Here's my take on this—it could go either way; either Shukichi is the middle brother, or Masumi's actually been in contact with Shuichi/Subaru and pretended to have a second brother to hide that fact. I don't think there's really any other outcome to this mystery, bar the introduction of a new character that turns out to be the middle brother.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Saying that her brother is dead and "there is no way that could be possible" could be another lie. She saw Vermouth on the train dressed as Shuuichi and called out "Shuu nii, but how, I heard you were dead" and so soon after during the Blush Mermaid case she is saying that he is definitely dead? How can she be sure so quickly after seeing the "Scar Akai" and not being able to verify with Ran who that person in black really is??? I believe that her quick change is simply that she got a note or at the very least, a slip of paper with a phone number on it. She may be asking Ran about the person she saw to see if Ran knew any thing about that person being on the train. She could easily be lying by saying that her older brother is dead and be doing so in front of Conan so that he doesn't know that she has made contact with Shuuichi, the person on the train who borrowed the hat.
EDIT (8/13/15; in response to Serinox's correction):
Certainly possible. There seems to be no other purpose to this than tricking Shinichi/Conan, though...
DCUniverseAficionado wrote:Certainly possible. There seems to be no other purpose to this than tricking Shinichi/Conan, though... then again, he did pretty much the same thing to Shuichi/Subaru with the whole "Kinichi" business, so...
You'd think we would've seen this slip of paper in File 824/Episode 704—not it's contents, obviously, but the fact of its existence. The fact that it wasn't shown, though, means Gosho either hid it from us, and will reveal it in a flashback, or there simply isn't one. This would've been a vital clue as to the middle brother's identity for the readers, if he was Shuichi/Subaru, and yet the idea of it is purely theoretical.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Interestingly enough we only know Shuuichi to wear knit caps, Bourbon's Scar Akai wore a ball cap with a front brim, and Vermouth's Scar Akai wore the hat with the brim that goes all the way around. If Masumi wears a hat with a brim that goes all the way around to copy her older brother, and Vermouth is "the only one who could completely immerse herself in the role" then of course she would find the right type of hat. Although this does bring up something else, just how long has Vermouth known Shuuichi? OR how far into his past did she have to dig to find that he wore that type of hat when we have never seen him wear one even in flashbacks up until that point?
I think that Rei/Tooru is the one who let her know—he and Masumi still haven't met, and his reaction to her in File 800/Episode 674 has yet to be explained, but Vermouth wouldn't need to know so much about Shuichi's past and his family to impersonate him—the reason she was exposed as Ariade was because of information she lacked, not because of a defect in her performance. And she only needed to shock Masumi for a few seconds to give her the opportunity to knock her out—she didn't need to give some long-train of facts when he goal was to make sure that Shuichi was dead by testing her reaction. Rei's/Tooru's connection to Masumi still needs to be explained, but it's likely that he had some encounter with her, years prior, and was curious as to why he'd crossed paths with Shuichi's sister as he was investigating his death. This prompted him to tell Vermouth about it, and she could've already known or not known, either way, and asked her to test her reaction to seeing her apparently dead brother.
Shuichi was still wearing his knitted cap five years before Clash of Red and Black, and given his likely age range being from mid-late twenties to early thirties, it's safe to assume the fedora was his preferred head garb during school years (high school, university/college). Given that Masumi is 10-15 years younger than Shuichi, she remembers the fedora more than the knitted cap, even if he started wearing it when she was in elementary school, which was likely when they last saw each other.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Its understandable that the middle brother would not be introduced as a phone call in Blush Mermaid because Masumi was still wondering about the hat and adding the middle brother in to somehow solve Kaito Kids trick would have been a bit much considering that Gosho has said that Kaito Kid will not be involved with the plot much anymore.
He could've added in a phone call from the middle brother after the case had concluded, but Gosho chose to wait another 26-28 files, instead. Only he knows why he did that.
