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Magic Kaito is a four-volume (currently) manga series starring Kaito Kuroba, an Ordinary High School Student. He has a pretty sweet life: a small but nice house, a loving mother, and a childhood friend in Aoko Nakamori, whose father just happens to be a respected Inspector at Ekoda's Division Three. He's also incredibly smart, athletic and has fast fingers.
Everything's perfectly fine, until one day when he finds out about a recent resurgence by a local villain, a mysterious Phantom Thief clothed in white and famous for his signature cape, hat and monocle who specialises in using stage magic and street magic to steal his targets. Feeling challenged (since all Shounen characters must inevitably have some form of ego in order to advance the plot), he decides to find out all he can about the man.
That's when he stumbles upon the secret room in his house filled with props and innumerable pieces of junk. And also a white tux, a cape, a top hat and a monocle. Alarmed by the discovery of a veritable Bat Cave in his own home, young Kaito suits up as best he can and heads out to ask some questions. Turns out that the guy currently running around is not only an old friend of the family, but Kaito's dead father was the original Phantom Thief - until one day he was brutally killed in an 'accidental' explosion on stage. The old friend of the family, Jii, is under the impression something incredibly funny happened, and not anything particularly ha-ha funny either.
Well, turns out he's right, and now the only way to find out what happened is to lure the killers out into the open the only way Kaito knows how: by taking up his father's mantle and becoming the new Phantom Thief.
His new name? Kaitou Kid.
Sound familiar? It should. The Kaitou Kid also happens to be one of the most popular characters of Detective Conan - the infinitely more famous detective show by the same mangaka, Gosho Aoyama. The two series are set in the same 'verse, and since Magic Kaito volumes stopped being produced, you can thank Canon Welding for his continuing existence and that of his peers.
At first, Magic Kaito is very much a formulaic comedy - Kaito notices something shiny, attempts to steal it, and Inspector Nakamori attempts to stop him (most likey failing) - but, just like its better-known successor, the series quite promptly catches Cerebus Syndrome, although this series somehow manages it sometimes during its second volume, which is probably some kind of record. Well, yeah, it's still very formulaic afterwards; but the fact that Kaito has a purpose after that point becomes a major part of his motivation. The series is pretty notable, not only for its contribution to the Detective Conan universe, but also for featuring a lot of arcane magic which, sitting next to Conan, would likely render most of its logic moot. (Then again, it is a manga about one of the more chaotic characters of anime and manga. There's no time for logic when you can manipulate time and space.)
- Abnormal Ammo: Kaito's gun shoots cards. Of all the things...
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Robo-Kaito.
- Art Evolution: This manga's early artwork can be very jarring if you've dropped by from reading any volume of Detective Conan, or even from the Shounen Sunday specials.
- Indeed. The first and second volumes of the series show Gosho's style was much more cartoonier and, in some ways, sloppier: lanky bodies, thinly inked lines, and abuse of screentones. His style got more proportioned, refined and cleaner as time went on.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kaito and Aoko play this to a T.
- Betty and Veronica: Or something like that. For Aoko, she could pick either Kaito or Hakuba, although everybody knows how this one goes in Gosho's work. However, both can be pretty arsy.
- Black Magician Girl: Akako Koizumi is, admittedly, a Cute Witch.
- Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: In one chapter Kaito is kidnapped by a clueless Mad Scientist who then unleashes Robo-Kaito on the world while keeping Kaito tied up. Mad Scientist gets mad and confused when Robo-Kaito runs off to play Kid at night. When Kaito finally escapes, explosions and Fridge Brilliance ensues.
- But Not Too Foreign: Hakuba might seem like a pompous Brit (and is even introduced with the Union Flag), but he's only half-English. This is pointed out during his first appearance when, despite being one of the most well known detectives in England, he's also shown to be the son of the highest-ranking police officer in Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan's Superintendent General).
