Galilei Donna Review

This is review number two hundred and sixty five. This anime is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. I realize I’m way behind on the shows but I hope I can close that gap soon. I just need to go on an unhealthy overdrive and I’ll plan to do that when my summer vacation comes around. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is called Galilei Donna. It’s an eleven episode show about a bunch of girls going around the world in a goldfish hunting treasure. It sounds cool, doesn’t? I thought so too. Let’s read on.

Story

This show is about three girls supposedly descendants of Galileo Galilei. One day, the three sisters were attacked by some unknown assailants. They wanted “Galileo’s Inheritance” and they think the three sisters know about. They’re actually clueless about that stuff and even their parents are a bit confused as to why people would go as far as to cause harm towards their daughters. It seems they have little time to worry about that when they learned that sky pirates, the police and a secret organization is after them as well. They all want Galileo’s Inheritance and they’d use force to get the answers out of them. Hozuki Ferrari soon realized that no one is on their side. No one can be trusted so she went down the family basement and came back up in a mecha ship the shape of a goldfish. It seems the Ferrari family certainly is a good lead to find the Inheritance but the sisters are determined to find it before it falls in the wrong hands.

Taking the Pants Off

This show had a really nice premise to it. Three sisters travel around the world while being chased by bad guys and slowly learning to tolerate each other is a really nice story to work with. The main idea had mecha, sci fi, action, adventure and a dash of personal family drama to hold it all together. It’s a really promising show. Add in the fact that this was directed by the guy that did “Kite” while also handled by a great studio such as A-1 Pictures then there is really little room for this one to fail. It seems to write itself, really. You focus on the family tension as they go around the world, make bad guys chase them that’ll strengthen their relationship and then slowly build it up for one exciting climax. The first episode seemed epic enough to convince us that the rest of the anime will be as amazing as well yet somehow it wasn’t. Galilei Donna seems like one of those original ideas that were hurriedly presented to an audience. Instead of really making a stable story and editing it out, they animated the whole thing and added a bunch of fillers to occupy the gaps between the story. In the end, you have a really good premise but a weak overall presentation that couldn’t even cover eleven episodes. It became dull and directionless that you’d be surprised how a journey around the world hunting down treasures ended up in a f*cking courtroom. Seriously, what the hell happened? To be fair, this show has potential and I guess I’ll be poking on that point a lot as I dissect the show. There are aspects you’d love and certain themes you’d adore but you’ll also be questioning how all of these interesting pieces somehow fit in the overall puzzle. Some of them don’t, actually, and some of them are really just fillers of the worst kind meant to drag out the story to fit an eleven episode frame. It’s really disappointing considering how fun and exciting this anime started things out.

The first episode was really incredible. You had three girls being attacked by strange people at different places at the same time and then you realize they are actually sisters. The setup was pretty brilliant. The angle about Galileo’s descendants was a bit of a stretch but you instantly forget about it after discovering the dysfunctional relationship of the family. You have a strict mother that constantly lectures the girls and you have a dad that is basically a hippie. The show focused how the tension in the family is screwing them up. One of them is flunking college. Another is losing interest in high school while the youngest was becoming a loner that spends too much time by herself. The progression of the show soon escalates into a bunch of space pirates invading their home and the youngest somehow fending them off by assaulting them with a mecha she built herself that is in the shape of a goldfish. The glaring music, the complicated animation and the appeal of mechas clashing was achieved by the first episode. It sets the show up towards something really amazing. I wish I could just review the first episode and just be done with it. The whole Galileo angle doesn’t sound as ridiculous anymore when the anime presents to you a story of a girl building a mecha from scratch. It feels like the show is out to prove that isn’t a bit of a stretch as well in the episodes to come. It just screamed amazing and you immediately want to see the next episode. Sadly, the show hit its peak in the first episode and slowly came tumbling down.

