An animated film featuring Detective Conan – one of Japan’s well-beloved manga and anime series – will take place mainly in Singapore, the first time a film about the genius boy detective is set outside Japan.
The plot of the 23rd feature film of the series, titled Detective Conan: The Fist Of Blue Sapphire, centres on sunken treasure found off the Republic’s coast.
This idea came after Gosho Ao-yama, creator of Detective Conan, visited Singapore as a guest at the Singapore Writers Festival in 2016 and was impressed by his stay, said Mr Peter Go, managing director of Odex, the film’s regional distributor, at a press conference last Friday.
“He began to think of a new story about sunken treasure near the Strait of Malacca and thought of several places to set the film,” said Mr Go. “When I heard it, I reached out to Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to work with the Conan committee on setting the film here.”
The series about teenage detective Shinichi Kudo, who is turned into a boy by an evil corporation, started in 1994 and is the fourth best-selling manga in the world.
Fans will spot much of Singapore’s well-known landmarks in the movie. Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion, Maxwell Food Centre and Suntec City’s Fountain Of Wealth all appear in the film, which attracted over six million moviegoers in its home country and dethroned Avengers: Endgame at the box office.
Director Chika Nagaoka says: “Since it’s rare that we set a movie overseas, we wanted to showcase as many different places as possible. STB gave some suggestions too.
“We visited Singapore after the story was finalised and some scenes that were not originally in the script made it into the movie. For example, the Marina Bay Sands light show – I saw it and was impressed and decided to incorporate it into the movie. The Fountain Of Wealth was really memorable too.”
STB international group’s assistant chief executive Chang Chee Pey says the agency has given its support to the film’s marketing in the region – working with local stakeholders to unveil a Detective Conan mural in Chinatown featuring the boy prodigy eating durian and a hidden sapphire.
The agency also worked with Singapore Airlines on a Detective Conan campaign, complete with the film’s merchandise, for all Singapore-bound Japan flights.
The film is a first not just in terms of locale.
Naoko Matsui, who voices the character Sonoko Suzuki, says: “I have voiced Sonoko in all 23 Detective Conan films and this is the first time she’s the heroine. Her boy-friend, a karate expert, also makes an appearance. And in this film, her role as the rich heiress to a big corporation really comes into play.”
Sonoko is usually in a supporting role as the best friend of Ran Mori – Shinichi Kudo’s love interest.
Kappei Yamaguchi, who voices Kaito Kid, a master of disguise and genius thief, says: “This is my sixth film as Kaito Kid and while the character originally starts out as a rival to Conan, they have built a sort of trust over the years.”
Will another Detective Conan be set in Singapore again or somewhere else in the world in future?
One of the film’s producers, Keiichi Ishiyama, says: “Well, Conan doesn’t have a passport (his passport belongs to his high-school self Shinichi Kudo), so he can’t go overseas that often. It’s possible but maybe not right away.”