A Detective is one who works to solve crimes and mysteries of the world using not brawn, but their minds. These can be part of law enforcement or freelance.
A detective in anime and manga is a concept that shows a hero that doesn't use brawn or weapons to solve a mystery. The strongest tools in a detectives arsenal are their own eyes, knowledge, attentiveness, and memory. They normally pose the best threat against the highly intelligent villain.
The themes in detective stories always seems to include one or many twists. If it was just as it seemed, then most likely a detective wouldn't be needed in the first place. It has been a popular theme used in series such as Detective Conan and Death Note.
The idea of the fictional detective who solves a mystery is far older then most people come to realize. For as long as humans have been around we have strives to discovery how and why things the way they are. It only stands to reason that this would exist in the stories we tell. The detective is the person we see as the one who is willing to look and to find out why.
The idea of the detective in literature dates back as far as the 9th or 14th century in one of the stories that are told in the tale of "One and Thousand Nights", more commonly known as The Arabian Nights. The story among the collection is called "The Three Apples". In the tale a fisherman finds a locked chest along the Tigris River. He sells the chest he found and the new owners force the lock open. Inside they find the dismembered body of a young woman. Ja'far ibn Yahya, a vizier, is given the task of solving the mystery of this woman's brutal killing in three days or face execution himself.
Ja'far ibn Yahya finds two suspects. One young man and one old man. Both claim to be the killer. The identity of the real killer is revealed when the young man is able to describe the chest the body was found in. The young man was the victim's husband and murdered his wife believing her to be unfaithful do to a series of twists. The older man was the young man's father-in-law and was trying to protect his remaining family.
During the 18th Century there was the story of Dee Gong An(Celebrated Case of Judge Dee). The story followed a tail of Judge Dee who lived during the late 600. The book included three separate stories that are all solved by Judge Dee and include themes used in murder mysteries to this very day still.
The themes consist of murder for wealth, murder of passion, and murder of rage.
One of the most well known authors of Japanese detective fiction is easily Edogawa Rampo, real name Tarō Hirai(1894-1965). He is also the founder of the Japanese Detective Story Club. His greatest inspiration came from Western style detective novels, especially the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. the detective of his own creation was named Kogoro Akechi. The first story in which he appeared as "Case of the Murder on D-Slope" (D坂の殺人事件 , D-zaka no satsujin jiken). The character was quite similar to the Holmes model of the eccentric and brilliant mind that on occasions would assist the police.
One of the most popular detectives in Western culture is easily the fiction character known as Sherlock Holmes, penned by the author Arther Conan Doyle. The character premiered in London in the Beeton's Christmas Annual (1887). The first story was titled, "A Study in Scarlet". The story wasn't in it's own book until July of 1888 by the publishing company Ward, Lock, & Co., and it went for the price of one shilling.
Of most literary characters, Sherlock Holmes is one that most people mistake as actually being a real person. The character was in fact based upon a real friend and colleague the author. His name was Dr. Joseph Bell.
Sherlock Holmes is an example of a super intelligent detective. These type of characters seem to have a near impossible level of knowledge that branches from many different disciples.
To this kind of character. The smallest details can have large meaning. The words that are used, the soil on the shoes, and the way a person dresses can tell this kind of detective anything they seem to need.
The far more American concept of the detective is better known through the idea of the Private Detective, or as the character is more often called, " P.I., Private Eye, and Private Dick". The concept of the Private Detective in literature actually dates as far back as in the works of the famed, dark author Edgar Allen Poe in his character C. Auguste Dupin from the story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"(1841).
Unlike the Sherlock Holmes, super intelligent version of a detective. The Private Eye is more seen as having 'street smarts'. They always seem to have a darker edge in their personality. They may not always be the smartest person in the world, but they know where they need to go and have a deep knowledge of their surroundings and the people within it. It's the difference between the genius and the wise man. The genius has vast amounts of knowledge. The wise man knows how to use the things he knows in more practical terms.
The icons of the Private Detective comes mostly from 1940 era character Marlowe that was portrayed by the actor Humphery Bogart. This image of the trench coat and fedora wearing private detective became a standard in the film-noir genre. The character is often a heavy smoker and drinker.
The idea of the Police Detective shares much in the same themes of the Private Detective, but they are a regular member of law enforcement. This makes them limited by all the regulations that come with it. The police detective stereotype is more often seen as being a brash and reckless person with many personality problems who take issue with their superiors. Often seen fighting for the 'little guy'. Examples of this type of fictional characters are Harry Callahan, from the 1971 film Dirty Harry; and John McClane, from the 1988 film Die Hard.
Other versions of the police detective is the image of the strictly by the book type of person. Always in a suit and the complete professional. This idea was made popular by the character Joe Friday, played by Jack Webb, in the TV series Dragnet that began in the 1950s and ran through to the 1970s.
A third type of police detective is the Burn Out personality. This police officer often has a seriously troubled past and is often on the brink of sanity. They tend to go off the handle easily. One of the most popular examples if this type of detective was the character Martin Riggs, played by Mel Gibson in the 1987 action-comedy movie Lethal Weapon. This character is more often seen in a reluctant partnership with a by the book type of detective.
