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First Impressions: Galilei Donna

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The common thread among three sisters, a dead astronomer, and a goldfish

Along with Samurai Flamenco, the second half of this season's renewed noitaminA segment is Galilei Donna. From Yasuomi Umetsu, the creator of Mezzo and Kite, Galileo Donna is an original story about three sisters carrying the DNA of the famous Italian scientist Galileo. Shingo Adachi is responsible for the character design and leads the animation production as well. A-1 Pictures takes these three eccentricgirls and put them under the microscope in the form of the usual heightened expectations for noitaminA.

The pedigree aside, is Galilei Donna actually any good? Can we make a call from the get-go? I'm just curious as to what the gold fish is all about.

For those of you who remember Umetsu's Kite, you might liken the big action scenes (there's even a part taking place inside a restaurant restroom) in episode one with that; or the big explosion lead-in. Nonetheless, the SF-nature of Galilei Donna might be a curveball to some. For me, the somewhat distinct, meandering directional style is a reminder of the less popular Mezzo TV. It's most clearly seen when the family of five--parents included--begin to argue among each other. The three girls and their mom and dad went on as if you already knew who they were, what their backgrounds were, and how they relate to each other. The dialog is fluid and sometimes lifelike, but also rough in patches. In a way it brings a certain level of believably to the episode right off the bat, but it clashes with the science fiction lead-in and the climatic aerial battle between two hovercrafts.

It might be important to realize that Galilei Donna takes place in the not-so-far future, when mother Earth is in the starting phases of the next ice age. It's also important to know a middle school girl is capable of engineering a collapsible rocket moped that doubles as a stun cannon power enough to shoot down an enemy hovercraft. Neither of these things are really telegraphed ahead of time, so it was left to the viewer to figure it out. The latter event with the stun cannon is more a point for amusement, but the former seems important enough that by omitting it, we might spin some of the more fantastical events negatively when it's really just eye candy.

Like that goldfish; it's not uncommon to have an avatar to pilot your ship or spacecraft or whatever. The youngest of the three girls, Hozuki, relies on her pet goldfish AI to pilot a similarly-shaped hovercraft. The fish also paints some of the symbolic imagery seen in the OP and ED. And then there's the images themselves--Galilei Donna is outright fantastic at times. The color and art direction is vibrant and, perhaps, stereotypically Italian. 

To the meat of the matter--episode one of Galilei Donna relied on the gap of information we don't have. It plays on the fact that we don't really know what's going on, so it's delightful to see a girl take down something many times bigger than her size, as a surprise. If you dig the introverted, quiet engineer archetype, then Hozuki will be up your alley as she dodges not only the aforementioned hovercraft, but how she rocks her own fighter-craft and pull some Gs as she outmaneuver some missiles. Or it might be the little details such as her retina-scanning, high security door to her secret lab. The middle sister Kazuki is moody, quiet, and a martial artist--there just wasn't enough time for her this week. The eldest Hazuki is outspoken, a lush and somewhat eloquent, as a university law student.

Galilei Donna throws us in the middle of the action from episode one. The three girls immediately are faced with mysterious abductors and each fought them off, in their own ways. The family then meet in result to the crisis and only to be captured by an equally mysterious outlaw in a gaudy-looking fish flyer (are all the hovercrafts fish-looking in Italy?). Hozuki then shows up with her version of the flying ship and blows the bad guy up.

For an episode full of action and dialog, the exposition parts of the show mostly just shows itself. Simply put, there's not enough time to explain even all the basics of what we want to know in one episode of Galilei Donna. The weird premise of having anything special just because you inherited Galileo's genes somehow is even posited as a question. There's a mix of realism and fantasy that's hard to sort out, especially when we don't know enough to make heads or tails of everything. What's up with the methane hydrate (ie., natural gas) anyway? Who is Hazuki's curly-haired friend?

It's hard to do the math at the end of the first episode of Galilei Donna. While not everything adds up, it's clear that hunting for these missing pieces will be the game this story plays over time. The foundation of the show, however, is quite solid. Maybe it'll make more sense next week, at least that's what I'm hoping.

[Galilei Donna is on Crunchyroll!]


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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures


 



Also on Japanator: Galilei Donna   (6)   From our database:

  • Final Impressions: Galilei Donna - Jeff Chuang
  • Annotated Anime: Galilei Donna Episode 10 - Jeff Chuang
  • Annotated Anime: Galilei Donna Ep. 9 - Jeff Chuang
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  • Annotated Anime: Galilei Donna Ep. 7 - Jeff Chuang
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  • Annotated Anime: Galilei Donna Ep. 5 - Jeff Chuang
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  • Annotated Anime: Galilei Donna Ep. 3 - Jeff Chuang
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