Friday, 6 December 2013

Midsummer’s Equation (真夏の方程式) (2013)

Summer. On a beautiful island fraught with tension between the natives and a team of developers keen to develop its natural resources, a detective begins to conduct a fresh investigation into an old murder case after his retirement, and is mysteriously found dead. A member of the team decides to pursue the matter...

The gimmick of the Galileo drama series can be summed up as Sherlock meets Numb3rs. You get a kick out of watching Professor Yukawa Manabu rely on pure logic, mathematics, and some physics concepts to solve the whodunnit.

Midsummer’s Equation, like The Devotion of Suspect X before it, abandons the whodunnit narrative almost entirely. Here, there is no question of who did the proverbial Mr Black in and how, but it’s the motive question, the “whydunnit” – why people do terrible things to each other, for each other (and who?) – that is more important and constitutes the real mystery that needs to be solved, and elevates a simple murder mystery into a subtle and moving drama.

Keigo Higashino’s script has an older, more mature Detective Galileo grow out of the eccentric ‘weirdo’ character type introduced in the drama series, so that he develops the personal empathy needed to solve not just a murder, but understand the mystery of human behaviour, but also to manage the consequences of the murder mystery being solved. In this instalment, the physicist comes across as not just a genius but a sage.

Midsummer’s Equation shines as an ensemble project, with Masaharuu Fukuyama and Hikaru Yamazaki portraying an almost father-son relationship on one hand, and Anne Watanable, Gin Maeda, and Jun Fubuki as the prime suspects, a family with secrets everyone keeps from everyone else. One could say that it’s the tension between the two different family dynamics (and the brilliant acting and cast chemistry) that propels Midsummer’s Equation, and not the narratology of the murder mystery.

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