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Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11

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Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11 are an adaptation of the novel Salvation of a Saint although the translation offered for the television adaptation is “redemption”. Having read and signalled serious admiration of the novel, there was considerable expectation as we worked through this series. No matter how superficial some of the earlier episodes might have seemed, there was enduring confidence the quality of the source material would enable the scriptwriters to produce a blockbuster ending leaving everyone impressed. Sadly, this proved not completely the case. In reaching this conclusion, I speculate my reaction to this adaptation might have been more forgiving if I had not read and enjoyed the book. By definition, novels are more detailed and allow the author the chance to build to the most effective conclusion. Even at two hours, television and cinema can struggle to capture the essence of even a short book. Look at the agonising over whether the television version of Game of Thrones is as good as, or better than, the novels from which it is drawn, or whether Peter Jackson should be burned at the crossroads for what he has done to the works of Tolkien. People who love the written word often hate what happens when their favoured novel is translated into the visual form. So, for example, there are the purists who hate the adaptations of the work by Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and so on.

Yūki Amami

Yūki Amami

 

So here we go with more detailed thoughts about this plot, carefully avoiding spoilers. First, the good news. Yūki Amami as Ayane Mashiba is outstanding. She carried the two series of Boss and proves devastatingly effective as our saint. Had she failed, the entire ending would have been dead in the water. We need to be clear about the nature of this role. This is an older woman who runs her own successful nursery school. She’s desperate to have children and, not caring so much about the consequences, she dates an entrepreneur who’s also seeking immortality for his genes through producing a child. He has two women. When Ayane is the first to prove her pregnancy, he dumps the other and marries Ayane. Shortly after their marriage, Ayane is walking near their matrimonial home when she’s knocked down by a woman on a bicycle. The shock causes her to miscarry. The cyclist is never identified. Thereafter, Ayane goes above and beyond the call of duty as a wife. She regularly attends a fertility clinic and spends the rest of the time at home, attending to her husband’s every need. Nothing is too much trouble for her.

Yuriko Yoshitaka and Masaharu Fukuyama consider the impossible

Yuriko Yoshitaka and Masaharu Fukuyama consider the impossible

 

When she goes away on a short holiday with two friends, her husband is very obviously alive, communicating with his employees by video conference, answering the door to their home, talking with the security guard, and so on. But at some point, he dies of arsenical poisoning. The fatal dose was obviously administered through his afternoon cup of coffee using freshly ground beans and newly boiled water. Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka) therefore thinks someone gained entrance to the home, placed the poison in the kettle, and waited for the man to die. The book goes to considerable lengths to demonstrate how he was not killed. In this endeavour, the book shows Professor Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo and the forensic team working together to analyse every aspect of the kitchen. This even includes looking at the amount of dust under the sink to show no-one has touched the water filter during the last year. In any event, he made a coffee in the morning without ill effects. So it would be impossible for the water supply to have been contaminated.

 

The television adaptation, however, omits all this detailed work. Galileo is shown wandering around the kitchen, opening and closing cupboard doors, looking inside the fridge, and so on. He then demonstrates a possible murder method to Ayane Mashiba and the children in her school, but dismisses it because the offscreen forensic work has shown it to be impossible. In other words, by cutting out the spadework performed to show just how impossible this murder is, it undermines the shock value of how she did it. It is and will always remain, one of my all-time favourite murder methods. That said, people watching this show will understand how it was done and appreciate its cleverness. It’s just so much less than it could have been. We now come back to the question of “salvation” vs “redemption”. What the adaptation does right is bring out the quality of the woman and to explain very clearly what her motive was and why the world was right in viewing her as a saint in her marriage. You may very well wonder why a woman who endlessly proved her love for her husband should want to kill him. Read the book. If that’s not available to you, watch this television adaptation. It’s entirely understandable. So if Galileo succeeds in proving how she did it, can she be “saved” or find redemption? There are some who might say that the deliberate killing of another human being can never be forgiven. Unlike a theft where the money or the value of the thing taken can be returned to the victim, only society, perhaps influenced by the wishes of the victim’s family, could ever forgive and allow rehabilitation. I leave it to you to decide.

