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Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)

July 2, 2014 2 comments

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Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013) sees us continuing the saga of Professor Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama) aka Galileo. This is based on a novel by Keigo Higashino published in 2011. Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka) is back in the saddle as the token detective and Shunpei Kusanagi (Kazuki Kitamura) lurks in the background to give the couple official cover as they navigate tricky waters. Thematically, this is a story about two children. Now grown up, we start with Narumi Kawabata (Anne Watanabe), while Kyohei Tsukazaki (Hikaru Yamazaki) is still young and goes through a crash course of how to lose your innocence without understanding exactly what’s happening.

 

Galileo has been invited by Submarine Mineral Resources Development to conduct an underwater survey in the sea off the picturesque fishing village of Harigaura. The entire project is opposed by the majority of the village, led by the vocal but not very logical Narumi Kawabata. By coincidence, Galileo is staying in the small hotel run by her parents. On the train to this holiday destination, he encounters Kyohei Tsukazaki. He proves to be the nephew of the couple who run the inn. This brings all the key players to the same place. Everyone who has read or watched the adaptations will know Galileo is allergic to children. He finds their inability to think in a coherent and logical fashion so difficult to cope with, close contact brings him out in hives. However, this boy’s rather more engaging personality seems to make him acceptable to the professor. As a result, he sets out to show this naturally sceptical boy the virtues of a scientific approach to the solution of problems. In this case, the challenge is to give the boy a clear view of the life underwater not less than 200 metres from shore. The way in which Galileo solves this problem is both elegant and educational. Even the stubborn boy is forced to concede the results of the experiment are beautiful. However, this all comes at a difficult time for the hotel. One of the other men staying at the hotel has apparently fallen to his death from a nearby breakwater. However, when the results of the autopsy come back, it seems the man died of carbon monoxide poisoning before he hit the ground.

Kyohei Tsukazaki (Hikaru Yamazaki) and Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama)

Kyohei Tsukazaki (Hikaru Yamazaki) and Manabu Yukawa (Masaharu Fukuyama)

 

This gives the professor the first part of his challenge as a detective. How can a man be gassed in the open air and so “fall” to his death? The police naturally research the background to this suspicious death and discover that he used to be a senior detective in Tokyo Central. This triggers official interest and when Galileo is also found to be a guest at this hotel, Shunpei Kusanagi sends Misa Kishitani to find out what’s happening. During his professional career, the dead man was most interested in a stabbing case which occurred in 1998. He was never satisfied that the man who came forward to confess was actually the killer. But when the man produced the bloody knife and other evidence, the courts confirmed the conviction and he has spent the intervening years in jail, only recently being released because he’s developed cancer of the brain and will soon die. Galileo is fascinated by the question of why this retired detective should also have been in the same hotel and delegates the task of a detailed background investigation of the family to Misa Kishitani. This sends her back to Tokyo and leaves the professor quietly looking round the hotel with the assistance of the boy.

 

As a result of the professor’s second demonstration to the boy of a scientific truth over dinner, the father realises the professor is on the right track and so goes to the police to confess an accidental death in the hotel and the attempt by he and his wife to cover it up. Obviously, it’s bad for business if guests are reported dying of carbon monoxide poisoning in their rooms. At first sight, the police are inclined to think this a credible explanation for what happened. The professor, however, urges Tokyo to redouble its efforts to investigate this murder of 1998. Indeed, in due course, the professor goes to see the man who confessed to the crime and is now in a hospice waiting to die. This leads him to make a number of decisions about how best to proceed.

Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka)

Misa Kishitani (Yuriko Yoshitaka)

 

As you would expect, both the death in the hotel and the earlier murder prove to be interesting cases. But at the heart of this film, the issue is the innocence of childhood and the choices that affect them. In this instance, the problem for Galileo to solve is social rather than a simple matter of physics. The murder of the woman in 1998 resonates today and is the direct cause of the retired detective’s death. But digging out the whole truth of both events could have very unfortunate effects. It’s therefore left to the usually indifferent professor to craft a solution to protect those who should be protected. This matches a similar dilemma in Suspect X (2008) but the difficulty is heightened in this case by the unexpectedly close relationship that grows between Galileo and the boy. As adults, we’re expected to take responsibility for our actions. But as children, their intellectual and emotional development is limited. Consequently, they are not supposed to be capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Others therefore take decisions on their behalf. As a physicist, Galileo surveys the bottom of the sea off the coast at Harigaura. It’s not for him to take the decision whether to exploit any of the resources he identifies. He presents his findings. It’s then for Japan to balance the need for those resources and the economic benefits they would bring to the country, against the need to protect the environment for future generations of Japanese to enjoy. These are not values he feels he can assess — mathematical formulae cannot resolve complex social and economic issues.

