There were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir,
I’m there to keep my eye on her
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress, and I stayed home
-“Sisters, Sisters,” by Irving Berlin
Having grown up with only a younger brother, I can only imagine what having a sister (older or younger) would be like. In spite of this, there’s something incredibly resonant about the familial relationships portrayed in Galilei Donna. On the run from the powerful Adni Moon Company, the three Ferrari sisters participate in a plot that is similar to The Da Vinci Code in its convoluted nature, focus on blood descendents, and apparent scientific errors. However, if one can set all that aside – or enjoy it thoroughly in its ridiculousness – Galilei Donna offers its viewer a lovely portrait of three sisters, each struggling to find their individual roles both within their immediate family and in the world beyond it.
“My family’s in pieces but…if we could be close again like we used to be…”
-Hozuki Ferrari, Galileo Donna, episode 2
Hozuki Ferrari, the youngest of the three, takes center stage for the majority of the series’ first few episodes due to her outwardly quirky nature and prodigious talent. It is Hozuki who builds the airship that allows the sisters to escape, Hozuki who all-too conveniently discovers various keys leading them closer to the mysterious “Galileo Tesoro,” and Hozuki who is the most naturally curious about her family inheritance. She also displays a typical characteristic of a younger sibling in her lack of self-worth in comparison to her two older sisters. In spite of being a genius mechanic, Hozuki does not consider that she could be the one to save her family until outsider Anna Hendricks prods her. Unable to communicate her feelings clearly in words, Hozuki shows her love for her sisters through her actions (as shown by Hazuki’s inspection of Hozuki’s airship). Presumably, even with her immense talent, Hozuki has been left to her own devices for much of her life.
“It doesn’t matter which side it was! I can’t let them break the law using a large corporation as camouflage! I’ll act in the name of law and justice to deliver a crushing blow!”
-Hazuki Ferrari, Galilei Donna, episode 3
The familial pressure falls first on the eldest sister, Hazuki Ferrari – my personal favorite, perhaps because I am the eldest as well – who is urged by her mother to take her studies, and her family name, more seriously. Regardless of her scholastic marks, Hazuki cares a great deal for law and order or, at the very least, her ability to use it to her advantage. Unlike Hozuki, she is straightforward to a fault and uses verbal communication to inform others of her thoughts. As the eldest, Hazuki shows an innate ability to keep calm and assume a position of authority when needed, specifically in high-pressure situations. An interesting comparison can be made between Hazuki and Yaichirou Shimogamo, the eldest sibling in Uchouten Kazoku, with the former unconcerned with status or her family heritage, and the latter overly-occupied with his family’s station.
Kazuki Ferrari rounds out the dynamic between the three as the middle sibling. Unlike Hozuki, who lives the legacy of Galileo Galilei in her craft, or Hazuki, who cares only for how it directly affects the every day life of her and her sisters, Kazuki actively resents her inheritance. Along with displaying typical traits of middle child syndrome, Kazuki is the least like her two sisters in that she takes after her father as opposed to their mother. Like Hozuki, she doesn’t express her emotions well through speaking, but is very emotionally-driven and athletic, which is presumably at odds with being a descendent of Galileo. When their father offers to be a physical distraction, allowing the sisters to escape from prison, it is Kazuki who first inquires about his welfare. His response to Kazuki – he is the brawn and not the brains, although that doesn’t mean that he is useless to them – is also telling, and something that she should take to heart. Kazuki is different from her two sisters, but that should not mean that she is without a role in their family.
Lastly, Galilei Donna frames all of these relationships with commentary from the series’ resident Galileo Galilei nut, Anna Hendricks. Anna rounds out the cast perfectly, as she adds the impetus to go after Galileo’s inheritance (pushing the plot forward), and additionally steps on all sorts of landmines as she does not know the sisters’ various personal hangups. Where the Ferrari sisters still may have continued to avoid addressing their feelings towards each other and their family situation, Anna’s oblivious nature forces them to face themselves and each other. She also – if the goldfish mecha, horrible Italian, and silliness of the sky pirates weren’t enough for you – keeps the series lighthearted through her constant fawning over Galileo Galilei’s descendents. Anna is the key to seeing that Galilei Donna is as unconcerned with its own silly premise as you had presumed that it was, and that the success of the series relies on the characters of the sisters themselves.
Where The Da Vinci Code failed for me personally – aside from having a basic knowledge of art history – was in how seriously it took its own story, and therefore, how it required the reader to take it seriously. When I stepped away from its convoluted web of mysteries, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu weren’t all that interesting. Their interactions were serviceable, and anything that I had learned about them as people was only in direct relation to how their respective careers or families influenced the mystery. Galilei Donna takes a different, far more resonant, approach in making me care about the sisters over the mystery, and I couldn’t be more pleased to watch how their relationships with each other unfold.