- Calling Card: Kaito always sends a letter ahead to let the police know what he's going after in the form of a riddle. If nothing else it means that he finds out quickly when someone is planning on framing him for something, and can take steps to properly humiliate them.
- Clock King: Saguru Hakuba, who uses his freakishly accurate pocket watch to keep track of time down to the hundredths of a second and knows just how late Kid will be to any given heist...and well, apparently Kid picked this up to a certain extent while fighting Conan.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Kaito might be the desperado, but he's still the one that wears white.
- Colorful Theme Naming: It's Gosho Aoyama, it exists. Everyone's name is related to a colour: Kaito Kuroba, Aoko Nakamori, Ginzo Nakamori, Akako Koizumi, Saguru Hakuba, and even Keiko Momoi.
- Dirty Cop: Nightmare, aka Jack Connery, ICPO.
- Eureka Moment: In one chapter, Kaito figures out how a street magician got a parliamentary pin after a kidnapper claiming to be the Kaitou Kid took the Japanese Prime Minister, when Aoko tells him the key to beating the boss of their video game is to defeat the king controlling him first.
- Evil Overlord List: Kaito's read it. Snake most certainly hasn't.
- Flanderization: Fanfiction loves this for Hakuba. See Ho Yay.
- For Halloween I Am Going as Myself: Variation, in that Kaito dresses as his alter ego, Kaitou Kid, for a skiing/costume contest (Makes Just as Much Sense in Context)
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: During the Angel Crown heist date chapter/special.
- Green Rocks: Pandora, the stone Kaito is looking for, is a mystical gemstone that bequeaths immortality to whoever holds it underneath a certain comet.
- If I Can't Have You: Akako figures that, if she wants to control all men on the planet, she might as well kill off the one who she can't control.
- Impossible Thief: Some of the stuff Kaito manages to pull off are pretty nuts.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Gosho Aoyama apparently had watched it. Toichi and Nakamori-keibu had a suspiciously Harry and Perry type relationship, and now when Kaito has the compulsion to help the police, it seems we get some of that back.
- Latex Perfection: Kaito, when he has a mind to do it. Often though he doesn't bother, leading to a time where Inspector Nakamori saw his face, forcing Kaito to disguise as Aoko and taunt the Inspector with the lie that he regularly disguises as someone from his life.
- MacGuffin: See Green Rocks. Also, any piece of artwork Kaito is aiming to steal will usually become one, considering said object will little have any effect on the plot (except that one time the MacGuffin was a statue).
- Not Himself: Inspector Nakamori. Thanks a lot, Akako.
- Pair the Spares: Hakuba/Akako is a preferred pairing with Kaito/Aoko fans.
- Panty Shot / Accidental Pervert: Played with. Upon seeing Aoko's panties, Kaito is scared because her panties have fish pattern. Aoko is then all too eager to show her panties.
- Phantom Thief: Kaitou Kid's profession.
- Refuge in Cool: Most of early Magic Kaito can be summed up as "Why is there a pirate submarine/mad robot/fish/dark sorceress intent on stealing Kaito's heart? Because there can be."
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Kaito's card gun is a revolver. His enemies have sniper rifles. Then again, they're specifically trying to shoot him out of the sky.
- Secret Identity: Only Kaito and Jii are meant to know that Kaito's the Kid.
- Stage Magician: Kaito's father was one and Kaito is pretty much practicing to become one.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Inspector Nakamori very much so. To a point Hakuba, but with less Butt Monkey and more near-successes.
- The Mean Brit: As Hakuba is pretty much a straight guy, Kaito may lean toward labeling him this way — though Hakuba is half-Japanese.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Kid in early Magic Kaito chapters frequently uses various types of rocket-powered vehicles, be they skates or devices that can ride down the side of a building. And then of course there's the hang glider cape...
- Why Did It Have To Be Fish: Especially when he has to rescue Aoko from a sunken pirate submarine (don't ask).
- You Killed My Father: Kaito's main motivation against the bad guys is to get them back for murdering his father onstage and playing it up as an accident.