Solving unrealistic murder mysteries in Japanese

So you’re a mystery writer, or a private detective, and you’ve been called to Japan to solve the harrowing, grisly, impossible murder of a rich and powerful politician, Yamaguchi-san, during a party at his home. But where do you begin?

You begin, of course, by learning all the important mystery and forensics terminology.

First, you have to know how to introduce yourself. You’re not a “mystery writer”; you’re a 推理筆者 (すいりひっしゃ). Or, rather than a private detective, you’re a 私立探偵 (しりつたんてい) who works for (or perhaps operates) a 探偵事務所 (たんていじむしょ, detective agency or consulting firm). Maybe you’re even a 名探偵 (めいたんてい, great detective), your exploits known throughout the world, but it would be impolite for you to say so.

The 警察 (けいさつ, police) have called you because of the 怪しい (あやしい, suspicious) nature of the death. The 事件 (じけん, incident) was, as far as anyone can tell, a 密室殺人 (みっしつさつじん, “locked room murder”)–a 不可能犯罪 (ふかのうはんざい, impossible crime). It would have been ruled a 自殺 (じさつ, suicide) if not for an apparent ダイイングメッセージ (“dying message”) left by the 被害者 (ひがいしゃ, victim). Unfortunately, the message is unclear–it may be some sort of 暗号 (あんごう, code), or it may be some other sort of indirect reference to the 殺人犯 (さつじんはん, murderer).

Now it’s up to you to double-check the work the police have done. Assemble all the 手がかり (てがかり, clues) they’ve noted so far, and start keeping track of your own. Talk with the 客人 (きゃくじん, guests) of the パーティー (party) and analyze their アリバイ (alibis). Go over the 犯罪現場 (はんざいげんば, crime scene) for clues that may have been missed. Talk with 鑑識 (かんしき, forensics) about the tests they’ve done and order more if necessary. Based on what you’ve learned, you may want to order a ルミノール (luminol) test somewhere on the scene…the killer may have cleaned up some 血液 (けつえき, blood), but you’ll still be able to get a reaction if you know where to look.

Once you’ve figured out what really happened, it’s time for your 推理ショー(すいりショー, literally “deduction show”, where you present your findings). Have the police help you set up a demonstration of how the 殺人 (さつじん, murder) went down. There may be a grumpy inspector who complains a little about this, but you’ll also usually find at least one very willing detective to be your errand boy. He’ll also sit in as your victim if you want! Just try not to bump him off in your excitement to reveal the killer’s トリック (trick).

Make a big show of demonstrating the trick first. Once you’ve impressed everyone with your reasoning skills, start eliminating suspects. Ticking them off one by one adds to the サスペンス (suspense). Finally, lower your head, close your eyes dramatically, lay out your best 証拠 (しょうこ, evidence), and then say the following line:

山口さんを殺したのは… (“The one who killed Yamaguchi-san…”)

Then snap your head up, point straight at the killer, and say:

…Xさん、あなただ! (“…was you, X-san!”)

And with that, you’re ready to be a 名探偵 in 日本. (Just watch out for 黒ずくめの男達 [men in black] with 実験的な薬 [experimental drugs]!)

I wrote this in 2012 and never posted it. It is, rather obviously, inspired by Detective Conan.

Fun with phrases

In Japanese, you can string phrase upon phrase upon phrase, and then at the very end have everything you just said modify a noun. For example, here’s a line from Detective Conan:

watashi wa jishu wo susumetai no…goshujin wo kousatsu shita Yuuko-san, anata ni ne

[I] [(topic particle)] [surrender (n.)] [(object-identifying postposition)] [advise*] … [husband] [(object-identifying postposition)] [strangled] [Yuuko] [you] [to]

This has the dramatic effect of hiding the true subject of everything you’re saying until the very last moment. It’s often used in Detective Conan to make the unveiling of the murderer a surprise.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to do this in English. Here’s the most literal translation I could think of:

I’d advise surrender…husband-strangling Yuuko, to you.

