In an anime and manga series as well known for violence and murder as Detective Conan is, it’s more than a little bizarre that explosions actually appear relatively rarely in the anime. The movies, on the other hand, are generally a non-stop jamboree of explosions, bombings, and crashes. When you consider the large volume of cases this boy detective has been involved in, this is more than a little strange. So why doesn’t Conan deal with more explosions? Is it just that the killers prefer a more “hands on” approach?
One thing that has always surprised me ever since coming to Japan was that despite the fact that Detective Conan is a children’s anime, it’s actually quite violent. Anecdotally, I can tell you that from the two times I’ve been to the limited-time-only cafes that opened, there are actually quite a few older fans, particularly women in their late teens, twenties, and even early thirties. That said, the anime itself is clearly targeted directly at children. Children… who are exposed to their weekly dose of backstabbing and murder.
Speaking of violence, let’s take a look at some stats first!1 As of volume 86 of the manga, Conan has dealt with a whopping 263 incidents, working out to 0.72 incidents per day (since the Detective Conan series, officially, has all occurred in less than one year). Regarding deaths, a total of 453 people and 334 people have lost their lives as of volume 74 of the manga and episode 631 of the anime, respectively. Not so bad, right? Well, not until you realize that approximately 1.24 people die per day in the manga and 0.9 in the anime. Ouch! Not exactly a place where I’d want to raise kids. For a point of comparison, in 2012 there were 118 murders acknowledged by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.2
Now, back to our discussion on explosions.
As it turns out, the Japan Gas Association was a sponsor of the Detective Conan anime from April 1997 through March 2015.3 This quite possibly explains not only why there’s a serious lack of explosions in the anime, but there also seems to be very few scenes of fire in general. In fact, after taking a look at other Japanese fan sites, it seems that across the nearly two decades that the anime has been on the air, poisonous gas also seems to be an incredibly rare occurrence, likely out of consideration for their sponsors; i.e., the company footing the anime’s bills. Incidentally, there have been no deaths related to gas leaks throughout the entire run of the anime and manga.
Well then, what about the movies? Well, fortunately for the movie staff, they don’t seem to have quite so many restrictions since the Japan Gas Association doesn’t have any monetary involvement. Whether they’re looking to make up for the lack of explosions in the anime in general or if they’re simply trying to keep things exciting for all the young fans is unclear, but as anyone who has seen the Detective Conan movies can attest, they certainly seem to not shy away from explosions, fires, or any other pyrotechnics.
And there you have it! As it turns out, even in a series as open about violence and murder as Detective Conan is, they obviously have some limits imposed on them due to monetary concerns, though whether these were explicitly or implicitly imposed on the series by the sponsor is unclear. I guess we’re about to find out, though. The Japan Gas Association stopped being a sponsor as of March 2015, so if we see a sudden spike in explosions and other untimely gas-related demises, we’ll have our answer!