Galilei Donna tells a story about the Ferrari sisters, revealed to be the descendants of Galileo, and their adventure. Hozuki, arguably the main character of the show, is the youngest of the three sisters and more than a bit of a savant at engineering, having designed the airship they ride in herself without benefit of a factory. Kazuki is the middle sister and, despite being a skilled martial artist and the most physically capable of the three, is also the least decisive and willful. The eldest sister, Hazuki, has a strong moral compass which leads her to devoting her life to becoming a prosecutor, as she is constantly in pursuit of justice. Events force these three to search for ‘Galileo’s Legacy’, a treasure that seems to hold unparalleled worth to the world’s leading energy company Adni Moon.
Now that we know the basics, I’ll be frank: this show is extremely uncertain of what it wants to be. Each episode seems to be pursuing a different kind of story, a different style of show… and while they do all add up to a not-entirely-incomprehensible whole, the show is far from successful. At first, the show seems to be a lighthearted adventure anime with the heroines escaping peril after peril on their search for treasure… but then, suddenly and without any real warning, it tries to become a gritty social commentary on the evils of humanity and corporations. Shortly after that, it switches tone and tries to pass itself off as a mecha/war show briefly before moving onto more slice of life territory. Confused yet? Well we’re not done, afterwards it becomes a sort of time travel/underage romance story which culminates in a finale resembling a crime drama.
I’ve never seen a show this confused, nor one that fails so miserably to pull off any of its goals. Each of these segments is awkwardly unfinished due to their short length and they all just left me disappointed. Well, with one exception… the first few episodes – when the show is just trying to be lighthearted – are by far the show’s highest point. They do a great job of endearing you to these characters in the early episodes, but destroy that good will later on. It’s odd because the opening theme is clearly trying to convey it as a fun adventure show… but that is the furthest thing from the truth, with one episode making me need to take a break from the show for a few days simply because it was so distasteful. In fact, after this point my wife simply refused to watch it, so I watched the rest on my own. This anime seems to thrive on poorly orchestrated tragedy. Every event seems to find a way to result in tragedy, even when it makes no sense.
There are two redeeming qualities that Galilei Donna had. First, the sisters themselves were interesting, unique, and had a very believable family dynamic, considering they’d been largely estranged for years prior to the show. They were suspicious of each other, they fought, there was jealousy… and while sometimes their bickering was annoying, it was quite endearing at the same time. Secondly, the goldfish ship/mech that Hozuki designed was awesome, complete with a goldfish shaped AI who acted as the ship’s computer. It was hilarious and awesome. And I want one.
But in the end, the confused message, awkward sideplots, lack of enough time to really develop any of the directions the story tries to go, and weird fascination with loss leave this show struggling. Struggling so much that not even a mechanized AI goldfish with a rifle can steady it on its feet.