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For the Galileo novel on which this pair of episodes is based, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9

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Continuing with Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013), episode 7 breaks the mould by having Professor Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo front-and-centre from start-to-finish. The role for Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka), the new detective, is limited to sitting in his lab to bully his students into translating his receipts for expenses into the type of language the police accounts department can understand. While waiting for them to do the work, she tries to assemble the model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex sent by the detective despatched for further training to America. Needless to say, this does not please the scientist when he sees her at work using a remote camera system. Anyway, on his way back from a conference with Hiromi Kuribayashi (Ikkei Watanabe), his assistant, and one of his students, he’s diverted to consider whether it’s possible to view the inside of a tomb when the opening has been concreted over. There’s a complicated story about a local mythological animal that may have been trying to steal the body from the tomb and the priest sealed it up to prevent this from happening. The priest then died and his skeleton was picked clean by local birds and predators. Anticipating the difficulties, the student has brought along a high-powered portable drill to get through the concrete and a camera to poke through the hole to view inside the tomb. They are able to establish the body is missing.

The monster signs his name above his victim

The monster signs his name above his victim

 

Meanwhile, what looks like a double murder takes place in the village and the name of the mythological beast is written on the wall. The front door of the house was locked and all the windows were locked from the inside with the shotgun used to kill the man outside the house on the grass at the back. The inexperienced local policeman hypothesises the beast used the gun and then walked through the wall, dropping the gun as he retreated into the woods. The professor is particularly interested in the rocking chair in which the dead man is found and the wet umbrella by the front door. The result is an elegant mystery to unravel and a quite sophisticated moral judgement at the end. It actually makes quite a pleasant change to see the professor in the real wold without having the spiky new detective by his side to provoke him. Although he’s still essentially disinterested, he shows some ability to judge the emotional qualities of those around him. He does listen to people and, to some extent, empathise with them.

 

Episode 8 has a slightly different form of impossible crime. It’s the unbreakable alibi but multiplied by two. The most obvious suspect is miles away in the presence of a colleague when, in sequence, they both receive a telephone call from the victim but neither results in actual words exchanged. When they go to his apartment, they find him dead with a knife through the heart. So the first part of the alibi is working out how the suspect might have arranged for the two calls to be made after the death of the victim. Once that is clear, the police further examine the phone and find a photograph stored in the phone’s memory. It was taken at about the time of the murder, but the only place from such a picture could have been taken was some miles from the scene of the murder. For once, I got the answer to this in principle although the detail of the execution eluded me. This is two interesting ideas padded out to fill time available. The result lacks pace, repeating itself a couple of times and distracting itself with a few fireworks.

The ultimate in method acting

The ultimate in method acting

 

Episode 9 deals with the inevitable situation when the mass media become aware that a reclusive university professor has become a consultant to the police. This outing is accomplished by an unbalanced physicist who, in a conference ten years ago, was profoundly embarrassed when the young professor pointed out an error in the man’s presentation. This led to his loss of a job with a lesser university. In short order, he went through several other jobs. Each time he was fired, he felt he was able to blame others. It wasn’t that he was not good enough. It was the fault of others in failing to recognise his genius. Anyway, after being out of work for six months, he decides to take his revenge on the professor who had originally shown him up. He dubs himself The Devil’s Hand and takes the credit for a death the authorities had considered an accident. In due course, he claims a second death.

 

The way it works is that, the night before the death is due to take place, he posts a message to a website forecasting the victim. After the death, he writes a letter to both the police department and the professor pointing to the message. What interests Galileo is that the written letter claiming the first death followed immediately the next day, whereas there was a gap of three days between the next announcement and the letter. When the detective asks the right questions, she discovers it took three days for the man to die. So whatever method the man us using, it’s fallible and he has to wait to see whether each attack is successful. Galileo sets his research students working on trawling the internet to find other messages announcing deaths. When one is discovered, the detective finds the woman survived without injury. As Galileo talks with her, he realizes how the man is attacking these people and why they do not always die. So this is quite an interesting mystery, somewhat enlivened because our less successful physicist befriends Hiromi Kuribayashi, Galileo’s assistant, and tries to pump him for inside information on how the investigation is progressing. Naturally, the assistant quickly gets drunk and is a useless source of information. So far, Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) is not as good as the first season, but I live in hopes because the last two episodes are an adaptation of Salvation of a Saint, a superb Galileo novel.

