Movie 05: “Countdown To Heaven”
Original Japanese Premiere Date: April 21, 2001
Original American Release Date: January 19, 2010
Original Version Written By: Kazunari Kochi
Original Version Directed By: Kenji Kodama
American Version Written By: Eric Vale
American Version Directed By: Leah Clark
“Countdown To Heaven” is a fan favorite, but I honestly don’t see what makes it so special. It’s probably because of the Black Organization’s involvement that people enjoy the movie so much, and I can understand that, except that they don’t… do anything. Gin and Vodka are given one four-minute scene to themselves where they ransack Akemi Miyano’s old apartment, but other than that, they spend the entire movie detonating bombs and making menacing comments from afar. Heck, if their roles were reduced any further, they wouldn’t be in the movie at all. It just comes off as an excuse to focus on Haibara or an attempt to boost box office sales.
Speaking of Haibara, the fact that she’s acting atypically careless doesn’t help matters. Calling her sister’s old apartment and frequently leaving messages detailing her life is incredibly out-of-character for a cautious person like her (even if she does erase the messages later). I’m certainly not against giving Haibara the spotlight, but there are better ways to explore her character without altering it.
Really, if we take away the minor subplot with Haibara and the Organization, we’re left with a standard, formulaic “murder of the week” story. While that’s fine for the TV series, it doesn’t allow a feature film to really stand out since it amounts to what is basically an extended episode. There are a lot of parts that I like, though. The extra focus on Ayumi and Mitsuhiko certainly gives the movie extra points in my book, and Kogoro winning a Mustang convertible is a hilarious idea that’s just begging to be expanded on. My favorite scene is easily Ran and Conan’s escape from the burning building, and while it certainly doesn’t make or break the film, hearing a full orchestra come in to perform the series’ main theme and background music just sounds so, so good (especially after the previous film’s relatively weak musical score).
For me, the only unbearable part is the climax, which is just one implausible blunder after another. Conan starts it off by jumping almost 60 feet through the air on a skateboard, but it gets even worse from there. I can buy the concept of using the explosion of the bombs to push the car across to the other building (especially since Haibara gives a decent enough mathematical explanation to back it up). I can even tolerate Haibara falling out of the car in mid-air and Mitsuhiko rescuing her. But then we’re expected to believe that Conan can nearly jump out of the car in mid-flight, kick a bicycle helmet through the air, shatter a series of glass pillars, and then have the car land in a shallow pool of water without so much as a scratch on any of the kids or the car itself? At least trash the car and give the children some injuries or something. Why couldn’t the climax have just been Ran and Conan’s escape from the burning building? That was plenty exciting and much more realistic.
The American version has the usual TMS edits and suffers from some strange rewrites (far more than the previous two movies did), but there are three incredibly important things to cover above all else. First off, Haibara’s organization codename has been changed from “Sherry” to “Shelly.” This completely ruins the alcohol reference that’s so vital to these codenames. When you consider the series’ overall plot, that’s an extremely major alteration. It’s even stranger because the dub actually acknowledges the importance of the codenames early in the film.
The next point of mention is Gin and Vodka’s voices. This is the first time since the first episode of the series that they’ve appeared in the American version, and surprisingly, both Troy Baker and Christopher Sabat reprise their roles as Gin and Vodka, respectively. They sound much better than they did in episode one, though. Sabat doesn’t give Vodka a “1920’s gangster” manner of speech anymore and Gin sounds far more sinister. I personally love their voices. It’s also important to keep in mind that this movie premiered in Japan right after episode 230 aired on television, while in America, we’re only at episode 123. Some plot points are addressed in this film that haven’t been revealed in the American version yet (for example, Conan knows that Gin drives a Porsche 356A), but luckily, it’s nothing that will make the movie incomprehensible to dub fans (especially if you’ve been keeping up with Viz’s excellent translation of the manga).
The final thing to cover is Haibara’s dub voice. Yes, the character made her debut in the American version of movie three, but I wanted to save my thoughts for this film because this is the first production we’ve gotten in which Haibara plays a major role (which means this film is a better way of judging the American actress’ performance). Brina Palencia provides Vi’s voice in the dub, and she does a far better job than I was expecting. If I could make one complaint, it’s that she sounds far too old for a little girl. In all honesty, though, I really think she just needs more time to settle into the role. In the final scenes of the movie, her voice gets slightly more high-pitched and it’s absolutely perfect. Watch the scene where Vi’s counting down the bomb’s timer; Palencia nails the voice. If she could just use that pitch constantly, she’d be flawless.
