Japanese Episode 011: “The “Moonlight” Piano Sonata Murder Case”
American Episodes 011 & 012: “The Moonlight Sonata Murder Case”
Original Japanese Air Date: April 08, 1996
Original American Air Date: June 09-10, 2004
Based On Manga: Files 062-067 (Volume 07, Chapters 02-07)
Next Conan’s Hint: School Festival
Original Version Organized By: Kenji Kodama & Kuchiru Kazehara
Original Version Directed By: Kenji Kodama
American Version Written By: Eric Vale & Andrew Rye
American Version Directed By: Christopher Bevins
After almost a month-long hiatus (in the original Japanese airing), Detective Conan returns with its first one-hour special, and what a fantastic special it is. This is quite possibly my favorite story in the entire series, and I’d argue that some aspects of it have yet to be surpassed all these years later. The narrative crafted around this beautiful piece of music is one of Aoyama’s finest, with a captivating mystery, spot-on humor, and a surprise ending that caught me (and many others) completely off guard. One thing I absolutely love about Aoyama’s storytelling is that he knows how to build tension perfectly, and it’s all the more effective when the story is set up the way it is here. Conan, Ran, Kogorō, and Megure are completely by themselves on this island, as they’re thrust into the middle of a conflict between an ensemble of unfamiliar faces, the only similarity between them being that they’re nearly all corrupt. Our heroes truly cannot trust anyone, and I don’t think any other mystery in the series conveys that better than this one. I applaud the character development that Shinichi goes through as he’s faced with the first villain in the series to successfully commit suicide, getting away with his crimes completely unpunished. And yet, despite his wrongdoings, the antagonist manages to hold our sympathy throughout. It’s all pretty deep stuff, and I’m really surprised that TMS chose to adapt this story from the manga so early into the anime’s run considering how dark the material is.
This special’s wonderful pacing also serves as a testament to how much better the show works when an episode’s runtime is expanded from 22 minutes to about 45. The best thing about this is that we’re never given too much information to digest at any point in time, whereas in the normal half-hour episodes, the series hits us over the head with so much exposition that it can very easily be overwhelming. Both the series and the viewer are given more breathing room here, and the characters (including the villain) are given more time to grow on us.
This episode’s dub script is far from perfect, but one good quality that really stood out to me was the voice direction. Christopher Bevins (who co-directed episodes 003–005 with Mike McFarland) handled this episode as its sole ADR director, and he did an outstanding job. Whenever characters are reading, you can hear the actors pausing and slightly extending syllables like normal people would when reading. Any oddities in the animation that would cause the mouth flaps to look unnatural are addressed without the slightest hiccup in script or acting quality. You can even hear Simon’s voice becoming hoarse as a result of talking too long inside a burning building filled with smoke. The smallest of details are addressed and handled perfectly, and Christopher Bevins has become one of my favorite FUNimation directors because of his work on Case Closed (he later wrote/directed the American version of Movie 03, one of the series’ best dubs).
On a bit of a negative note, this special is where the American episode numbering system completely goes to hell. Because this episode is twice as long as a normal half-hour case, it was split into two parts for the Cartoon Network airing. As a result, this special is counted as both American episode 011 and American episode 012, screwing up the established numbering system. To make matters worse, this happens every time a special is dubbed. The American episode numbering will soon grow to be very different from the Japanese numbering, which is a primary source of confusion (and annoyance) among fans.
Name Conversion Guide
Keiji Aso = Kasper Austin
Narumi Asai = Nadia Adams
Masato Shimizu = Matthew Schumacher
Tatsuji Kuroiwa = Theodore Kinsella
Hideo Kawashima = Henry Cavanaugh
Isamu Kameyama = Kirkpatrick
Kazuaki Hirata = Kevin Hadley
Ken Nishimoto = Ken Nicholson
Shuichi Murasawa = Steven Mulholland
Reiko Kuroiwa = Rene Kinsella
Seiji Aso = Simon Austin
Kenta = Billy
Tsukikage Island = Moonlight Island
Whenever Tokyo is mentioned, the dub avoids using its name, referring to it simply as “the city.” The American version also never mentions that Tsukikage Island is geographically near Izu. Nadia Adams mentions that Matthew Schumacher is “from the town of Schumacher,” but no such town is ever mentioned (or even hinted at) in the original version. Upon hearing his name, the islanders originally mistake Kogorō for Mamoru Mori and Kogorō Akechi. The dub alters this so that Richard is mistaken for “the astronaut” (whose name is never specified, though maybe it’s a reference to astronomer Sir Patrick Moore?), as well as an author named Robert Moore (which I guess is a reference to this guy?).
