Episode 014 – “The Mysterious Sniper Message Case”

Japanese Episode 014: “The Mysterious Sniper Message Case”
American Episode 015: “The Shooter”
Original Japanese Air Date: April 29, 1996
Original American Air Date: June 16, 2004
Based On Manga: No
Next Conan’s Hint: Answering Machine Phone
Original Version Written By: Kazunari Kōchi
Original Version Directed By: Kenji Kodama
American Version Written By: Matt Chaney
American Version Directed By: Christopher Bevins

Episode 014 Main

Episode Thoughts
Our second anime-only story is an underwhelming one with a bit of a farfetched premise.  I get that the series wants to reinforce that the most seemingly unimportant things can be clues, and I like that.  Even so, the fact that this hostage was able to take a random calculator, think of a code, type that code, find a hiding place for it, and expect that someone would be able to find it, not disregard it as a normal calculator, realize that it’s actually a message asking for help, decode that message, and use it to save him is just too hard to believe.  I simply cannot imagine this guy’s train of thought here.  Okay, so I see a reflection from a distance.  What do I do?  Assume it’s a person who wants to help me and leave a code on the ground typed in a calculator.  That’ll work just flawlessly.

It gets even more ridiculous during the episode’s climax.  Okay, so there’s one gangster on the train watching the assassination target, and the rest of the bad guys are on the rooftop holding the hostages at gunpoint.  Conan and Megure capture the gangsters with the hostages and thwart the assassination attempt.  Everybody’s all “Yay, we did it!” and the episode ends.  Cue ending theme.  What about the bad guy on the train?!  You know, the guy who’s sitting maybe three or four seats behind the target himself and is probably carrying a weapon of some sort?  I just love how this story happily ends with the most potentially dangerous gangster still free as a bird, completely ready to kill this poor man and his family as soon as they’re alone.

One small thing I did enjoy was the “Next Conan’s Hint” for this episode, which was “calculator.”  The number on the calculator’s screen is 14, and this is the fourteenth episode of the series.  Cute.  I also liked that little fish tank Ran and Conan were playing with inside the detective agency, even though it’s never made an appearance before (or since).

FUNimation’s DVD releases of this episode feature a problem that I first mentioned back in episode 010.  You see, FUNi’s DVD releases use the original Japanese video (for the most part); there’s no option to switch the video to the edited version seen on Cartoon Network.  That’s usually a great thing, but every so often, it creates a problem.  In this particular episode, the numbers on the calculator were originally changed for the Cartoon Network airing to create a more Americanized message for Conan to decode.  This is the video the English version was meant to be seen with.  Here’s a comparison between the original Japanese video (left) and the edited dub video (right).

Episode 014 01J Episode 014 01E

On the DVD releases, however, the English audio is synced with the original Japanese video, so the animation shows one set of numbers on the calculator, while the characters are reciting completely different numbers.  It’s incredibly confusing, and the result is that the episode makes even less sense than it already did (no small feat, I know).  As of this writing, the only way to watch the dub in a way that makes any sense whatsoever is via the original Cartoon Network airing, which will likely never be seen again.  The obvious/easy solution to this problem would have been for FUNi to redub certain parts of the episode to correspond with the original Japanese video, but I honestly don’t see that ever happening.

Name Conversion Guide

Minor Characters
Koichi Yamabe = Charles Mulligan
Eri = Erin Mulligan

Locations
Kyoto = Raffleton

The numbers on the calculator are changed from “3135134162” to “3540405162” in FUNi’s version, which changes the calculator message from “291 Heisei E” to “291 Soho HSE.”  This, of course, means that the Heisei Express is changed to the Soho High Speed Express in the dub.  Tokyo, Kanetsu, and Saitama aren’t named in the American version, as the dub simply replaces them with vague terms like “the city.”  Finally, the Oni Tora gang is referred to as the Tiger Dragons in the dub.

Dialogue Edits
As George takes Conan’s binoculars away from him, he calls Conan “Squirt.”  Later in the episode, he also calls Conan “Brain.”  Genta, however, always calls Conan by his name.

Later, after Conan tells the children about the hostage he saw, George responds by turning to Mitch and asking…

American Dub
George: “Does he ever make sense?”

Originally, Genta simply acknowledged what Conan said without declaring any of his words to be nonsensical.

Dialogue Edit
In the original version, while Inspector Megure is telling the children that he doesn’t quite believe their story, he also states that most of his staff is on vacation for Golden Week.  Since this holiday is uncelebrated (and unknown) by most American viewers, this information is omitted from the dub.  The dub does have Richard state that it’s “a holiday weekend” a few minutes later, but no official holiday is ever specified.

Dialogue Edit
As Kogor
ō looks at the magazine ad for the Heisei Express, he makes a throwaway comment about how lazy the magazine was to use an old, recycled photo of the train for the promotion.  Richard, however, criticizes the ad’s claims of a “trip of romance and dreams” despite its low ticket cost.

Dialogue Edit
This one’s just easier to explain by transcribing it.  This conversation takes place inside the detective agency when Conan’s theory is (once again) being disputed by Kogor
ō/Richard.  Here’s a comparison chart.  The original Japanese dialogue is on the left, while the American line is on the right.

Original Japanese Version American Dub
Kogorō: “So since 3135134 can also be read as a couple of names, that means the victims are going to be 31-san and 51-san? *laughs*” Richard: “Maybe the code’s trying to tell us the location of a buried treasure, or the secrets of the Egyptian pyramids, or maybe it’s just the recipe for the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies. *laughs*”

To clarify, Kogorō’s line in the original version is a reference to how the number three is pronounced “san” in Japanese, while “-san” is also a Japanese honorific to be placed after someone’s name.  Not sure why this one was rewritten, since it could have easily been made to work in English with a little tinkering, but oh well.

