A new Japanese Drama aired by Fuji TV, Galileo, starring Fukuyama Masaharu and Shibasaki Kou, has captured my roving J-drama-hungry eyes this October 2007. Reminiscent of the US TV show Numbers, this series features rookie detective Utsumi Kaoru (Shibasaki) tasked with solving mysterious cases that more often than not appear to be supernatural in nature. In the first episode alone, she must solve the mystery behind an incident of spontaneous human combustion! Fortunately, her outgoing predecessor divulges the secret behind his crime-solving success rate, the help of his former college schoolmate, the tensai physicist and university professor Yukawa Manabu (Fukuyma), AKA Tantei Galileo.
Initially off to a rocky start, the two begin a tenuous relationship where Utsumi appears to rely entirely on Yukawa-sensei to solve the seemingly implausible cases. However, as much as the eccentric professor would like to regain his relatively previously peaceful existence, each baffling case inevitably ensnares his interest and challenges his incomparable intellect to explain the hows and whys of each scenario.
The two main actors have good chemistry, and perform adequately in the series. Fukuyama is a stoic Galileo, who appears indifferent to the charms of the beautiful rookie detective – at first. He is believable as a physicist, although one does wonder if the calculations used in his bursts of enlightment are actually valid equations. The little experiments he does to recreate each situation are cool to watch, and actually makes me regret not maximizing time spent in the science laboratory. You learn a little something with each episode. Shibasaki, on the other hand, is undeniably attractive as the tenacious Utumi, but can appear to be too much of a whiner at times. It would be nice to watch her evolve into the confident and professional detective that she aims to be. The regular supporting cast appear adequate, although underutilized. The actors used for each episode are also excellent in general.
The sets used are great, and the music very appropriate for each scene. Each episode features a particular unexplained phenomenon, from spontaneous human combustion and out of body experiences to poltergeists and mysterious sudden deaths, that will be accounted for scientifically in believable terms at the end.
As of writing this review, I have only seen the first four episodes, and am anxiously awaiting each new installment, subtitled for free by SARS Fansubs. Why not give it a shot?