Is Conan a Bigger Criminal Than the People He Catches?

Not so innocent, now is he?

Not so innocent, now is he?

Whether in the form of Shinichi Kudo or Conan Edogawa (for simplicity, we’ll go with Conan), the titular character of Detective Conan is known for doggedly pursuing the truth – There is Only One Truth! – and fighting to bring to justice the criminals that seem to inhabit every corner of their fictional world. In spite of the rather questionable competence of the other characters and even the police themselves, through the use of his top-rate detective skills he seems to always bring the villains to justice. But when you stop and think about it, Conan himself breaks an obscene amount of laws in his pursuit of this justice. Do the ends really justify the means?

Yes Conan, that's illegal.

Yes Conan, that’s illegal.

That’s not to imply that Conan himself is a murderer, of course. Seeing as most of the people they’re up against on a daily basis are murderers (either on purpose or by accident), I think we can give him a bit of leeway in how he pursues the suspects and their motives. After all, it’s not like he’s a police officer. That said, it still comes off as just a tad hypocritical for him to be judging the Black Organization so harshly for drugging him when he drugs Kogoro on nearly a daily basis!

So what are some of these laws Conan breaks? Glad you asked! For the sake of simplicity, I’ve broken them down by item.

  • Turbo Engine Skateboard

This is a pretty clear violation of the Road Traffic Act, for several reasons. First and foremost, it’s pretty clear in the eye of the Japanese law, the use of a skateboard on public roads is pretty much out of the question. Though skateboards aren’t specifically mentioned, this is addressed in Article 76(4)(iii),1 which states that:

(4) No person shall commit any of the acts listed in the following items:   …

(iii) playing with a ball or roller-skates or engaging in any similar acts on a road with a large amount of traffic; …

Chasing after a car – even if it has your friend locked in its trunk2 – is generally out of the question. But even if we were to ignore that, the very fact that the skateboard has an engine installed on it also makes it illegal to use on sidewalks. The good news is that almost none of these offenses would actually carry jail time. Yay!

Skateboarding on the sidewalk AND on the phone??

Skateboarding on the sidewalk AND on the phone??

  • Tranquilizer Watch

Where do I begin on this? Even owning this watch is against the law, to say nothing about actually shooting people with it. Under Article 76-4 of the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices,3 the manufacture, importation, sale, receipt, possession, purchase, transfer, or use for any non-medical use of designated pharmaceuticals (which includes tranquilizers) other than those provided by laws and ordinances are strictly forbidden.

  • Power-Enhancing Kick Shoes

You would think that Conan, who sees people get arrested on a daily basis for having assaulted people, would avoid kicking things at high speeds at people, regardless of whether they’re a criminal or not. Once again, Conan could easily be found guilty of causing “bodily injury,” which is covered by Article 204 of the Penal Code:4

A person who causes another to suffer injury shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than 500,000 yen.

It’s not so bad if he gets away with the fine, but when you consider how slow time passes in the world of Detective Conan, the “not more than 15 years” would definitely be a raw deal!

Calling your lawyer, Conan?

Calling your lawyer, Conan?

And there you have it! Over his many, many years of crime solving, it seems that Conan would have racked up quite an impressive amount in fines and, more than likely, an even more impressive prison sentence. Don’t get me wrong – obviously he could make a pretty strong self-defense claim in many of these situations, but unfortunately Japan has a pretty strict interpretation of self-defense, and “stopping a bad guy from making his escape” doesn’t really fall under the letter of the law.

On the other hand, when you consider the obscenely high crime rate in the world of Detective Conan, the police obviously have their hands full. I guess that at least will give Conan a pass for now!


  1. See the Road Traffic Act
  2. Episode 12
  3. Japan is known for obscenely long law names – you’ll get used to it after awhile
  4.  See the Penal Code
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