This website is devoted to documenting the various edits and rewrites that occur in FUNimation’s American dub of Detective Conan, but did you know that certain parts of the series are altered before they even leave Japan?
TMS Entertainment, the renowned animation studio that produces the cartoon adaption of the series, is known (infamous?) among anime fans for producing edited “international versions” of many of its television shows and movies. This means that certain elements like logos, title cards, on-screen text, or opening/ending credits sequences are sometimes removed or replaced with translated versions for the convenience of foreign audiences. This isn’t an uncommon practice; in fact, it dates back to the earliest days of animation. Walt Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs has been dubbed (and re-dubbed) into dozens of languages since its debut in 1937. To prepare the film for international exhibition, the Disney artists created custom backgrounds for nearly every country to feature translated titles and character names.
While many film purists would prefer to have the original, unedited artwork, this practice is mostly considered to be convenient at best and harmless at worst. As long as the edits are made with the same care and attention as the original drawings (and with the approval of the original filmmakers), most audiences do not put any thought into these international revisions. So what makes TMS Entertainment’s international edits so much worse than, say, Disney’s? One could say that TMS edits their material with less care and a much lower budget than other studios have been known to do. A recent and popular example is the international version of TMS’ 1979 Lupin III movie The Castle Of Cagliostro, in which the film’s fully-animated opening sequence was removed and replaced with a series of freeze-frames for the sake of removing the Japanese language credits. This edit appeared on the 2006 North American DVD release of the film and was met with harsh criticism from anime fans and film buffs.
What does this have to do with our favorite pint-sized detective, you may ask? Well, being a TMS series, Detective Conan has been edited for international audiences, which is the version of the show that FUNimation Entertainment received for dubbing. So what was changed/removed? Read on to find out.
The Series’ Logo
The most common alteration in TMS’ international versions are the title logos themselves. Detective Conan’s original Japanese logo has never been particularly flashy, though its unique layout and coloring have been enough to make it iconic in its own right. It’s seen in all of the show’s opening animations and has barely changed at all since the series’ debut. Take a look at the comparison below. Obviously, the image on the left is the original Japanese logo (taken from the first opening animation sequence). The image on the right is TMS’ international logo for English-speaking countries (used from episodes 001-123, covering opening sequences 01-04).
Doesn’t really look as polished, does it? The combination of the plain-black background and oversized copyright information looks rather cheap, though it seems some effort was made to replicate the style of the logo itself. There are similarities, to be sure, but the international version just doesn’t strive for the quality of its counterpart. Fortunately, with the debut of the fifth opening sequence in episode 124 of the series, the logo is revised for the better and more carefully integrated into the animation. Coincidently, FUNimation’s American dub ends at episode 123, the last episode before the debut of this fifth opening sequence and its updated international logo.
Either way, this is a change that doesn’t affect the American version of the show because a different logo was created by FUNimation for the series’ new title.
This one looks a little juvenile when compared to the logos above, but to its credit, it doesn’t look like a rush job and though the plain black background remains, the oversized copyright information has been removed. Had the series’ title not been changed, we would have gotten the international logo (unless FUNimation replaced it with a redesigned version of their own).
The Second Opening Sequence
On FUNimation’s Case Closed DVDs, the first opening animation (“Mune Ga DokiDoki,” or “The Heart Is Pounding” in English) is used for episodes 001-052 (“The Mist Goblin Legend Murder Case;” episode 054 by the dub’s numbering system). In the next episode, the series’ third opening animation (“Nazo,” or “Mystery” in English) takes over.
So what happened to the second opening?
Originally, the first opening animation was only used for episodes 001-030. In fact, if you watch the Japanese version of episode 030, Conan even says in his opening narration that the song will change in “next week’s episode.” Episode 031 gave us the show’s second opening sequence, set to the song “Feel Your Heart” by VELVET GARDEN. This animation was used for episodes 031-052. I could describe this second opening sequence, but I’ll just let the screencaps do the talking.
So why was this opening removed? Except for the staff at TMS, nobody knows for sure. Fans have speculated that it could have been a licensing issue with rights for the song itself, or perhaps some controversy with the band VELVET GARDEN. It’s important to note, though, that episode 037 (“The Cactus Flower Murder Case”) features an insert song performed by none other than VELVET GARDEN and it made its way into international versions of the show with no problems whatsoever (FUNimation even recorded an English version of the song).
Other fans speculate that the animation can’t be released because a credit-less version no longer exists to provide to dubbing companies (though considering later “clip-show” openings have recycled credit-less footage from this sequence as recently as 2009, that seems unlikely). Some believe that TMS is purposely withholding material from foreign audiences to ensure that all the bells and whistles of the series can only be obtained on the original Japanese releases. It’s baffling to think that an entertainment company would be so stingy, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Whatever the reason may be, the opening’s absence applies to all foreign language versions of the series. America was not given the second opening sequence, nor was Germany, etc. To this day, it is exclusive to the original Japanese version of the series. However, part of the song can still be accessed on FUNimation’s DVDs. When the Japanese audio is selected, the beginning of the song can be heard during Conan’s opening narration for episodes 031-052.
The Second Ending Sequence
These second animations just can’t catch a break, can they? To fans’ dismay, the second ending sequence for the series was also removed from any international versions of the show. Starting with episode 027, this animation was used through episode 051 and was set to the song “Meikyū No Lovers” (“A Labyrinth’s Lovers” in English) by Heath (the band’s only contribution to Detective Conan).
While these missing animations can still be easily accessed via low-quality YouTube uploads and various fansubs, a raw version of good quality is harder to locate. The screencaps below showcase some of the new animation featured in this ending sequence.