Name Conversion Guide
Sherry = Shelly
Chinami Sawaguchi = Cherilyn Christabel
Yoshiaki Hara = Zachary Hara
Iwamatsu Oki = Augustine Odell
Mio Tokiwa = Madison Monroe
Hidehiko Kazama = Theodore Radcliff
Kanenari Tokiwa = Kenningston Monroe
Hohsui Kisaragi and Forensics Examiner Tome keep their original Japanese names (Tome has a great dub voice, too. He’s so jolly!). Keeping consistency with the first movie, Teiji Moriya is once again called Leo Joel in the dub.
We receive our first video edit as early as the first minute of the film. Not only do Teiji Moriya and Mayor Okamoto’s names receive gray translation boxes, but Moriya’s name is changed to Leo Joel just like it was in movie one.
I applaud Mr. Vale for remembering the character and his dub name because occasionally, the dub will forget some of the side characters and rename them entirely (Shintaro Chaki, for example).
When Professor Agasa explains to the Detective Boys that the Japanese kanji for the word “rice” can be split up to form the number 88, Amy claims she “doesn’t get it” in the dub. Ayumi, however, seems to understand perfectly in the original version.
A little later, Vodka’s first line of the movie (and first line in the entire dub since episode one) receives an added spoiler.
Vodka: “I got us a location, Boss: Twin Tower Building. I guess it is Hara screwin’ us.”
Vodka didn’t mention Yoshiaki Hara at all in the Japanese version. In fact, the dub line completely gives it away that Hara is affiliated with the Black Organization, which is something we don’t find out until much, much later in the original version of the film. Actually, that’s supposed to be one of the twists.
Because of this additional information, the dub audience knows that Hara is involved with the organization before they even meet the character. FUNi really dropped the ball on that one.
The international version of the movie receives a brand new title card, featuring effects and animation that can only be matched in today’s world by the very best PowerPoint presentations.
You’d think that as one of Japan’s most popular animation studios, TMS would be able to come up with something much better looking.
Luckily, the movie-exclusive scenes in the opening sequence don’t suffer from any freeze-frames, but there are still plenty of zoomed-in shots to deal with. First up, the scenes of Conan putting Kogoro to sleep with his Wrist-Watch Stun-Gun and talking through his Voice-Changing Bow-Tie are zoomed in to crop out the Japanese credits.
Next, the straight-on shot of Professor Agasa is zoomed in.
This creepy shot of the Detective Boys that will haunt my dreams for years to come is zoomed in next.
The shot of Haibara running with Gin and Vodka are in the background is zoomed in, almost entirely removing Gin’s face from the shot. I guess we’ll just have to deal with his evil left eye instead.
Finally, the impressively animated sequence where the camera moves around Haibara and Conan before reaching Gin and Vodka is zoomed in.
The text introducing the Twin Tower Building is translated.
Next, Sawaguchi receives a gray box that unfortunately cuts off some of the poor girl’s face.
Hara receives his own gray box about a minute later. Notice how FUNi forgets to change “Tokiwa” to “Madison.”
As the rest of the suspects are introduced, Hohsui Kisaragi receives a gray box.
Followed by Iwamatsu Oki…
Next up is Mio Tokiwa. Just like with Hara’s gray box, FUNi forgets to change “Tokiwa Co.” to “Madison Co.”
Lastly, Hidehiko Kazama’s information is translated.
A second shot of the Twin Tower Building is translated.
In the very next shot, a gray box lets us know that we’re on the 67th floor of the second tower.
After Oki’s murder, a shot of the Metropolitan Police Department is translated.
This is less of an edit and more of a full-on error.
Richard: “I’m assuming since Wilder is sticking those pictures up there that those five people are your prime suspects?”
Um… Richard? That’s Chiba, not Wilder. Wilder isn’t even in the room with these people. I’m really surprised nobody at FUNi caught that mistake.
A short exchange between Shiratori and Genta is altered for the dub, but there’s actually a good reason for it this time.
George: “Could “sake” mean that he got socked with something?”
Santos: “Like what, a knife? Sounds like a theory right off of Richard’s plate…”
Originally, this dialogue featured a pun. Genta asked if the o-choko sake cup could be a reference to the word “ochokochoi” (which means “clumsy”). Shiratori responds by saying that if “clumsy” was a clue, Kogoro would be the prime suspect.
The joke can’t really be adapted into English as-is, so the scene had to be rewritten. Luckily, the intents of the conversation (to showcase Shiratori’s dark sense of humor and to make fun of Kogoro) are carried over to the English dialogue.
