The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Galilei Donna

Title: Galilei Donna
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: A-1 Pictures
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 11 Oct 2013 – 20 Dec 2013

Synopsis: The three Ferrari sisters — Hazuki, Kozuki, and Hozuki — are one day attacked by a group of people. They demand the “Galileo Tesoro,” a mysterious object said to have been discovered by Galileo, an ancestor to the three girls. The sisters are able to escape, and they decide to find the Tesoro for themselves using clues left behind by their famous ancestor.

The Highlights:
Sisters: Stock characters, but they have a warm enough relationship that they’re entertaining to watch.
Plot: A total mess.
Grimdark: Some dramatic events are bleak to the point of silliness.

Galilei Donna has the ingredients for a fun adventure series. Its three protagonists have good pluck and rapport, but there’s just enough strain among them to provide good drama. Their connection to Galileo Galilei is silly; however, there’s plenty that can be done with it, and the mystery behind the clues left behind is potentially interesting. And, of course, one of the sisters is a mechanical genius, so there’s a built-in excuse for many crazy gadgets. Unfortunately, only the relationship among the sisters is paid off in any entertaining way. The actual adventure plot is bungled, torn between light-hearted antics and dark, serious consequences.

It’s frustrating, because Galilei Donna does have a promising beginning. The story’s events are always total nonsense — the first episode ends with the youngest Ferrari girl rescuing her family with a goldfish-shaped airship she built — but it is the fun sort of nonsense that is easy to get behind. The girls are surrounded by enemies and aren’t totally on the same page at the start, so there’s built-in conflict as they hunt down the pieces to their ancestor’s Magical Plot Item That Will Surely Save the Day. Expecting something on the level of, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark is silly, but there’s no reason Galilei Donna can’t deliver a reasonably entertaining adventure series with that setup.

The show bungles nearly every opportunity, however. The search for the pieces of Galileo’s inheritance is easy to the point of being insulting. The Ferrari sisters gain a companion early on in the stories who is a Galileo scholar of sorts, and she helps the trio seek out the clues. The actual discovery of these materials is wholly unsatisfying, however. They tend to be either boringly simple to discover or hidden behind some convoluted riddle that is solved with minimal effort. There’s little feeling that the journey to find these items matters all that much. The girls could just as easily be on the run from their enemies and have the same experiences without going on Galileo’s scavenger hunt, and very little would change. There’s no joy to be found on this expedition.

OK, so then how about the excitement of the girls staying ahead of the villains? Well, that’s ruined, too, because Galilei Donna takes every opportunity to make the chase as Dangerous and Serious as possible, to the point of ridiculousness. The “highlight” is the assassin employed by the megacorporation out to get the sisters, who comes equipped with a dopey backstory that explains why he is so cold-hearted and murderous. Then the girls are thrown into situations with high body counts to show that there are indeed tough consequences to bear on this journey. These situations are so melodramatic — even for anime — that it’s near-impossible to take them seriously. They don’t fit the initial tone of the series, nor are they executed deftly enough to make that tonal shift interesting at all.

It’s clear that light-hearted fun is what Galilei Donna is actually decent at. The Ferrari sisters are genuinely likable characters. Their personalities are mostly stock, but their interactions are fun enough that it doesn’t matter much. Despite all the blathering nonsense that surrounds them, I wanted them to succeed. That’s worth something, even if it’s ultimately squandered. If you like the girls from the start, it might be worth seeing them through this incredibly silly story. The ending in particular is so stupid that it’s almost brilliant.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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