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"Kudo Shinichi: high school intrepid reporter in a city of super-powered vigilantes and villains. Current status: In distress, probably. Could really use a superhero, maybe. Waiting on a certain team of teen heroes to get their shit together, mostly. Snarky and annoyed, definitely."

Dominoes is an Alternate Universe Super Fic of Detective Conan written by archiveofourown author Scratchienails that functions as a Deconstruction Fic for the superhero genre. In a world where the highly manipulative Kudo Yusaku is responsible for leading the International Super-Hero Association as a Batman Expy called Night Baron and trains a group of teenagers to fight disturbances to the peace, trust and truth are rare commodities.

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Especially to his son.

Tropes Appearing in Dominoes:

  • Abusive Parents: After eight chapters of having all the warning signs, [[spoiler:Yusaku openly proves he is this to Shinichi in chapter 9, rationalizing his years of power abuse over Shinichi by slowly and methodically explaining that he deems all his son is and cares about to be "useless" and inferior to everyone else in the room—except for his skills at soccer, something that Shinichi has long ago lost emotional investment in. He then puts on a faux fatherly act and verbally coerces Shinichi to retreat from who he is now back to the soccer player he no longer wants to be. He does this all in front of the Irregulars, who are so shocked at Yusaku's cruelty that they appear unable to fully process what they've just witnessed.
    • Yusaku's also abusive to Hakuba in order to maintain his allegiance to Yusaku's goals and methods, but in a much more subtle way: when Hakuba is outraged and hurt over the openly abusive treatment Yusaku gave Shinichi in chapter 9, Yusaku reacts with deep condescension, writing off Hakuba's pain and emotional hurt as something in the line of "Shinichi's dramatics" and implying that such emotions are childish and beneath someone like Hakuba. This stance communicates both the repressive abuse Yusaku puts others under and yet another subtle example of the condescension Yusaku feels towards Shinichi and the situation he has forced Shinichi into—showing that Yusaku trivializes the legitimacy of Shinichi's feelings even around Hakuba, the one person who supposedly knows his true reasons and has always insisted that Yusaku loves his son and has done so much for him. Because of this, there is no reason for this particular moment besides causing pain; if Yusaku has been honest with Hakuba and thus has no reason for facade, then his rationalizations to Hakuba end up running on circular logic: we must lie to Shinichi to keep him happy and we must hurt Shinichi when he finds out we lied because he needs to know that he should have been content being lied to, even if Shinichi's misery and punishing him for that misery self-defeats the whole alleged purpose of the plan. Somehow, perhaps because he's been raised in this abusive environment for so long, Hakuba doesn't seem to see this; he knows it's a "doomed" scenario but either doesn't realize or can't afford to consider that the best solution for everyone is to scrap this policy regarding Shinichi altogether.

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  • Accomplice by Inaction: The Irregulars in the face of Yusaku's increasingly obviously abusive behavior. Chapter 9 basically destroyed any subsequent plausible deniability, and while the issue temporarily splits the Irregulars, they have so far failed to actually do anything to end their complacence in Shinichi's abuse; in fact they don't bring it up again after parting ways that night and functionally act like nothing happened to disrupt their group throughout the rest of the chapter. The only acknowledgement to what happened comes from Ran after she's left the group to talk to Shinichi. While Ran makes clear that she thinks Yusaku crossed a line and is unable to provide an actual reason for why she conformed to his cruel treatment of Shinichi, the excuse she gives—that she just wanted Shinichi to be safe—makes Shinichi conclude that Ran stood aside and let this happen without thinking it was wrong because she'd adopted Yusaku's condescending perspective of Shinichi as a "weak little fool" and burden, whether she's willing to acknowledge that or not.

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  • Alternate Universe: All the characters are superheroes, supervillains, or "normal" people living in a universe with those things.

  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • It's unclear why Hakuba keeps reinforcing the psychologically and emotionally abusive treatment he and Yusaku give Shinichi, because all it's succeeded in doing is making Shinichi resent and distrust them, and he knows this.
    • How aware are the rest of the cast of Shinichi's powers? Ran discusses Shinichi like he's a fragile being who can't handle danger or his own investigations, and even Hakuba, Shinichi's surrogate brother and perhaps Yusaku's closest confidant, puzzles over how Shinichi is so competent at investigating while having been denied any formal training—the answer of which would be obvious if he knew of Shinichi's powers, which seem specifically geared towards information-seeking. It's easy to assume Hakuba knows more than any other teen member of the cast, given his knowledge is often described deliberately ambiguously as if it's some great secret—but how much has Yusaku really told him, and how much was actually true? Chapter 10 confirms that the rest of the Irregulars didn't know, but it's still unclear how much Hakuba knows.
    • By Chapter 10, it's become readily apparent that Yusaku's motivations for his actions are very different from what he says they are. Given that Hakuba is supposedly his confidant yet Yusaku appears to give Hakuba similarly holes-ridden justifications for his actions, does Hakuba actually know Yusaku's real reasons (and thus, are Yusaku's actual reasons truly so poorly thought out), or is Yusaku simply lying to Hakuba too?

  • Big Brother Is Watching: The amount of surveillance and control Yusaku puts towards his son is heavily implied to be at this level, judging by Shinichi's reaction to Hattori's attempts at friendship and the instructional texts being sent to the officers during Shinichi's debriefing with the police.
    • Kaito's status as a Technomancer means, among other things, that all cameras everywhere do his bidding. Along with all electronic security systems, high-speed transportation, most forms of distance communication, and the internet. However, this may be downplayed, as Shinichi's deduced there are limits on what Kaito can control, though we don't know what those limits are yet).

  • Black and White Insanity: Aoko becomes a more clearly extreme example as the story goes on. She begins by insisting in chapter 5 that "the world was good and innocent and only one heartless criminal (KID) was at fault for taking [Kaito's] father away" and narrates how she desires to "show him how much the police were working to improve the world, how much the Overseers sacrificed to protect people from disasters and monsters and bad guys with too much evil in their hearts." During the blowout with Kaito in Chapter 4, when Aoko begins to rant about all of the pain KID has made everyone suffer (by which she means her and her family), Kaito asks about the pain her side caused his family. Her response ("You're a criminal! A supervillain! Just like he was!") is not only a dodge, but when added to her previous line, seems to imply the Kurobas deserved the pain of losing a family member because of Kaito and Toichi being KID. In chapter 10, Aoko demonstrates a similar complete inability to feel empathy for Shinichi's Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal and suffering at Yusaku's and the Irregulars' hands because he "betrayed them" and "helped a criminal" (KID). When Hattori bites back that Shinichi had good reasons, Aoko dodges by exclaiming about how Shinichi damaged Ran's hair and unmasked her, actions which are only tangentially related and very obviously nothing close to what the Irregulars put Shinichi through. The implication is that Shinichi's victimhood is illegitimized by the fact that the antagonists he took action against were those that Aoko has dubbed "heroes," and therefore do not deserve to face consequences for wrongdoings because they are heroes and therefore everything they do is right and justified, meaning any act Shinichi took against them (especially involving KID) makes him the bad guy who betrayed them and not the other way around. All of this merely builds on the most telling line about her in the story thus far: while she does express the motivation to prevent other children losing their parents like Kaito did, Aoko openly admits that she'd "wanted to say she was in the hero business to help people... but in the end, she still had to go home to a lonely house and hope her father didn't get spend all night uselessly going over the same reports again. If she caught KID, all that would come to an end." Aoko didn't join the Irregulars to do good, she joined for vengeance, which she's deluded herself into believing is justice and that as a member of ISHA, only their idea of justice is justified (ironically, the vengence = justice mentality is the exact reason why Kaito became KID in the first place).
    • The narrative has completely illegitimized Aoko's supposedly good intentions by chapter 10. At the beginning of the story, Aoko presents her supposed main justification for joining the Irregulars and considering Kaitou KID the root of all evil to be Kaito's father's death and her unwillingness to let that happen to someone else. Four chapters in she finds out that Kaito's father was Kaitou KID and writes him and Kaito off as evil because her father's dedication to catching KID led to him neglecting his family even while his wife was dying. By nine chapters in the revelation that Kaito's father was the victim murdered by a member of ISHA and that she's joined the side that not only left Kaito suffering and fatherless but also lied about it and denied his family closure completes the debasement of this justification, leaving her pinwheeling desperately for reasons why Shinichi (and, by his proxy, Kaito) are the bad guys but unwilling to abandon or reflect on her reasons for feeling this way. In this instance and in others within the story, Aoko repeatedly demonstrates a behavioral pattern that implies she's deliberately seeking refuge in naivete and simplistic views of morality because she doesn't want to face the more complicated and emotionally challenging reality; the resulting Black and White Insanity appears to be her way of protecting herself from painful self-reflection.

