just a generic “which wire will she cut?” scene, which isn’t exciting since it’s already been done to death in movies. In the Japanese version, though, we as an audience have a legitimate reason to be on the edge of our seats. It’s not because we’re simply wondering which wire she’ll cut. It’s because we already think she’s fully decided to cut the wrong wire. That’s why Conan’s worried, too. I always liked the twist this movie provided for this kind of climax, so I’m very disappointed to see that it didn’t make it through in the American adaption.
The second and final video edit in the American version of the film is the ending credits. Because FUNimation was not provided a credit-less version of the original ending animation, they placed their credits over the final shot of the film.
There are a few things going on in the Japanese credits. The background features live-action footage of buildings, bridges, and skyscrapers (keeping with the theme of the film), while clips from the movie are shown to the left. Lyrics for the ending song are provided at the bottom of the screen while the credits, of course, scroll on the right.
The American version’s ending credits can pretty much be fully described just by looking at the image above. It certainly isn’t as flashy or entertaining as the Japanese ending, but I suppose it’s not FUNi’s fault. They can’t work with something they weren’t given. Again, the original Japanese credits can be seen on FUNi’s DVD of the film by selecting the Japanese version at the setup menu.
The ending song, “Happy Birthday,” continues playing past the credits and through the entire epilogue in the dub. Originally, the song ended with the credits and the epilogue played with no music. I’m not really sure which version I like better, honestly.
Make no mistake, I really do love the dub of this film. Despite the endless barrage of text above, this is actually one of the better dubbed productions the series has received. The changes are (for the most part) understandable as opposed to the usual WTF-worthy alterations we frequently get in the regular series, and the voice cast does a wonderful job. Only three alterations in the film’s climax truly bother me, and considering this is almost five times longer than a regular episode, only three changes is a blessing. See you next time!