The other half of the NoitaminA block weighs in with Galilei Donna, which as I said earlier in my Samurai Flamenco post seems like a quite intentional complement to that series in order to appeal to a completely different demographic. We didn’t all know that much more about this one going in than we did SF, and my overall take on Writer/Director Umetsu Yasuomi’s resume is that it’s kind of a mixed bag. So it’s fair to say that my expectations for Galilei Donna were more muted than they typically are for a NoitaminA show.
All in all, I’d say this was a pretty interesting episode – a lot more conventional than it appears and a show that at one time I might have said was an odd fit for the NoitaminA block, but the block’s evolution over the last couple of years has essentially rendered that statement meaningless. Much more so than Samurai Flamenco, GD seems to have the right boxes checked off for commercial success – two hyper-cute schoolgirls, said schoolgirls engaged in acts of violence, mecha, and lots of explosions.
There are three girls at the center of the story, in fact, and they’re all descendants of the legendary genius Galileo Galilei living under the name Ferrari. Eldest is Hazuki (Shindou Kei), a hard-drinking law student. Middle is high-schooler Kazuki (Ookubo Rumi), the only dark-haired sister and the one with the least to do in the premiere, where she mostly plays the sulking adolescent. And the youngest is grade-schooler Hozuki (Hidaka Rina), who seems to have inherited her ancestor’s engineering genius. There’s no explanation for why three Italian girls living in Italy have Japanese given names, but that’s the least of what isn’t explained here – and maybe scientist (or someone who works in a lab and dresses like a flower child) Dad Geshio (Koyama Rikiya) is supposed to be Japanese. He’s separated from Mom Sylvia (Kuwashima Houko) who seems to blame him for all the ills of the world, not to mention breaking up the family.
One evening, all three girls are victims of attempted kidnapping at the same time, and while the cops can’t figure out why anyone would care about Galileo’s descendants in this day and age (whatever that’s supposed to be) there’s only one obvious connection. Turns out supervillain and football (but not women and food) fan Ciccinho (Kamiya Hiroshi) is behind it, trying to get his hands on “Galileo’s inheritance”. Oh, and he has a giant flying mecha, “Ganymede” (a satellite of Jupiter, largest moon in the Solar System and discovered by Galileo). But so does Hozuki, which she keeps in the basement, except it seems that the mecha is actually her pet goldfish. And it’s got big guns.
As wacky as all that sounds, there isn’t as much of a feeling of outrageousness to Galileo Donna as you might expect, at least for me. It’s loud and a lot of weird stuff happens, but it still feels pretty orthodox in presentation. Briskly-paced and quite entertaining at times, too. There’s a ton of CGI – that seems to be the theme this season – but A-1 does better with it than most of the competition. Despite a terrific track record Hamaguchi Shiro’s score is pretty forgettable and contributes to the sense that the whole is less memorable than the sum of the parts. I’m mildly curious to see what happens next and whether any of this weirdness is going to be explained, but it doesn’t really seem as if Umetsu is going to take any of it too seriously, instead focusing on making the series a breathless thrill ride where the journey trumps the destination. Galielo Donna is definitely worth a couple more episodes to see if these impressions are borne out, but at the moment it’s solidly in the “maybe” pile.