  • Break His Heart to Save Him: For chapters 1-8, Hakuba and Ran seem to be running on this mentality to justify their actions when it comes to Shinichi. After finding out their secret, Shinichi, chafing under the subtext of an intensely condescending lack of respect and faith evident in their actions towards him, flips the script and breaks up with Ran. He struggles with emotionally going through with it in the moment, but describes it afterwards as a "relief."

  • Break Them by Talking: Hakuba notes that Yusaku has a specific voice, tone, and linguistic strategy he uses to do this specifically to minors. The most egregious example of this is Yusaku's horrifically emotionally abusive "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his own son in chapter 9 (and the implications from that conversation of the exact depth and duration of the abuse).

  • Bystander Syndrome: A particularly ironic example. Half the cast are teenage superheroes, who despite the fact that they are being trained to be active problem-solvers in any crisis, are standing aside, permitting, and even reinforcing someone's abuse - because higher authorities have assured them everything's okay about it.

  • Central Theme:
    • Justice (and injustice), and the complications of its ramifications within human society. All of the central characters feel they are enacting justice in some way, but the narrative draws us to question whether they truly are.
      • Aoko, for example, is a superheroine who fights crime, but her Black and White Insanity when dealing with KID brings her capabilities of deciding what is just into question. Both Aoko and Kaito, ex-friends on opposite sides of the battlefield, are motivated by their mentally equating justice with vengeance for a perceived wrong against them: Aoko feels KID has slighted her by causing her father to work late nights and neglect his family; Kaito feels he is attaining justice in fighting Aoko's ISHA superteam because ISHA covered up his father's murder at the hands of Aoko's mentor, and thus sees their authority over justice as illegitimate.
      • The Irregulars, a team of teen superheroes, are essentially the main teen DC reoccurring characters cast as expys of the Teen Titans, and their leader is Yusaku if he were Batman, but despite their desire to do genuine good, their blatant hypocrisies and abuse reinforcement towards Kudo Shinichi have enacted just as much injustice as justice, something they are inconsistently aware of.
      • The actual justice department—as in law enforcement—is superseded in authority by the Overseers, the most powerful superheroes in the world. That the expy group of the "Justice League" is instead called the "Overseers" even brings to mind the plantation worker tasked with beating slaves into complacency, a reference to one of the greatest injustices humans have ever done to each other.
      • Shinichi posits a more morally grey take on justice, admitting that his methods are at times unscrupulous and never claiming to be a moral authority, but sincerely believing that any and all methods outside of harming others should be done to protect any and all lives that are at risk, no matter how pedestrian the problem may seem—something that sets him apart from the superheroes and the police, who often either don't notice or don't prioritize these issues. This positions Shinichi at the right place and time to pick up on grassroots problems within the city that the superheroes don't address, which often leads to him doing, ironically, more long-term good and justice for those involved, despite the lack of respect he's given.
    • Shinichi's journalism also highlights the theme of knowledge being equated with power, even in a world with actual superpowers, and how a knowledge disparity can quickly descend into an injustice. The superheroes squirrel away secrets that might affect the public for the sake of being able to act more freely on what they think is best and have more power over the situation, consequently causing most of the Moral Myopia within the story. Shinichi illuminates what others hide, dispelling some of that power disparity—thematically tying truth and openness of knowledge with justice. It's implied part of the alienation he's given from authority figures and law enforcement is because he airs their affairs to the public, threatening the control those authorities have over what the public knows, when the public knows it, how the public perceives them, and the situations that subsequently arise from this. During Yusaku's The Reason You Suck speech to Shinichi in Chapter 9, one of his rationalizations for why Shinichi isn't worth trusting or respecting confirms the latter.
    • The effects of the varying kinds of abuse that result from power discrepancies are the drivers of basically every conflict and are thus ever-present in the narrative, as evident by how many times the word "abuse" is used on this very page.

  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Kudo Shinichi is the son of Kudo Yusaku, famous detective in public and Head Overseer and official in charge of the teenage "superhero" team, the Irregulars, in private. All of his "friends" are his father's superhero trainees, who seemingly have moved into his house most days. But despite having investigative skills equal (or perhaps, with training, one day surpassing) Hakuba's, powers of his own that seem specifically geared to investigation (he is literally psychic), Shinichi is denied his dream of being a detective and kept in the dark on all secrets involving the superheroes he's actually closely involved with - and instead of working to raise him up, like he does with the other superpowered children, Yusaku goes out of his way to encourage others to put Shinichi down. It's implied Shinichi's powers may make him a danger in some way, which Yusaku is trying to hide. It's known that those with superpowers are typically registered and monitored by the government, and Yusaku and Yukiko are deliberately flouting the law by leaving Shinichi unregistered.

  • Create Your Own Villain: Played with. Due to the complex moralities of the cast, it's hard to argue anyone (except the Black Org) is a true villain. '
    • Regardless of what actually happened during the tragedy, Yusaku's poor handling of the aftermath of Toichi's death caused the Kuroba family to turn against him, with the second KID's mission explicitly being revenge. Throughout the story Yusaku continues to handle this situation terribly, making threatening demands rather than giving answers or showing compassion to the son of his deceased friend, driving Kaito to further extremes against him. Yusaku proves that he's aware of this in chapter 10, but he tries to convince the Irregulars that he's the good guy for framing K Id for the deaths of four people including Toichi's and covering up his own culpability in them. Yusaku even has the nerve to claim he's helping Kaito by deliberately antagonizing him.
    • While the people around Shinichi do love him—or at least think they do—Shinichi's own emotional and psychological wellbeing was constantly seen as the less destructive opportunity cost when handling each problem that arose as the teenage cast grew up. Every conflict's solution seems to have been considered more important than the immediate or long term consequences for Shinichi personally, who, ideally, would never know of the slight anyways. This eventually poisoned every relationship Shinichi had with Gaslighting, and led to him assisting the vengeful second Kaitou KID against his own family, friends, and girlfriend—largely because KID was the only one to treat him with respect and give him a way to help the missing 40 children, whom everyone around him had gaslighted him about, ironically making Shinichi's relationship with KID more honest than his relationship with anyone else.

