There are few franchises that I’ve stuck with for as long as Detective Conan. Its ever-growing cast, bizarre murder cases, and intriguing mysteries have continued to bring me countless hours of entertainment as well as fond memories. So when Anime Expo announced that the brand-new English dub of Detective Conan: Zero The Enforcer would be premiered as a part of their 4DX Anime Film Fest, I jumped at the opportunity to go. I managed to be one of the lucky 100 people who got into the screening, and it ended up being an experience that I wouldn’t forget.
On the day of a summit meeting, a sudden explosion occurs at the Edge of Ocean convention center, injuring and killing numerous people. When Kogoro is arrested as a prime suspect in the investigation, Conan must investigate the situation to clear his name. To make matters worse, Conan suspects that the person who planted Kogoro’s fingerprints at the crime scene is none other than the Public Security Bureau’s Amuro Tooru. Thus, a clash between the child detective and the perceptive agent begins.
As far as Detective Conan films go, Zero the Enforcer is pretty standard. There aren’t any huge revelations for the franchise, and everything returns to the usual status quo by the end of the film. That said, what makes this film shine are its various character interactions. The open tension between Conan and Amuro is something we usually don’t see in the main series, which makes their conflict in the film all the more interesting. Fans of Zero’s Tea Time will also be happy that Amuro’s partner Kazami also gets his share of screen time. We get to see Kazami express his loyalty to Amuro as well as discuss Amuro’s regrets living as a double agent. This further characterizes both Amuro and Kazami, which is nice to see. Sadly, the rest of Detective Conan’s large cast doesn’t get a ton to do. Haibara is relegated to a secondary role in the film, helping Conan research the explosion incident, while Kogoro and Ran have little involvement in the story following Kogoro’s arrest. Still, the film’s central focus is placed on Amuro and Conan, and it fully succeeds in handling that aspect. Overall, Zero the Enforcer is a simple film, but that doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining watch.
Visually, Zero the Enforcer is a step up in animation quality compared to your average episode of Detective Conan. There are numerous dynamic shots throughout the film that showcase some great pieces animation, and make the climaticatic moments of the film even more exciting. Unfortunately, Detective Conan is still a very dialogue heavy series, so there are still in moments in which the animation feels static as the characters go into long monologues. This is nothing that Detective Conan fans aren’t used to already, but don’t expect Zero The Enforcer to break this trend. The musical score is as solid as ever, composed by veteran Detective Conan composer Katsuo Ono. There’s a great mix of both brooding and upbeat tracks that helps further tie the film together. Fans of the franchise won’t be disappointed.
The film’s dub was produced at Bang Zoom, using an entirely different cast than that of the old Funimation dub. While it will certainly take new fans some time to get used to the new voices, I was very impressed by the quality of the performances. Wendee Lee does a wonderful job as Conan, bringing a new and but fitting take of the character. Praise also needs to be given to Kyle McCarley’s performance as Amuro, who perfectly encapsulates every facet of the character. One thing to note about this dub is that it’s very faithful to the original Japanese script; for example, the name changes of the Funimation dub are completely absent. There are some downsides to this choice though, as there are several instances within the film where the dialogue feels unnatural or stilted. Despite these faults, I’d still consider it to be a solid new attempt at dubbing Detective Conan, and I would happily see more Detective Conan content be dubbed with this cast.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 4DX effects in the film, but I was pleasantly surprised by their usage. Since Detective Conan isn’t an action series by any means, the 4DX effects are used during instances of high tension and adrenaline to help further immerse the viewer into the theatrical experience. While the effects don’t dramatically change the overall quality of the film, it’s a nice add-on that makes the film experience all the more memorable, and I’d definitely be interested in seeing more 4DX anime films in the future.
I’ve been a Detective Conan fan for almost 13 years, but I would have never expected to see the series get a second chance like this in the US. Being able to see a Detective Conan film on the big screen was a dream come true, especially with a new English dub. I’d like to hope that this release of Zero The Enforcer is the start of a new era for the western Detective Conan fandom. There are currently no home video release plans for this film in the US or any confirmation of other Detective Conan content being dubbed, but the potential is there and I want to believe in it. If and when we do get a release of Zero The Enforcer, I highly recommend picking it up, not only to support the franchise, but also because it’s a genuinely fun film for long-time fans. While the future of the anime in the US is still unknown, I’d say that things are looking hopeful for Detective Conan.