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino‘s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6

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In Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013), episode 5 takes us in the difficult and enigmatic world of twins. We’re shown twin sisters both engaged in the activity of cooking. One has the television on. The other has a live feed from her husband’s business consultancy seminar. They both hear a noise from outside. One goes into her garden and finds the wind has blown over and broken a plant pot. The other goes into the street but sees nothing suspicious. While she is out, a man breaks into her house. When she comes back in, he hits her on the head with a hammer. Two-hundred kilometers away, the other twin has a terrible pain in her head. She calls her brother-in-law’s assistant and begs him to go round to her sister’s home. When the husband and assistant arrive, they found the sister seriously injured and in a coma.

The twins rule

The twins rule

 

This is great fun because Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka), our detective, now goes all out to get Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo interested. She wheels sets of twins into the lab to demonstrate a telepathic link or something approximating it. Naturally, while admiring her enthusiasm, the professor is dismissing everything he sees and hears as coincidence and not reliable evidence. Nevertheless he does become energised when the detective says the twin now claims she saw the face of the man who attacked her twin sister. This might be a claim that can be scientifically verified. He first asks the twin if she can draw the face. The result is amusingly childlike. There’s a complete lack of artistic flair on display. It’s a shame no police sketch artist is tried. Nevertheless, the professor engages the husband to find photographs of everyone in their joint lives. When shown these pictures in the hospital room where the twin is lying in a coma, the sister cannot recognise any one as the attacker. But one picture falls off the wall triggering the now traditional flood of scientific writing. As a result, the professor brings the twin sister and her brother-in-law to a lab where he explains a fairly massive piece of equipment as a very sensitive machine to measure brain activity. When the results are inconclusive, he proposes stepping up to the ultimate machine which results in the solution of the case. This is fortuitous because the reputation of our lady detective is slowly going down the toilet as her colleagues now consider her too interested in occult and otherwise supernatural cases. Being able to arrest and charge actual human suspects does help keep her in employment.

 

Episode 6 is a locked room mystery. After meeting online, five women decide to go on a short hiking holiday. They book rooms in a hotel close to a bridge over a deep gorge. The detective is the first to arrive, closely followed by one of the two physicists who work together. This scientist says she’s tired and immediately goes to her bedroom. Later, after the other three women have arrived, her colleague knocks on the door and is seen to try opening it but it is locked. When it comes to the time for eating, her colleague and the detective take a torch and go outside to try her window. But when her colleague shines the torch on the window, the detective can clearly see the window is locked. There’s no reply when they knock on the glass. The following morning, the woman is found dead at the bottom of the gorge. The local police have this down as a suicide but our detective knows just enough science to have caught our the scientist colleague in a lie. This may be a trivial lie, but it makes her suspect the possibility of murder. But since she can’t work out how it could have been done, this means calling in Galileo. Somewhat hilariously, he proves the detectives theory is complete impractical. It’s physically impossible. When Galileo and the detective confront the scientist, she freely admits the lie and has an explanation for it. Since this seems to solve all the problems for Galileo, he leaves our detective chewing on the facts. In the end, she decides to pursue the case despite being warned off by her boss.

 

The precise answer to the problem depends on the scientific work the scientist was doing. It provides the mechanism to make the locked room puzzle complete. It’s not something I would ever have thought of but, now I know, it a modern scientific version of a very old stage trick. It’s impressive to apply such a mechanism in this case. I thought the resolution too easy. Where the explanation for how the crime was committed is completely without evidence in support, you do not expect the accused to literally break down and confess. Although an explanation for this is supplied, I don’t think it very convincing. Nevertheless, this is a novel variation on the locked room mystery and worth watching.

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4

June 12, 2014 1 comment

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In Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013), episode 3 invites us to remember, long ago, that Howard Carter led a team of archaeologists in a dig in Egypt. When they opened the Tomb of Tutankhamun, it set in train a number of deaths. Some say the tomb was cursed so that anyone breaking the seal would die. “Experts” have tried to explain the phenomenon of the several unexplained deaths by having gas sealed inside, or there being a fungus growing, or bacteria released. You get the idea. Thematically, this gives us the hook for this episode. Our new police officer, Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka), is attending the funeral of a friend. She apparently committed suicide in her bath after her lover of three years broke up with her. This was the man who had recruited her to a start-up company making a database product. There was no explanation for why he should have ended the relationship so suddenly. At the funeral, the boss says he can hear his dead lover’s voice. He falls over in shock and horror, trying to crawl away from the place where the body is lying. Later, his body is found in the river. Three people saw him jump. The medical view after autopsy is that both deaths may be associated with some form of auditory hallucination. Our heroine is convinced there’s likely to be a more practical cause and so goes to see Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo.