This show has three plot points that are closely linked together. The format of the show is pretty much non episodic often focusing on a single scenario like the girls meeting people around the world or the girls being chased by bad guys. While the show has three plot points to work with, it uses them as merely backdrop compared to the non-episodic stories in each episode. It takes time to get used to it considering how interesting some of the episodes are. You’d be surprised though at how one episode would be about a mass murder in a hospital and the next being a cute visit to Japan. Expect the episodes to start off differently from when the last one ended but keep in mind that it still ties into the three main plot points. It is non episodic but the three plot points still progresses in a decent manner to give the show a clear direction. Ok then, the first plot point is about the journey of the Ferrari sisters. After learning that a bunch of people want them captured, they ventured out into the world in the mecha goldfish trying to collect Galileo’s moon sketches that points them to where the inheritance is hidden. The main focus of this plot point is the relationship of the sisters. They came from a rocky household and there is always tension between them. The oldest sister has a laid back attitude towards their situation and the little sister is this super genius other people follow. This makes the middle sister one huge whiny b*tch. She prefers ending this as soon as possible and hopefully goes back to the normal life she had. The two sisters know that can’t happen anytime soon but it doesn’t stop the middle sister to display hatred towards her sisters. As the show progresses though, the girls are placed through different challenges that slowly help them realize how much they care about their family.

I love the middle sister, by the way. She was just such a whiny little baby that she was the salt to all the sugary personalities scattered in the show. In a lot of episodes, she’d feel left out and she would hate her sisters for being such upstanding people while she sulks in the bathroom hoping she can go home. There are lot of arguments between the sisters that are often brought out by how screwed their situation is. Despite how cool the two sisters can be, it takes just one antagonistic middle child to turn the whole thing into something bigger. If they’re not arguing though, the sisters are often being put into situations where their caring and loving side would show up. When one sister is sick or when another is literally dying, the audience is treated to an act of sisterly love that balances out the annoying arguments they may have. It shows us that at the end of the day, no matter how much you hate your siblings, chances are that you’d still risk your life to save them. It’s cute and this plot point was able to give the characters a chance to really grow. They hardly did though but I’ll explain later on.

The second plot point is about the Inheritance. A bunch of people really wanted to get their hands on it and it forced the sisters to go around the world to find sketches that’ll lead them to it. This was a pretty confusing plot point. It had a mystery element to it that I think it just wasn’t presented properly. Galileo hid six sketches of the moon around the world and it leads to this powerful thing that other people now want. Unfortunately, the progression was a bit messy. The sketches didn’t provide anything. It had a lot of cool hidden messages but nothing to really ponder over. The anime basically established that something cool will happen when all the sketches are collected but it didn’t build enough intrigue to really make us care. As each sketch is revealed, it just points to the next location. No forewarning of the awesomeness the treasure hides and no proper buildup to when it is discovered. It’s just a journey from point A to point B with nothing much more to offer than odd looking insignias scattered around the world. As the show progresses, the questions just keep on piling up. Apparently, the sketches hide something more than directions to an awesome thing. It also hides a personal message from Galileo himself that only Hozuki can read using her special goldfish medallion. It radiates a red light that reveals words hidden inside the sketches. Take in the fact that the phases of the moons in the sketches are all different, there a musical notes in every sketch and tiny dots as well that resemble the world, the anime was posing too many questions while answering very little and it really throws me off. As the show progresses, it soon becomes apparent that this entire plot point isn’t really well thought out. Rather, it’s sloppily made and it lacks decent pay off.

Yes, payoff. The mystery of the sketches provides us with one interesting conclusion. Towards the final episodes of the show, it somehow gives us a weird pay off that I don’t really think is all that good. I won’t spoil it but this around the world chase for Galileo’s inheritance apparently skewers into something the anime has never ventured before. It has something about time travel and missiles. I honestly think that the whole thing was stupid. It just came out of nowhere. After going through the non-episodic style of the show without any forewarning or background information, this plot point somehow goes in a really different direction that felt a bit forced and really stupid. I’m fine with the whole idea of Galileo’s descendants but the mystery angle of the second plot point was really off putting. I’m an open minded guy that I’d give even the most stupidest premise a chance but the second plot point resorting to time travel and missiles to answer it’s mystery was pretty stupid and a little insulting. To be fair, I do understand appeal. This angle could’ve worked if it was properly build up. The show could’ve presented some theories, maybe a flashback, some legends of Galileo’s absurd inventions or something more to truly justify time travel and I’m pretty sure the mystery’s conclusion could’ve worked. Instead, the show just stuck it into our faces without any warning. It’s really stupid. I love the whole Da Vinci code aspect of the show but mysteries need time to develop and become more interesting. You don’t just go around the world collecting sh*t and then time travel. That’s stupid. This plot point is stupid.

