A must read, if you don't already know ...

Written by Bridget Au

"Clever, entertaining and fast-paced, Galileo is a refreshing departure from your usual Asian idol drama or romcom"



Japanese Title
“Garireo” (Japanese loan words)

No. of episodes

Kou Shibasaki as Kaoru Utsumi
Masaharu Fukuyama as Manabu Yukawa
Kazuki Kitamura as Shunpei Kusanagi
Hiroshi Shinagawa as Shiro Yuge
Ikkei Watanabe as Hiromi Kuribayashi
Miki Maya as Sakurako Jonouchi

*Based on the mystery novel Tantei Garireo (“Detective Galileo”) by Keigo Higashino

Clever, entertaining and fast-paced, Galileo is a refreshing departure from your usual Asian idol drama or romcom. What Taiwan’s Pi Li MIT should have been.

As anyone can tell from scanning my review list, I don’t watch many Japanese series. However, this series came highly recommended by a fellow reviewer who tends to share my tastes (most of the time). After Googling the series and seeing the poster, my first thought was “What the – is that Ekin Cheng? And Emme Wong?” Can you tell I’m from Hong Kong?

Before I get stabbed by the, er, enthusiastic Fukuyama fans, let me say that he only looks like Ekin Cheng in the poster i.e. when he’s not moving. Same with Shibasaki. Moving on.

I was not disappointed with this series, unlike all the other times I’ve been duped into watching overhyped series (I’m still recovering from War of In-Laws). The basic formula for Galileo is similar to the detective-style series of 90s TVB, but of course with striking differences:

1. The cases are creative, clever, and some are borderline creepy in that very Japanese way. Case in point (pun intended) is the fake suicide one with the hanging contraption. Some of my favourite cases were the very first one with the laser beam, and the one involving the mirage in the factory.

2. The romance between the two leads is subtle and doesn’t really end in a “Ashiteru!!!” (I love you in Japanese) nor is it the main focus, thankfully.

3. Unexpectedly funny moments. My favourite was when Yukawa is trying to dismantle the bomb in the last case to save Utsumi, and at first she talks about pink and blue chords and Yukawa dryly says “You watch too many cartoons”. Then when he gets to the last dismantling task, he sees a pink and blue chord and then mutters “I should have watched more cartoons”.

4. Case-solving is based on actual logical explanations topped by physics theories. Whereas you get half-assed, not very scientific resolutions in TVB cases (the NOT MATCH flashing screen in Forensic Heroes is my example of choice here), the cases in this series seem impossible at first – with a touch of paranormal – but after the revelations by Yukawa, everything makes sense. Unfortunately, similar to TVB’s detective series, every case ends in a confession. Boooooooring.

5. Great characterization. Though the character of Utsumi is nothing new, Yukawa sensei was very well-written and Fukuyama’s performance nailed the character to a T.

My complaints about the series are minor. Whereas the plot and cases are fast-moving, fun, stylish, the character development stays flat. For someone used to character arcs and/or linear development, Galileo won’t quite float your boat. The way Yukawa always scrambles to find something to write with when he gets the AHA moment to solve a case also gets somewhat tiring. Aside from Fukuyama’s and Shinagawa’s spot-on performances, the acting was pretty much a bore. All that aside, though, Galileo sticks to its purpose and pretty much delivers.

To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question
Highly recommended for mystery fans or for anyone who is getting bored with the same-old formula for Asian series.


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