Gosho said Kid might
not be involved in the final confrontation with the Organization.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Why she didn't contact him in the Fruits case with multiple pad locks on the same box? How to get a person inside a box that had been locked with multiple padlocks by different people would have been a perfect puzzle for a person who likes puzzles to solve! However that case focused on Masumi herself. It showed us that she had a tooth that comes out when she smiles, that Conan/Shinichi recognizes her in someway, and that Ran thinks of waves in some context to magic when she sees Masumi's back when she is running away. On top of that Masumi says the line "This is our territory/area" to Ran right after the dead body appears. Still that would have been a great case to call him for if she had contact. (Shuukichi was introduced in the case directly after that one, however the only person who has talked to both Masumi and Shuukichi and would be able to pass on contact info is Conan...).
The first known contact that we have seen is the one witnessed by Eri in the hotel lobby several hours before the Adultery case begins. Its very possible (although not proven) that this could be the first time she talked to the middle brother. If it was, it would explain why she said the person's name and "nii" loud enough to be heard by Eri. Masumi then calls the middle brother back later once the Adultery case begins to see if her theory is correct. Its really frustrating to think that if this middle brother existed, why she didn't call him before now. If it is simply that she didn't have contact with him at the previous cases then how did she get in contact with him? For the people who say that the middle brother is Shuukichi, how would she get his contact information (by c865), and suddenly not know his whereabouts (c869)? (as well as still not know that he plays Shogi(c902)). This lead me back to other characters that have come into contact with Masumi for the first time in really recent history, Subaru (Yusaku's cold case and Mystery train), Kaitou Kid (Blush Mermaid), and the actor Kanzaki who plays Detective Samonji (Fruits case). All three of these people know Conan and have seen him in action solving cases. However Masumi does not recognize Kanzaki until Conan mentions that he plays Samonji to which she says "oh that funny detective?". Kaito Kid has been said to not be involved in the plot any more, they did not recognize each other in the Blush Mermaid case and it just seems really unlikely. That leaves Subaru/Shuu. On top of that, the person who is talking to Masumi as the middle brother is using the exact same "oh, I'm away on a tough case and can't let my whereabouts be known" that Conan always uses when he pretends to be Shinichi on the phone. Most recently this was witnessed by Subaru/Shuu during Yusaku's Cold Case. It would be really easy for Subaru/Shuu to go out to buy a second cell phone and mimic the same trick by slipping Masumi a piece of paper with the phone number during the Mystery Train when she was unconscious. In this way she would have the phone number and still not know her brother's whereabouts. It still frustrates the heck out of me that she still didn't contact anyone during the Fruits case. If she had even hinted at contacting anyone during that case it would put this to rest, however for now it seems like the most likely time she first got into contact with him was in the hours before the Adultery case began.
The first time Masumi is talking with her second brother that we see is Steamy Relations/Bathroom Where Ran Collapsed As Well (Files 856–858/Episodes 740–741). We have no idea if she contacted him before her initial appearance in File 768/Episode 646, or during the periods in between her appearances—the same goes for her meeting him in person. As for the cases, themselves, which she had the chance to solve/help solve (Jeet Kune Do/Deduction Showdown at the Haunted Hotel, Bomber's Request/The Case of the Besieged Detective Agency, East Vs. West/Conan Vs. Heiji – Deduction Battle Between the Detectives of the East and West, Cold Case/Yusaku Kudo's Cold Case, Cabin Trap/The Shadow Approaching Haibara's Secret, Our Territory/The Treasure Chest Filled with Fruits) she clearly felt confident enough not to contact her second brother, given that not only was Shinichi/Conan there, but Heiji and Subaru were at other cases, as well. Steamy Relations/Bathroom Where Ran Collapsed As Well is the first time she deduced incorrectly—Jeet Kune Do/Deduction Showdown at the Haunted Hotel had an intentionally incorrect deduction on her part. The fact that she called her second brother shows that she was unsure enough to actually do so.
As for why she has no idea where her second brother is, it could be that even if they met, he would deflect her attempts to find out. If her words are to be doubted, then perhaps she does know where she is, but is hiding him from Shinichi/Conan, waiting for "when the time comes," as she puts it, in File 846/Episode 728 (and this could be the case for either Shukichi or Shuichi/Subaru being the second brother).
