Case Closed: Episode 1003 – “The 36-Cell Perfect Game (Part One)”

This episode sees Kogoro exchanging letters and e-mail with someone claiming to want to hire him to determine why his friend committed suicide in Nagano. One of the letters includes what is claimed to be a sheet of paper found lying on the floor near the body, and it looks like a code of some kind. This individual has also sent Kogoro a fee for the job, as well as four train tickets to Nagano. The original plan was for Conan, Ran, and Sonoko to accompany him, but Sonoko falls ill and Ran stays behind to look after her. Amuro and Kanenori Wakita, the sushi chef who works at the restaurant by Cafe Poirot, end up joining Kogoro and Conan.

When I heard Kogoro describing the situation leading up to this job, it really made me think of the circumstances that led to what happened in “The Moonlight Sonata Murder” story. My first thought was, “Oh, Kogoro, did you not learn anything from that?”

They get to the abandoned church in the middle of a snowstorm, and they find five other people are already there. Apparently, this is supposed to be a gathering to celebrate the life of the individual who committed suicide. The group of five are high school classmates, and each one thinks someone else in the group sent them a text about the gathering, with some of them denying they sent the text. Kogoro points out that they all mentioned each other. When Kogoro is asked why he is there and he explains who he got the letter from, the five friends are stunned… because he names the person who committed suicide as the sender of the letter. Sure enough, my guess that this sounded similar to the setup for “The Moonlight Sonata Murder” was a correct deduction. The others also reveal they got a similar code to the one Kogoro received in their text messages. Suddenly, a loud noise is heard from outside, and they discover that the “parking lot” has collapsed, and everyone’s cars have fallen down a ravine. Amuro points out to Kogoro afterwards that while the church building itself looks old, the parking lot sign looked new.

And things only get worse when Kogoro calls the Nagano police and is informed that a landslide has blocked a tunnel they have to go through in order to reach the church. The earliest they’d made it there would be the next day, assuming the weather cooperates. After hanging up the phone, one of the inspectors smells gunpowder, and seems to suspect that the landslide was caused by someone in order to trap the nine people at the church. By this point, the viewer feels pretty safe in assuming that something sinister is afoot and that these nine people are in danger.

In the church, they find a sheet of paper telling the group where to find “condolence messages” throughout the church. There’s nine locations, so it’s decided that everyone should be assigned to a location. After some arguing, the five friends come up with a system that they used a previous time to choose a “captain.” However, no one says why they were choosing a captain, and when Kogoro asks them what club they belonged to, no one says anything… so I’m guessing this piece of information is somehow going to be important to this case. And through an earlier conversation with one of the friends, Conan learns that this group played together in the field nearby the church when they were growing up.

After a short bit, eight of the nine people return with the piece of paper they’re supposed to find. After an hour has passed and the ninth person fails to appear, a couple of people in the group suggest they’ll go look for them. Amuro points out that they should all go together, because they don’t know the motivation of the person who has gathered them together at the church. When the idea that serial murders could take place, one of the friends makes a comment that if anyone would be killed first, it would be the deceased’s wife. But he is silenced by another person in the group, saying they shouldn’t be talking about that with outsiders. Hmmm… so another loose thread hanging out there that could potentially be an important component to this mystery.

Right at the end of the episode, the group makes it to where the ninth person is… and discover that they’re dead. From the preview, it looks like investigating this person’s murder is going to be the focus of at least part of the next episode.

This is an interesting case, although it is a little disappointing that the setup relies on Kogoro falling for the same trick that got him involved in “The Moonlight Sonata Murder” case. But from what I’m seeing, it appears this story is a canon storyline from the manga, so I guess the blame for this similar setup would fall on Gosho Aoyama. While it’s disappointing, it does also make sense. Let’s be honest for a minute, Kogoro isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and if he was need of a case at that particular moment, he’d probably look past this potentially suspicious circumstance. But even with this minor nitpick, I’m still looking forward to seeing how this story arc and mystery are going to progress in next week’s episode.

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