I know I’m an episode late, but holy shit, Picco Rosso is a robot who’s just been out of shot for the entire show! 10/10, most subversive anime of the year. Thankfully, with two finals comfortably bombed and a month of pure nothingness ahead of me, there’s nothing to separate me and the last two weeks of Galileo Macks on His Granddaughter and Writes a Poem About It, Also Picco Rosso is a Robot.
I would have loved to sit in on the meeting when this time travel arc was being cobbled together. “One of the girls inspired Galileo to write a shitty poem of only the slightest relevance to the plot” is already narrative lunacy on par with replacing the text in Atlas Shrugged with “Elementary schoolers are the best!” but having it be the youngest girl, and having Galileo be more batshit over the fact that konpeito exists in the future than the fact that he’s conversing comfortably with a girl from the future, is a level rivaling that of Mad Bull 34’s wonderful inane plot twists. And it didn’t even need the handicap of chainsaw-wielding motorcycle assassins with offensively unconvincing Chinese accents.
Some strange choices with Galileo’s portrayal have kind of been justified—and by some choices, I mean the choice to have Galileo’s treasure hidden in locations denoted by goldfish. The good news: It actually serves as decent foreshadowing to Hozuki’s trip to Renaissance-era Italy. The bad news is: it points to Galileo falling for his great to the nth power granddaughter, which is like justifying a plan to drive a bus through a church by getting dead drunk first. I don’t think incest is really an avenue worth exploring when there are centuries between the two relatives, and there’s a big plot about an energy crisis to resolve.
The actual time travel sequence went by smoothly, but just like the Dutch kids getting inexplicably vaporized, it’s trivialized as a plot detail. It’s almost as if the staff saw that they couldn’t make their material last the full 11 episodes, so they decided to insert a bizarre sequence with Hozuki meeting and inspiring her great to the nth power grandfather. It’s such a gross, dismissive use of what could have been a key moment, seemingly only existing so Galileo could fall for an extremely distant relative.
I actually find the relative pointlessness of this entire arc to be hilariously endearing, for all the wrong reasons. It isn’t a /terrible/ arc by itself, and the concept behind it is good, but I wish it would have been expanded on a bit more—or at all. As it stands, Hozuki’s chance meeting with her grandfather is pointless in the overall scheme of things, barely moving the plot along. When the most ambitious, bizarre thing about the show feels like an afterthought, you know things done got fucked in planning somewhere.
I know that I keep falling back on the argument of “Galileo is a fucking creep”, but there’s almost nothing else to go on here, save for something that could redeem Hozuki’s trip to the past– namely her perfecting Galileo’s glider prototype. The reason why I saved this for the end is that it’s pure conjecture, and nothing else in the series points to this being true (and probably won’t ever). Basically, the energy crisis could have tangentially stemmed from Hozuki helping Galileo make a functioning glider, kept aloft by a very basic wind-powered engine. As improbable as it seems, perhaps Hozuki’s time travel isn’t as pointless as the plot makes it out to be.
The series is silent on whether Galileo followed the fate of his historical self, i.e. church-sanctioned house arrest and disgrace, so it could be safe to assume that Galileo lived a comfortable life as an inventor and astronomer, because of the indisputable success of his glider. Since his work is unfettered by the Catholic Church, he creates, tests, and hides what could be an inexhaustible source of fuel. Thanks to the use of his glider, he’s able to personally leave clues to its location around the world, even in isolated Japan. Hell, this would be a pretty good story by itself, and could lead back to him being placed under house arrest. Provided Galileo is willing to take apart Picco Rosso, he could also have gained an understanding of basic machinery that’s put into future models. Machinery wasn’t unheard of at this point, but nothing existed at the time as advanced as Picco Rosso.
Whether because of military use or its application to other potential forms of civiliancraft, his invention survives and is improved over time, leading to the premature use of aircraft on a worldwide scale, even before reliable, fuel-powered engines are created. Airships are hardly abundant in the future, but are definitely commonplace enough to not warrant much of a reaction when seen, meaning that they’ve been around for awhile. So essentially, if I’m right, Hozuki inadvertently invents maneuverable airships several hundred years before the creation of a functional airplane, and thus leads to the fuel shortage that in turn fuels her search for Galileo’s inheritance. The consequences of time travel could be astronomical. This goldfish-obsessed girl could, in effect, be the most influential person in this particular world, and nobody even knows it.
In effect, Galilei Donna may not be as dumb as it’s made out to be, but it probably still is, because a goldfish is a robot. I’d like to imagine that the show knows how to give each of its actions a long list of future consequences, and actually gave its world some thought before committing. Optimism probably isn’t the best course of action in this case, though.