At the prestigious Doumoto Music Academy, tragedy has struck: a bomb suddenly took the lives of two talented musicians as they practiced a piece. Soon after, Conan and the gang are invited to the opening concert of the school's new hall, and together they are able to hear the beautiful sounds of a Stradivarius violin. However, soon into their investigation of the murders, another explosion takes yet another life. Conan and his friends must get to the bottom of these mysterious murders and solve the case before more innocent lives are taken.
StoryWith any long-running franchise that has a reasonable backlog of different movies and OVAs, you soon get a good idea of what to expect from each new feature length offering. Naruto will go off on a mission and save the day, Lupin will try to snag a new treasure while something blows up, and Conan will inadvertently stumble upon a big murder case full of twists, turns and, more often than not, a time limit. In this instance, just days before a concert that he happens to be attending, Conan encounters a case involving a bomb explosion that kills two musicians while they are rehearsing. This soon evolves into a string of murders where a piece of flute can be found at the scene of each crime – and now a soprano singer named Reiko is in the firing line. As ever, it is up to Conan to ensure Reiko’s safety and find out the criminal’s identity, but when the concert hall becomes the target of repeated bombing on the night of the performance, the young detective must work even faster to prevent the entire venue from being destroyed. Full Score of Fear follows the same procedure as the majority of its predecessors. Conan gradually uncovers the truth behind each series of events, Kogorou makes a fool of himself with his botched deductions, and the police are generally about as much use as Genta trying to squeeze himself through a small hole. While not really offering anything new, it works and why mess with a format that isn’t broken? With its gripping and well thought-out narrative, the movie is thoroughly entertaining for both existing Detective Conan fans and, to a slightly lesser extent, those new to the series. Whenever I venture into another Detective Conan movie, I’m always anticipating what utterly ridiculous situations will arise and in which implausible manner Conan will save the day. Sadly, while its ludicrous nature is part of Detective Conan’s inherent charm, the outrageous activities of this pint-sized detective and his friends often distract from any clever plot twists and mystery. Luckily, while Full Score of Fear contains a few outlandish moments – one instance involving a phone, a football, and the tone-deaf Conan singing immediately comes to mind – this twelfth film is a little less absurd, though it’s difficult to know whether this is a good thing or not. While part of me misses antics such as untrained teenage girls crash landing a jumbo jet on a makeshift dockside runway, the other (more logical) half feels this gives the plot slightly more credibility. Ultimately whether this sacrifice of action and (unintentional) humour is worth it comes down to personal preference.AnimationWithout a doubt, a larger budget and more production time ensures the visual quality of the Detective Conan films is superior to that of the series, and Full Score of Fear doesn’t disappoint. Though the standard pointy character designs remain, the film’s musicality offers up some delectable animation. Whether pianist or violinist, the motion of every person playing their instrument is exquisite with each finger hitting piano keys perfectly in time with the soundtrack. Also, while it often appears somewhat awkward in other anime, the lip-syncing as Reiko performs at the concert is impressive and one of the best attempts at animated singing to grace my screen.SoundFull Score of Fear makes full use its plotline by complimenting it with a luscious soundtrack of classical pieces ranging from the haunting ‘Avé Maria’ to Bach’s dramatic ‘Toccata in Fugue’. The movie also makes good use of what I believe is one of the most beautiful, yet simultaneously evil songs in existence. Guaranteed to heighten the emotion of any scene in which it is used, ‘Amazing Grace’ has a cruel knack of tugging at the heartstrings no matter the situation and the movie takes full advantage of that fact and uses the tune for maximum impact.CharactersExpecting the viewer to have previous knowledge of Conan and the gang, Full Score of Fear doesn’t really explore its primary cast all that much. Having said that, the movie takes the opportunity to give another glimpse into Ran and Shinichi’s past. This keeps the ongoing romantic plot between the two alive throughout the film, weaving its importance into the narrative, and strengthening the viewer’s relationship with the series’ principal couple. As ever, Conan takes centre stage, with the usual subjects helping along the way – though fans of Kogorou may be disappointed to learn that he doesn’t feature that much in this latest Detective Conan instalment. Most of the new characters receive minimal screen time, but in this case the lack of a fully fleshed out supporting cast works well to allow for the maximum amount of intrigue. As the victim of various attacks, Reiko is the only new character to undergo any development. From appearing as a harsh or even unfriendly woman at first, she soon softens up to become an admirable and likeable accomplice for Conan, which is quite a feat for a two hour feature – especially since I still can’t stand Sonoko after all this time!OverallThough some smart-arses may confidently boast otherwise, Full Score of Fear keeps you guessing right up until its ‘big reveal’ while allowing for that sense of smug satisfaction if you manage to unravel even one thread of the narrative’s intricate web. While not particularly innovative or groundbreaking, Full Score of Fear is certainly entertaining and well worth a watch, especially for fans of the Detective Conan franchise.
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