 

Naturally, he has absolutely no interest in any possible medical cause and dismisses the idea of any form of supernatural explanation. Although the idea of a curse does strike him as something worth investigating, he thinks it very unlikely. But when there’s a third event when a man in an open office hears a voice no-one else can hear, Galileo is finally stung into action. And talking of stinging: while she’s arresting this man emotionally disturbed by his unseen voices (sic), he stabs our police officer in the butt which is highly embarrassing and very painful. Even Galileo is sufficiently alarmed (or, perhaps, amused) to visit her in hospital. Having been through the set-up, the episode now marks time with our heroine interacting with two close friends, fighting with Hiromi Kuribayashi (Ikkei Watanabe), Galileo’s assistant, and falling asleep in Galileo’s lab after a drinking session with her friends. There’s one demonstration of a possible explanation and then the explanation which is, I suppose, scientifically plausible. This series is turning into a scientific mystery series rather than a police procedural or murder mystery series. I suppose this is not unreasonable because Galileo is a professor of physics, but it does seem to have slightly wondered off the thematic police procedural plots that made the first season so successful.

Masaharu Fukuyama	ans Manabu Yukawa and Yuriko Yoshitaka as Misa Kishitani

Masaharu Fukuyama as Manabu Yukawa and Yuriko Yoshitaka as Misa Kishitani

 

Except, then along comes episode 4 and, suddenly, we’re back on track again. What made the first season so interesting was the way in which seemingly completely unrelated incidents proved to be connected. So this episode sees Galileo hoist by his own petard. He’s published an article using science to analyse and predict the flight of a shuttlecock. This attracts a lot of attention including a question from a baseball pitcher who’s thirty-five years old. He’s been dropped by his team as being too old. In practical terms, the team’s owner thinks the pitcher has lost his mojo. He talks the professor into analysing his pitching action and the flight of the ball as a training exercise. As they come together, the hope is this analysis will be more effective than traditional coaching methods and enable the player to get back into the professional game. This makes the professor the pitcher’s alibi when she’s found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in what looks like an arson attack. Naturally, our detective is on the case and soon knocks on the professor’s door. He’s quite quickly able to explain how the fire was started. But the pitcher remains distressed.

 

He’s convinced his wife was having an affair. This does not create the right psychological conditions in which he can pitch well. Because the professor is told it’s impossible for the pitcher to get back his lost fire, the chase is on to find the lover and set the pitcher’s mind at rest. This involves asking how the deceased’s car comes to be rusty and why there’s a boxed present in the boot of her car — the box had obviously been opened, but the fact it’s still in the deceased’s possession suggests the “lover” had rejected the gift. So out of vanity, the professor investigates, i.e. he blackmails the detective into collecting information for him by threatening never to help her on a case again. She comes up with an incident that may be relevant and, from an interview on the scene, our physicist is able to deduce the nationality of the man she met. From there, it’s a trivial matter to track the man down. The outcome is powerfully appropriate and emotionally satisfying. This is detective fiction at its best and an outstanding episode.

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2

Galileo_2-p1

Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) is continuing the adventures of Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo, the character created by the redoubtable Keigo Higashino. So we’re immediately pitched into a nicely atmospheric scene in Tokyo. Cult Leader Shiko Renzaki (Takao Osawa), one of these guru figures, gives a public demonstration of his supernatural power to cleanse the evil from the soul of one of his worshippers. Unfortunately, the leader is angry with the man who’s alleged to have embezzled money from the cult. He overdoes the ‘fluence and, as a result, the man jumps through a window and falls five storeys to his death. By coincidence, a member of the press and a photographer are there to do a biography piece on the guru and the sequence of pictures shows no-one comes anywhere near the man before he jumps up, runs at the window and leaps. There’s a storm outside and the lights go out, presumably because of a lightning strike. The guru then turns himself into the police saying he’s responsible for the man’s death. As her last case before being sent to America for more training, Detective Kaoru Utsumi (Kou Shibasaki) runs the interview but, not surprisingly, the guru is unable to reproduce the phenomenon in the interview room. It seems Utsumi is too sceptical. This leaves the field open to new detective Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka). She’s been picked by Detective Shunpei Kusanagi (Kazuki Kitamura) because she’s a graduate of Teito University, the same university where Manabu Yukawa is professor of physics.

Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama)

Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama)

 

When the body is autopsied, there are the broken bones you would expect from the fall, there are cuts to the body (presumably caused by crashing through the window), and the man’s eyes are a milky colour. When the two detectives pitch this mystery to Galileo, he’s curious to see whether the force, power or influence created by the guru is a reproducible effect. He and Misa Kishitani go out into the countryside to visit the commune where the main body of the cult lives very simply. They have wind-generators to produce a small quantity of electricity, do their own subsistence farming, and live peasant lives. After a debate about the merits of living a life of faith rather than reliance on technology, the two investigators are taken into the meeting room where the guru does produce a noticeable effect. Both the detective and the scientist admit feeling as if they were wrapped in a warm blanket. The detective is tempted to believe this is a mystical experience. The scientist’s curiosity is piqued.

 

There are two things wrong with this episode. Although the primary plot idea is moderately ingenious and probably scientifically possible, it’s also quite easy to guess. Secondly, there’s a lot of padding as our investigators wander round the village compound where the cult makes its home. The almost one hour running time is slightly too long for this idea. That said, the chemistry between the new detective and the physicist works well. She thinks she gives better than she receives and has difficulty in adjusting her innate level of self-confidence to accept the professor is in a different intellectual class.

Kaoru Utsumi (Kou Shibasaki) and Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka)

Kaoru Utsumi (Kou Shibasaki) and Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka)

 

The second episode is also thin and relies on new detective Misa Kishitani’s interaction with the staff and students of the university as the filler as everyone studies the pendulum. The question for the professor is whether dowsing is a verifiable scientific phenomenon. The basis of the story is that a woman’s body is found strangled in her home. The gold she had hidden away has vanished. Her dog is also missing. Outside the crime scene, Misa Kishitani sees a young student and her instincts tell her the girl “knows something”. She therefore stakes out the girl’s home and observes the girl leave her home late at night carrying her dowsing crystal on a chain. At each junction, the detective watches the girl pause. She seems to ask the crystal a question. It swings and, presumably, indicates a direction. When this journey ends, the girl opens a dumpster and finds the dead dog. At this point the following detective has a problem. She can’t say she found the dead dog by relying on supernatural powers. She needs something “scientific” to put in her report so that the chain of evidence is not broken. Ironically, the problem becomes worse when the girl uses her pendant to spell out the name of the killer. Although it’s a very simple problem, the explanation came as a rather pleasant surprise and, with all the careful choreography of the scientific testing and speculations on how dowsing might work, this proved an entertaining episode. The relationship between Misa Kishitani, the classroom assistant and Galileo himself is more edgy than in the first series. On balance, this second series is shaping up quite well.

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ

July 2, 2011 7 comments

Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ is a genuinely excellent detective series from Japan, sadly only ten episodes in length but much appreciated, winning the 55th Television Drama Academy Awards for Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Script, Best Director and Best Theme Song, and the 13th Asian Television Award for Best Drama Series. It’s based on Detective Galileo or Tantei Garireo (探偵ガリレオ), a novel by Keigo Higashino. At the heart of many good detective stories lies an eccentric character. He or she sees the world differently, and this skewing of perception allows the detective to see through the usual patterns of dishonesty and solve the crimes. This may be an involuntary psychological problem like Monk’s obsessive compulsive disorder, or mere non-conformity like Columbo or Inspector Morse, or physical transformation as in the manga, anime and live action Meitantei Conan 名探偵コナン (sold in the West as Case Closed) by Gosho Aoyama. Alongside the detective, there must be a loyal sidekick. This person must be desperately willing to help the great detective, but not bright enough to overshadow the Great One when it comes to explaining whodunnit. This doesn’t mean these loyal gofers cannot do valuable work. It’s just they fail to see the significance of what they find or describe. In this instance, the spice added to the mix is the initial appearance of inexplicable, not to say, supernatural, elements in the potentially criminal events.

