Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Anime Review: Galilei Donna

This has been a bit of an odd year for the noitaminA timeslot. In the winter we had two continuing shows, Psycho-Pass and Robotics;Notes and in the spring the entire timeslot was taken up by a rerun of Katanagatari (which baffles me since the only thing new were the credits and I don't believe it was getting a rerelease). The summer had another rerun, AnoHana (which did originally air in the timeslot and was promoting it's new movie, it still felt like a bit of a slap to have reruns two seasons in a row however) which was accompanied by Silver Spoon (which will be back in just a couple of weeks) and then the fall had two anime original stories, Samurai Flamenco (which is also continuing on in the winter) and this entry. I was fairly excited about it since the art looked nice and the summary made it sound like a family coming back together to go on a quest (which means adult characters, wohoo!), sadly only one of those things turned out to be true.

Galilei Donna

Summary: Hazuki, Kazuki, and Hozuki are three sisters who have grown apart over the years after their parents divorced and they're not particularly close to them either. But when they're suddenly targeted by air pirates and large corporations alike, convinced that they have some mysterious inheritance from their ancestor Galileo, it seems that the girls will have to come together again to figure out how to save their family and maybe find something amazing in the process.

The Good: The series starts out fairly well and certainly had my attention for the early part, although a lot of that had to do with the visuals (and partially because of the series ridiculousness, "wait you mean that elementary/middle school kid built a working air ship by herself, in a basement, with parts she found lying around?!"). The story manages to balance the action in pretty well but, considering this story is supposed to be a story with action in it, not an action and ____ story, even that isn't an especially good thing.

The Bad: Apparently the show was cut down from 22 episodes to 11 episodes and, while I have no idea when this occurred during the production, apparently the director has described this as being a bit more similar to a highlights reel. This both explains and doesn't explain things, it does explain for one why Hozuki is rather well developed yet the rest of the cast isn't. I liked what they were trying to do with Kazuki, have a "normal" girl react to how crazy their life has become yet there's never a transition, she spends a few episodes whining and nearly endangering them and after that she's just the semi-snarky, closest-thing-to-a-voice-of-reason we have. Hazuki gets even less, I feel like we were supposed to have an arc about how even if she was a terrible law student she'll still find a way to follow her own brand of justice except, well, not only is that a dumb plotline, but when they actually end up in court she comes off as completely ignorant about her one character trait. The other characters I wouldn't expect much from, the sky pirates backstory was unsurprisingly cloying and romantic and the villains just felt like the writers were also trying to give him a sympathetic motivation and just failed, but the other two sisters at least needed more development. As for the plot itself, it's also a bit of a mess. The girl's quest for the moon pieces seems too easy (especially considering how obscure the clues are and how far apart they are), the logic for the series only works if everyone is dimwitted, and for some reason the show decides to spend one of it's now-reduced episodes in a time-traveling flashback for Hozuki, ie already the most developed member of the cast and it's practically pointless. 

The Production Values: When Sam Flam eventually finishes I'm going to have a lot to say about it's art work since it's not pretty and especially compared to a show like this. This is a show that not only understands how to make eye-catching and -pleasing designs (I never thought of goldfish as cute before but this show has convinced me, I want to make half of the little things Hozuki has) but also really knows how to work color schemes to accentuate it. The visuals are by far the best part of the series, the settings are detailed and pretty in their snow, the characters stay on-model and their outfits change up, and it looks like an attempt was at least made to shade the CGI ships properly.

For just completely falling apart as the story goes on (yes you might not have had all the time in the world to tell the story but I'm sure you could have had a better rewrite than THIS) I'm giving the story just a 2 out of 5. And, while it's pretty visuals might tempt me to cosplay from it someday anyway I can't see myself buying it ever. As it currently stands, the show is streaming on Crunchyroll but hasn't been picked up for a physical media release in the US/Canada yet.