 

When it comes to children and the decisions taken on their behalf, Galileo faces a comparable difficulty. It’s not for him to impose his choices on others. They must find their own paths. But when young, they are not competent to take those decisions. So the best he can do is protect them in the initial stages until they can ask the right questions, elicit the appropriate information, and then choose the path that’s right for them. He approaches this task in a completely unsentimental way. No matter what his personal feelings, he holds himself to a higher code. In the end, it’s for each individual adult to make an informed decision and take responsibility for its consequences. Slightly less frequently for a murder mystery film, this provides an interesting political and social subtext and gives additional power to the film. Although it’s slightly more measured and slow in its build-up than other adaptations of work by Keigo Higashino, this proves stronger because of the care taken to set the scene and allow the characters the room to develop. Hikaru Yamazaki as Kyohei Tsukazaki is particularly impressive as he slowly comes to recognise what the adults around him have been doing. There’s a moment of real sadness at the end when he suddenly understands how little in common he has with his father. Yet there’s hope for him because he may be deciding to treat Galileo as a role model.

 

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 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)
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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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

Galileo_2-p1

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.

 

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino 東野 圭吾 (translated by Alexander O Smith)

January 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Salvation of a Saint low resolution image for identification only

There’s always a difference of emphasis between the written and visual forms of storytelling. An author relies on the reader to create the appropriate images in the mind as a response to processing the words. The director of a film or television episode shows the audience images as an integral part of the storytelling process. Indeed, in many important ways, the visual iconography is more important than the words the characters speak because we get to see the mis en scène, to judge the meaning of the various personal signifiers such as clothing, the presence or absence of visible tattoos, etc., and to observe the behavioural signals. When you put the complete communication package together, the visual medium allows the audience the best chance to judge the credibility of the creative process in bringing the story to the screen.

 

To understand the relevance of this introduction to Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino 東野 圭吾 (translated by Alexander O Smith) (Minotaur Books, 2012), we need to go back to Tantei Galileo (探偵ガリレオ) (1998) which first introduced Dr. Manabu Yukawa, the amateur detective, to the Japanese public. We now move forward to Yōgisha X no Kenshin (容疑者Xの献身) (2005) a novel which won both Japan’s Naoki Prize and Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize in 2005. It was duly translated and published as The Devotion of Suspect X (Minotaur Books, 2011) In 2007, the television series featuring the university professor often called in to advise the police (sadly only ten episodes in length) was aired as Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ. Switching back to the novel form, we have Seijo no Kyūsai (聖女の救済) published in 2008 and now published in America as Salvation of a Saint. The publication of the Japanese edition was timed to coincide with the launch of the film version of Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008). We now come up to date with the first chance to read the next exciting episode in the Galileo series.Keigo Higashino

 

To introduce the form of the books, The Devotion of Suspect X is an inverted crime story, i.e. we see the death in the first part of the book and are therefore focused on the way in which the “mastermind” constructs an alibi. It’s a remarkably inventive book and an even more powerful film. As to the puzzle of the alibi, I can’t recall reading or seeing this particular method of deflecting the police investigation before (although it’s quite common in forward planning a murder). In Salvation of a Saint, we come back to the conventional police procedural format. Shumpei Kusanagi and Kaoru Utsumi draw what could be a suicide case and, when it seems more likely to be a murder, they disagree on whether the deceased’s wife is the best murder suspect — one obvious alternate suspect is the deceased’s mistress. The problem for them to resolve is simple. Over the weekend when the death occurred, the wife was clearly in a completely different part of Japan. Given the number of witnesses who saw her during the time she spent away from home, it would be impossible for her to have returned to administer the poison. Kusanagi believes in the alibi as a complete defence. Utsumi is equally convinced that the wife killed her husband and manufactured the alibi. Unfortunately, she’s unable to explain how the poison appeared in the deceased’s coffee. That, of course, is where our good professor comes into play. He’s the one we all rely on to solve “impossible” crimes. Except this crime initially defeats him at a theoretical level. It’s only when he hears arguments from both detectives and then follows up on their independent lines of investigation that he begins to see how it might have been possible and who must therefore be guilty of the crime.

 

To make it clear, almost all the spade work is done by the two detectives and, despite his annoyance at Utsumi’s insistence her instinct is correct, it’s the behaviour of Kusanagi that ultimately proves decisive — albeit not quite in the way you might expect. This takes nothing away from the even-handed way in which Yukawa arbitrates between the two detectives. Once he understands the real nature of the problem, he has to see beyond his initial impression that this is a perfect crime without any evidence to show who did it, and provoke the two detectives into finding the right evidence of both motive and method. At this point, I’m going to admit complete astonishment at the brilliance of the solution. I’ve been reading mystery books for more than fifty years and I have never, repeat never, encountered anything quite like this before. It’s one of these jaw-dropping answers that, despite the obvious difficulty the murderer would have had in executing it, is nevertheless so credible given the characters of those involved. Keigo Higashino has done it again! This is quite simply a masterpiece of detective fiction. No matter what the format you choose to rely on, you should track down the television series which is good and the film which is outstanding. This just adds the cherry on the cake.

 

A copy of this book was sent to me for review.

 

You may be interested to know that the book is also available as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio. You can listen to a clip if you click here.

 

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 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11 — the adaptation of Salvation of a Saint
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)

 

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