Shuichi/Subaru probably didn't think up the idea on the spot when he found out Shinichi's/Conan's secret, if he is the second brother, but decided after what happened on the Bell Tree Express to have her in the loop on some things, given what she wound up in the middle of. Also, would the same thing you said about how she should've contacted the middle brother during Our Territory/The Treasure Chest Filled with Fruits apply if Shuichi/Subaru was the middle brother?
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Interestingly enough after re-reading the chapters (872–875) it seems it was never stated that they were actually classmates, just that they were all "friends". Even though it seems they were told that their friend's sister was coming, they don't seem to recognize her at all and they never even mention an eldest brother. It is mentioned that during high school that the people present in the case were a part of the "outdoor club" for the summer holidays, and say that the club was just the five of them meaning that "Sera-kun" was not a part of the club (Satoko, the fifth member, was murdered 12 years ago near this same villa during a school holiday).
Over all the Eldest Brother is described as three times stronger than Masumi and is the one that sent her the Jeet Kune Do tapes that she watched many times as a kid. The Middle Brother is described as intelligent and one who likes to solve "mysteries and puzzles". Shuuichi, as Subaru, has demonstrated he is very intelligent and calls himself a Sherlockian. He also says he likes to solve "puzzles". If he and the Middle Brother are different people, the the Middle Brother's intelligence must be much higher than that?
How is the fact that they weren't classmates interesting? Or that they weren't part of the same club? If they were friends, then they'd know what he'd look like, and that's all that should matter, right? Or am I missing something you're not missing?
Why would the classmates feel the need to mention the other brother? If they knew so little about Masumi, wouldn't the same apply to Shuichi, if he's the oldest brother? There was simply not enough info provided on that. If Shuichi is Masumi's only brother, and that there is no middle brother, then that would mean the number of surnames Shuichi had throughout the series would increase to four—and why would his name be changed for only a certain period of time? He's never referred to as Shuichi Sera—he's always been referred to as Shuichi Akai. I don't have a problem with him turning out to have been called Shuichi Sera, but if he is the middle brother, then that's what this means.
If Shukichi turns out to be the middle brother, then he'll have to play a role in the plot—with his quest complete, he's now free to help his siblings and their mother (If she is the mysterious child). If the Akai family is like the Holmes family, then Shuichi is Sherlock and Shukichi is Mycroft—one out catching criminals, the other engaging in less serious activities.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Questions: If Shuukichi is the Middle Brother, then...
Shuukichi was first introduced as a Shogi playing man who could memorize things very quickly, and was introduced three cases before the first mention of the Middle Brother. Why would you want to introduce a new character and then suddenly create an alternate persona for that character after the fact and not let the audience know? It would seem kind of silly to me to even make a secret Middle Brother and only introduce one person that it could be, and then it turns out that it is that person.
But hasn't pretty much everyone speculated about him being the middle brother, at this point? Hasn't everyone caught onto how easily he could be the middle brother? For you, this must too obvious to be true—thus, it must be a red herring. But isn't that another trick? Get people thinking its a red herring when it actually isn't? Could it be that it's too obvious not
to be true?
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Shuukichi was already playing Shogi at a tournament level at a point "10 years ago", at this time Masumi would have been at least 6-7 and would most likely remember that he was such a good Shogi player. Even with Shuukichi having gone off to college and being separate from the family, he still would have graduated some time before Masumi left from japan "3 years ago". If Shuukichi was the Middle Brother, then Masumi would definitely know that he is fond of Shogi. Why did she then describe him as liking "puzzles" rather than liking "Shogi"? Why would Masumi not know his whereabouts? If she wanted to see him, she would most likely just go to Shogi tournaments and hang around. From Masumi's point of view, even if her brother was not going to tournaments anymore there is a chance he would still watch them on tv and possibly see her in the background, so it would be worth it. Why isn't she shown even attempting this? From Shuukichi's point of view, why would he want his whereabouts unknown if all he was doing is playing Shogi? Why would Shogi be a tough enough job that he couldn't take a break to see her briefly? On top of that, how do you explain that Masumi never contacted him in any of the cases that she appeared in before the Adultery case? How would she suddenly have gotten in contact with him? If she had contact with him before the first time we see her call him, why is she suddenly self-conscious enough to ask him if she is right about her deduction in the case where she calls him, but didn't call him before?
