Review: 'Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter' is incredibly talky

Marcus Goh
Contributor
Momiji Ooka (Satsuki Yukino) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

Secret ending? Yes.

Running time: 112 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” is a crime drama-comedy anime that’s the 21st in the “Detective Conan/Case Closed” franchise.

Heiji (Ryo Horikawa) and Kazuha (Yuko Miramura) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

This standalone movie revolves around a national level karuta (a competitive card game that requires players to snatch the correct card from a set) competition in Japan. The murder of a champion sparks off an investigation into the intriguing world of karuta.

“Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” is directed by Kobun Shizuno, with a screenplay by Takahiro Okura. It features the voice talents of Minami Takayama (Conan Edogawa), Wakana Yamazaki (Ran Mori), Rikiya Koyama (Kogoro Mori), Ryo Horikawa (Heiji Hattori), Yuko Miyamura (Kazuha Toyama), Satsuki Yukino (Momiji Ooka), Megumi Hayashibara (Ai Haibara), Yukiko Iwai (Ayumi Yoshida), Ikue Otani (Mitsuhiko Tsuburaya), Wataru Takagi (Genta Kojima), Kazuhiro Yamaji (Heizo Hattori), and Masako Katsuki (Shuzuka Hattori).

Momiji (Satsuki Yukino) vs Kazuha (Yuko Miramura) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

If you’re not sure what karuta is, please look it up before watching the movie. “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” requires basic working knowledge of what karuta is for you to understand the plot.

Fortunately, it’s a self-contained story so you don’t need to know what’s happening in the regular series itself to understand the show. However, you have to pay attention to every detail if you want to fully comprehend what’s happening in the film.

Conan Edogawa (Minami Takayama ) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

Highlights

Surprising amount of action

For a detective story with a tiny protagonist, there’s quite a bit of action. Conan (Minami Takayama) gets to showcase his devices and gear, even though he’s abnormally athletic for his size. Since Heiji (Ryo Horikawa) plays a large role in the film, he’s also involved in many of the action scenes too. The action scenes provide a good break from the otherwise dialogue-heavy film.

Conan Edogawa (Minami Takayama ) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

Letdowns

No exposition for karuta

If you have no idea what karuta is, you’re going to be completely lost in the film or frantically looking it up on your mobile phone. It’s odd how the film just plunges you into the world of karuta without even a cursory line of explanation about what it is. All you see are characters grabbing cards, and you have to infer everything else from there. It makes understanding the murder mystery that much more difficult because you’re uncertain why certain objects or actions are significant.

Animation quality looks poorer

Strangely, the animation looks rushed, with many of the characters limbs and appendages looking like they were hastily drawn. Granted, the explosions and action scenes are well executed, which is probably where the budget went. However, that doesn’t excuse how weirdly drawn some of the characters end up looking, especially in more static scenes.

Massive chunks of dialogue

“Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” is incredibly chatty. Certain scenes are just animated talking heads, and it’s worsened by the fact that karuta is not explained and there are a huge number of suspects to keep track of. The climax also ends up being a large group of people explaining the mystery one by one, in sequence, in one of the lengthiest exposition scenes I’ve ever seen in anime.

An unwieldy plot

If “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” were broken up into a 13 or 26 episode anime series, the story would have been easier to digest and understand. However, it tries to cram a complex web of relationships, history, and background into 112 minutes without properly explaining many of the setups, resulting in more of a long drawn narrative rather than an actual mystery. Reducing half of the suspects and cutting out many extraneous details would have gone a long way into creating a more straightforward and tighter story.

Conan (Minami Takayama ) and Heiji (Ryo Horikawa) in “Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter”. (Golden Village Cinemas)

“Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” is way too talky, even though it has some nifty action scenes.

Should you watch this if it’s free? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you’re a fan of the “Detective Conan” franchise.

Score: 2.5/5

“Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter” opens in cinemas:
– 18 May, 2017 (Singapore)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, Crimewatch, and Point of Entry. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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