Interestingly, the rear cover of FUNimation’s “Viridian Collection” version of their Case Closed “season five” DVD boxset (released in 2010 and again in 2013) features a shot from this ending sequence. Viewers can notice the shot of Shinichi emerging from a wall of smoke and fire, which is exclusive to this ending sequence (and pictured in the top-right corner in the above collection of screencaps).
It is unknown why one of FUNimation’s DVD releases features a shot from an ending sequence that they never actually acquired. The picture in question could have simply been included as part of a collection of promotional images from TMS, but this has never been confirmed. As it stands, it is the only hint of the second ending credits sequence’s existence on any of FUNimation’s official releases. Because this animation was withheld by TMS, international versions of episodes 027-051 feature the show’s first ending sequence, “STEP BY STEP” by ZIGGY.
The “Farewell” Cards
Unlike the missing openings and endings, these are relatively minor and likely wouldn’t have been included on FUNimation’s releases even if we did get the unedited versions of the episodes. The “farewell” cards are static images (usually onscreen for no longer than five seconds) that appear after the “next episode” preview and “Next Conan’s Hint” segment of each episode’s TV airing, featuring the phrase “次回 おたのしみにね” (“Jikai otanoshimini ne,” or “See you next time, okay?”).
The images are accompanied by a short piece of music and a line of dialogue from Conan (usually something simple like “The next episode is very sad,” or “The Detective Boys appear next week!”), with other characters chiming in occasionally.
The “farewell” cards pictured above were created for episodes 001-005 (top-left), episodes 006-030 (top-right), episodes 031-052 (middle-left), episodes 053-070 (middle-right), episodes 071-179 (bottom-left), and episodes 180-288 (bottom-right). It’s a shame they were cut out (since the dialogue can be very entertaining and the exclusive artwork is always nice to look at), but it’s rare that these make it to DVD even in Japan.
Feature Film International Versions
You didn’t think these edits only affected the TV series, did you? Detective Conan’s feature films actually suffer even more than the episodes do. Just like the aforementioned example with TMS’ The Castle Of Cagliostro, Detective Conan‘s feature films are edited to alter or remove on-screen text and staff credits. To demonstrate, let’s analyze a sequence that appears in every single one of Conan’s movies: the origin story from the opening credits.
In the first fully-animated scene, we see Shinichi together with Ran at Tropical Land. Shinichi is standing with Ran until Black Organization member Vodka runs across the screen. Shinichi sees him, bids farewell to Ran, and runs after Vodka. Ran tries to stop him, but trips over her own foot and stumbles before regaining her balance. In the TMS international versions of the films, all of that animation is reduced to one single, solitary freeze-frame.
We don’t really learn as much from just this one static image, do we? The image on the left is what appears in movies 01-03, while the image on the right is what appears in movies 04-06.
In the very next scene, we see Shinichi peeking around a corner to see what Vodka’s doing. In the international version, this scene is heavily zoomed-in to crop out the Japanese credits that appear.
Next, the second Black Organization member, Gin, sneaks up behind Shinichi. This shot is also zoomed-in to crop out the credits.
We then see a shot of Shinichi from Gin’s perspective, which is once again zoomed-in.
Our next zoomed-in shot appears when Gin force-feeds Shinichi the APTX 4869 pill that shrinks his body and transforms him into Conan. Notice how much picture is lost from this cropping.
The next edited scene is also our second freeze-framed image. In this fully-animated sequence, Conan walks up to Professor Agasa. Agasa starts talking, then grabs Conan by his shoulders and pulls him closer, all while still speaking. In the international version, all of this is replaced with a single static shot of Professor Agasa staring at Conan.
Lastly, the scene of Conan accidentally banging his head against the desk drawer is zoomed-in to crop away the Japanese credits.
Luckily, FUNimation was given the unedited version of the first Detective Conan movie, so those of you with a DVD copy of that film can enjoy the animation as it was intended. For movies 02-06, only the edited international version has been made available on Region 1 DVD. The edits aren’t just exclusive to this scene, however. Shots are constantly cropped or freeze-framed to cover up Japanese text.
For more information about the video edits that occur in these feature films, check out my Movie Comparisons for details and screencap comparisons.
Summary & Final Thoughts
For many fans, the movie edits are the most annoying changes, and it is unfortunate that the episodes and films are so severely altered before they are even sent overseas. I understand the positives of providing a “clean” version of a film, without credits, but it should only be done if a completely credit-less version is already readily available. Butchering your own film just to cover up some text accomplishes nothing. I’m all for providing audiences with a version of a film that they can understand in their native language, but is it really worth compromising the original animation just so we’re “protected” from some harmless written Japanese?
Keep in mind, however, that FUNimation is not to blame for these edits, and fans should not hesitate to support their official DVD releases and online streams. FUNimation has given the TV series a perfectly decent and almost uncut/unedited release. The movies undoubtedly feature the most changes, but to put things in perspective, the zoomed-in/freeze-framed shots combined take up maybe five minutes of these 90-minute feature films. The quality of these productions still shines through and they deserve to be enjoyed, especially in America where consumers have easy access to FUNimation’s DVDs. I’m not encouraging a boycott by reporting these edits, and I’m certainly not encouraging fans to turn to illegal fansubs.
Keep yourselves informed about these alterations (which, just to clarify once more, were made by TMS, not FUNimation) and educate yourself. Spread the word to other fans if you’d like. But most of all, try to enjoy the series and its official releases despite these changes, however bothersome they may be.