  • Daddy Issues: When Hattori betrays Shinichi's trust by calling Ran, Hakuba, and Yusaku about the incident in the warehouse, Shinichi's subsequent rejection of Hattori's overtures of friendship hardlines what has already been long apparent by this point in the story: Yusaku is severely emotionally and psychologically abusive to his son, and has convinced most of the people around his son not only to accept this as justified, but to reinforce it as deserved and thus become functional accomplices in the abuse. By his dialogue, Shinichi is aware of this—perfectly aware that his father has turned all of the people around him into hybrid babysitter/prison wardens for the purpose of controlling his son and having a full cast of handlers should Shinichi try to subvert this control—and as much as Shinichi tries not to let it bother him (because he genuinely cares for most of them) he also feels genuinely betrayed because of this. It's the reason Shinichi feels he can't trust anyone around him: he fears they'll go to his father, who seems determined to steal all of Shinichi's agency. The feeling is justified, as while Yusaku seems to have a very serious reason and does seem to love his son, he also seems to have targeted anything that Shinichi cares about about with disturbing precision, and Shinichi has only ever won modicums of autonomy through stealth and subversion of his father's authority.

  • Death Glare: Hakuba gets these a lot from Shinichi. He's painfully aware of them and at least partially willing to acknowledge how justified Shinichi is in giving them, but forces himself to ignore it.

  • Death of a Child: Shinichi concludes in chapter 10 that the fireball monster that attacked the city in chapter 1 was likely one of the kidnapped children he's searching for, having been subjected to illegal experiments. This means that the Irregulars killed a terrified child without knowing it and implies that it may not be the first time they have done so, since Tokyo is noted to have had an sudden increase in "monster" attacks in the last year or so and there have been dozens of children kidnapped in that time. Shinichi doesn't tell the Irregulars because he assumes they know, as Yusaku made his superior intellect, resources, and intelligence-gather capabilities a major theme of his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Shinichi in chapter 9. But if Yusaku does know of this, then he's been sending teenagers to battle and ultimately kill terrified out-of-control children for the safety of the city and it's one of the many things he hasn't been honest about.

  • Deconstruction Fic:
    • Of the entire superhero genre. The story explores the implication of secrets when interacting with severe power disparities - contrasting the superheroic trope of "justice" with the equally superheroic trope of widespread inequality of information that, in the real world, often leads to power abuse. So far, the story seems to imply that secrets, when used to dodge accountability, are the enemy of justice, and thus no one who operates under a secret identity while holding so much power over the daily lives of others can stay, or truthfully claim to be, entirely just. This is evident in the change in dynamics in the cast: being put in a position of responsibility, the manipulative Kudo Yusaku ends up abusing his son because he believes it's for the greater good; abuse which others in the system take as an example and replicate out of trust that Yusaku knows better than them and that they collectively know what's best for the kept-ignorant Shinichi, reflecting how this inequality of power creates a mentality of condescension towards those who are deprived of key information - the "normals," whom superheroes claim they protect.
    • Of the DC cast. The story places characters in positions that would most test their moral limits—-for example, Yusaku, ever manipulative, is placed in a position of extreme responsibility and influence and ends up heavily abusive to those he has control over because he believes he knows better than they do; Shinichi, who values truth and justice above all else, is placed in a position where no one will be honest with him and he cannot attain justice through honest means because of Yusaku and thus ends up falling in with Kaitou KID; Ran, whose defining traits are her love and constant stressful worrying for Shinichi and her faith in her friends, is placed on the sidelines as a superhero-in-training whose trusted boss Yusaku assures her that Shinichi's treatment is justified and necessary and ends up reinforcing this abuse out of a desire to keep Shinichi safe so she doesn't have to worry about him; Hattori, whose major character trait in the manga is Undying Loyalty and his bromance with Shinichi, is caught between loyalty to his superhero team and his desire to befriend Shinichi—but his attempt at becoming Shinichi's friend unintentionally demonstrates that when push comes to shove, Hattori's loyalty to his team and Yusaku will compromise Shinichi's hard-fought autonomy, and Hattori only realizes afterwards that Shinichi sees Hattori's split-second decision as a betrayal he can't walk back from.

  • Destructive Romance: Ran's constant lying at Yusaku's request "for Shinichi's own good" probably wouldn't be so bad if Shinichi had other, more stable relationships—but when compounded with everyone Shinichi knows cooperating with Yusaku's information blackout towards Shinichi and her omission of support for Shinichi in the face of Hakuba's and Yusaku's abuse (and her casual reinforcement of their abusive rhetoric), she becomes just another thing that hurts Shinichi rather than makes him happy. Their relationship is so broken that they have absolutely nothing they can talk about with each other anymore and no way to emotionally relate to each other. Shinichi even describes her grip on his hand as a "shackle." Shinichi breaks up with her in chapter 10.

  • The Dog Bites Back: By chapter 7, Shinichi assists Kaitou KID in his vendetta against Shinichi's abusive superhero father and his father's minions, even retooling KID's plans himself to make them more adequate against his father. The namesake idiom of the trope itself is referenced by Hakuba in chapter 10.

  • Dramatic Irony:
    • A couple in chapter 10:
      • The Irregulars break their promise to attend the championship game that their group coerced Shinichi into playing in the first place. Kazuha assures Ran that it's not a big deal, claiming that Shinichi will understand what a hard day they've had. But after such a long time of being written off as the lesser deal and always expected to be the understanding one, Shinichi does not see this as a small indiscretion; in fact, he expected their failure to honor their agreement so surely that he plotted an Exact Words Loophole Abuse in his stealth bargain with them: if he stopped investigating, they would come to his game. But as they didn't come to his game and defaulted on their side of the bargain, Shinichi now has complete validation in his lack of faith in their words and their terms, and now has gone right back to investigating because of them missing the game. Further, their broken promise is the metaphorical last straw in Shinichi's and Ran's romantic relationship; minutes after Kazuha tells Ran that it's "not a big deal" and that Shinichi will understand their priorities, Shinichi makes clear that he does understand... and dumps Ran because of them.
      • Shinichi considers himself "stupid" for not trusting in Agasa more, but Ran mentions a "Professor Sun" in chapter 8 as the Irregulars' and Night Baron's tech support and inventor. The name "Professor Sun" is likely a reference to something Yusaku pointed out in the "Moon, Star, and Sun" case, during which he realized that Agasa's name in the case's symbol code was spelled entirely with suns. This means that even though Agasa clearly desires to support Shinichi, he's likely just as involved in the information and power plays against him as the rest of them.

  • Dumbass Has a Point: Hakuba and Yusaku shut down Hattori's criticisms of their secrecy policy regarding Shinichi due to Hattori not knowing the full situation, thus considering him too ignorant to make relevant comments. But clearly Hattori picked up something they hadn't: by Hattori's attempt to assure Shinichi that they're not his enemies, it's obvious that he's realized that not only is the secrecy policy damaging and failing at its purported purpose of keeping Shinichi safe, but Shinichi is increasingly seeing them as enemies. Shinichi proves Hattori's concern warranted when he sides with Kaitou KID against them in order to further his cause of saving a group of missing children whom Yusaku's minions have denied even exist.

  • Dysfunction Junction: The most healthy relationship given significant focus in the story so far is the still-distant acquaintanceship between a friendless abuse-victim reporter and a supervillain thief who wants revenge on said reporter's father and is the enemy of everyone else in said reporter's life. It's the most healthy because despite the difference and conflict, both always show a default level of respect to each other as intelligent fellow human beings. Yes, the relationships in this story are that screwed up.