Would she? Given how into martial arts and practical work Shuichi and Masumi are, maybe Shukichi was embarrassed not to be—if he is the middle brother, his personality sticks out like a sore thumb. Perhaps Shuichi had to figure that out on his own—that his brother was hiding it—and maybe Masumi still has no idea. Again, we have no idea if she contacted him in between the cases she appeared at, or even before she appeared. Remember—her deduction was wrong, and it wasn't an intentional screw up. As with before, Shinichi/Conan was there, and so was that reassurance, but beside that, she was unsure about the trick the culprit used in Steamy Relations/Bathroom Where Ran Collapsed As Well—enough to get another perspective.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:For the most part we assume that Masumi and her mother left Japan due to something involving Shuuichi while he was inside the BO. Shuuichi entered the BO "5 years ago" and they left Japan "3 years ago" and Shuuichi left the BO "2 years ago". If Masumi and her mother were evacuated from Japan due to fear of the BO, why did the Middle Brother not go with them? You can say that if he is Shuukichi that he has the reason of the Shogi titles to stay in Japan, but wouldn't life or death situations trump titles that he could earn at any time in his life? If Shuuichi still had the family name Akai, and by this time they still feared that Masumi and the mother, who have the family name Sera would still be found by the BO, why would the Middle Brother having a third family name even protect him? He allows himself to be put on tv and in internet articles. He doesn't seem like he is hiding from anyone.
But clearly, the BO hasn't gone after him—who knows how long it took him to achieve the amount of fame he currently possesses? We don't know why Masumi left Japan a year before Shuichi was exposed as an FBI mole inside the BO—wouldn't the FBI have hid her at the very time Shuichi began infiltrating the BO, if they were so concerned? Is she lying about when she was in America?
I agree that its important to consider these things, though—there could very well be a reason behind Gosho giving us the information about when Masumi left Japan. With the theory of Shuichi/Subaru being the middle brother, Shukichi having nothing happen to him while Shuichi was in the BO would make sense.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Masumi's description of the Middle Brother is very vague. She says that she and her Eldest brother resemble their mother, but that the Middle Brother resembles their father, who is dead. Because we still have the potential of meeting the mother of the family, we would see the resemblance between Masumi, Shuuichi, and the mother pretty clearly. The father however is dead, and the Middle Brother looks like him more than the other three. At this point all we know about his appearance is that he does not look like his other three family members. Combining that with having a different family name, you could almost pull a random person off the street and have them fill in for the Middle Brother as long as the age is correct. On top of this, Shuukichi's current family name matches the same "Haneda" kanji as someone from the APTX victims list. Wouldn't it be far more likely that he is related to that person rather than having to be the Middle Brother and just happening to change his family name to that around the time he graduated High school?
If the mysterious child is Shuichi's and Masumi's mother, then the eyes are an obvious connection—their eyes are pretty much the most distinctive in the entire series. Shukichi must have eyes and hair/hair color that resembles the father, if he is the second son—he already bares quite the resemblance to Shuichi, in terms of facial structure. He and the mysterious child's skin color are fairly close, while Shuichi and Masumi have a very similar skin color—maybe the latter two have that in common with their father (and that's irrespective of the middle brother, by the way).