Fukuyama Masaharu as Galileo relies on diagrams to explain astral projection

 

So here comes Kaoru Utsumi, a detective newly appointed to the Kaizuka Kita Police Station, played by Shibasaki Kou, and Manabu Yukawa, an associate professor at Teito University played by Fukuyama Masaharu. Also of interest is Kuribayashi Hiromi (Watanabe Ikkei), a lab assistant who is out of his depth with the professor but, if push comes to shove, he will trade on the professor’s name to impress his friends with embarrassing results as in episode 7. When Kaoru Utsumi is stuck in her first investigation, she asks her more experienced senior officer Kusanagi Shunpei (Kitamura Kazuki) for guidance. Some three years earlier, Detective Kusanagi had also been lost in a case so, in desperation, he contacted his old friend from university for help. They had known each other as badminton players. When they met up again, his friend was buried in his own world of physics but, with the facts proving stimulating, the professor was seduced out of his lab and solved the case. Based on this experience, Kaoru Utsumi also approaches him.

 

To say the man is eccentric is to misunderstand his intense interest in all things connected with physics. Put the other way round, he tends to see every part of life as capable of expression through mathematical formulae. This has a profound effect on the way he relates to “ordinary” people. Essentially, he sees everyone as an experiment in motion. So he forms various hypotheses about those he meets and tests reactions to prove or disprove his suspicions. Because the average person has no idea what he’s thinking, they tend to betray more of themselves when he acts strangely towards them. More importantly, he’s a pure scientist and therefore unwilling to accept the idea of anything supernatural. This makes him a terrific myth buster as, one by one, he takes on apparently unnatural events and deduces what actually happened.

Shibasaki Kou as Kaoru Utsumi struggling to understand an autopsy result

 

This means we are variously required to explain what may have been spontaneous human combustion, some form of astral projection, a poltergeist, fireballs flying across a darkened room, a possible case of precognition, and a visitation by the spirit of a person being murdered (or perhaps some kind of teleportation event). I confess to being fascinated by the impossible crime trope, the best known of which is the locked-room mystery. So our scientist is able to explain how someone can see an image from a distant point as a form of mirage caused by temperature inversion. The fireballs are particularly ingenious as the burning strings from a bow used in a locked-room murder. In the precognition case, I was less convinced by the underlying method for concealing the murder. This is not denying the availability of liquids that rapidly change their viscosity in response to an electrical current, but the timeline to dismantle and remove the incriminating equipment seemed a little short. We also have an inverted crime story where we see the murder committed in the opening sequence and watch our dynamic duo work their way through to unmasking the killer. This is a murder in a swimming pool where the only sign of an unnatural death is a strange burn on the victim’s breast which has quickly turned necrotic. Even when the solution is not absolutely scientific, as in the teleportation case, the explanation for the appearance of the person wearing the yellow raincoat is so satisfying, the fact it relies on soft science is irrelevant. The last two episodes form an interesting conclusion as the professor strikes out as an investigator, leaving Kaoru Utsumi to deal with a case on her own.

 

The glue that holds this short series together is the chemistry between Fukuyama Masaharu and Shibasaki Kou. Perhaps in another life, they would have been sexually attracted to each other but, as it stands, he’s too much of a challenge for her. Yet he gets to see her at her most vulnerable and proves almost protective of her as he pokes around in her past when one of her childhood friends comes back into her life to ask for help. In the present, he must physically rescue her when they are trapped in a barge in which there’s sufficient metal around them to cut off their mobile phone signals. It’s just a shame he’s jealous of the results of her cooking and deeply annoyed by her lack of discipline in preparing the raw food and throwing it together in the wok. In the end, they both have decisions to make. There’s a request she should leave this great hope for the future of Japanese science to concentrate on his work. Her requests for help are a distraction when he should be focusing on theoretical work. He also has to come to terms with his past and resolve his relationship with Kijima, the man who taught him physics. It’s a slight shame the last episode gets so melodramatic but, overall, the standard of inventiveness is high.

 

After Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ, there was a further television special and a film, Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin, all based on work by Keigo Higashino. If you have the chance, make time to watch either of these television shows or the film, they are of a uniformly high standard with interesting guests stars in each episode. You should also read Salvation of a Saint which features Galileo and is quite the best detective novel I’ve read in years!

 

For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ~劇場版・新参者~ (2012)

 

For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.

 

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