The third plot point is about the bad guys. It turns out that there is this mega company called Adni Moon that wants the Inheritance for themselves. After the recent news that the world is running low on methane hydrate, apparently like fossil fuel in this world, this company is now all the more desperate to get the inheritance. Adni Moon is pure evil. They recently launched attacks towards their competition to monopolize the flow of methane hydrate. The crisis of methane hydrate running low is still a huge concern though so they’re now all the more interested in the inheritance. They’re willing to do a lot of underhanded tactics to get it. It’s clear as well that they won’t think twice to dispose of the girls if necessary. This plot point covers the absolute evilness of Adni Moon. When you see two children hugging and smiling as their final moments are wiped out by a village massacre, you’d understand just how evil this corporation is. Perhaps it’s the action of one man that truly made this plot point special though. This man called Roberto Materazzi is a cold and morally lacking individual that would kill people without a second thought. He is that evil and he spends majority of his screen time chasing down the girls. He is fearful and strong that almost every confrontation with him leads to the girls being pinned down. While the first plot point provided us with some lighthearted family drama and a feel good story, the third plot point is on the polar opposite. This is all about despair and the evilness of humans. It’s all about betrayal, killing people and greediness told in the most blunt way imaginable. It’s a pretty damn good plot point considering that not every situation can be conquered by sheer positivity alone and it’s interesting to see our main characters constantly struggle at every adversity they face head on. As the show progresses, the evil company slowly traps the girls until they are forced to claw and scratch their way out.

You might be wondering how light hearted family drama and full on harshness of humanity goes along together. They don’t. It was a mess. They’re basically two parallel stories never meeting each other. Episodes would concern one plot point but never the two at the same time. I liked this particular plot point though because of Roberto. The anime took its time to paint a picture of a cold heartless man that lacks empathy and concern over others. He was built to kill and he had a really wonderful flashback to really give background to his evilness. While the two plot points never really mesh together, individual elements of each stands out in a wonderful way and keeps the show interesting. Much like the second plot point though, this one reaches a pretty questionable climax and then handed us a really pathetic pay off. I’ll stop right there. It was disappointing and annoying. That’s all.

The plot points are decent in their own right. They had stand out elements that are honestly worth watching. The main problem of the show, for me, is the non-episodic structure. Instead of developing the story and laying the groundwork, the show preferred a short sighted style of storytelling. It’s a kind of story telling that focuses on the things happening now without thinking about how the story will fare later on. Apparently an around the world adventure isn’t enough, it had to have a story about a homeless doctor or the beautiful sights of Japan. It did not add to the main story of the show. It also prevented the plot points to truly develop. I’m fine with episodes starting out in a random scene that proceeds to a minor story that barely relates to the main story of the show. The annoying part is that you can obviously tell these are fillers. Nonsensical stuff added in to bulk the story up. It also sadly drags the story on though. I often lose interest watching the show because it just lacks intrigue. If the show focused on the journey, the mystery and the heavy insight on the bad guys then this show will be a whole lot better. Basically, the entire show never came together and it lacks proper foundation to make sense of it all. At the end of the show, the epic feeling you had after watching the first episode will surely disappear. It’s a shame considering how good the show could’ve been.

The characters are all one dimensional. The non-episodic structure gives them little room to develop. They had a few transformations but nothing that really transformed our characters. It was all made to make the story interesting and not the characters themselves. The main characters are the three sisters. Hozuki is the youngest and she is the super smart girl that somehow managed to build a mecha. She has a positive attitude that complements her great mind but I think all the desperate ways the show tried to make her cute cancels out all the intelligence she might’ve possessed. I’m not really sure but I don’t really like this character. I guess it’s the lack of background. She seems to possess the same great mind as Galileo but the show never really puts it to good use. Every brilliant idea she has seems to be spur of the moment’s decision that doesn’t really convince you she is smart. She’s just a piece of the puzzle that makes up the show and she does nothing more than that. The oldest sister is Hazuki. She is a college student that wants to be a lawyer. She has a limited role. It’s a shame the descendants of Galileo aren’t really all that interesting. Considering she wants to be a lawyer, I was hoping she’d have a cunning and deceptive mind that would’ve helped the show. Instead, she just takes up room offering very little to the experience. As I already said, I love the middle sister. Kazuki is the whiny b*tch that I like. She does little to the show as well though. She does have an interesting karate background but the show never utilizes it. I thought all the Galileo sisters specialize in something that’ll convince us they’re really descendants of the smart dude but their lack of personality was really disappointing. The show wasted its main characters. It created so much non-episodic clutter yet it fail to notice the potential the girls had.

