まじっく快斗1412 第1話 「蘇る怪盗KID」
Magic Kaito 1412 #01. 「Return of the Phantom Thief Kid」
Source Material: Manga series by Aoyama Gousho (青山 剛昌)
Studio(s): A-1 Pictures
Director(s): Kudou Susumu (工藤 進)
Producer(s): Suwa Michihiko (諏訪 道彦), Ueda Masuo (植田 益朗)
Script: Oono Toshiya (大野 敏哉)
Art Director(s): Ichikura Kei (市倉 敬)
Music: Iwasaki Taku (岩崎 琢)
Magic Kaito is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Aoyama Gousho and published in Shogakukan‘s Weekly Shounen Sunday since 1987. Despite the year of its conception, the series has since experienced an intermittent release schedule. Steady serialization stopped after the publication of the first two tankoubon volumes in 1988, the third volume was published six years later in 1994, and the fourth volume was published thirteen years after that in 2007. Since then, two chapters have been released in 2011, with three more following in 2014. The series’s titular character, Kaito Kid, and others of the cast have made occasional appearances in Aoyama’s other ongoing and much more extensive Detective Conan series. In addition, twelve animated television specials produced by studio TMS Entertainment aired between 2010 and 2012, with the Magic Kaito 1412 official television anime adaptation by A-1 Pictures finally being announced in 2014 with a scheduled twenty-four episodes.
The return of the notorious criminal Magic Kaito causes an uproar in the district of Tokyo; and at Ekoda High School in classroom 2-B, daughter of police inspector Nakamori Ginzo, Nakamori Aoko, is sharing the news with her friend before she is interrupted by childhood friend and classroom trouble-maker Kuroba Kaito. After declaring himself as cooler and better a magician than the illustrious thief, Kaito suavely teases Aoko and their female homeroom teacher by publicly revealing the color of their panties to the rest of the class. After deciding that the proper way to prove his superiority over Magic Kaito is to capture the wanted man himself, Kaito departs from school early and returns home to devise a plan. While Kaito accidentally stumbles upon an underground lair prepared for him by his late father, Aoko, in an attempt to even the playing ground against Kaito, contacts his mother via online video call and begs her to reveal any weakness that Kaito may have. Later that night, the police force led by Aoko’s father is unable to capture Magic Kaito in the midst of his latest heist; Kaito however preemptively awaits him on the roof of the building from which he escaped the police. In their confrontation, Kaito discovers that the current Magic Kaito is actually Konosuke Jii, the assistant of the original Magic Kaito, who was actually Kaito’s father, Kuroba Toichi, all along. Despite having forced Konosuke to divulge his father’s true identity as a thief in a rather over-dramatic manner, Kaito nonchalantly adopts the role of Magic Kaito immediately after and escapes the clutches of the police with the ease of the true Magic Kaito. Upon arriving at home safe and sound, Kaito is called over by Aoko for the usual dinner prepared by her father and is surprised to find out that the meal is a huge helping of fish, his apparent only weakness.
Boy, I cannot even begin to express how wonderful it is to have an old-fashioned series like this not be put in the hands of studio Toei Animation by default. And while the Magic Kaito series could be considered the spiritual twin to mangaka Aoyama Gousho’s other ongoing, more popular Detective Conan series, this 2014 anime adaptation somehow did not fall under the jurisdiction of studio TMS Entertainment (which has the eighteen-year-old Detective Conan anime adaptation as well as ten Magic Kaito television anime specials to their name) either. And even furthermore, while TMS Entertainment may have done a more faithful visual adaptation than A-1 Pictures in their respective productions, this premiere episode has proved that there is nothing wrong with instilling a more modern touch into the fray; as far as I’m concerned, I’m loving it ever the more. Going into the episode, I was immediately aware that the fluid line-work was not of Toei Animation‘s distinction (cue the grand smile); and soon after, it was the character design for Nakamori Aoko (the way they draw that hair-style and embarrassed expression of hers is pretty damn swoon-worthy) (which triumphs over TMS Entertainment‘s portrayal of her whenever she makes a cameo in the Detective Conan anime) and the splendid usage of CGI elements that completely won me over. In retrospect, Aoko’s moe factor wasn’t the only thing that the highly entertaining classroom scene (how ironic it is that a series of this age covering such classic classroom tropes as “the poor teacher who can’t get class started because of the rambunctious problem children” is more refreshing of a take than series nowadays trying to parody those very same kinds of tropes) established; because within those mere minutes of “magically” deciphering the colors of panties and defying the laws of gravity, Kaito’s charisma quickly confirmed his worthiness as the protagonist of the series – not to mention how quickly the Kuroba and Koizumi ship sailed off (last names used here for alliteration, but they’ll be sharing surnames soon enough to naturally bestow that effect if I have anything to say about it). Entering the folds of the grander narrative, it’s a very Batman-esque premise we’ve got going on with the young avenger Kuroba. As he inherits the mantle of the infamous Kaitou Kid from his late father, alongside him is the archetypal assistant and mentor figure Jii Konosuke, and against him is the equally archetypal obsessive inspector figure Nakamori Ginzo, who complicates things further by being father to our protagonist’s key romantic interest. In the end, it’s a thrilling thing to be able to say in a review that the worst part of the episode were minor selections in voice-casting (Kaito’s greatest trick as an adolescent was making my eardrums split in two with that shrill voice of his; but I have to say, hearing One Piece‘s Usopp in present-day Kaitou and Hunter x Hunter‘s Kite in Kaitou’s father was quite the shounen throwback); and more genuinely, it’s just nice to see a series of this age be given almost the same value in production as the mainstream of modern. It’s thanks to the overall impact of that premiere that I’m attentive towards and grateful for any hint of creative thought put into its production (such as the opening sequence occurring at the two-digit minute mark). Though, knowing the somewhat “case of the week” episode scheme of Detective Conan, I feel that I can’t give Magic Kaito the benefit of the doubt that it won’t ease into that same repetitive story-telling structure. But, if the rather short four volume anthology isn’t enough of an indication that the narrative may be more condensed and centralized than its comparative series, then my faith in the characters, their personalities, and the chemistry between the two destined love-birds is strong enough for the time being to ascertain a strong reason to enjoy the episodes, or as the show calls them, illusions, to come.