For the past two decades I’ve nurtured a secret love for Conan, the boy detective of the “Meitantei Conan” (“Case Closed”) series — both Gosho Aoyama’s manga, which started in 1994, and the TV anime that began in 1996. The Japanese movie industry may have had its ups and downs, but the annual feature-length versions of “Conan” have consistently been box-office winners. The 19th “Conan” film, “Goka no Himawari” (“Sunflowers of Inferno”) was released in April this year.
Conan used to be 17-year-old detective Shinichi, but a criminal organization known only as the “men in black” (no relation to the films) poisoned him, and he is shrunk down to the size of an adorable 7-year-old, with the knowledge and insight of his teenage, Sherlock Holmes-like self. Shinichi decides to call himself Conan (after Arthur Conan Doyle) and moves in with his girlfriend, Ran, whose father runs a detective agency. Conan is 7 while Ran is 17, and she has no idea that her cute little ward and studly boyfriend (who suddenly goes missing) are actually one and the same.
For roughly 20 years they’ve solved countless murder cases, aided by the gadget inventions of Conan’s supporter and guardian, Professor Agasa. The 20th anniversary of the manga series was recently celebrated in Hokuei, Tottori Prefecture, the birthplace of creator Aoyama. Tottori is a distinctive locale, having spawned another manga giant: Shigeru Mizuki of the “Gegegeno Kitaro” series. If you’re into boy detectives, Tottori is the place to be.