The rest of the characters are as bland as the main ones. There is this sky pirate that also wants the Inheritance. As you can see, this is the first time I mentioned him. Despite appearing on a lot of episodes, this character didn’t have a definite role. He really just shows up and does something stupid. It was a waste of a good character. He’s a freakin sky pirate that has a crew of, well….pirates yet the best you can do for him is to have him spout stupid Italian words? He had a nice thing going with Roberto and I was hoping a rivalry would’ve built between the two to keep them in the loop yet the show never really utilizes our awesome sky pirate that smartly. Another character is this girl that rides on the goldfish with the main characters. Anna Hendrix is a Galileo enthusiast and she helps the girls find the clues to where the Inheritance is hidden. Actually, she didn’t do much as well. Despite having a rich background on Galileo, she barely helped at all often being outsmarted by Hozuki at finding the clues. If she’s barely helping, she’s also just taking up space. She’s also another wasted character and I think you can tell just how much this show could’ve been better with just a few changes on the cast. I like the antagonist though. As I said before, Roberto is evil. He is the kind of person you know is evil but also doesn’t mind that he is a sadistic f*ck. He is probably the only interesting character that was properly developed but he is a bit inconsistent. He would shoot people no problem but can’t seem to off the main characters despite pinning them down countless times. He did have some truly outstanding moments though like forcing a girl to shoot another girl. Gawd, he is awesome. He’s a clear sign of how the show packs a lot of potential.

The one shot characters are all one dimensional as well. They only had one specific role to play in the show so you can’t really blame them. They did their role well though even if they were never seen again. The story sadly isn’t that good to truly make them memorable though. One of them dies in a village raid yet he’s forgotten as soon as the next episode rolls along. If the plot were all connected instead of non-episodic then I’m sure even the one shot characters would’ve mattered since there would’ve been an eventual progression that makes the one shot characters very important. It’s a shame the show can’t see it.

You know what this show reminds me off. It’s actually pretty funny when you think about it. As I consider all the missed potential Galilei Donna had, it gives me an eerily familiar feeling that A-1 Pictures has done this before. I’m talking about Fractale. Gawd, I’m being reminded of that anime having the same sad fate as this show. It had great potential and it just squandered it for stupid reasons. I didn’t think A-1 Pictures would do the same unfulfilling show twice. It’s interesting. History has somewhat repeated itself but that’s just me though. This particular anime is actually pretty decent. It got me watching all the way to the end despite the disappointing progression of the story and I think it’s because certain elements does standout. The overall show was a bit weak but I think certain parts of it were pretty good. I just can’t get over the wasted potential of this show though. There were so much that could’ve made this show better and it’s sad none of it was ever utilized in the show. I guess that’s the danger of Original Screenplays. Not all of them work. Sure, we’d all love to have another Code Geass on our hands but majority of them are like Dog Days or Valverave. Things that look promising often lead to disappointment and I’m having a really interesting experience with these original screenplays. As far as this show goes though, I really think it just needed more editing and more conceptualization. You don’t want to watch a half-finished show and it’s certainly a stupid to waste money on it.

Sight and Sound

Character design is pretty decent. The girls all had a nice clean look to them even though it doesn’t really stand out that much. They all have the same face shape with eyes pretty wide apart. These also differ in terms of character. Hozuki would have big ones to emphasize her cuteness while her sisters have smaller ones. Aside from that, the hair design is also a stand out. It’s not much to draw your attention but there are small details to make each one unique. From the length of the hair to the little trinkets they have on, it tells you just what kind of personality these characters possess. The things that’ll catch your attention for sure are the clothing. I love the big layered clothes they have on that matches the personality they have. One thing keeping the design from truly standing out is the lack of variations in the color palette. The show uses mostly single base colors without any variation. So an orange dress will be solid orange and it’ll have very little very little shading done to it. It makes the design look plain which isn’t a good thing. The male characters are decent as well. I love the sky pirate’s exaggerated attire while also admiring Roberto’s clean look with his suit and tie. Just like the girls, the facial designs are nice and the outfits accentuate the character’s personality but the solid colors make them plain as well.

Animation is pretty amazing. This is an A-1 Pictures anime and they know how to make flashy scenes look flashy. The mecha fights are pretty straight forward but the cinematography makes it special. Even though it was certainly lacking, the movements of these robots are still pretty awesome to watch because of the use of different camera angles, close up shots and complex movements to establish a scene. I especially love how the flying goldfish moves. From when it’s just travelling the world to when it goes on full assault mode, it was certainly fun watching it just be the awesome mecha ship that it is. The dialogues are also pretty interesting. I love the extra attention to detail when the characters are talking in a cold place. You’ll notice that their breathing because of the cold climate. It’s pretty amazing watching a character talk while their breath forms a white cloud that lasts for only a split second. There are also some action scenes in the show and they’re as outstanding as well. It has a high frame rate and it was flashy up till the very end.

The anime’s OP is.”Synchromanica” by Negoto I am in love with this song. It has a steady verse with the singer’s voice really setting a wonderful pace for the song. It then builds into a really catchy chorus that stands out simply because of the singer’s voice. It’s a short song but I’m guilty of listening to it way too much. The OP sequence features a short montage involving the characters and some scenes that happened in the show. I love all the characters running while the playful music accompanies it. The anime’s ED is “Innocent” by earthmind. It’s the same as the OP song. It has a really nice verse that is made special by the singer’s voice. The pace is nicely set and it then enters a really wonderful chorus. I love the little piano arrangement at the beginning and the solid instrumentals on the chorus. The ED sequence features the sisters and Anna on the ship seemingly doing normal stuff. One is cooking, another is washing clothes and Hozuki is doing some mechanical stuff. It features Hozuki in a jumper with her chest barely covered and I call BS that the anime never really revealed her in that. She just did that in the sequences. It ends with Hozuki sleeping in the command center of the flying goldfish all cute-like.

Overall Score

5/10 “It had wasted potential at almost any given moment which provides for a really disappointing experience.”

This show was really promising. It featured a really amazing first episode that I think the rest of the anime can never match up to. If you like some around the world treasure hunting then you’ll like this show. If you like some family drama then this anime has some for you. It has other good bits but it just lacks execution to truly make the experience meaningful. It’s a shame. I really wanted to love this show.

3 thoughts on “Galilei Donna Review

  1. The thought of a non episodic space treasure hunting show with three dysfunctional sisters does sound like it would make a really interesting show. It’s a shame the focus was off and they couldn’t utilize their characters properly. The concept does sound like it would interest me so I might watch it.

    • It is also a noitamiA anime. They rarely make bad shows into the lineup. I think this really was posed to be something amazing but somehow just wasn’t able to. Oh well. It had a flying goldfish so it’s all good. 😄

  2. to TPAB,
    Galilei Donna’s director admitted in a radio interview that the series had originally been scheduled for 20+ episodes, & the story had already been planned out to that extent.

    When the anime’s distributor, Aniplex, suddenly cut down their allotted episodes down to 11 eps, the creative team were forced to cut down the entire story to fit the shortened length.
    The director said viewers were essentially watching a highly abridged, edited version of the story they had planned to do. Some viewers suspect that minor characters would have received even more significant development had the show ran its 20+ course, thus clearing up the issues you had with the show.

    I wonder if the animators purposely did a bad job at executing the limited episodes to protest against Aniplex’s decision, like giving them the middle finger, so to speak.

    If you get around to reviewing the Winter season anime, I’d strongly recommend Noragami as your first choice, provided people vote for it. It’s got an interesting take on the Japanese gods’ system, with action, comedy, and tense psychological elements. 🙂

Thoughts~

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