A less warranted rewrite occurs a few seconds later when the characters are discussing Mio Tokiwa’s status as a suspect. All of the information about Mio living on the 68th floor (one floor above the murdered Oki) is adapted perfectly in the dub, but for some reason, Meguire uses this fact to seemingly prove Madison’s innocence in the dub, stating that she’s “not even close to the top of our suspects.”
This is an exact contradiction to the original script, in which Megure says that Mio is the most likely suspect due to her only living one floor above the victim.
So, the Japanese version confirms Mio to be the most likely suspect, while the dub almost completely clears her of suspicion. What’s the deal? How did FUNi manage to get the dialogue exactly right yet still reach the exact opposite conclusion regarding Mio’s status as a suspect?
Beika Station is the victim of our next gray-boxing.
Then, Asahino Station is translated.
To compliment the sunset, the Kisaragi residence is given a lovely box of… gray.
I’m really running out of “clever” ways to report the same video edit over and over…
Continuing our string of video edits, Professor Agasa’s house is given a gray… wait.
Wait a second! For the first time, there’s not a gray box to be found! Unbelievable! This is how video edits should be done. Nobody wants ugly gray boxes blocking almost 25% of the picture. This is just good old, standard text replacement, and I applaud TMS for finally giving us an edit that isn’t a complete eyesore.
Our non-gray-box edits continue as the text introducing Teitan Elementary School is translated.
See how much of the background we can see without the gray boxes? Isn’t it lovely?
After the scene at the school, the third shot of the Twin Tower Building, in addition to a shot of the surveillance room, is… gray boxed.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted…
Once again, the dub has Richard refer to Eva Kaden (Eri Kisaki) as his ex-wife, despite the fact that they’re still married.
During the 30-second game, everybody’s counting is slightly different in the dub. In addition to that, Doctor Agasa seems to be counting in German (though he’s talking too fast for me to really tell), and the dub apparently thinks that George is such a moron that he has to be counting made-up numbers (twelve-teen, for example). Oh, and he also seems to think that 37 comes before 30.
He’s not that stupid, FUNi. Genta might be pretty slow, but he’s not a complete dumbass.
TMS continues to give me headaches with their inconsistencies.
This shot is presented completely unaltered in the international version of the film. So what makes this particular instance of written Japanese so much less “harmful” than the other instances of written Japanese? I don’t think any American fans went crazy from seeing this Japanese text, so why couldn’t we just get the entire film unedited?
On that note, another gray box pops up as we see the tower’s electric room.
Later, the tower’s chief of security gets a full name and a gray box to go with it, despite not even appearing in the film for more than ten seconds.
What sort of self-respecting group of adults allows four children get off of an elevator in a burning building just so the adults can escape? I realize the script needs Haibara and the others to be on their own, but seriously, there had to be a better way than “Okay, we grown-ups will take the elevator down to safety. You kids be careful now! You can find the stairs, right?”
Some gray boxes appear to let us know where the firefighters and smoke are in the towers.
A little later, a gray box confirms Vodka’s location.
Next, we check back in with the girls on the 45th floor.
As Conan races to get to the Detective Boys on the 60th floor, a gray box appears to let us know he’s arrived.
Another box takes us to the 75th floor’s party room.
The Japanese text above the English “Gin” is erased for the international version.
The text is also translated for the shot of the alcohol at the bar.
The film’s final location box shows us the rooftop of the second tower.
In our last video edit sans the ending credits, Haibara’s math lecture is translated into English.
At the very end of the film, when Professor Agasa and Haibara are teasing Conan about Ayumi’s crush on him, Haibara originally tells Conan that if he breaks Ayumi’s heart, he’ll be sorry. Vi’s a bit more forward in the dub, asking Conan if he’s going to go ahead and kiss Amy.
It gets the same point across, but it’s fun to compare.
Surprisingly but fortunately, we don’t have to see the ending credits placed over the final shot of the film this time! TMS was kind enough to give FUNi translated credits over a text-less version of the original ending’s live-action footage.
For some reason, though, the film clips that played with that footage have been removed. While this may be a case of “two steps forward, one step back,” I guess that still ends up being one step forward in the end, so bravo to TMS.
The dub keeps the Japanese version of the film’s ending song, “Always.”
Looking back, most of these rewrites are standards of the series by now. George is too much of an idiot, Eva is Richard’s “ex-wife,” etc. That doesn’t make them any less frustrating, but at the very least, they aren’t surprising anymore. We’ve also got our obligatory script errors and a pun rewrite. This movie falls behind movies one, three, and four as far as accuracy goes, but hopefully movie six can close the American version on a high note. See you next time!