I wrapped up the fifth editions of two absurdly long, ongoing series last night. I paid notably less than the cover price for each, and don't intend to continue with them, although I still have a few more volumes I paid under $5 apiece awaiting me in the read-pile. That's not to say either of them are that bad, although Case Closed, the US title for Detective Conan, is demonstrably the poorer, what with its genuinely godawful artwork and distractingly coy premise that a high school detective has been "de-aged" to look like a seven year-old. It's agreeably grisly, with decapitations and dismemberments that totally belie the presumption that this is a kids' series, but the preciousness of the premise is an incredible bore. Just telling a straightforward mystery adventure with Kudo as a teenager, without the "Conan Edogawa" subterfuge, would have been more appealing to me.
Like InuYasha, the Detective Conan stories are told over the course of 4-6 week storylines, collected 10-11 episodes at a time in digest form. InuYasha's problem is that its premise was concocted solely to swell the bank account of its creator, and while I have come to completely adore Rumiko Takahashi's work, this, her longest-running strip, is by leagues the least interesting of her series. The object of the strip in its earliest days, a "soul-gem," was shattered into unknown dozens of little shards, each of which must be collected (gotta catch 'em all!), and each of which takes InuYasha, Kagome and their allies into conflict with a new hideous demon. It's a premise that can safely be wrapped up in six weeks, just as soon as the editors decide the sales are slipping, and the "last" shard can be found. I can't help but like Kagome, and think she's a great character, but I can safely skip learning what will happen to her next.
Coincidentally, both series run in Japan's weekly Shonen Sunday anthology, where they've been the star attractions since the mid-1990s. And really, the longevity is a huge problem to anyone considering following either series. With 48-50 episodes a year of each, that's five volumes times eleven years for InuYasha and thirteen years for Det. Conan, or, put simply, a completely unbelievable financial commitment to see either series through to the end, assuming US sales stay high enough to justify continued translated editions. In either case, I would not recommend these series to new readers, not least because both of these damn books end on cliffhangers! At least I've still got the sixth Case Closed book around here to find out who these mysterious criminals that Conan is following are...
(Originally posted October 19, 2007 at hipsterdad's LJ.)