As a kid, one of the shallow reasons why I wanted to take up chemistry in college was that I thought luminol was cool. The said water-insoluble chemical is known to exhibit chemiluminescence (with a very bright blue glow) when exposed to blood, even in trace amounts. Light is emitted upon the reaction of luminol with the iron found in human hemoglobin. But enough of the geeky chemistry already. (Anyway, those who are my closest friends know the “deeper” reason why I took up BS Chem/BS MSE.)
Though it was mentioned in passing by biochemist Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, I first encountered luminol in Detective Conan. Published as a manga by Gosho Aoyama since February 2, 1994, it debuted as an animé last January 8, 1996. The very first episode of this twenty-seasons-to-date television show features high school detective Kudo Shinichi (Teitan High) forcedly shrunk to a six-year old’s body by a criminal gang known as the Black Organization. To protect the people he loves (especially his childhood sweetheart, Ran Mouri), he assumes the name “Conan Edogawa” while continuing his detective work.
That was 15 years ago. Until now, Conan hasn’t found a solid lead as to how to go back to his being Shinichi. So far, he has managed to get the help of Shiho Miyano (alias Ai Haibara), a former chemist of the Black Organization to help him find an antidote to the shrinking drug APTX-4869. The Black Organization is however skilled in information technology, and thus they are able to erase all possible leads. They have not been careful with some parts though. Throughout the series, it is revealed that American actress Sharon Vineyard (alias “Vermouth”) is a member. CIA and FBI agents Hidemi Hondou (Rena Mizunashi) and Akai Shuichi respectively are able to penetrate the gang. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under James Black and Jodie Starling’s lead have also joined in the chase. However, as much as Conan is as close to getting the leader’s identity through his cellphone tone, the Black Organization welcomes in a new member codenamed “Bourbon.” He is said to have skills as sharp as Sherlock Holmes, which Shinichi always levels himself to.
Had the animé just been about Shinichi’s chase, it would have ended in a year. Throughout his quest, Conan encounters lots of people — as victims and criminals. Each case he solves, declaring that “one truth shall prevail.”
Unfortunately (or fortunately), Conan meets TOO MANY people that he’s been in a body of a six-year old for 15 (17 in the manga) already. Ran has been 16 years old since 1996 (1994 in the manga) as well.
I grew up with Conan. In fact, his child-body’s age was the same as mine by the time the animé started. At those times, I would sometimes sympathize with The Detective Boys Ayumi Yoshida, Mitsuhiko Tsubaraya, and Genta Kojima whenever old people scold them. (Or sometimes I don’t, thinking that Japanese kids are pictured as overreacting.) By the time I entered high school and was about the same age as Ran Mouri, I saw myself from an angle of a Teitan High student, just like her — starting to develop more serious crushes, doing harder work at school etc.. (Or sometimes I don’t, thinking that the show depicts Japanese high school girls as overly-flirts.)
(And somewhere between high school and college, I thought that doing what detectives do is awesome. I wanted to try forensics. Thus, I really considered taking up BS Chem/BS MSE, supported to my “deeper reason.”)
At 22, I sort of see myself with the other people in Detective Conan, Subaru Okiya for example (who is the current most popular candidate for Bourbon, though I think he isn’t). As Conan gets to know more and more people, those new faces continue on with their struggles in life while unknown to them, a teenager in a child’s body continues his quest. That makes me do some phenomenological inquiries about myself as to what I’m doing whilst other people are pursuing after what they’ve started chasing. Like Subaru, all I can hope for now is to hope for a PhD to get itself attached to my surname soon.
Detective Conan is my original How I Met Your Mother. I’ve learned lots of life lessons from this animé. One of them comes from S11E288 (Shinichi Kudo’s New York Case, The Resolution), when Shinichi rescues Vermouth from a serious fall, after the latter attempts to kill the former.
Vermouth: “Why did you save me? Why?”
Shinichi: “Is a reason nesessary? I don’t know why you would kill someone. But as for saving someone… A logical mind isn’t needed, right?”
Now I don’t really have any murderous intentions in mind. But Shinichi’s third sentence hit me. Doing good to other people, even though you’re not in good terms with them, no more logical reasoning is required. Anyway, that initial meeting with Vermouth spared Shinichi’s life when she realizes that Conan and Shinichi are one. Reminds me of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry decided to spare Peter Pettigrew of the Dementor’s Kiss. Four books after, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pettigrew dies by in turn sparing Harry’s life.
I’m not in the forensics right now. That does not mean that I’m stopping though. Like what ageless Shinichi has done for 15 years, I’ll still continue my own chase. Hopefully, my Ran Mouri will be patient with me. (This is another thing I appreciate in Detective Conan is Ran Mouri’s patience. While the timeframe of the animé is actually slow-moving, I still look up to her determined attitude of not giving up on waiting for Shinichi’s return.)
As much as Vermouth believes that one day, Shinichi will bring the Black Organization to a permanent shutdown as he is their “Silver Bullet,” I also believe that this good animé will soon come to a close. I don’t know if by that time I already have children (or grandchildren) of my own, but whatever happens, I’ll tell them how great Mr. High School Detective’s story is. Who knows, they might also get to appreciate luminol as well.
So there, Happy 15th Birthday Detective Conan (or as it is known in USA, Case Closed)! While I’m anticipating for the ending already, I’m still looking forward to more awesome episodes with mind-boggling crimes! This detective-wanna-be chemist will continue to be your biggest fan! Watch me, Sherlock Holmes!
For my final greetings, here’s an English version of Mune ga Doki Doki by The High Lows, the first ever intro song of Detective Conan. Enjoy!