The APTX victims list is from Volume 18, File 179/Episode 129—the very beginning of the Haibara arc (Files 176–237/Episodes 129–175). It could easily be a coincidence—Shuichi was not introduced until Volume 29, File 287/Episode 230. And this is ignoring the fact that there are plenty of unrelated people who share surnames—as of 2014, the surname Haneda belonged to 11,184 people in Japan.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:At the end of the recent Shogi tournament case we see the Mystery Girl and Shuuichi smiling. Since the Mystery girl had the tv on the station giving coverage of the tournament earlier in the case, it is assumed that she was still watching it when she turned the tv off at the end. Shuuichi is shown definitely reading an article about the Shogi tournament and the winner of the seven titles. So many people made the immediate jump from "Oh my god, they smiled at Shuukichi's achievement" to "Oh my god, they are all blood-related/family members". We still do not know that the Mystery Girl is the mother of the family, we only know that she talks like an adult and has the same black outline of the eye that Masumi does. How do you make this big leap? Why would Gosho let a simple smile confirm the identity of two characters that are supposed to be a mystery??
The thing about people comparing the mysterious child's and Shuichi's/Subaru's reaction to Shukichi's victory in File 902/Episode 786 to Shuichi/Subaru drinking Bourbon in File 640/Episode 511 is this—it's not the same. Shukichi is suspected of being the middle brother. Shuichi/Subaru was suspected of being Bourbon, and unwisely so simply because he was drinking Bourbon—as we later found out, it was one of his favorite drinks, and him drinking it while searching for Bourbon was a nice touch. Had he been drinking Sherry, though...
It's very possible that Shuichi/Subaru and the mysterious child are simply fans of Shukichi. With Shiho/Ai going all hardcore fangirl in the most recent case when she thought Ryusuke was dating Yoko, it proved that even the most serious, snarky characters can have an OOC moment like she did—that could be the case with the mysterious girl's reaction creeping Masumi out. Even so, for Shuichi/Subaru to give a genuine smile at a shogi player he'd never met, even if he was only the second person in history to claim all seven shogi titles... the whole thing about Shuichi/Subaru, when he was introduced, was that he was thought to be Bourbon—Shukichi's not suspicious. The odds of him being Rum, even with the little information we have on that subject, are very low.
The Mysterious Child can't be the middle brother, unless Gosho reveals that he's been pulling quite the trick on his sister. With her being voiced by the Major from Ghost in the Shell, as well—it seems quite fitting for that to be the voice of a character who's the mother of Shuichi Akai, at least to me. People make this leap because two of the most serious characters in the series are pretty happy at the result of a Shogi match, of all things—am I convinced, utterly and completely, that Shukichi is the middle brother and the mysterious child is his, Shuichi's/Subaru's and Masumi's mother? No—it's just too early. Where things stand, right now, that's the way it looks... but for a conclusive, unshakable theory to be formed exclusively from this? I'm certainly not going to.
jimmy_kud0_tv2 wrote:Remember that the Bourbon arc started off with just the mention of Bourbon and only having Subaru as a suspect for a really long time drinking Bourbon in the Kudou house before Masumi and Amuro were actually introduced (14 volumes / 142 episodes later).
There were two theories for who Subaru Okiya really was, from File 622 to File 824—either he was Bourbon, and Shinichi/Conan was using Shiho/Ai as bait to try to get at the Organization, or he was actually Shuichi, who'd faked his death in File 609.
For Shukichi Haneda, there are two theories, as well—either he is the middle brother, and is going to get involved in the main plot once this is revealed, or he's a Shogi player who happens to be Yumi's boyfriend, and happens to be very well liked by Shuichi/Subaru and his mother (if she is the mysterious child).
With the Bourbon and Vermouth arcs, there were the most obvious suspects for the titular character's identity—Subaru and Jodie. They turned out to be good guys—that was always the other possibility. For Shukichi, there's no such option for him to continue to be relevant—either he's the middle brother, or he's pretty much guaranteed to go the way of Ariade... and that's a waste. And didn't Gosho say that Shukichi would be an important character? I can't seem to find where he said that.
If Shuichi/Subaru is the middle brother, then I'd say were due some interaction between him and Masumi and even the mysterious child. This mystery has been around since April 2013... it's been nearly two-and-a-half years. The mystery of who Bourbon was took four-and-a-half years to be revealed, so hopefully between now and mid-2017 we'll get some answers. It's been nearly 30 files since Shukichi and the mysterious child appeared—maybe we'll get back on track with that, come next Monday.