During this episode’s pre-opening narration, Conan originally apologized to the audience for making them wait so long for a new episode (after all, the series hadn’t aired for almost an entire month in Japan). I thought this was a pretty cool thing to do. Of course, since there was no broadcast delay for the American airing, Conan’s apology is logically not dubbed.
The very first line of dialogue in the episode is changed.
In the original version, Kogorō is disappointed about being on the boat to Tsukikage Island because he would rather be spending his time at a flower viewing party. In the dub, Richard is disappointed because Yōko Okino is “in town tonight only” for a concert and he’s missing it.
The advance fee that Richard is given for “accepting” the case is changed from half a million yen to five thousand dollars.
Cavanaugh states that he has a 15% lead over every candidate in the election. No percentage is stated in the original version; Kawashima simply states that he’s the most favored candidate.
Shortly after Mr. Cavanaugh’s body is discovered, Conan gives us this line.
|Conan: “And the first few seconds recorded on this tape are just silence.”|
This is a dub error. There’s actually nothing but silence on the first few minutes of the tape, not seconds. After all, the murderer needed time to get back to the memorial service before the music started playing. A few seconds of silence wouldn’t give anyone the extra time they needed.
Right after Mr. Kinsella orders Kevin Hadley to dispose of the piano, we can hear a bit of added dialogue as the former walks away.
|Mr. Kinsella: “Hire a guy as a favor for your brother, and it’s a…”|
That’s all I can hear before his mumbling trails off. Mr. Kuroiwa never mentions having a brother in the original version.
Cut – 03 Seconds
Just as this episode reaches its half-way point (when Conan discovers Mr. Kuroiwa’s body in the broadcast room), the first part of the series’ eyecatch is removed. You know, the part when the doors close?
Strangely, the footage of the doors opening is left intact. None of the other eyecatches in the special are affected, making the whole situation even weirder.
This episode sadly contains more “the Japanese video doesn’t work with the English audio” moments.
When this episode aired on Cartoon Network, FUNi’s paint editors changed the letters on the music sheets to fit with the dub dialogue so that coded messages like “To my dear son, Simon…” would make sense. However, as previously mentioned, FUNi’s DVD releases mainly feature the original Japanese footage, which means that the letters in the music sheet codes are unaltered on home video releases of the series.
This is fine and dandy if you prefer to watch the series in Japanese (after all, we’re getting the original, unaltered footage), but it sadly means that when watching the American version on FUNimation’s DVDs, the letters on the music sheets look like complete gibberish.
“Wakatteru na tsugi ha omae no ban da?” What the hell does that mean? It’s actually Romanized Japanese, but to your average American viewer who likely saw the series on Cartoon Network, it’s just a bunch of random letters. This is a real shame because otherwise, the clues were accurately translated/adapted for the dub. But unless FUNimation either 1.) included the edited video on their DVDs via seamless branching, or 2.) redubbed the scene to make sense with the original Japanese footage, this problem was bound to occur.
After Conan’s conversation with the policeman, the kind old officer playfully calls him “Akechi-kun,” another reference to Kogorō Akechi. In the dub, the policeman playfully calls Conan “Mr. Detective.”
The following is one of the most fascinating changes I’ve ever encountered in any anime dub. It takes a few paragraphs to explain, but I can’t think of any shorter way to report it thoroughly.
Okay, so let’s pay attention to this line.
|Conan (As Richard): “Mr. Hadley was making a business deal with Mr. Mulholland in the piano room. A narcotics deal.”|
This is a mistake. But what’s interesting here is that the dub writers seem to have made this mistake on purpose.
Here’s what happens in the dub. Conan sees Mr. Mulholland unconscious in the piano room of the community center and assumes that he was involved with Mr. Hadley’s drug deals. He even tells Inspector Meguire (via the quote above) that Mr. Mulholland was in the piano room because he was participating in a drug deal. Then, during the epilogue, Dub-Conan admits that he was wrong about Mr. Mulholland making a drug deal, and confirms that he was only in the room because he was tuning the piano.
Absolutely none of this happened in the Japanese version. Originally, Conan knew from the get-go that Murasawa wasn’t involved with the drug deals. That’s what the whole scene with the piano tuning hammer was for, after all. Conan’s dub mistake was never made in the original version because he remembered that Murasawa had the tuning hammer.