Of course, no one talks like that. So maybe:

I’d advise surrender to the one who strangled her husband…you, Yuuko.

* Susumetai has an ending, –tai, that indicates the desire to do something. I could have translated it as “like to advise”, but for the sake of simplicity I did not.


Satou kisses Takagi
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Man I enjoyed “The Return”! With all the spy stuff and intrigue, I felt like Ran was losing relevance to the story. This manga arc was just what I needed.

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Detective Conan 411

So, Agasa-hakase and Haibara make up a code to lead the Detective Boys to a treasure, and even Conan can’t figure it out. He’s sitting there in the tent at their campsite staring at the code. The others, who’ve given up long before, are impatient for him to give up too so the professor will just explain the code and show them the treasure.

And Mitsuhiko says, “Things like this happen once in awhile,” and then he absolutely cackles.

Hands down one of the funniest things evar.

In fact, it’s so funny, I made a wav of it for you. Enjoy!

Edit: Okay, I couldn’t stand it anymore…I had to make a wav of just the laugh. Perfect for infinite loop. Here you go.

Have you seen Detective Conan 238?

Are those native English speakers? Because wow. I don’t think I’ve ever heard English spoken that well in anime before. And they have accents when they speak Japanese, too, and not the normal “I’m a Japanese person trying to fake an American accent” type of accent you usually hear.

I’m impressed!

Case Closed OPs

I recently received $250 worth of Case Closed DVDs (yay birthday presents!).

Three of the DVDs were damaged and I’m going to return them. The discs were horribly scratched, so I tested them all in the DVD player to see if they would even play. It was then that I discovered that they did include “Nazo”!

I’ve done a little research, and it appears that the second OP, “Feel Your Heart”, was skipped over and replaced with the first OP on all discs. I can’t find an official reason for this anywhere, though I and others guess it’s a licensing issue. “Feel Your Heart” was never one of my favorite songs, so that I guess I don’t mind so much, even if it annoys the completist in me.

However, there is something that really bothers me, and that is the fact that the OPs aren’t synched up with the animation properly. In “Nazo”, for example, Conan will go through his little intro with the song playing in the background, but then, when the animation of the black-suited guy jumping out the window begins…the song starts over! WTF!

I don’t know if this means they only got the rights for the full-length versions of the songs, which they then sloppily patched into the animation, or what. But it throws me off and completely ruins my enjoyment of the OP animation.

Another awesome Richard Moore quote

“Look, this job is chicken soup. Don’t try to change it into lobster bisque.”

I’m into season two of Case Closed, and I’m still a fan. The only thing that bothers me is that they didn’t switch to the new OP. You hear it in the Detective Conan sub during the episode preview, but then it (jarringly) switches back to the first OP. (In the dub, they just play the first OP the whole time.)

This is very annoying, especially since it means I won’t get to hear “Nazo”. I was pretty interested to see how they’d sing that in English. But it’s also just a great song…yes, even better than “mune ni doki doki DAKE“.

Oh well.

At least the dub is fun! Any episode with Richard in it especially, but I also love Jimmy and Conan’s voice acting.

It is irritating, though, that I can’t own a legitimate, truly uncut release of Detective Conan without buying Region 2, untranslated DVDs :P

Holy crap

I just watched the opening gambit of Case Closed, episode one. And by Case Closed, I mean the Detective Conan English dub.

This is the best dub I have ever seen.

Seriously. This show has better voice acting than some shows that were made in English!

Intonation that makes sense! Voices that don’t sound like people trying to sound like something else! Meguire (Megure)’s accent is a little weird, but it works.

I am so impressed I think I’ll watch the whole episode like this.

This is one of the most surreal experiences of my life. :>

Edit: Jimmy (Shinichi) just said “Huh?” -_-

Edit #2: Rachel: This isn’t an office, it’s a pig sty! No wonder you haven’t had a case in months!

Richard: You’re wrong; I just polished off a whole case!