  • Evil Heroes: Played with and discussed. The Irregulars genuinely believe they are doing good, genuinely seem to have good intentions, and genuinely do save lives, but they also are unquestioningly complacent in a very flawed system that inherently breeds power abuse due to the powerful rarely facing consistent accountability, often resulting in them using morally questionable solutions for problems whose consequences they don't believe they'll ever have to face. Kaito, at least, positions superheroes as distopian authorities enforcing double standards onto the rest of society and enabled to do so because those same authorities control nearly all the information the public is given, and thus almost never have to answer for anything.
    • The major (though not sole) example is how the Irregulars ignorantly reinforce their leader's abuse of Kudou Shinichi, a powerful psychic investigator. Much of this abuse is the outright dismissal of his ability to be useful or helpful towards anything, and they seem to have burned the last bridge by standing in the way of his attempts to locate several dozen kidnapped homeless children (who are possibly being experimented on by a crime syndicate) by gaslighting him and outright denying the problem, something Yusaku even gets the police to join in on. They don't seem to be aware of how it's legitimately causing Shinichi to side with the Irregulars' supervillain enemy until he reveals this himself in Chapter 8, because at that point Shinichi sees siding with a supervillain as ultimately more productive for his goal of helping people. After they do realize this, they... ultimately don't do anything about it, and work together as if nothing happened. The lowness of the moral bar they still fail to meet is astounding; they don't even argue about this among themselves after night they find out about this, despite half the group being quite willing to argue with the other half that night over whether this was right or wrong, and seperating from each other still in deep conflict.
    • Another prominent example is the death of Kuroba Toichi at the hands of Kudo Yusaku, the Night Baron, which was covered up and blamed on KID. Kudo Yusaku's characterization has leaned more and more towards this as the story goes on, with him performing the role of a hero while exhibiting the traits of a villain.
    • Across the spectrum of good and evil, gradual though it may be, there is a line that generally divides heroes and sympathetic antagonists from the worst of villains when it comes to whether the ends justify the means. Given how he's acted by chapter 10, Yusaku probably honestly couldn't tell you what that difference is.

  • Faux Affably Evil: Though Yusaku is nominally the leader of the world's superheroes and is so manipulative it's hard to guess what about him is a ploy and what is genuine, Chapter 9 shows that he's currently operating and emoting as if he is this, at least with Shinichi.

  • Foil: Shinichi to his father, Yusaku. Both are intellectually brilliant, highly perceptive, more than a little manipulative, utterly ruthless, and very, very good at what they do. Both have some kind of mind-manipulating superpower. The difference is that Shinichi is, in practice, a much kinder, more earnest person: his abuse at his family's and friends' hands has killed his over-confidence and replaced it with a frustrated desperation to help people. While Yusaku continues to look at the world like a chessmatch, too focused on monsters, international incidents, saving the world, and "protecting" his son to fully realize how awful his actions towards the people around him are (or if he does, he sees their issues as too small-picture to prioritize them), Shinichi is focused on the more everyday tragedies that create the big problems from the ground-up. Even the way they use their powers is different: Shinichi's centers around emotional sensitivity - he perceives the emotions and memories of others, and is implied to be able to manipulate their emotions, though he doesn't seem to do this consciously. Yusaku, on the other hand, only has one scene so far in which he uses his power, and he uses it to outright attack and mindwipe his son to keep him from uncovering the truth of Kuroba Toichi's death.
    • Also, Kaito to Yusaku, especially in chapter 9. Though his methods and designated "role" is supervillainous—chaotic, destructive, and unlawful—Kaito demonstrates a core personality and motivation of empathy and fairness. One of his reasons for drawing Shinichi into his plans against Yusaku was because he was genuinely upset at how Shinichi was being treated by the supposed heroes, relating it to the pain Kaito felt when he found out about his family's secrets the day Toichi died. In the very next scene Yusaku demonstrates that, despite his supposed superheroic role, his behavior is that of a Faux Affably Evil villain; beneath his surface face of passable civility and kindness is a sociopathic level of cruelty and dismissal towards the value of those whom he can't "use"—one could easily lay Yusaku's speech about the "uselessness" of his son over the visual images of countless Machiavellian-type Big Bads with family relations to the hero and change surprisingly little of the dialogue. It doesn't help that his own words imply that he looks down on people whose abilities he sees as unequal to his own, calling into question whether he is even morally capable of making just decisions involving the lives of millions of non-powered civilians. In short, the two are supervillain and superhero but their contrasting dialogue highlights that each demonstrates the personality traits usually attributed to the opposite role.

  • For The Greater Good: Yusaku rationalizes the decisions made at Shinichi's expense by arguing that they bring about the most overall good and, tellingly, that it won't matter because Shinichi will (hopefully) never find out that they've repeatedly thrown him under the bus anyways. Yusaku's mention of the latter excuse immediately after insisting it's for the greater good shows that he's really telling himself that it's okay because he won't have to face a Shinichi that knows what he's done—which underscores that Yusaku's really just trying to excuse abusing his power to protect himself from the consequences of his actions. Unsurprisingly, Shinichi does find out, and Yusaku's reaction even horrifies the Irregulars.

  • Friendship Moment: Subverted. Hattori wants to be friends and offers his complete trust to Shinichi, but a pained Shinichi rejects the offer, because he can't bring himself to trust Hattori in return—Hattori already put Yusaku's bidding before Shinichi's trust or wishes, having called Ran, Hakuba, and Yusaku during the incident at the warehouse without understanding the reason Shinichi would view that as a betrayal, and worse, the fact that Hattori continues to hide information in accordance with Yusaku's wishes proves that he will continue to, at least passively, support their control. Shinichi can't look at him and not see an agent of his father's manipulations, one who has consciously made a decision to side against him, and therefore Shinichi can't trust him. It's rendered tragic by the fact that both Hattori and Shinichi sincerely do want to be friends and Hattori is at least partially aware that Yusaku's treatment towards his son is abusive; it is a sincere belief that the Yusaku and the Irregulars are ultimately doing the right thing even if they must use unkind tactics, rather than outright malevolence, that keeps Hattori siding with Shinichi's abusers. When Hattori tries to communicate his best intentions, sooth open wounds, and get Shinichi to understand his perspective by convincing Shinichi they're not actually on separate sides and not trying to hurt him, Hattori isn't believed and knows he isn't believed, because of the undeniable fact that, at this point, Hattori can't actually think of a single reason for Shinichi to trust any of them: regardless of Hattori's belief of intent, they are acting against Shinichi, and they are hurting him.
    • It's notable to compare and contrast Shinichi's relationship with Kaitou KID, who is a distant other rather than semi-permanent houseguest, the enemy of all of Shinichi's loved ones, and the giver of a far less friendly overture of proposed "partnership" with Shinichi... but ultimately is more respectful, and thus more successful. Though not publicly considered good like the Irregulars, KID validating Shinichi's talents and providing an outlet (the ONLY major outlet) for Shinichi to actually work to save the kidnapped homeless children is what earns him Shinichi's tentative alliance while Shinichi pulls away from everyone else.

  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Kaito became KID to bring down the man who murdered his father and used his position of power to escape consequences and lie about it to the entire world.
    • Aoko becomes irrational involving KID because her mother died alone in the hospital while her father was busy hunting that particular criminal. The legitimacy of this excuse is subtly called into question by the fact that she's used KID as a scapegoat to dodge serious ethical questions about her own actions and the actions of others that she is complicit in; by the time of the story she's become the main embodiment of Black and White Insanity and arguably the most unstable and hypocritical and least empathetic member of the Irregulars.
    • Discussed with Yusaku, though arguably subverted. Yusaku gives various excuses for his actions throughout the story, and while they make sense with the immediate situation, none of them make sense with his wider actions beyond a cursory glance, implying the possibility that he's a Consummate Liar even to those he supposedly confides in most.

