Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Samurai Flamenco and Galilei Donna

Minus Yowamushi Pedal (cheat to win-strong is still way too fresh in my head for me to care about cycling) and Pupa (airs who-knows-when), the last pair of shows to air this season are running in the noitaminA timeslot, the first pair of original series they’ve run in over a year. Shows on noitaminA are still cause for moderate excitement, but the brand’s taken a bit of a dip in recent years, so I approached the day’s fare with cautious optimism.

I expected a strong showing from Takahiro Omori’s Samurai Flamenco, and I got one. What I wasn’t expecting was just how grounded it was. The cop character was easy to get into because he had to deal with the type of minor annoyances on his time off that he tries to prevent in his day job, and the hero was a great balance of adorably incompetent and appreciably dedicated. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to Dai Guard, except with tokusatsu instead of mechs and without the same tier of unforgettably catchy OP. The two share the same critical core dynamic of hot-blooded characters dealing with a real world that wasn’t built to run on passion. Dai Guard is my favorite mecha series of all time, so we’re looking at a pretty high ceiling on this one. Samurai Flamenco earned 3 more episodes.

My biggest worry about Galilei Donna was that it was going to go too far in the attempted blockbuster direction and end up trying to look cool without doing anything with real entertainment value. The story of Galileo versus the church is overdramatized as it is for something that essentially came down to a guy who wouldn’t have been tried if he hadn’t decided to mock the pope in the same text that falsified the geocentric theory, and I wasn’t spoiling for a pure science versus religion action show. The opening minutes made a big deal of emphasizing mechanical designs miles below Arpeggio of Blue Steel and didn’t really help the show’s cause, and they weren’t the only time the show pulled mech bits out of nowhere. After the initial sequence, it did get into a chase scene that was moderately more engaging, less so due to the relatively unintimidating mech designs, but more so due to the superimposed introductions of the two other main characters. The fact that it’s pitching a version of Galileo that’s painfully hollywood is a definite minus, but it gets points for putting in some effort to flesh out the setting. Chemistry wasn’t there for every character, but the elder two sisters had a nice hostility dynamic going. It’s going to need to focus less on the subpar mech segments and more on the characters to produce something worth watching, but I’ll give it another week for now.

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