Director/Original Creator: Yasuomi Umetsu, Scripts: Atsushi Oka, Hideyuki Kurata, Jun Kumagai, Touko Machida, Character Designer/Chief Animation Director: Shingo Adachi, Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi
Voice Actors: Rina Hidaka (Hozuki Ferrari), Rumi Ookubo (Kazuki Ferrari), Kei Shindou (Hazuki Ferrari), Houko Kuwashima (Sylvia Ferrari), Hiroshi Kamiya (Cicinho), Marina Inoue (Anna Hendrix)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
It is the year 2061 and global warming has stopped being the chief threat to humanity since a new ice age has started and sky pirates roam the air stealing natural resources!
But that’s just a side show because we’re going to follow three girls!
Hozuki, Hazuki, and Kazuki Ferrari, collectively known as the “Galilei Donna,” are three descendants of the legendary astronomer Galileo Galilei and they live in Tuscany with different parent since mother Sylvia and father Geshio have divorced. Youngest daughter Hozuki is an amazing inventor, middle sister Kazuki is a martial artist and the eldest sister Hazuki is failing her law degree at university.
When a mysterious organization starts searching for the “Galilei Donna” to secure an inherited treasure called the Galileo Tesoro, they work through Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for the three sisters. The family must put aside their differences to join forces, go on the run and fight the organization and learning their true inheritance and destiny!
I’ll be the first to admit that I am easily pleased. I really, really liked Kill Me Baby, an anime regarded as pretty poor by some. I picked this one up for a number of reasons. The first was because the key visuals released and the trailers for the first episode looked gorgeous and the characters were cute. I was also familiar with the creator/director Yasuomi Umetsu – writer and director of two anime I like in the form of Mezzo Forte and Kite which were two of the few anime I watched when I had a break from it when I started university back in the early 2000’s. Those shows were nothing spectacular, just fun fan-boy stuff where girls with guns get into cool fights and action is always an easy genre to watch.
Galilei Donna was very easy to watch and it lives up to the sparkly and beautiful visuals, promise of mecha battles and a journey across the world that started out exciting and full of promise but never felt coherent or essential.
I have read on different anime forums that it was meant to be longer than the 11 episodes it was given, a two cour show cut in half. That explains the lack of coherency because the plot feels anaemic, as if plot twists and developments were yanked out of the story characterisation filleted and world-building gutted to stuff a huge idea into a small slot.
The plot feels trivial and events unfold in an arbitrary manner. The strong opening two episodes are jam-packed with potential with a great line-up of protagonists and antagonists and a strange dystopian world but it fell apart as characters, events and world-building details appeared in one episode and were quickly forgotten about in the next as the plot hurtled towards the ending as fast as possible. The sudden inclusion of time travel was a real curved ball and it is never really adequately explained.
There were a lot of points that could make the anime really interesting – hard drinking older sister and genius cute sister, merciless corporate b*stards and a family at each other’s throats but it is never built upon.
The ending was a chaotic day at court which was farcical in its developments with Deus ex Machina being ushered in to help wind up different anaemic plot threads and get the show out of the narrative trouble it was in although it was sort of amusing to see Hazuki’s law skills totally flounder in the end. The final episode best represents the chaos that cuts in running time represent since all of the experiences of the characters at the hands of the bad guys and all of the characterisation that would have led up to Hazuki mounting a successful legal battle would have provided a satisfying ending. Characterisation also suffers since most of the main cast remain two-dimensional from start to finish and never grow beyond their initial traits.
The impossibly cute Hozuki is the only one that gets some development because she serves to push the plot although I am still not sure I liked the slightly sweet slightly creepy incest moments where Hozuki does a reverse Back to the Future with her ancestor.
With a longer running time to establish a stronger background and flesh out the characters Galilei Donna could have been more than just a pretty face but whoa, what a pretty face!
The anime has a great dystopian setting where resources are running low in a world gripped by an ice age. Everywhere from first world countries like Italy, Japan and Holland to remote and uninhabited deserts and islands are given a winter sheen. It is wonderfully visualised where the location visited are layered with snow and veined with rivers and canals of freezing water.
The sky is a dark shade of blue or overcast and the air has a visible chill.
Sunshine is pallid and people go about wrapped up in their warmest clothes most of the time.
You can feel the chill emanating from the locales.
The animation is really good. The backgrounds are all detailed and it presents an evocative picture of this future world where humanity is suffering a big freeze. The well-designed and orchestrated mecha action is also very good. Galilei Donna has a goldfish mecha which blows the f*ck out of evil guys in neat aerial battles which are flashy, fast and fun, full of colourful explosions and missile contrails.
The character designs are also very cute and the voice acting is fun. The seiyuu might not say many interesting or innovative things but they deliver the lines with confidence and the voices are never flat. If only the characters were given time to develop.
So the writing was a let-down because the story is poorly delivered and the characters aren’t pushed anywhere interesting but I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy it at points. The animation was really, really good and the voice acting was catchy. I figured I would be getting cute girls in cool action situations, mindless entertainment if you will, and I was not disappointed. If you’re into that then it will prove to be enjoyable.
I also have to say that Galilei Donna has my favourite OP of the year. Alas,there are no decent versions on YouTube so you’ll have to see Negoto’s video version for it on Jpopsuki.