  • Gaslighting: Events in the series make it clear that Yusaku, the Irregulars, and the police use this as their policy for dealing with Shinichi, up to and including confiscating his evidence of the events they deny and pretending thereafter that it doesn't exist. They actually treat his reports very seriously, but act like he's delusional or incompetent to his face.

  • Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!: Downplayed, as Shinichi hasn't had a life-or-death confrontation with those threatening his freedom, but still implied through his willingness to endanger his life for the sake of his highly discouraged investigations. Shinichi wants the help and support of those around him, but he values his agency more, and burns with a desire to help the people around him and expose truths even if that should require him to risk his life. Because all of the Irregulars have chosen to follow Yusaku's manipulative and abusive supposed "Greater Good" policy when it comes to how Shinichi is treated, Shinichi cannot investigate the troubles and problems of Tokyo with their support; instead, he has chosen to run into possibly life threatening situations alone, with no backup and no one knowing where he's going (sans an ambiguous note on his website about what to do should he go missing), because even when in dangerous situations, he's more concerned about his father, "friends", or "girlfriend" hearing about what he's up to than he is about being hurt or killed, with the implication being that they, and not the people possibly physically harming him at that moment, are who he considers the bigger risk to himself.

  • Harmful to Minors: It's confirmed that Kaito and heavily implied that Shinichi were both there to witness the actual events of the death of Kuroba Toichi. The memory is buried in Shinichi's psyche and not consciously available to him, but the brief instances in which it surfaces are extremely disturbing in description.

  • Hypocrite: The Irregulars frequently complain about being left out of things (Hakuba), not being informed about or trusted with important matters (Hattori), and being underestimated and forbidden from helping as they wish (Aoko). All of which they do to Shinichi, and accept as justified because Yusaku told them it was.
    • When fighting with Kaito in Chapter 5, Aoko even highlights the concepts of information abuse and abuse of trust, seemingly oblivious to the fact that ISHA and her own team use this same tactic for their own convenience at others' expense.
    • When Ran yells at Shinichi for putting himself in danger constantly, she conveniently ignores the fact that she does the same all of the time, behind his back. When she implies he's not good enough to investigate, she conveniently ignores that she and the others are being privileged with a combat and crime-solving education that was denied to Shinichi despite him being their mentor's son, possessing both talents and passionate interests that perfectly align with the job, and having dreamed about being a detective since he was a small child. She seems unaware that all of her reasons come from her copying the calculated and abusive rhetoric Yusaku uses to justify ISHA's and the Irregulars' position of power and privilege, specifically in contrast with Shinichi who was denied these same privileges. which privileges her and harms Shinichi. In these instances, Ran is a toxic girlfriend complaining that Shinichi's the one causing her problems.

  • I Gave My Word: At the bottom of chapter 9, Shinichi, seemingly with all the fight stripped out of him, asks a favor, and then a compromise, of the Irregulars (and, in particular, Hakuba): first, that if Shinichi gives up investigating, returns to being a docile little soccer player, and his soccer team makes it to the championships, that they will be there to watch him play; and second, that if he stays out of investigating the matter of the disappeared children, that they will find the children and save them. While the words are said with sincerity at the time, by the next chapter the Irregulars default to treating their relationship with Shinichi as a non-priority in comparison with everything else and miss the game. Once they remember—too late—the majority console themselves with the idea that the game really wasn't a big deal, making it clear that they saw it in hindsight as a thing they would hopefully get to do but, ultimately a nonbinding and Empty Promise. Unfortunately for them, Shinichi saw it as Exact Words, and since they didn't keep their promise, he sees himself free from his promise to stop investigating.

  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Shinichi shares information from his investigation with Hakuba as a way of extending the olive branch despite the oppressive tensions that Hakuba has reinforced within the Kudo household, and allows Hattori to accompany him on his investigation into the warehouse, because despite his snarky attitude, he's actually very lonely and desperate for someone to trust. Both of them throw these chances he gives them back in his face: Hakuba shuts him out, pretends the information he's acquired is trivial and worthless, condescends down at him like he's a burden, and generally destroys any hope Shinichi had of Hakuba regarding him as an equal. Hattori genuinely wants to reciprocate the offer of friendship, but he made the mistake of asking Shinichi to trust him while clearly withholding information from Shinichi and putting his loyalties to Yusaku and the Irregulars before Shinichi himself, simply by being largely oblivious of the full extent of the toxicity in those relationships beforehand. In short, the only people in Shinichi's life have repeatedly let him down and put their loyalty to his father over showing basic respect for the person they claim is their friend. By the forth chapter, we get the surprising realization that Shinichi's most healthy relationship is with Kaitou KID, simply because they have mutual respect for one another and KID is the only person who doesn't condescend or tell Shinichi he isn't good enough. The thing is, at that point, they're barely closer than strangers—Shinichi describes their relationship as "acquaintances."

  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance:
    • Subverted initially with Shinichi, who knows that those around him are hiding something.
    • Played straight with Ran in chapter 10. Ran protests to Shinichi referring to the Irregulars' actions as "playing hero," but then tries to explain her reasons for complying with Yusaku's obviously unfair and hurtful information blackout by claiming she just wanted to keep Shinichi safe, which is the same thing she did after the warehouse incident. Even after witnessing Yusaku's more explicit and less subtle abuse in chapter 9, she's still completely ignorant to the fact that she's basically repeating a sanitized version of Yusaku's abusive justifications, and further, that this ignorantly self-important and condescending declaration towards those she protects is one of the many reasons Shinichi has long criticized ISHA and the Irregulars and largely why he called their behavior "playing hero" in the first place.

  • Implicit Prison: Shinichi is constantly in conflict with his "friends," "girlfriend," and father over his desire for the autonomy to pursue his dreams and act on his own goals and wishes (which involve investigating crime and helping people), a desire that is met with degradation, lectures, and expressions of shame from all people close to him and is made much more difficult to achieve given his controlling father's Big Brother nature. More explicitly within the language of the story, Shinichi compares the grip his "girlfriend" Ran has on his hand to a "shackle."

  • Inappropriate Role Model: Yusaku has apparently saved the world a bunch, but he also unfortunately has no scruples with acting like a controlling, empathy-less, emotionally manipulative, calculatingly abuser when it conveniences him, especially (and constantly) to his son; an integrity-less behavior that his sidekick, Hakuba, has clearly internalized into his psyche as unquestionably right and begun to replicate with those around him, particularly (again) with Shinichi. When the abuse gets to the extent that even Hakuba begins to question Yusaku, Yusaku delegitimizes the feelings of guilt and injustice that Hakuba is motivated by as "childish." If this man was ever capable of making decisions with at least fair consideration of morality, it's clear he isn't capable of that now and is functioning on unsettlingly extreme For The Greater Good policies.

  • Internal Reveal: Due to the many, many secrets kept between cast members, there are also many moments of revelations:
    • In Chapter 3, appropriately titled "The Rotten Core," Hattori realizes that the secrecy policy has eroded and toxicified all of Shinichi's relationships.
    • Aoko finds out that Kaito is Kaitou KID in Chapter 5. Due to her Black and White Insanity when it comes to that particular criminal, she doesn't take it well.
    • Sometime between Chapter 6 and Chapter 8, Kaito told Shinichi that Yusaku was Night Baron, and that Yusaku's students, including Ran, were the Irregulars. Shinichi himself confirms this in Chapter 8.
    • Also in Chapter 8, Yusaku finds out his son has been cooperating with Kaito against him.
    • In chapter 9, all of the Irregulars find out that Yusaku murdered Kuroba Toichi (or at least, that what Kaito and Shinichi witnessed heavily implies this), and Yusaku gives a full demonstration of his Abusive Parent status in front of them, making ignorance of the abuse pretty much impossible from here on out unless Yusaku tries to mess with everyone's heads.