Dialogue Edit
Kogor
ō/Richard not wanting to drive the kids all over town to investigate the code is the same in both versions, though Richard’s main complaint is that he’d rather be taking a nap.  Kogorō makes no mention of a nap originally.

Dialogue Edit
Koichi Yamabe has a girlfriend in the original version, but the dub’s Charles Mulligan has a wife.  Maybe Matt Chaney (this episode’s writer) thought it would be more dramatic if the couple were married or something.

Dialogue Edit
Originally, Kogor
ō states that Conan and the kids are in the van with him because they “insisted on coming.”  In the dub, Richard says they’re with him because he “couldn’t find a (baby)sitter,” which really doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.  Why not just make Rachel watch the kids if that’s your excuse?  That’s never been an issue in the past.  The original version makes more sense here.

Dialogue Edits
The railroad announcer states that the Soho Express will be departing from Platform Two “in fifteen minutes” in the dub.  Originally, an exact amount of time is never specified.  The announcer simply says the Heisei Express will be departing “shortly.”  Don’t you wish all of these changes were this minor?

Also, for some reason, the dub gives one of the generic train passengers a bit of added dialogue.

American Dub
Passenger: “I work at three studios!”

And… that’s all he says.  It’s an incredibly random and unnecessary sentence that was never present in the original version, and it doesn’t add anything to the episode itself.  And that’s all well and good, but… now I really, really want to know what studios this guy works at.  Disney?  Warner Brothers?  FUNimation itself?  I must know!

Curse you, FUNi!  Why do you tease me about this man’s past and then not provide details?!

Dialogue Edits
These take place during the episode’s climax.  FUNi starts things off by giving the gangsters some unintentionally hilarious dialogue as they’re interrupted by the police chopper.

American Dub
Gangster #1: “What was that?!”
Gangster #2: “I don’t know, just shoot it down!”

It’s called a helicopter, gentlemen.  They fly.  You’re clearly the most incompetent criminals this city has ever seen.

Apparently Dub-Conan is clueless about helicopters as well.  He says that the helicopter is hovering only five meters above the building, whereas in the original version, they’re 30 meters above the building.

Five meters, FUNi?  Really?  They’re way higher than 16 feet from the rooftop.  That should be obvious from the animation.

Dialogue Edit
During the epilogue, Inspector Meguire seems to take full credit for “bringing down” the Tiger Dragon gang.  This is never stated or even implied in the original version; Megure simply says that the gang’s leader and various members were put behind bars.

Final Thoughts
This episode was handled okay if you can manage to ignore the whole “not making any sense whatsoever” thing.  So, yeah, that’s pretty bad.  I really can’t stress it enough, people.  It is literally impossible to understand this episode in English thanks to FUNi’s decision to not rewrite/redub the dialogue to correspond with the original Japanese video on their DVDs.  With all of that taken into account, this is a very worthy candidate for the “worst Case Closed episode ever” award.  The rewrites and video edits that resulted in this fiasco accomplished absolutely nothing (and really, how does “Soho” sound any more Americanized than “Heisei” in the first place?), so there was no reason for this episode to have been handled as poorly as it was.

I recently finished watching Yu Yu Hakusho in its original Japanese language for the very first time.  Once I finished, I listened to one of the FUNimation commentary tracks just for fun.  Justin Cook and Andrew Tipps were talking about some of the American dialogue that had been re-recorded for the series’ blu-ray release, and I was shocked at how petty their reasons were.  Cook mentioned that they had “re-recorded almost all of the supporting characters” for select episodes.  He stressed that “it had nothing to do with the performance of the character(s)” and that they merely wanted to recast and re-record certain roles in order to “add to the diversity of the show.”  Those are real quotes.

And I’m just sitting there thinking to myself, “That’s how they’re spending their precious money and time?  On something as minor as that?”  Case Closed has some very serious audio issues that need addressing; one need look no further than this episode.  Don’t get me wrong; I understand that FUNimation is a business and that they can’t give an equal budget to all of their projects.  But you’d think somebody in that building would want to prioritize “having our mystery show make sense” over “making sure the background characters sound as diverse as possible.”  And I say that with no disrespect to Justin Cook or his (admirable) passion for Yu Yu Hakusho.  It’s just that problems keep popping up in every few episodes of this show and there’s no excuse for it.  See you next time!

Episode 014 02

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  1. #1 by Bryce on January 2, 2013 - 3:55 PM

    Your calculator images confused me, so I thought I mentioned them wrong on my blog, but you have the same numbers as I typed. I am glad I was not wrong on this one. This episode seems to have a lot of edits, but I will not say that this is the worst episode ever, maybe a close second. You definitely have a lot of points in your favor, but I think the title of the worst episode ever in this series belongs to episode 6. Have you seen how much was obvious in that episode? For just the dub though, I will certainly agree with your views.

  2. #2 by MagicBox on January 21, 2013 - 10:23 PM

    I actually rather enjoy episode 006, so I might not be able to agree on that one. ^_^;

    When I said “worst,” though, I was strictly talking about the dub. Every episode of the FUNi dub has its fair share of changes, to be sure, but this particular episode is one of a rare few which are literally impossible to understand because of the problems with the current home video releases of the series. The “calculator numbers” edit effectively prevents anyone from following along with this story as it’s presented on the DVDs, which is why I think it’s among the worst the American version has produced.

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