Now, it’s obvious that Eric Vale and Andrew Rye (the American version’s writers) had Conan make this mistake on purpose. If this was truly an accidental dub error, then the writers wouldn’t have had Conan admit that he was wrong in the epilogue. So why rewrite this in the first place? Why go out of the way to make the mystery more complicated if both versions still come to the same conclusion about Murasawa’s/Mulholland’s innocence? I suspect the dub writers thought that the tuning hammer wasn’t substantial enough evidence to clear the character from suspicion, so they had Dub-Conan play the “guilty until proven innocent” card.
I’m of the opinion that it isn’t part of a dubbing company’s job to “improve” a show when translating/adapting it for an English-speaking audience. I mean, yes, they should strive for quality, but the point of their jobs is to faithfully dub the series as-is, with no script alterations if possible. In my opinion, that includes faithfully dubbing any “errors.” The way I see it, a show is what it is, and if someone tries to “fix” certain aspects of that show with rewrites, then they’re giving one audience (in this case, the American viewers) completely different information than another audience (say, the Japanese viewers) was given. I’ll admit I’m more of a purist than others, but I still believe that any facts and plot points within a series should be left as-is for the purpose of ideally giving every audience in the world the same story (within the realm of possibility, of course).
With that said, I really do find it admirable that Mr. Vale and Mr. Rye are so dedicated to this series (and their work) that they’ll try and find “loose ends” in the mysteries so that they can be fixed, and I really have to give props to the two of them for wanting this episode to be as flawless as it can possibly be. This really is top-notch effort. It’s just that in this situation, their rewrite isn’t fixing an “error.” The mystery still makes perfect sense without the dub rewrite (in fact, the original version is less confusing). This is just a case of “we don’t really like what the original version did here, so we’re just going to change it because we can.” And I just don’t agree with that logic, nor do I think the dub staff should have that much creative freedom.
Again, I admire Mr. Vale and Mr. Rye for their obvious dedication and work ethic. I just think that their effort could have been better put toward other aspects of this episode (like paying attention to the real dub errors they accidentally made, for example).
Also, during Conan’s explanation of the crimes, he states in the dub that Simon was hospitalized overseas because he had the mumps. The original version doesn’t specify what Seiji was in the hospital for.
When Conan confronts Seiji in the burning community center, Seiji explains that he was able to hide his identity because his medical license does not specify how to pronounce his name. Because the character’s name was changed in the dub, this explanation had to be altered. Simon was able to hide his identity in the American version because his medical license does not specify his gender.
I suppose the dub writers could have attempted to recreate the same trick as the original version by making the character’s American names “Simon” and “Simone,” but that still would have left that spelling difference intact. What they did with the dub is fine as-is.
Sadly, after all of the work that the writers went through to cover up a potential loose end in the mystery, they accidentally created another real error in one of Simon’s final lines. He states that Mr. Kirkpatrick died three years prior, when it was actually two. Oops!
Also, Seiji originally explained that when he told Mr. Kameyama his true identity, Kameyama panicked and told Seiji everything that happened two years prior. The dub omits the fact that Kirkpatrick told Simon the truth about what happened, which I think was probably due to the fact that the animation didn’t really leave enough time for the full explanation to be adapted into English.
Lastly, a third dub error pops up near the end of Simon’s confession.
|Simon: “It was a few days later at his funeral when I played my father’s favorite song, “Moonlight Sonata,” that I thought all this up.”|
Seiji didn’t play “Moonlight” at Kameyama’s funeral, and it certainly wasn’t “a few days later.” Just look at the animation!
Seiji’s clearly playing the piece of music while Kameyama is laying lifeless at the piano. He’s only just died. I have no idea how this error could have been made, especially since the writers seemed to have been paying such close attention to this case.
For some reason, the usual “next episode” preview music is changed to “Conan’s Theme” (found on Original Soundtrack 01, Track 06) in the dub. Since the change happens in this episode only, and considering there are also no sound effects playing in the American preview, I’m going to assume there was a problem with the music-and-effects track that FUNi received from TMS Entertainment.
Also, Jimmy reads the title of the next episode instead of Conan. How odd.
This series’ first one-hour special had a little bit of everything: a music edit, a puzzling cut, three script errors, and a fair amount of rewrites. And yet, despite all its changes, I was still very impressed by this dub, mostly due to the stellar ADR direction courtesy of Christopher Bevins. Sadly, the script is not all it could be, especially the one major (and disappointingly intentional) rewrite that altered a significant aspect of the mystery. On the plus side, every voice was cast perfectly, and the episode itself is simply a must-see. I highly recommend the dub of this special, provided you educate yourself about the American version’s noteworthy rewrites. See you next time!