  • Kick the Dog: In order to try to keep Shinichi away from subjects his father doesn't want him near, Hakuba Gaslights Shinichi and deliberately rubs salt in Shinichi's abuse-originating wounds by bringing up Shinichi's percieved inadequacy in the eyes of his father. The police also do this, calling his theory about the kidnapping ring a "conspiracy theory" to his face but later reporting it as a serious problem to Yusaku. However, Yusaku takes the cake in chapter 9 with his long, cruel, calculated speech about how Shinichi is "useless" and inferior to everyone around him.

  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Shinichi is heavily implied to have been present and a witness to the death of Kuroba Toichi at Yusaku's hands, but the memory isn't consciously accessible to him and only surfaces briefly on occasion, immediately forgotten soon after. The true circumstances of the death are unknown, but Yusaku insists—without providing reason—that there is more to the story, and that Toichi's death isn't his fault. It's confirmed in chapter 9 that Yusaku has definitely meddled with Shinichi's memories, which is why Shinichi is subconsciously obsessed with creating records of all he learns.

  • Laser-Guided Karma: In chapter 10, Shinichi gathers his thoughts and comes to a realization about the Black Org's experiments, their connection to the antimeta terrorists, and the ultimate fate of the children who were kidnapped off the street, concluding that at least one of them became the fireball monster from early in the story whose abilities had been boosted to an uncontrollably destructive level and that the CATS' and KID's goal was to steal the Org's research to utilize it in depowering metas, with Shinichi even hypothesizing over various ways they could implement this and ways to set the groups' threats against each other to solve them both. Shinichi tries to get into contact with the various team members who, having broken their promise to even show up to the championship game their group forced him to be in, are now not paying attention to their phones. But once Shinichi comes to his father's number, he ultimately decides to stop trying to tell them anything because Yusaku made very clear that Shinichi was inferior and that there was nothing Shinichi could tell them that they didn't already know and know better and more thoroughly than him. Shinichi is too good a person to refuse to help someone, but this reminds him that they have made clear that his help is unwanted and worthless, and convinces him that they probably know all of this anyways and that he's, as always, the last to know anything. This means that the Irregulars pay for their complacency in Shinichi's abuse and exclusion by being put firmly on the other side of the knowledge-is-power disparity for once solely because of their own actions, not being warned about the connections between any of these groups or about the possibility of the Antimeta mist, which depowers them all later in the chapter.

  • Locked Out of the Loop: Shinichi's friends, family, and even the police all conspire to keep him ignorant of the things going on around him. The unequal knowledge causes a lot of power abuse.

  • Love Cannot Overcome: Perspective inverted; Shinichi is the main protagonist but Ran is the "hero." Hurt by Ran's condescending view of protecting him and the lack of faith and respect indicated by her complacence in the policy to exclude him, Shinichi breaks up with her in chapter 10, and feels "lighter" for doing so.

  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Two examples so far: Kaito's and Aoko's prospective first date is ruined by her finding out he's Kaitou KID, and Shinichi's and Ran's relationship is ruined by the complete lack of trust and faith demonstrated by her choosing to help exclude him from The Masquerade "to protect him." For bonus points, the breaking point in the latter relationship literally involved Shinichi ripping off Ran's mask.

  • Mind Manipulation: Yusaku's power. He's been using it to shape and alter Shinichi's mind at Yusaku's own convenience for years, but by Chapter 9, Shinichi's realized a way around it—Yusaku can't take memories that Shinichi absorbs from others.

  • Might Makes Right: ... as long as the "right" people wield it, of course. The Superhero teens assume themselves and their leader justified in all actions, but hypocritically complain when they have to deal with the same conditions they force on others (in particular, secrecy, lack of agency, and non-inclusion). Kaito appears to think this is a flaw inherent in all Overseer-aligned metahumans and the justice system they've created.

  • Missing Mom: Yukiko is absent for the first story arc. She's later revealed to have been off playing the role of ISHA spokeswoman Fumiyo Edogawa. It's implied the frequent physical distance between mother and son began in childhood, when Yusaku supposedly realized that Shinichi and Yukiko being in close proximity apparently led to mental health strains on nearby populations.

  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Shinichi doesn't see it as betrayal—he sees it as using the options he has available to help rescue missing children—but he ends up falling in with Kaitou KID, a supervillain, one of his father's and his friends' major enemies, and someone who had stolen key evidence on the missing kids case from Shinichi personally—because despite Shinichi knowing next to nothing about him, he still trusts KID more than he trusts his father, the boy who was raised along side him like his brother, his girlfriend, and all of their acquaintances. If that doesn't get across how horribly they've treated Shinichi, nothing will.

  • Moral Myopia: The story is told within a Superhero AU in which the teen superheroes are self-righteous integrity-less accomplices to abuse who seem to be functioning on some fluffed up version of Might Makes Right, and their mentor mentally assaults his own son and has a recognizable special voice he frequently uses to tear him down. They're opposed by an anarchistic vigilante thief who respects the mentor's son more than the mentor does and whose father is heavily implied to have been murdered by said mentor. Everyone involved except the Mentor is framed as a protagonist, not an antagonist; the only outright antagonists are the Black Org.

  • Narcissist: Yusaku shows hints of this quality in the very self-centered excuses he gives for his treatment towards others in chapter 10. Of the death of the first Kaitou KID, Yusaku claims that he covered up the truth and denied the Kurobas closure or public justice after Toichi's death... supposedly to honor Toichi's memory and give Kaito a "purpose." He goes onto explain that clearly, if Kaito didn't have him to hate and was given the chance to understand his reasons, then Kaito would have nothing. Because obviously Kaito couldn't find any other meaning in his life that didn't involve Yusaku—no hobbies, or friends, or a Childhood Friend Romance that wouldn't have suffered from opposing sides and secrets, none of that. This utterly reductive and condescending view of his fellow humans—and worse, the family of his supposed friend—really demonstrates the tenderness and emotional sensitivity Yusaku shows towards others. Despite Hakuba insisting that Yusaku isn't someone who likes causing pain, the cover-up is pretty obviously nothing close to the Cruel Mercy Yusaku self-gratifyingly argues it is, and noticeably was a far greater benefit to Yusaku's own reputation then to the Kurobas. Even if Yusaku's right and the courts would have let Night Baron off for the murder of Kaitou KID, Yusaku still dodged the potential reputation stain and the Kurobas were in turn never able to gain closure while their loved one's murderer obscured the truth. Still, it's likely even this awful excuse isn't Yusaku's real reason for the cover-up, as it still doesn't match up with all of his decisions surrounding Kaito and Shinichi pertaining to this incident.

  • Necessarily Evil: It's implied this is how Yusaku and Hakuba see their attempts to contain Shinichi in the abusive environment they've turned his life into, as Hakuba at least clearly still sees himself as a hero. We have yet to see their reasoning, but whatever the goal is, it's probably not going to be achieved through this strategy because, predictably, Shinichi now sees them as the enemy and is in open rebellion.
    • This is how Yusaku frames his Abusive Parent status to Hakuba in chapter 10, calling it "necessary" to "put [Shinichi] back in line" after Shinichi found out they lied about basically everything—which flies in the face of the reasons Yusaku apparently gave Hakuba on why they were lying in the first place, which was ultimately to spare Shinichi's feelings. Hakuba likes to think that his mentor wouldn't want to hurt anyone, but at that moment Yusaku is deliberately hurting both of his sons by outright dismissing the legitimacy of each's feelings, seemingly for no reason. The truth is, given the circumstances of this conversation, Yusaku isn't likely trying to be open with Hakuba here, he's trying to control Hakuba and push him back into a place of obedience to Yusaku by reminding him that he, Yusaku, is always right, a mentality we see Hakuba operate on in several chapters but which in hindsight seems completely unreasonable for Hakuba to believe given the circumstances.

