Monday, April 11, 2016

Anime Talk: Magic Kaito 1412

At the time this is going up, I'll have been out traveling for the past few days and I didn't have time to come up with something I was comfortable posting, so instead I'm pulling out a backlogged post that never went live about a favorite anime series of mine.

My review of Magic Kaito 1412 went live at Diabolical Plots about this time last year, and at the time I really liked it a lot, but it's hard to say how much until time has given some perspective. And you know, it might not break any new ground, but it's still pretty damn fun. As someone said in the Crunchyroll viewer comments, "Magic Kaito is the show you didn't know you needed."

I certainly didn't.

It's cheesy, unrealistic, and soaked with unabashed wish fulfillment, but Magic Kaito's enthusiasm makes up for so much. Kaito himself is really what sells the show.

Teenage Kaito Kuroba is secretly Kid the Phantom Thief, and with the help of his father's friend (who plays Alfred to his Batman), he pulls off stunts and impossible thefts to search for the elusive Pandora Gem, which can only be revealed by holding a large gem to the moonlight to see if there is a second gem hidden inside that shines red. The men who killed Kaito's father are after the gem, believing that when Pandora is held to the sky it will shed a tear granting immortality.

Kaito decides that he will thwart them by finding the gem first, and then destroying it.

But Kaito is a trickster and loves the spotlight, so it's not enough to simply beat them to any gem that could possibly be the Pandora. He has to show off, sending advance notices of his thefts, and pulling off stunts that appear extraordinary, and sometimes they are, but are usually the result of careful prep work, much like any good performance.

One of the things that I love about Kaito is that unlike Batman, he's not consumed by his quest to avenge his father. Why he's doing this vigilante work does bother him from time to time, but he believes that isn't all there is to him, and there will eventually be a lot more to his life than being Kid.

Personally, I love seeing Kaito go about his prep work since it's something we don't often get with pop culture thieves, who often look like they just decided to break in one day and they immediately know how everything is set up. Kaito and his father's friend Jii are a two person operation which means that one or the other of them is doing the legwork and neither of them are fabulously rich (though Kaito seems to be upper middle class since his family can afford a two story house in Tokyo).

Though Magic Kaito 1412 performed well in the Japanese TV ratings, regularly beating anime shows like Dragonball and Pokemon that are more famous on this side of the Pacific, it's largely been overlooked in the United States.

Crunchyroll eventually licensed it, for which I'm glad, though it happened mid-season, which resulted in the show slipping in under the radar with little media coverage. Considering that Crunchyroll already had its sibling program Case Closed I'd like to think that the delay was due to contractual negotiations, but I can't help wondering if part of it also might be that Magic Kaito just doesn't register that well on our side of the pond.

Though Magic Kaito takes place in the same world and is older than Case Closed when it comes to the original manga, Kaito probably would not have become as famous if he had not become a much loved guest star in the Case Closed series, and Case Closed did not perform as well as its original US licensee had hoped. As a result, the series was discontinued with only one release of Kaito's TV appearances as Kaitou Kid ("kaitou" being Japanese for "phantom thief") and a single movie appearance.

Whereas in Japan, Case Closed has been on the air for an incredible 20 years and is releasing its 20th theatrical movie this April (it's an annual thing).

I would love to buy DVD or Blu-ray copies of Magic Kaito 1412, and heck, I'd like to spring for the Case Closed episodes and remaining movies where he appears, but not everything simulcast gets a physical release and I suspect that Magic Kaito continues to fly too far under the radar to be even a rescue license.

But I'd like to hope.

So I'm talking about it in hopes that others who like a good romp with a teenage phantom thief, or are just on the lookout for underappreciated anime, might check it out.

Until then, I'll leave this fan music video, mostly containing footage from Kaito's appearances in Magic Kaito 1412 and last year's Case Closed/Detective Conan movie. If you can't tell, he's the fancy one in the white suit, because a gentleman thief's gotta have style!