Finally—the two animal crossing hints. Animal Crossing is either used for spreading factual information, or, less frequently, for Sherry's Soliloquy-esque comments and a joke, here and there. Here are posts with the latter, in my opinion, at least:
Now that I think about it, I wonder how old Higo-san is...
Don't die, Kan-chan...
Kuroda-keiji... is very scary.
OK, I will tell you about the Boss... NOT!!! (laugh)
The rest are very fact based, and among them:
Sera-chan calls Kichi-nii
I've heard that these aren't being serious, but with him using Animal Crossing to put facts about his work out there... we would not have known that Rum had already appeared before File 906 if not for Animal Crossing. He's never used Animal Crossing to trick us/lie to us, so there's no reason to think he'd start now, and just for this one thing... and its not even a comment like "OK, I will tell you about the middle brother... NOT!!!" Who else could "Kichi-nii" be but Shukichi? Is there really another explanation for this?
I hope I've come off as reasonable and unoffensive in this post, but this is text and we're on the internet, so I apologize if I sounded rude... I'm trying to make sure, because as they say, better safe than sorry.
Another question to be answered is who was Masumi called by in File 800/Episode 674 (and this goes for Shuichi/Subaru, as well, though it was likely James Black—that earpiece of Shuichi's/Subaru's in Online Client/Detectives' Nocturne is the same one, I think, as the one he uses to contact James in Dimensional Sniper. Movies aren't canon, I know, but that movie spoiled the manga before the manga revealed that Shuichi was Subaru, and revealed that James knew that Shuichi had faked his death, hence him sending Shuichi/Subaru a sniper rifle. None of the other 18 movies have been so spoilery.)
It couldn't have been Shuichi/Subaru, as he was receiving a call of his own from his earpiece, at the time, so that leaves either the mysterious child or the middle brother. We've never seen
Masumi contact the mysterious child by phone—just like we haven't seen
Masumi contact her middle brother before Steamy Relations/Bathroom Where Ran Collapsed As Well. If it was the middle brother, then it's either Shukichi or a yet-to-be-introduced character.
Then there's the assumption that Shinichi/Conan is "the wizard" (or "the magician," as the crunchyroll sub interprets it). Doesn't that seem a bit obvious, too? And Shinichi/Conan is best at destroying
illusions that "wizards" and "magicians" like Kaitou Kid seem to cast—he's not known to be one, himself. While Ran remembers a young Masumi likely asking a young Shinichi if he's a wizard/magician, we have no idea what his response was… and then there's her "I really am a bad girl…" comment while looking at Ran and Shinichi/Conan (File 814/Episode 691). She likely did something in response to something Shinichi said, and Ran called her out for it—could the wizard/magician be the mysterious girl, instead? If Shuichi/Subaru is the middle brother, and he's hiding himself from Masumi, how would he know about this encounter between his sister and Shinichi and Ran? Wouldn't he have recognized both Shinichi and Ran, before meeting them?
Also, the middle brother's classmates seem to think, in my opinion, that either Ran or Sonoko is the middle brother's sister and that Masumi is their boyfriend (it could be that they thought the sister wasn't even there, though). Thus, they've never seen her. If Shuichi/Subaru was the middle brother, you'd think they'd notice the resemblance between him and Masumi, even if they thought she was a boy, and ask if she's a brother of his that he (the middle brother) never mentioned. But they don't make this connection, and if they assumed that Ran or Sonoko was the sister, then they were likely basing that off of the middle brother's appearance—Shukichi has a similar skin color as Ran and Sonoko. For example, if Mitsuhiko's sister was introduced without us being told she was, would we assume she was? She looks different enough for us not to assume so. (EDIT (8/18/15): I just looked at his sister, and realized that this is a bad example; please disregard it.) Plenty of siblings could pass as unrelated to each other (Masumi and Shukichi)—it's not a stretch to say the reverse applies, as well (Shukichi and Ran or Sonoko). Even if they didn't assume that Ran or Sonoko was the sister, they still didn't take notice of Mausmi's resemblance to Shuichi and ask about it—you'd think they would've done so, if Shuichi was their classmate (the middle brother).