  • Not So Different: Despite Aoko insisting she's the good guy and Kaitou KID the bad, both have the same motivation and about the same ethical standards when it comes to enacting that motivation, having long ago conflated revenge with justice.

  • Parental Substitute: Yusaku to Hakuba, who explicitly says Yusaku raised him. Yusaku trained Hakuba from a young age as his apprentice and sidekick, in both his skills as a detective and his work as a hero. Which serves to put Yusaku's abuse towards his biological son in stark contrast - Shinichi dreamed of becoming a detective, but Yusaku tore him down while encouraging and favoring Hakuba.

  • Personal Space Invader: This is one of the reasons Shinichi dislikes his father's students. As one of Shinichi's powers is psychometry, the ability to absorb memory through touch from both people and objects, he tends to avoid physical contact and hates other people touching his things. As the Irregulars have begun treating Shinichi's home like a second home, Shinichi can't go anywhere without the ever-present evidence that they're all keeping secrets from him—invading his life and home, and still excluding him despite that.

  • Personality Powers: The characters' powers tend to align with their defining traits in the manga. For example, Yusaku is manipulative and can literally alter a person's mind, Shinichi can literally absorb knowledge from objects and people, Hattori is an infamous hothead that is now a literal one.

  • Platonic Kissing: Played with. By Chapter 9 Shinichi's realized that Yusaku has used his powers to mess with Shinichi's memories many times over the course of his life and that the one thing Yusaku can't alter or erase is the memories Shinichi absorbs from others. Shinichi can absorb said memories and information through skin contact, but Kaito's KID costume covers nearly every part of his body, so Shinichi, in his very practical way, decides to kiss Kaito to obtain Kaito's memory of the night Toichi was murdered and ensure that Yusaku can't make Shinichi forget again. The whole thing is ostensibly done with strict rationality behind it; however, Shinichi does add a possible element of flirting to it when he tells Kaito afterwards to "consider it a thank-you gift."

  • Point of No Return: When the Irregulars break their promise to attend the game Shinichi was coerced to play in for their convenience, they brush it off as "not a big deal" and that Shinichi will understand... except for Ran, who has begun to realize (albeit a bit too late) that they've brushed basically everything about Shinichi off as not a big deal and always burdened him with the expectation of being understanding even when they haven't actually given him the option to understand. Ran correctly assumes that, even though the game is long over, Shinichi is probably still there. He is. And it's there that he breaks up with her, because she picked her future, and it's one in which she, whether she's willing to admit it or not, views him as a burden.

  • Psychic Powers:
    • Shinichi demonstrates psychic empathy (the ability to experience the perceptions of another), retrocognition (the ability to perceive past events) and psychometry (the ability to sense an object's history). It's possible all of these are mere manifestations of the same power, perhaps some kind of mental manipulation. It's implied by a conversation between Hakuba and Yusaku that Shinichi may unintentionally be capable of emotional manipulation as well (or, perhaps, empathic projection).
      • In one instance, Shinichi absorbs muscle memory from a door lock key pad in order to get inside a building, implying he can also absorb physical skills from people and the objects they interact with, as long as his body is physically capable of reperforming them—implying he can absorb information and skills from just about anyone.
    • Yusaku outright attacks his own son's mind when Shinichi touches him, overriding his consciousness, blocking his memories, and forcing him to go home like a puppet. Later, Shinichi regains awareness inside his room, with no memory of what happened after seeing Night Baron. It's unclear if Yusaku's demonstration of power is a different usage of the same power as Shinichi, or a different kind of mental power altogether. (If he's as sensitive to the emotions and experiences of others as Shinichi and still choses to treat those around him as he does, he's even more abusive than previously thought).

  • Reality Ensues:
    • The Superheroes' constant "Greater Good" mentality at the expense of the same individual over and over again causes this person to distrust them due to how willing they are to abuse him. Their impeding his investigation into the kidnapping of fourty+ children causes him to see them as unjust and begin to sincerely regard them as enemies.
    • Yusaku tells the Irregulars that revealing their secret identities to Shinichi would put Shinichi in danger. Of course this backfires. The stupidity of this is somewhat justified by the implication that Yusaku is only saying this as an excuse to get the Irregulars to cooperate while hiding his real reasons for locking Shinichi out of the loop. Given that this is so supremely stupid that it never works out even in non-deconstruction superhero stories, it's unsurprising that the story plays with the fallout of this choice by initially leaning into the cliche of the ignorant person getting kidnapped to target the heroes and then subverting this and reinforcing the agency Shinichi has despite them when Shinichi cooperates with KID and even plots his own "kidnapping" as a trap to draw out the superheroes and confirm the truth behind their manipulative lies.
    • The openly manipulative but ultimately more respectful KID gains an alliance with Shinichi that the manipulative and abusive Irregulars lost. Who knew that simply respecting another's inherent worth and capabilities would make them more willing to cooperate with you?

  • The Scapegoat: We find out that Kaitou KID has served as this for at least two "heroes":
    • Yusaku blamed his murder of the first KID and the damage and other deaths it caused on KID himself, hiding Toichi's identity and labeling him a civilian casualty of KID's deadly act.
    • Aoko blames her difficult and long-standing family on KID because it's easier for her to do that than working through the complicated emotions she feels for her neglectful but well-meaning father, who was a KID heist when her mother died in the hospital and continues to neglect Aoko in favor of his work catching KID.

  • Sherlock Scan: Shinichi's deductive abilities are just as present as ever, if unfortunately not as well-honed due to being raised in an environment consciously attempting to suppress them. In fact, their potental is even more impressive, because they're complimented by actual psychic powers.

  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Yusaku's face value reason for being outright emotionally and psychologically abusive and attempting to keep Shinichi under his thumb and in the dark (or at least, the excuse he fed to most of the Irregulars) was that the knowledge would put Shinichi in danger. However, Shinichi's exceptional bravery, curiosity, sense of justice, and deep desire to help others mean that all Yusaku's attempts at holding him back do is make Shinichi feel he can't trust anyone around him - which means that instead of limiting the danger Shinichi gets into, Yusaku's controlling personality actually increases the amount of danger Shinichi is in, because in order to avoid his father's abusive and controlling manipulations, he feels he cannot afford to ask for help. Hattori points out how flawed this thinking is, but is shut up (likely only temporarily) by Hakuba pulling rank. It's implied that Shinichi's safety is just an excuse given to the Irregulars, and that there's another reason they haven't been told.
    • Hakuba is so painfully aware that they're pushing Shinichi to "an edge" that he repeats the idea of them being "doomed all along" multiple times throughout chapter 10, and despairs over there seemingly being no right and moral answer for whatever problem they have with Shinichi. Yusaku's defense of their actions makes it worse, because his reasoning is utterly cyclical: Shinichi is dangerous because he puts lives at risk... but, as Hakuba is aware, Shinichi only risked the lives of those who had pushed him into that position in the first place through the very treatment Yusaku was trying to justify. It's impossible to guess what Yusaku's reasoning is for treating Shinichi so poorly because the whole thing runs on a positive feedback system.
    • Same for how Yusaku treats Kaito: he saw no apparent worth in giving the Kurobas closure if it meant releasing painful truths, and so "heroically" "lets" Kaito hate him so Kaito has a purpose. A purpose which Yusaku uses to sabotage Kaito emotionally while they battle. It leads one to ponder whether there really is a reason for Yusaku's treatment of Shinichi and Kaito besides Yusaku's own sick and desperately self-justifying mind.
    • In Chapter 7 and 8, Ran has to face the fact that, in true Deconstruction fashion, keeping Shinichi ignorant of his relation to superheroes does not make him immune to the dangers of being around them. And, in fact, it only made him turn against them once he found out how deeply they abused the power that secrecy gave them over him.