Police Detective are often separated into different aspects of investigation that goes along with their expertise and specialties. These can be for crimes such as homicide, theft, arson, assaults, and gang related crimes.
The concept of the detective was nearly unheard of until the works of Edogawa Rampo, but in the modern day culture of manga and anime. The detective has branched out into a large number of series and becomes extremely popular. These stories have ranged from the reality based to the more supernatural. Going so far as to create even new styles of detectives that are unique to Japan.
Shinichi Kudo is a high school detective of the Detective Conan series. The character was modeled after the idea of Sherlock Holmes. A brilliant mind that works closely with the police. During an outing with his childhood friend Ran. He witnessed a secret dealing with two members of an evil syndicate. One of the members spotted his eavesdropping, struck him across the head, then force fed him an experimental drug that was intended to kill him. Due to a flaw in the drug his body chemistry was altered and shrunk to the form of a child. He used technology and gadgets to make up for his weakened body.
He took on the pseudonym of two of his favorite mystery writers to protect his identity. Combining Arthur Conan Doyle and Edogawa Rampo to become Conan Edogawa. He is able to use his childish appearance to slip into areas and prod suspects for information who are caught off guard by his childish size. His goal is to find and bring down the Black Organization, and return his body to it's natural size.
Known only by the name of a single letter. The detective L is the most powerful and brilliant detective in the suspense series Death Note. He is a very eccentric character who has an obsession for sweets. His attention to details is able to find the solution in a logical manner to come to fascinating deductions. Though he appears frail and physically weak. he is remarkable strong and skilled in unarmed combat. Once thought as just a rumor. He kept his face and voice a closely guarded secret. Appearing only on a computer screen with a single printed letter L. He became public to find and capture the serial killer known as Kira, who was actually Light Yagami. the two battled fiercely to expose the other while putting up the farce of friendship. It was a battle that cost L his life, but victory over Kira was won through his actions and legacy.
Heiji Hattori is the best high school detective of Western Japan from Osaka in the Detective Conan series. He is similar in skill to Shinichi Kudo, but often much more passionate and hot headed. His father is the chief of the Osaka police force. So, this gives him much closer links to the police then his Eastern counterpart. Hattori was once a bitter rival of Shinich Kudo for the title of best detective, but through events discovered Conan's secret identity. Now they have become close friends and collaborate quite often on cases. Normally, and Heiji's request. He has also assisted Conan by posing as a fake Shinichi to protect his secret identity. At best he has shown to be second in deductive skill to Shinichi Kudo.
Kogoro Mouri was once a police detective and turned private detective. A major character in the Detective Conan series. He is the father of Shinichi Kudo's childhood friend Ran. He left the force to follow private practice, but retains a close friendship with his former colleges. He is a heavy smoker and very skilled in judo. He is a competently skilled detective, but was struggling in his work. His deductions were frequently wrong. After Shinichi was shrunk and became Conan Edogawa, He moved in with Kogoro and became the unwitting pawn in Conan's goal to discover the Black Organization that changed him. Conan will use a sleeping dart to knock out Kogoro and pose him as if he is awake. Through the use on a special gadget. Conan is able to mimic Kogoro's voice. This has earned Kogoro great fame in Japan as the Sleeping Detective. Most just assume it's part of an act, but Kogoro has no memory of what happens, but is more then willing to take the credit and attention. This fame has earned him much more work.
Though frequently wrong in his own deduction. He has been able to come to the proper solution on a few rare occasions. Normally, when Conan would nudge him when he would get stuck or start heading down the wrong direction.
Near is the direct successor to the detective L in the series Death Note. Near as raised in the Wammy House that was a front for raising gifted children to become the next L if anything became of the original. After L was murdered. A computer program was activated that passed all the information L had gathered. That was when Near and Mello were activated. Near is far closer to personality to L, but very young. Both are awkward personalities. Though, Nears obsession is toys rather then sweets. When Near started his investigation he started where L had left off and used the name N. He was assisted by the F.B.I., and like L. He suspected Light Yagami to be the serial killer Kira. Through assistance of the F.B.I. and his own resources. Near was able to expose Light Yagami as Kira and bring him to justice in the name of L.
Mello is easily considered the dark shadow of the detective L in Death Note. Like Near, both grew up in the Wammy House, but had vastly different ideas about how to take on the role of L after the original was murdered. Mello is much more physically more proactive. He has an obsession for chocolate bars. He often works with and hires criminal gangs under his employ and used criminal actions to conduct his own investigation of Kira. His actions are also far more heavy handed. At one point kidnapping Chief Soichiro Yagami daughter, Light's sister, to blackmail him for the Death Note they had in their possession.
Mello did sacrifice himself as a victim to assist Near in finally apprehending Light as Kira.
Juzo Megure is the chief inspector of the homicide division of the Tokyo Police in the Detective Conan series. He used to work closely with Kogoro Mouri back when he was with the police forces. He dresses in the classic ideal of a 1950s era police detective. Often seen wearing a trench coat and hat when on duty. He always wears a hat to cover a scar on his forehead he got in the line of duty when he was a much younger police officer. His skill as a detective is about equal to Kogoro Mouri. Possibly slightly better since he will point out the many flaws in Kogoro's early deductions.
He normally will require the assistance to Conan Edogawa to capture the criminals.