A classic example of watching an anime because of the seiyuus involved and not because the trailer was appealing. Ok so it’s got some mecha action and involves themes revolving around family relationships and politics, set in a future slightly dystopian world where energy resources are nearly depleted. That may be appealing to some genre-specific fans but for me, it was being able to watch supporting characters Cicinho (Kamiya Hiroshi), Anna Hendrix (Inoue Marina) and Galileo Galilei (Kaji Yuuki). Incidentally as I’m writing this I realise the 3 seiyuus were in Shingeki no Kyoujin together. But that’s not the reason I picked up the show.
Galilei Donna is about 3 sisters who are descendants of Galileo Galilei (yes, the Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer) who are together on the run from an energy conglomerate because the sisters supposedly possess the much-coveted Galilei Tesoro – a family heirloom of sorts that holds the key to providing energy. Problem is the sisters have no idea what this heirloom is except that they have to gather various maps that would eventually lead them to it. They bicker and don’t get along as is typical of most sibling relationships. Conveniently accompanied by Galileo fanatic Anna Hendrix, they learn over the 11 episodes to set aside their differences and work together in escaping from the relentless pursuit of the evil conglomerate and its number 1 henchman Roberto Materazzi (Kusonoki Taiten) as well as the Robin Hood-like air pirate Cicinho and his gang.
In a way, I feel cheated of my time spent on Galilei Donna. The premise was there – action, adventure, science fiction, history, there’s even time travel! I signed up for a strong storyline of good versus evil and the rich against the poor. Yet the choice of focusing on too much meant squeezing in a little of everything, resulting in a piecemeal storyline that leaves this viewer very wanting. The characters were meaty too and the writers could’ve expounded on the sisters’ relationships or Roberto and Anna’s. There are 3 sisters and the youngest Hozuki (Hidaka Rina) got most of the character-growth-centred storyline properly spelt out as she should. But oldest sister Hazuki (Shindou Kei) and middle-child syndrome sufferer Kazuki (Ookubo Rumi) should’ve had their fair share of characterisation too. A-1 started giving them dimension with clashing personalities and different priorities but failed to come full circle eventually. The back-story of our token villain started out promising as well, only to end in cliché – all the while without explaining just how exactly he and Anna know each another.
Episode 1 started out promising for a noitamina anime – a mystery was set-up with lots of confusion going on, promised adventures and plenty of action. Then things settled down in the following episodes as we try to understand what’s going on, why the sisters don’t get along and just what exactly is this adventure they’re going on all about. The pacing was good enough for me to look forward to watching it each week but by around episode 7, it became clear that A-1 wasn’t going to deliver with the way their writing was going and from then on, I was watching just to see if my predictions were correct. The final 3 episodes were so horribly rushed (although most of the Autumn lineup suffered the same fate) that I went along just because Galileo’s seiyuu had plenty of screen time.
Unfortunately, the ideal anime didn’t materialise. If you are a fan of HiroC I’d recommend you watch odd-numbered episodes (strangely enough that seems to be how often Cicinho appeared) and if it’s Kaji Yuuki you’re after then episodes 9 and 10 should suffice. Anticipating Cicinho (and that are-they-aren’t-they relationship with Kazuki) was the main drive for me getting to the end of Galileo Donna. For a noitamina anime, Galilei Donna was a disappointment. As an A-1 original story production in the time belt that gave us other original stories Fractale and Anohana, it’s an understatement to say that A-1 could’ve done better. It went well the first 3 episodes, struggled the next 3 and just started throwing tropes and clichés it had to retain viewers, ending on a lacklustre note – a fate all too familiar for too many anime. On the plus side, it did deliver some A-1 quality beautiful background graphics. Perhaps original concept creator and director Umetsu Yasuomi was overwhelmed and could only make up with key animation sequences he does best.