  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: The story constantly plays with this and questions the point at which this is or is not becoming true for each character. With a true Grey And Grey And Black Morality cast, the story uses situational extremes to constantly have the characters teeter on the edge of immorality. While no main characters are truly evil so far, the rationalizations of wrongdoing present in each of the cast constantly call to question whether their ends are worth it and to what extent such means can actually be considered justified. Because of this, an argument for this trope can be made towards nearly every member of the cast, each of whom have had to compromise one or more of their moral standards for their own ends. The difference in morality between the cast members is found instead in what exactly each are willing and unwilling to compromise and to what ends. (Ran, for example, is willing to compromise Shinichi's freedom and autonomy for not having to worry about his safety, and willing to compromise her romantic relationship for obedience to her mentor's orders; Shinichi is willing to compromise support and approval from those he loves for freedom and autonomy, and lawfulness for the protection of others' lives and for the truth).

  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Well, it presumably does, but it has virtually no affect on the children who need it within the story. The children in this story are easily preyed upon, manipulated, or otherwise mistreated both by criminals and by those too high up in power to be questioned for their treatment of minors. Forty children go missing off the street and the authorities appear to spend more time gaslighting about it than doing anything. Notably, the only one seen looking out for the street kids when they aren't missing is a minor criminal himself.

  • Spot the Thread: Despite being in emotional turmoil, Shinichi manages to partially notice that Yusaku's own actions contradict the rationalizations he gives for abusing Shinichi in chapter 9: Yusaku's reasons for considering Shinichi "useless" apply just as much to Hakuba, whom Yusaku has given inclusion to every step of the way. The only difference between the two is Shinichi's journalism, which happened in response to Yusaku's decision to exclude Shinichi, and thus, despite Yusaku's attempt to use it as a dodge, isn't actually acceptable as an explanation for why Yusaku excluded him from a young age. Throughout Yusaku's abusive rant there are other obvious contradictions between Yusaku's words and his previous actions, but Shinichi wouldn't know about them (yet) because they happened in private conversation between Yusaku and Hakuba. All of this implies that Yusaku is lying through his teeth and picking reasons that are as hurtful as possible because it conveniences his goals for Shinichi to feel powerless.

  • Take a Third Option: Preteen Shinichi wasn't allowed to be a detective and but refused to do what his father commanded and give up his desires to investigate... so he secretly began a career in investigative journalism, and by the time Yusaku found out, Shinichi was so successful and entrenched in the newsmedia that Yusaku either couldn't bring himself to, or just simply couldn't, forcibly shut his site down.
    • Current Shinichi had the option of accepting KID's plans against Yusaku and the Irregulars entirely on KID's terms, or rejecting them and losing the one person willing to help him find the missing forty children. In a moment that establishes exactly what Shinichi is willing to gamble and what he is entirely unwilling to lose, Shinichi chooses to suggest he retool and improve KID's plans himself in order to gain a modicum of agency and control over the situation. Tellingly, while both Yusaku's and KID's factions have previously taken action to limit Shinichi's agency, KID allows Shinichi this freedom where Yusaku worked to shut him down, cementing Shinichi's cooperation in this plot.

  • Tautological Templar: Aoko points out that Kaito keeping the kinds of secrets he does is an abuse of trust and power... while her entire superhero team does this same thing for their own convenience at great expense to others. She outright claims that it's okay if she lies because she's doing it to protect people. One assumes that the "logic" behind her thinking is that Kaito's actions are villainous because he is villain, while her actions are heroic because she is a hero. It doesn't seem to occur to her how backwards that line of thought is, but then, Aoko is the story's chief example of Black and White Insanity so far.

  • There Are No Therapists: But a good half the cast desperately needs one.

  • Undying Loyalty: Hakuba to Yusaku. It's not truly portrayed as a good thing, because Hakuba reinforces the destructive effects of a lot of Yusaku's worst actions out of faith that Yusaku is always right and no one has the right to question him. This turns Hakuba into an abuser just like Yusaku, at least where their treatment of Shinichi is concerned.

  • Vagueness Is Coming: Hakuba and Yusaku seem certain that something bad is going to happen involving Shinichi. They've "kept a tight lid on the disaster" so far, but don't have much time left, and Yusaku doesn't seem to know what to do. Presumably, their absolutely deplorable treatment towards Shinichi is an attempt at dealing with this.

  • We Used to Be Friends: Shinichi with Hakuba, though his relationship with Ran also carries tones of this. Hakuba still cares deeply for Shinichi like a brother would, and refers to him by his first name in conversation—but only when Shinichi isn't around, as a hurt childhood Shinichi told him to no longer refer to him by his first name (and given their culture, it's actually very disrespectful that Hakuba continues to do so behind Shinichi's back). But though Hakuba cares, he typically ends up giving Shinichi lectures implying how he's not good enough or capable enough to solve cases or others' problems. We see Shinichi try to reestablish a bond of trust by sharing information from his investigation, but Hakuba throws it back in his face—along with deliberately preying on all of Shinichi's abuse-originating insecurities in an attempt to get Shinichi to stop investigating. While Hakuba's aware of the growing tensions, he doesn't seem to fully comprehend that that lecture really started Shinichi's crossing of the Rubicon—his and Yusaku's actions have effectively entoxicated everyone's relationships with Shinichi to the point where Shinichi now sees all of them more like jail wardens, and even compares the grip of his own girlfriend holding his hand to a "shackle." Starting in Chapter 4, Shinichi begins working with the Irregulars' enemies, because working with them is still somehow more productive towards protecting the citizens of Tokyo than working with the supposed superheros. By Chapter 7 he's actively participating in creating plans against them.

  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Instead of planning an elaborate fake kidnapping, why doesn't Shinichi just use his platform as a news reporter to publicly out Kudo Yusaku as a metahuman using his powers to abuse Shinichi and others? Yes there would be pushback, but the move would certainly bring things to a head within the cast: Yusaku would have to make a do-or-die decision while unable to hide his actions from the Irregulars, and the Irregulars would have to pick a side with relatively full knowledge of the moral implications of that choice and the knowledge that, no matter what, they will have to face Shinichi afterwards—either a Shinichi that knows exactly how they've wronged him or, worse, a Shinichi who doesn't anymore, and they'll have to live with that. And there are contingencies against memory loss, like records, to prevent losing the actual information if Yusaku should try anything—with the added bonus that any attempt would be more fuel for public outcry should Shinichi release that information too.
    • Alternatively, if Kaito has such thorough power over technology, why not just release the secret identities of every super? Or, combining the above, prevent Shinichi's posts from being interfered with and let him be the face of the public reveal? Several commenters have pointed out that the lack of accountability inherent in secret identities is the heart of most of the cases of power abuse in the story, and Kaito's already made clear that he knows Night Baron's secrecy is his greatest vulnerability.
    • Chapter 10 explains that Shinichi isn't willing to put everyone around him through such intense public scrutiny and hardship—implying that as long as superheroes are put on a pedestal as mysterious spectacles rather than ordinary public servants, outing them is too much of a hardship on the individual and their family. Plus, doing so would have probably ended any chance at freedom from his father and ISHA whatsoever.
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