Detective Conan is a comic and TV series that is very popular among children in Japan. The hero, Conan Edogawa, is in elementary school, but in his true form he's a high school student named Shin'ichi Kudo.
Shin'ichi is a genius detective who, although being only 17 years old, is known as the "savior of the Japanese police." One day, at an amusement park where he was having a date with Ran Mori, his childhood friend and classmate, he witnesses a man in a black suit secretly making a deal with another man. Just then, he's caught by another man in black and is forced to take a drug. Luckily the drug does not kill him, but when he comes to his senses, his body has shrunk to the size of a 6-year-old boy.
Thinking the men and their underground organization would come for his life if they found out he was alive, Shin'ichi consults with Dr. Agasa, an inventor living next door, and decides to hide his true identity. Shin'ichi calls himself Conan Edogawa and, at Dr. Agasa's suggestion, starts living at the home of his girlfriend Ran, whose father, Kogoro Mori, is a private detective. Conan hopes that by living with them, he may be able to find out about the organization and discover a way to regain his former body.
Conan now looks like an elementary school kid, but his mind and intellect are Shin'ichi himself. So, while attending elementary school, he solves one mysterious case after another with his excellent reasoning powers. Kogoro, who is not very sharp-witted, wins fame as a great detective thanks to Conan's help from behind the scenes.
Supporting Conan's detective work are Dr. Agasa's inventions. A boy who loves the series says, "It's great how Dr. Agasa makes lots of interesting tools for Conan, like the stun-gun wristwatch, solar-powered skateboard, criminal locator glasses, and power-assisted kick shoes."
Detective Conan first appeared in 1994 as a series in a comic magazine for boys, and it has continued since then. It has so far been made into 38 comic books, with over 80 million copies having been printed in total. An animated series has been showing on TV since 1996, and from 1997 on, a movie has been released every year. This year the sixth film, Meitantei Konan: Beika Sutorito no Borei (Detective Conan: The Phantom of Baker Street), hit theaters across Japan on April 20. In the movie, Conan is taken to late-nineteenth-century London in a virtual reality game and confronts Jack the Ripper there.
Neither Ran nor her father is aware of Conan's true identity. In fact, only Dr. Agasa and a few others know that Conan is really Shin'ichi Kudo. Soon after Ran first meets Conan, she tells him about her affection for Shin'ichi, but poor Conan can't tell her that he is the very same person. Even though he loves her, too, he has no choice but to keep it secret. The author, Gosho Aoyama, says the series is also a romantic comedy. Each episode centers on how Conan goes about solving a mystery, but the relationship between Conan and Ran may be said to be the other theme of the series.
Photo: With his outstanding powers of reasoning, Conan solves many intriguing mysteries. (© Gosho Aoyama/Shogakukan, YTV, TMS 1996)