Edit #3: I like Rachel’s voice acting, though the timbre of her voice seems a little too mature sometimes.

Conan’s voice actress is pretty good! Maybe a little too cutesy.

I’m getting a kick out of all the accents in this show.

Edit #4: One thing I don’t like is that I can’t skip past the end credits to see the final scene and the next episode preview. If I hit next, it goes to the next episode. Bollocks! Edit #11: I need to stop editing this post. But I wanted to mention that I can skip to the preview on my regular DVD player. Still can’t skip to the final scene though!

Edit #5: I do like how they did the OP and ED! Same music, reorchestrated and played, with English lyrics that seem to match the originals, albeit they’re not direct translations. The singer isn’t bad, which helps. (Of course, I don’t get to hear a guy yelling “mune ni doki doki dake!!!”) I wonder how Nazo is in English…guess it’ll be awhile before I find out :>

Edit #5: Another like: they say “Next Conan’s Hint!” :D

Edit #6: Meguire: Got the cause of death?

Random Cop: We’re pretty sure it’s the knife in his back, sir.

Edit #7: Amy (Ayumi): What do you think Conan is doing?

George (Genta): He’s been doing it for so long I forgot he was even here!

Mitch (Mitsuhiko): Maybe he’s figured out the hidden message!

Jimmy (thinking): Why can’t I figure out this hidden message?!

(Note: They actually use Jimmy’s voice for his thoughts, which is interesting. Makes for a more clear separation between him and Conan.)

Edit #8: Okay, here’s a major dislike. When watching the Japanese version, I want to see all the signs and titles and things in Japanese. But the episode titles and various things you’re supposed to read in the background have been edited to be in English. That’s annoying; it means I can’t watch a “pure” version of the episode.

Also, the Japanese version of the OP isn’t the original version, either. The timing of the music is off, and at the end they put up the Case Closed logo instead of the Detective Conan logo.

Oddly, they leave the Detective Conan logo in for the eyecatch…

Edit #9: Richard (Kogorou, asleep): No, sir, I’m sure I gave my math homework to the pink monkey in the golf cart. He said he was the new football coach.


That was not in the original…:>

Edit #10: Client: It’s really a beautiful painting. Do you follow the arts, Richard?

Richard: Ahh…no.

I swear, Richard’s voice actor is spot on. The man is brilliant!

Just watched the worst episodes of Detective Conan ever

I mean, wow. They spent way too much time on the history lessons and the Momotaro legend. Then the murder was so sudden, and there was zero discussion of how she was killed, and the confession at the end just seemed trite.

I felt like the episodes were contracted by Okayama Prefecture to promote tourism. There was hardly any of the usual Conan goodness, and a whole bunch of slow, detailed scenes discussing historical locations and showing how beautiful the cities of Kibitsu and Kurashiki were. Sheesh.

So yeah. Eps 377 and 378? Not so much.

On the other hand, I now have another Japan location to add to my to-visit list ;P

Detective Conan 457 and 458

Okay, don’t get me wrong–these episodes were absolutely hilarious, and I loved them.

But Conan made a grievous error that could have cost him not only his own life, but Ran’s as well. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the black organization, so I can’t even forgive him based on the momentary lapses in judgement that group tends to bring out in him.

How could he have forgotten that he sensed a group of people in the forest? Why didn’t he arrange for the police to go there secretly? True, Yamamura-keiji is a putz, but Conan’s smart enough to make it work. But instead he went there alone?

Suspension of disbelief is a little strained, here.

But the ending was cool, despite the almost-deus ex machina. I always love it when Ran kicks ass.

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Detective Conan 399

Let me just quote exactly what I said, aloud, eyes wide, hands clasped in horror over my mouth: Oh no, no, no, don’t do it, no, no…she’s going to call them!

…and now I guess I’ll find out…

Edit: Okay, so I was totally wrong. But that’s good! :>

(Hell, she probably would have if Conan hadn’t made that switch.)

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