If Masumi doesn't know about the Black Organization, then who's to say the same wouldn't apply to Shukichi, if he was the second brother? He doesn't seem to have spent time in America (as far as we know), and there really is no reason he should know, if Shuichi didn't inform him of what he was up to. Yukiko has helped Shinichi/Conan twice, and Yusaku once, but no more than that—say what you will about them as parents, but they really are leaving this up to him, even with the knowledge of what he's facing. This could be a similar scenario, if Shukichi does know—whether he knows or not, though, he's pursued his own goal and lived his own life for ten years, and very likely before that. Given Shuichi's/Subaru's reaction to Shukichi's victory, he doesn't seemed miffed by the fact that Shukichi went off and pursued this. If the mysterious child is the mother, then the same goes for her—neither of them are furious, angry or even annoyed that Shukichi is off playing Shogi (you could say this is proof that Shukichi isn't the middle brother, though, and I'd accept that). There's no obligation for him—a civilian—to endanger his life by getting involved in the BO situation, even more so if he has no idea, and Shuichi would probably not let him help, if he wanted to… just like Shinichi/Conan with those tied to him. They both want to face the danger alone, so no one gets hurt but them.
As for the intellect, both Shukichi and Shinichi/Conan realized the meanings behind the clues left by Yumi's kidnapper at the same time—clearly, they were both able to make the same connections, showing that Shukichi's knowledge, at least then, was just as large as Shinichi's/Conan's. Before, in his debut, (Files 847–849/Episodes 731–732) it was Shukichi's clue that led to Shinichi/Conan solving the case, and Shukichi himself quickly realized that Shinichi/Conan had solved the case, before he'd even begun his demonstration of the truth behind the trick. Such intellect may have been either expressed in Shogi terminology or during a Shogi case, but the fact that he and Shinichi/Conan were going stride for stride and the fact that he recognized that Shinichi/Conan had solved the case means that his intellect, at the very least, can stay with Shinichi's/Conan's, and that he could recognize that a child he'd just met could solve a murder case on his own. Plus, whether he's the middle brother or not, he's still a Shogi player—either way, it wouldn't be odd for him to say things that relate to Shogi or make Shogi connections easily. Shogi would be his characteristic skill, as Masumi's and Shuichi's would be Jeet Kune Do, and Shuichi's would be sniping and driving. Even with each of their characteristics, though, they would all have intellects greater than that of many average persons.
One more thing—Shiho's/Ai's comment to Shukichi that "the real Taiko wasn't as strong as you." I don't think she was being snide/sarcastic, so Gosho must've put this in for a reason—since Shiho/Ai is Gosho's voice in the manga quite often, you'd have to wonder why he'd put that in if Shukichi was just a Shogi player with no connection to Shuichi/Subaru, the mysterious child (and then there's where she was from Files 768–846/Episodes 646–728—was she already in Japan? Was she staying with someone else before living with Masumi?), and Masumi, other than the former two being fans of his. Favorite drinks and athletes may have things in common, when it comes to people liking them, but they're not the same—a drink isn't a person, whether you've met the person or not.
Just because Shukichi Haneda is a really cheerful Shogi player, isn't a stoic, cool, multi-skilled, physically, and mysterious character who isn't involved in the fight with the Black Organization doesn't mean he's a red herring by default
… but the theory that he's not the middle brother is quite a reasonable one, with merit—either way, Gosho's left this mystery hanging for two-and-a-half years… while it took us four-and-a-half until the Bourbon mystery was solved, we didn't have to pieces to solve it until four years into the mystery. The middle brother mystery was a mystery introduced in the Bourbon arc that has lasted over a year, since the Rum arc began… it's yet another dangling plot thread. Unless Gosho introduces a new character that turns out to be the middle brother, then the result of this mystery is going to be obvious—Shukichi is the middle brother, or there is no middle brother and Masumi's ben in contact with Shuichi/Subaru.
“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”
“Education never ends... it is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and His Last Bow
"I have decided to stick to love... hate is too great a burden to bear."
— Martin Luther King Jr. (A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr)