Three sisters, Hozuki, Kazuki, and Hazuki, are descendants of Galileo and have completely different personalities and tastes; they never meet eye-to-eye. One day, the girls are suddenly attacked by a mysterious organization. The organization was after the "Galileo Tesoro" which Galileo Galilei was said to have discovered. Still unaware of what was going on, the sisters escape on the airship they built after the sudden attack. But it won't be so easy for these three sisters to help each other out in a pinch when they're constantly at odds with each other. What is the Tesoro, and what is the organization after? And what about the relationship between the sisters? It's a threesome of cute girls, action, and mystery!
Recently, anime adaptations of western culture have become somewhat of an outlandish trend. Not only are these adaptations capitalized by world-building over historical accuracy, but they are also filled with unremarkable plot twists that occur spontaneously. Instead of quality writing and a substantial narrative, one will find uninspired executions of characterization and pretentious attempts at making grandiose, explosive scenes seem more than they really are. Regrettably, Galilei Donna is an anime that exhibits the very shortcomings of this trend.
In retrospect, Galilei Donna had it all: gorgeous sceneries, splendorous mecha battles, and a bizarre but spectacular synopsis. It had the makings of a great sci-fi tale,
an epic journey about finding and reconciling with personal insecurities, and an innocent slice of life series. However, because it lacked the patience to blend these elements together harmoniously, Galilei Donna ends up having something of an identity crisis.
Set in the future of metropolitan Italy, Galilei Donna starts by introducing us to the three sisters: Hazuki, Kazuki, and Hozuki. As descendants of Galileo, they are a trio of the Ferrari family, each bearing her own distinct personalities. One day, agents from an enigmatic organization show up to chase after the three sisters, supposedly seeking for a family treasure called the Galileo Tesoro. By the time these agents have encircled the Ferrari family, we find out that the youngest sister Hozuki, a prepubescent girl, just so happens to have a flying goldfish machine to save them from the perpetrators. Before we're given any other information, we learn that she also miraculously constructed the entire machine by herself. And very conveniently so. Thus begins a traditional game of cat and mouse and treasure hunting.
A story composed largely of coincidences is just a sorry excuse for poor writing. For some reason, this is an inference that Galileo Donna doesn't seem to understand. See a missile flying towards you?—No worries, a deus ex machina will nullify the belligerence. Stuck in the past?—No tears, an unexplained chemical storm will drain you back to the future. It is ludicrous how, by being so painstakingly unpredictable, this series has become so very predictable.
Moreover, it tries very little to explicate the premise beyond its plot elements, and even when attempted, Galilei Donna does it in a fairly half-baked and frivolous manner. In a way, Galilei Donna could be trying to immerse the viewer in another dimension, however, this usually works atrociously. For instance, whenever Galilei Donna introduces details or tries to add depth to its plot, it’s done so very capriciously, and due to there being little purpose to these gimmicks beyond their initial use, they become arbitrary rather than significant contributions—recyclable instead of irreplaceable characters and causes.
Likewise, there’s also a lavish amount of gratuitous scenes. In general, there are lots of events that occur nonsensically. One scene could present some semi-humorless drama with a dark overtone, while the next would present something completely irrelevant or dissonant with the mood. From one frame to another, Galilei Donna would jump from the cute sisters doing cute things, to a sequence of imposing mecha fights. Unfortunately, this not only creates many discrepancies, but also discredits the overall seriousness of the plot.
Following the lackluster plot, a vast majority of the characters are two-dimensional. Their personalities are mostly caricatured; and their backstories often hackneyed. Out of the three sisters, Hazuki acts dramatically; Kazuki acts conservatively but at times speaks derisively; and Hozuki acts impulsively, yet is given the heaviest duties of the three. Most side characters chiefly serve as caricatures or comic reliefs, and though as humorous as they are, their antics get old by the third—fourth—until which time? There is a decent amount of time spent developing Hozuki’s character, but all of that is annulled each time she regresses back due to her insecurities. Sure, the last episodes provide her with some flair, but even marrying Galileo couldn't convert a duckling into a swan.
In comparison, the animation is simply splendid. Altogether, the background frameworks and scenery presentations paint a stellar landscape of the setting, and while perhaps overly extravagant, they provide the audience with a stimulating backdrop.
Additionally, there are a decent amount of mouthwatering mecha sequences in Galilei Donna. Poor concepts and designs (a goldfish mecha, really?) aside, the action frames are usually coherent, fluid, and pleasant for the eye. Mecha and action junkies will unlikely be disappointed. In fact, this should be one of the only sensible reasons one should watch Galilei Donna: for the stellar animation.
Similarly, the music delivers some relaxing and vigorous tones. The background music is silent when no sound is required, and switches back on whenever appropriate. However, the voice acting cast appears to be lacking in some aspects, as there weren't many outstanding voice talents. Not that there needed to be prominent voice actors or actresses voicing the characters, but the lack of tonal variances and fluctuations made some scenes feel unexpectedly dull and underwhelming.
Mindless entertainment—this is essentially what Galilei Donna is. A farcical story accompanied by insipid characters, Galilei Donna is a series meant to be taken at face value. Cheaply written narratives, convenient story resolutions, and lip-smacking visuals: these are what defines Galilei Donna. Be prompted to witness an in-cohesive mix of mecha battles, pseudo-mystery solving, and cute girls doing cute things. However, if any of those doesn't sound appealing, avoid Galilei Donna like the plague.
Galilei Donna. A world of that is filled with science and politics, a world in which space vehicles are a common sight in the form of goldfishes. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the series takes place in a futuristic setting. The technology is there. The conflicts are set. And in the center of it all are three young girls with nothing in common except their last names. They are the Ferrari family and no, they don’t come with a garage.
Noitamina has always been known to present unique series with all types of tropes. This time, they bring forth a new title
out of their hats with this little scientific adventure. It’s a ride that started out well with the settings, characters, and themes. Yasoumi Umetsu whom is in charged with the directing is often more known for his work in the animation department. Memorable series such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and Welcome to the NHK were all part of his work with his animation style. However this time around, he plays the role of a director. Unfortunately, that role didn’t go in a path of success. Instead, it dropped like a slippery slope faster than Ferrari ride.
Essentially, the series blasts off like a rocket. Even the first few minutes of the show is breathtaking with a devastating mecha engagement that puts many peoples' lives at risk. The extravagance of this start will easily have viewers’ eyes glued to the screen as we are curious to see what’s going to happen next. For what we may know, the Ferrari sisters have become targets by kidnappers that seemed to want a bounty on their heads. The Ferrari sisters themselves have almost nothing in common in terms of their intellect levels, personalities, or appearances. What they have in common is the blood pumping in their veins that signifies their ancestry towards a well-known physicist, Galileo Galilei. There’s definitely a legitimate reason why kidnappers want to target them from the very beginning. Although vaguely explained or elaborated, it’s easy to guess because of their ancestry and what they might inherit. But even with this set up, there’s interest because the way the story is set up. That’s what I thought at first anyways.
But the tragedy doesn’t stop there. We quickly find out the girls’ lives is no fairy tale. It’s a grim reality because what happens in their hometown changes their lives forever. There’s some odd twists, foreshadowing, but also predictable factors that constructs the story. By odd twists, I mean it in a way that tries to set up a sort of suspense for viewers. While this works out right at first, it takes away the more emotional factors later on in the show with certain revelations. At the same time, it become strange to realize certain characters’ roles have altered greatly from their original set up. There’s also suspense among the characters themselves in regards to what they inherit. For all they know, it’s important. Unfortunately, they don’t know themselves what their kidnappers want from them. It’s a decent set up to a mystery if the show walks on that route most of the time. However, it instead goes on a path involving a travesty of justice involving the ambitions of our antagonists. To make it worse, certain “good guys” in this show turns out not to be so good after all reflecting on an antithesis in their roles. It becomes absurd at certain points with the various plot holes and hard to absorb it in all at once. It's ravaging to see what direction the story will go. Given the previous experience of director Umetsu, he’s trying to create some sense of insanity in this show while creating a sense of mystery. That sense becomes a degeneration later on as there’s just too much to take in all at once. This doesn't also help with the fact with certain supernatural twists added to the series involving a bit of science travel.
As the main stars, the Ferrari sisters are the driving force of this show. Their oddly similarly names - Hazuki, Kazuki, and Hozuki have almost nothing in common. Hazuki is the eldest of the trio who has the dream of becoming a lawyer. Taking on the role of the elder child, she is supposed to be the guardian in the absence of her parents. Instead, what do we get? A young woman with high level drinking tendency fused with a wild personality and amazing brutality through the words of her mouth. Kazuki is the middle child that plays more of the cold role. She hides her emotions most of the time although deep down has problems of her own like skipping class. Finally, the youngest of the sisters Hozuki has a strong interest in science. Little do her parents or classmates know that she is behind the creation of humongous mecha. It’s odd since she plays more of a role in action than her siblings despite being the youngest. In this role, she goes against the typical ‘big sister should look out for her younger sibling’. In essence, these trio of girls mostly are isolated from one another despite being close to one another after their reunion. The only time they seem to coexist whole together is when their lives are truly in grave danger. Hazuki does display her role to protect her sisters but often lacks the direct initiatives. It’s only when danger comes the shove is when she takes direct action. To say the least, the Ferrari family is the like the wheels of an incomplete vehicle. It’s missing the steering wheel because of their parents.
As far as action goes, there’s plenty of opportunities for that. The scientific inventions in this futuristic worlds sets off a decent balance of motifs and warfare. The mecha designs reflects a style of what futuristic spacecrafts looks like. Taken for granted however is the shape of Hozuki’s choice of vehicles as they take shape of goldfishes. It may be the symbol for peace and hope as their hometown have become infested with bounty hunters. The aerial combat otherwise is played out in a fantastic fashion with added aesthetics. The way the world is crafted also resembles a bit of a steampunk style that paints a more elaborated meaning to the aircrafts.
On a more negative symmetry is some of the absurdity of the series. Not only do they open up plot holes with weak characterization but they also creates too much twists. In fact, some of the supporting characters and even antagonists such as Roberto gets more insight. The weakness also deals with a lack of historical backgrounds involving Ferrari’s family. What we get instead is whom they are now rather than whom they were in the past obliterating a sense of relevant characterization. Some other characters also shines more than the Ferrari family such as the flamboyant leader of the air pirate group, Cicinho. Later on, there are also sudden tragedies and violence that comes into play to sent some sort of message. It feels a bit senseless since there are stages of interlude that degrades the overall story. Other times, sudden events feels rushed and makes little sense in essence.
The artwork of this show is brilliant with constructed talent. Noitamina’s animation brings out a sense of uniqueness especially with the space vehicles. A1-Pictures crafts the Ferrari sisters’ charms to relevance. The backgrounds is gorgeous along with the gadgets that forges the installation of the settings. The setting also makes sense since it takes place in a futuristic world. The artwork reflects that and conveys it with a purpose. An example is how the sisters looks quite different in appearance despite their blood relations. Most of the characters also has their designs that matches them. The stage of the series also gives off an Italian like feeling with its backgrounds. Fan service is minimal and completely omits the typical onsen/beach episodes so you can save your headaches for those fillers.
Soundtrack wise, the show is well balanced. OST is performed fashionably during action scenes. When emotional moments takes the stage, the soundtrack backs it up to convey the tone. There’s also bits of comedy but most of it sets forth a more mystery like atmosphere. The Ferrari sister’s voices matches well that matches each of their characters whether it’s confident, stoic, enthusiastic, joy, or sorrowful. Both the OP (Synchromanica) and ED (Innocent) gives off a feeling of scientific creativity, charm, innocence. Additionally, it creates a sense of unity as we see many shots of the sisters together like actual siblings.
So ultimately, how do I describe Galilei Donna? It felt like watching National Treasure with a less emphasis on mystery solving. Because the show defies common sense at various stages, it’s hard to take it seriously sometimes despite the way it started. The characters are hard to get used to at first and some might not ever be in your favor by the time the show ends. There’s a lack of characterization and plot holes here and there surrounded by inconsistency. On the other hand though, the technical aspects courtesy of A1-Pictures demonstrates a superior presentation of the futuristic world that the show takes place in. Some of the tragedies and emotional factors might also hit a nerve for viewers. And being labeled as a show with galactic star wars extravaganza, the action of the series is well performed. So sit back and enjoy that when you witness crafty vehicles and fish shaped ships fire away. Now with only 11 episodes, this show will be a breeze to get through as long as you’re aware to what you signed up for.
Put simply, Galilei Donna is an abject failure, a complete trainwreck of a show, and by merely reading this review, you have already wasted too much of your life on it. The show's premise seems full of promise, a complicated post-environmental apocalypse world with megacorporations and sky pirates and the ever-encroaching threat of complete energy collapse. Add to this main characters with pluck, and a story that concerns itself with a major historical figure, and you have something for everyone, be they fan of moe, mecha action, American Treasure-style clue-following, or a projection of what our world might become. All in theory. In reality, you
have two meaningless protagonists next to Hozuki, who is one of the most dreadful mary sue characters I've seen in a professionally written work, and who doesn't even have the common courtesy to be adorable while doing so. You have mecha that show up rarely, and work so hard to match the bizarre obsession with goldfish that it ruins what little interesting design it had come up with. You have "clues" that literally boil down to an AI telling them where they go next, without even real sight-seeing eyecandy to show for it, before they just stumble over the next piece of the puzzle. Plus, we spend the entire show in either a strange version of Italy that's basically just like Japan with silly outfits, a Japan which is just Japan with a little extra snow, or the middle of a desert. None of it's pieces fit, none of the promise is delivered upon. Even the protagonists themselves have no real character development, with the non-Hozuki protagonists being actively ignored by the plot, to the degree that one receives literally no plot arc, and the other having an arc that consists of staring longly at a picture, being shunned wordlessly, and then throwing away the picture. The primary antagonist's hitman receives more character development and backstory examination than every other character combined, and frankly, I'd much rather have watched a show about him. The only even barely likable character is Cinciho, a sky pirate, whose primary trait that makes him amusing is being voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya.
Simply put, the story and characters are complete crap, the art ranges from below average to passable, and the only high points are a couple of musical pieces and the aforementioned sky pirate. To cap off this abortion masquerading as entertainment, the entire work is based off the creators mistaken belief that Galileo was actually Leonardo Da Vinci. 2/10, and may God preserve us from any additional content within this work.
For this, my first ever written review for MAL, I decided to pick a series for which I had zero expectations going into watching the show. That is, no familiarity whatsoever with the source material (this is a TV original, so no issues there), or with the production staff or writers or any other personnel. This was a series I picked up "blind" at the start of the season and finished when it finished.
So just how did Galilei Donna end up being? If you want the short answer, it would be to both anime enthusiasts and casual watchers alike, “don’t bother.”
But I wouldn’t be doing
this right if I didn’t go into further detail. Let us go through the various aspects in order and then summarize at the end.
Three sisters who are alternate-history Galileo's descendants, Hozuki, Kazuki, Hazuki learn of some kind of long-lost treasure of Galileo's and realize some evil energy corporation is also after it. After a rather violent disruption to their daily lives, they are forced to go on a journey to try to search for clues as to its identity and location before the evil company and some sky-faring pirates get their hands on it. So far, so good. It's a rather generic-sounding fetch quest or mystery/adventure story, but it has some potential in the right hands.
Unfortunately, the execution of the story is absolutely abysmal. It's like the writers thought the series needed a "treasure" mystery for the adventure to even occur in the first place, but all they were looking for was some kind of somewhat urgent situation with which to burden the delicate character of Hozuki such that she could look sort of moe while working her child-prodigy engineering magic (more on that later).
Whereas a classic mystery/adventure formula features (reluctantly or not) daring protagonists (again, more on that later) on a journey to solve some kind of puzzle by finding clues, and struggling against being set back by misdirection or other various conflicts, in Galilei Donna the pervading sense is that the story merely was an excuse to get the girls from one perilous action sequence to another with the "sketches" of Galileo as some kind of checkpoint.
Not once did I ever sense any kind of concern as to where the location of the next checkpoint would be, or what kind of puzzle they would have to solve to get their hands on it once the location was identified. In fact, in one particular instance, they randomly and inexplicably land in some far-off location I have since forgotten for reasons I didn't pick up on, and a strange hobo hands them a clue because he happened to have it.
And then it all concludes in the most inane, drama-less courtroom drama that I have ever seen onscreen. After giving us an entire show featuring about three girls on the run from an evil corporation and sky-pirates that clearly have very few scruples about killing or destroying to get what they want, the writers have the evil corporation arrest the girls and put them on trial...for stealing some of their precious energy source from them. Huh?
Note to writers: If your genre is mystery/adventure, put some mystery into your adventure, and have the climax of the show feature some kind of mystery-solving or at least a climactic battle for a long-lost treasure, please. It doesn't really count as a story if the protagonists accidentally stumble from clue to clue as though they were predefined checkpoints along a linear path, and then suddenly show up in a courtroom to defend themselves against a corporation that would probably just have killed them, anyway.
Throughout Galilei Donna, I am sorry to say, I was continuously baffled by the inexplicable sequence of events that followed one after another with barely any thread of plot stringing them together. Story: 2/10
To be honest, Galilei Donna was mostly a pleasure to look at. While a lot of the scenery was fairly generic, which made it seem like the writers did painfully little Google image searching for pictures of Italy, the action sequences were well-animated, and the character designs were unique and pleasant enough for this kind of show. In particular, Hozuki’s (Hocchi, Hocchibi) design was a high point.
In addition, the weapons, missile/rocket spam, the usual blingy computer displays, explosion effects, and other noticeably 3D-animated sequences were pretty well-done. This contributed to the general sense of fluidity and competence in the action sequences, of which there were plenty.
For the most part, the visuals delivered. However, there were a few very puzzling decisions that I could not shake off for the entire series, namely, why does alternate-future Italy look so Japanese, and more importantly, why was everything a fish?
These rather irksome questions were enough to cause me to actually laugh when I should have been riveted to the screen watching air-to-air missile combat during tense dogfights. Instead, what we got was...fish-fights? What?
In conclusion, this was a competently produced and animated show, with some odd design decisions that fell rather flat, and others that had some amount of charm to them. Art: 7/10
The voice-acting in Galilei Donna was mediocre to decent. In particular, the three main girls had some decent amount of differentiation, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say they really had “personality,” but good enough. The minor characters were all reasonable well-acted as well, with relatively little “ham” or overly-dramatically delivered dialogue, except possibly for the sky pirate Cicinho, whose penchant for calling Hazuki “bambina” grew old very fast.
The opening and closing songs did their job and didn’t get too much in the way. Though I still remain puzzled as to their relation to the actual content of the series, they were competently sung and decently composed songs. I had no qualms about either, but they didn’t really stand out to me either. Sound effects in general were perfectly adequate, as were backing music tracks, but once again, neither particularly stood out to me.
A competent showing but not a particularly outstanding effort from the sound department. Sound: 6/10
Unfortunately things get really bad when it comes to the characters. Though it is easy to nitpick over the incredibly lackluster cast of villains and side characters, in the interest of time and space, I will focus on the protagonists.
Hozuki, Kazuki, and Hazuki are, respectively, an unfailingly cute child prodigy engineer, a rather pessimistic and grouchy teenager who...complains a lot, and a college-age law student (which, as you know by now, really only matters a single time at the end of the show). The girls are part-Japanese, which seems be the case simply to give the writers a convenient excuse to have the main characters speak Japanese and visit Japan when they feel like it.
Supposedly, this show is about their adventure together and the relationship between these sisters who don’t seem to get along very well. So by the end, they should have grown both personally and interpersonally; that is, as individual people and in their relationships with each other. Well, it is certainly true that by the end of the show they got used to living together with each other and their companion Anna Hendrix in a cramped (but surprisingly stable and comfortable-looking) flying goldfish.
However, do not be fooled.Although we are treated to occasional squabbles over trivial matters in life aboard a flying goldfish, and then occasional moments where the evil corporation, pirates, or other struggles force them to work together, never do we really see their relationships advance. Instead it seems that, simply by virtue of having been through some troubling times together, the sisters now know each other somewhat better, and have decided that they really are a family. Aw...that’s so...touchingly obvious?
Well, whatever. I guess lack of relationship developments is all right so long each character has some kind of depth or personality or internal struggle she has to work out. Unfortunately, this is not the case either.
Hozuki doesn’t really have anything to her. Beyond being an adorable pre-teen with genius-level engineering skills, there is literally no depth to her character. She doesn’t even have an internal struggle to make up for it, unless you count “missing” her ancestor Galileo.
Kazuki, much in the same vein, is an angsty teenage girl, and that seems to be her entire character. I guess there is some unrequited crush or something but this is never really explored, just literally tossed aside at the end (symbolism!!). Her entire character seems to exist to complain about what the other two girls are doing.
Meanwhile, Hazuki seems to struggle with being hit on by a space pirate...oh, and I guess she’s the eldest and has some responsibility or something. Too bad doesn’t really have time to shoulder all that responsibility until the courtroom drama sequence and she...well, gets saved by her parents anyway. Sigh...so much for that.
Flat and uninteresting personalities, complete with generic and boring character concepts leads to a pretty dull cast. Characters: 2/10
Well, you might have already sensed that I didn’t enjoy this show terribly much, and you’d be right. It was entertaining, mildly, to see this trainwreck of a show (shipwreck? fishwreck?) play out, all the while holding a glimmer of hope that something really astounding might occur to turn the show around. And, I guess it wasn’t an eyesore or too hard on the ears.
Still, though, “not annoying visually or audibly” is not enough to actually say I enjoyed something. If maybe I had cared for any of the content of the show, I would have enjoyed it more, but really, this was a vapid, forgettable piece of animation. Enjoyment: 3/10
In conclusion, some technically strong points lead to a watchable show that unfortunately has little to nothing in the way of content. This is a classic example of a show that tried too hard in all the wrong ways to be original or surprisingly, and ended up really just rehashing some clichéd story with some wooden characters, and then dressing it up in a different outfit or something.