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Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water Collection, Vol. 1 (1990)

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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: A.D.V. Films
Genre: Anime, Animation, Cel
Running Time: 500 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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This title is currently out of print.

Obessed with returning the Atlantean empire to its former glory, the evil Gargoyle will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Blue Water. Young circus acrobat Nadia wears the Blue Water as a pendant around her neck, but she's not alone--not only has the young inventor Jean Ratlique come to Nadia's rescue, but so has the extraordinary Captain Nemo! Climb aboard Nemo's legendary submarine, the Nautilus, as our intrepid heroes journey from one exotic locale to the next in their mission to keep the Blue Water away from Gargoyle's devious clutches!

GreenCine Member Reviews

Jumped the shark at episode 23 by mauvecloud September 7, 2006 - 8:08 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
The first 22 episodes are good, with some humor, and a fairly high curiosity factor (wanting to know where the Nautilus really came from, etc.), but in episode 23 (on disc 6) it suddenly became so stupid I couldn't stand it. I checked Anime News Network, and there's a second director listed for eps 23-39. I'm not going to bother watching the rest of it.

Promising beginning to an uneven (turbulent?) series. by JTurner1 May 26, 2004 - 2:12 PM PDT
9 out of 9 members found this review helpful
A longtime fan favorite for many years, this 39-part TV series has quite a bit of secrets of its own, one of which I'll talk about before I start my review. In the mid 1970's, prior to obtaining his well-deserved status as Japan's greatest animator ever, a young Hayao Miyazaki was hired by Japanese movie giant Toho to develop ideas for TV series. One of these concepts was Around the World Under the Sea, based on Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, in which two orphan children pursued by villains team up with Captain Nemo and his mighty submarine, the Nautilus. Although it was never produced, Toho nonetheless kept the rights to the story outline. Miyazaki would reuse elements from his original concept in later projects of his, notably the Sci-Fi series Future Boy Conan and the action-adventure feature Castle in the Sky.

Flash forward about ten years later. Animation studio GAINAX was appointed by Toho in 1989 to produce a TV series which would be broadcast on the Japanese educational network NHK (the equivalent of PBS). Miyazaki's outline for Around the World Under the Sea was the one which captivated GAINAX the most. Under the direction of brilliant but angst-ridden Hideaki Anno, the animation studio took the central story and setup Miyazaki had developed and touched it up with their own creativity. Thus, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water was born. (Incidentally, Anno had previously worked for Miyazaki as an animator on projects such as Nausicaa.) The show was a tremendous success in its initial 1990 Japanese broadcast; the title character, Nadia, showed up on the Japanese Animage polls as favorite Anime heroine, dethroning Miyazaki's own Nausicaa, the previous champion.

The story, set in 1889 Paris, follows the adventures of Nadia, a brooding, dark-skinned circus acrobat who has grown up to become a suspicious, strong-willed girl with no clue of her past other than her jeweled necklace, the Blue Water. She refuses to trust anybody other than animals or the diamond, and acts aloof and uninterested when, on a chance day at the Eiffel Tower, she happens to meet a boy her age known as Jean. An ever-lovable, eager-to-please, precocious aviator-wannabe, Jean is easily the most likable character in the show; the sort of best friend or love interest anybody would ever want to have. Nadia, by contrast, is not always lovable; as mentioned, she does not respond to Jean's friendly overtures when they first meet. But Jean, unwilling to take no for an answer, earns her trust when he rescues her from a comic trio of bandits -- the Grandis Gang (a smashingly funny threesome consisting of the red-haired, short-tempered Grandis Granva, and her two accomplices, vain Sanson, and mechanic Hanson who threaten to steal the show) -- and unabashedly shows Nadia that he'll do anything to make her happy. Needless to say, Nadia's self-centered, anti-social nature slowly begins to change through her newfound relationship with Jean. The pair are soon thrust into an even bigger adventure when they set off to find Nadia's birthplace, supposedly located in Africa. Rescued by a US battleship hunting down sea monsters, and later taken aboard the Nautilus, the two, already fast friends, will have a lot to deal with during the course of their surprising adventure.

The above synopsis sets the stage for a promising beginning to a TV series which unfortunately doesn't always stay afloat. Nadia has twenty-two terrific episodes and the last five ones are equally fantastic, but the remaining episodes vary in quality. However, this is merely another story, as the show still manages to pull enough goodies out of the bag to keep us interested. Plus, the first DVD has tremendous entertainment value, so no problems there. The animation is quite excellent, bursting with wit and imagination, considering that this is a 1989 Anime TV show (most Anime TV series have, at the time, had smaller budgets resulting in choppy frame rates). Shiro Sagisu's music has its occasionally bland moments, but it somehow suits the show. Plus, the opening and ending theme songs (sung by Miho Morikawa) are gorgeous, too.

In July of 2001 (ironically, the same time Disney unveiled Atlantis: The Lost Empire), ADV Films released the first DVD in the series for new fans to discover. The visual transfer is very good, despite some minor nicks at points, and the audio is competently mixed. However, the extras aren't really anything special, just the creditless opening and ending as well as trailers for other ADV Films releases, which aren't bad, but they just don't feel like enough.

I should also mention that while serious hardcore fans would rather watch the series in Japanese, the English dub made by ADV Films' Austin-based Monster Island studios isn't bad at all for what it is. It was a very nice idea to cast actual children to play the roles of Jean and Nadia, and the results are quite pleasing. Fourteen-year-old Meg Bauman makes a wonderful Nadia, capturing much of her multi-faceted personality and determination. I also liked twelve-year-old Nathan Parsons, who plays Jean. His French accent isn't the greatest, but his enthusiasm shines through, making his performance very enjoyable, despite his slippery dialect. The two youngsters do great chemistry alongside the more experienced adult members of the cast. Sarah Richardson (Grandis), Martin Blacker (Sanson), Corey Gagne (Hanson), Ev Lunning, Jr. (Captain Nemo), Ed Neal (Jean's Uncle), and Jennifer Stuart (Nemo's First Officer Electra) all deliver good, solid performances. Lowell Bartholomee's adaptation maintains the spirit of the show and actually outshines the unpolished, awkwardly translated subtitle script. Granted the dub is not perfect -- aside from the accents, some of the incidental characters sound like they're warming up -- but on the whole, this is a commendable English track, and one to which I don't mind listening.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water may be longer than it was originally supposed to be, but there's enough to enjoy, particularly this first volume. It's quite a lot of fun.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.81)
77 Votes
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