Detective Conan’s Trickiest Case Is Its Sheer Number of Localizations

Crunchyroll recently brought the first 42 episodes of Cased Closed to its streaming platform. Despite massive success in Japan (there are statues and a museum), the Detective Conan/Case Closed franchise has had major issues being shipped internationally. From FUNimation's confusing name changes, to the legal issues that have prevented any streaming service from hosting all the episodes, and the new dub that claims there is an audience for a localized version, the show hasn't been able to present the united front that could give it the push it needs to skyrocket in popularity.

(Note that we will be using the Japanese episode titles and numbers for the sake of consistency in this article.)

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The original version of the manga was published in June 1994, with an anime following in January of 1996. It was almost ten years before it was picked up by FUNimation and the dub began airing in the U.S in 2004. At that time, for unspecified legal reasons, the franchise's name was changed from Detective Conan to Case Closed, and all character names were Americanized. In September of 2004, Shogakukan's English provider, Viz Media, began releasing a translation of the original volumes, changing the main characters' names to match the FUNimation dub, while leaving most of the minor case-to-case names alone.

Then, in 2009, the FUNimation dub aired its final episode, Episode 123, "The Weather Girl Kidnapping Case," just a few episodes away from some major plot development with the introduction of Ai Haibara. Now, despite the 10-year gap between the original's release and the translation, Viz actually overtook the anime with the manga, releasing Haibara's debut, Volume 18, in 2007, at which time they renamed her "Anita Hailey." Despite the final episode being before Haibara's introduction, the FUNimation crew still had some work to do -- the fifth and sixth movies, Countdown to Heaven and The Phantom of Baker Street, which included Haibara, who they renamed "Vi Graythorn." Ironically, also in 2009, the company provided voices for the localization of a Wii game, Case Closed: The Mirapolis Investigation, that was being released in Europe -- which followed the manga and called her Anita. When the movies were released in 2010, the era of the FUNimation dub came a close.

But FUNimation's wasn't the only dub. In Singapore, Voiceovers Unlimited Pte Ltd. created its own dub of the first 52 episodes, keeping the original Japanese names. Additionally, Animax Asia also re-dubbed the same 52 episodes in English for the Philippines, which aired between January and August 2006.

But what about subs, you might be wondering? Well, in 2014, Crunchyroll secured the rights to begin streaming currently-airing episodes an hour after Japan, starting with Episode 754 but did not obtain the back-catalog. Two years later, in 2016, Netflix picked up the series as well, and released Episodes 748 - 799 as a 52-episode "Collection." But unlike Crunchyroll, which acknowledged there were some episodes missing, due to its status as a "Collection," Netflix was able to say the collection started with "Episode 1," no doubt confusing many first time viewers.

About this same time, Crunchyroll partnered with FUNimation and was able to release subs for Episodes 1 - 130, using the same ones that FUNimation had on its website (and since reobtaining the rights for Season 1, it probably just rereleased these same videos, which would explain why the dub titles are on the subbed show...). But it wasn't meant to last. In 2018, Crunchyroll and FUNimation's partnership dissolved, taking those first episodes of Case Closed with it... But that wasn't all that was lost.

FUNimation lost the rights to Case Closed's first five seasons altogether in 2018. The show has since been picked up by Discotek and Bang Zoom! Entertainment which dubbed the 20th anniversary TV special "Episode "One": The Great Detective Turned Small," as a soft reboot for the dub, now with the original Japanese names and an all-new cast. It is also dubbing the 22nd movie, "Zero the Enforcer" which is slated for release September 29, 2020. What makes these releases especially interesting is that they've chosen to use both brand names. While the box sleeve has the FUNimation Case Closed logo, the actual Blu-ray box has new Detective Conan branding! The main menu for the disc even has both, though the font for Detective Conan is different, just to be extra confusing.

Viz is not the only one translating it. In 2014, Shogakukan Asia started releasing volumes in Singapore in English, but again, with the original Japanese names. Since both Vix and Shogakukan Asia are owned by Shogakukan Inc. in Japan, it makes sense that the translations appear to be are completely identical, word-for-word, even -- save for the names and the Detective Conan logo -- which is not the same as the Discotek logo.

Overall, there's a dizzying array of options to find the show, but so far there's no one-stop-shop to watch either dub or sub. If you want the whole story, Viz's manga might be your best bet.

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