Originally released in the US over ten volumes in 2001-2002, Nadia:
The Secret of Blue Water, is a popular anime that was created by Gainax,
the same studio that was responsible for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Collected for the first time in one set (there was an earlier release that
split the series into two collections) ADV has placed the discs in slimpak
cases and released them in a very nice looking tin case that holds all
the volumes. The story of young Nadia and her encounters with Captain
Nemo is a lot of fun, and thought the story dips in quality significantly
near the end, it's still worth checking out.
This show has an interesting history that begins years before the first
drawing was done. In the late 70's the Japanese movie studio Toho
hired animation great Hayao Miyazaki to come up with some ideas for an
animated TV show. One of the ideas he came up with was entitled "Around
the World Under the Sea" a show based on the literary work of Jules Verne.
The project never got off the ground, but Toho liked the concept.
Fast forward to 1989. Animation studio Gainax is contacted about
creating a possible TV series. Gainax cofounder Hideaki Anno, who
coincidently worked with Miyazaki on Nausicaä, goes over some
of the ideas that Toho had been kicking around and selects "Around the
World Under the Sea" as a project with possibilities. They come to
an agreement and the idea is retooled slightly. Released in 1990,
the show is met with great success. Some would argue too much, as
the beginning of every episode has a title card touting that this series
is bases on Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,
it is in only the looses fashion. The show takes place in 1889 and
revolves around Nadia, a young girl of mysterious origins. She doesn't
know where she comes from or who her parents are. At a young age
she was sold to a circus and earns her keep as an acrobat. The only
thing she possesses, aside from her pet baby tiger King, is a beautiful
blue gemstone, the Blue Water, which seems to have some unusual powers.
While visiting France to enter a plane he's designed in a flying show,
14-year old Jean, an orphan who's also a genius when it comes to inventing
things, spots Nadia in the streets and becomes instantly smitten with the
attractive girl. Catching up with her he realizes that he doesn't
really know what to say when Nadia is attacked by the Grandis gang, a trio
of thieves who are after the Blue Water.
the chase is on! Using the flying machine he invented, Jean helps
Nadia (and King) escape from Grandis, and then he decides to fly her to
Africa, where she's hopeful she'll find her roots. A mechanical failure
lands the group in the ocean where they're rescued by Captain Nemo (who
looks exactly like Captain Global from Macross.) Added into the mix
is a villainous group called Gargoyle, who are hoping to use Alantean Technology
to destroy Nemo and his ship the Nautilus and then take over the Earth.
Just how is Nadia and her Blue Water connected to both Gargoyle and Nemo?
This is an uneven series. It starts off really poorly, which usually
doesn't bode well for anime, but picks up quickly. Grandis and her two
henchmen come across as Team Rocket (of Pokemon fame) wannabes.
For criminals they're incredibly inept and their constant bickering, which
is supposed to be comic relief, is more irritating than funny. In
the early part of the series whenever they're on screen the narrative screeches
to a halt. (They do become more palatable later in the series.)
sections with Nadia and Jean on their own are pretty exciting and even
when they're on the Nautilus the story is very interesting. It's
only the frequent subplots that ruin the show. When the shapely Grandis
Granva falls in love with Nemo, for example, the show becomes idiotic.
However since these sections rarely dominate it's easy to overlook them.
With a good, sometimes intriguing story, mysterious events, and likeable
characters (well, some of them) isn't not hard to understand why the show
became so popular. This popularity is also the show's biggest downfall.
It was originally plotted and scheduled to last 30 episodes, but when the
ratings came in and they were strong, the network asked Gainax to extend
the series. They ended up adding nine more installments (episodes
25-34, the "island episodes") which are simply put, horrible. The
animation was farmed out to another studio and is markedly inferior, the
plots during the sequence are idiotic and the show goes downhill really
fast. The original production team came back on board to wrap the
series up in the last five episodes, but by that point viewers won't care.
It's hard to care about the show after those filler episodes, and it wasn't
all that strong of a program to begin with. Skipping them would make
the series much stronger.
This set contains the entire 39 episodes of the series on 10 DVDs.
(Four episodes per disc with only three episodes on the final volume.)
The discs come in thinpak cases which in turn are housed in a nice tin
box. These seem to be identical to the original discs that were released
as single volumes. While the box is easily dented, it looks nice
and doesn't take up nearly the room that the original volumes did.
I'm really disappointed that they didn't include the Nadia movie, something
that would have made this set much more appealing. There are also
two audio CDs the ADV included with an earlier release of these shows.
It's a pity that they weren't included in this tin also.
The show comes with the original Japanese audio as well as an English
dub, both in stereo. After watching two episodes in English, I screened
the rest of the series in Japanese. I'm not a subtitle snob, and
have really enjoyed some dub tracks on anime, but this one is unbearable.
The phony accents are so horrendous that it's actually funny at times.
The lead character, Jean, has a French accent that sounds like it came
out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Suffice to say, it's
not worth bothering with the dub track.
The Japanese audio sounds much better, but being an old show it there's
not a lot of deep bass and the few explosions don't have the impact they
should. There's limited use made of the front soundstage, but otherwise
this is a serviceable track that does the job but not much more than that.
The program is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio and
looks fine though not outstanding. The source material is getting
a little old and it shows. There are occasional spots on the print,
and the colors aren't as bright and vibrant as they could be. The
image was a tad on the soft side and there was some noticeable grain in
a few places. Other than that, this is a solid, if average looking
There isn't much in the way of extras included with this set, as was
the case with the original releases. Scattered across the ten discs
are a clean opening and closing, some text interviews with the voice actors,
text character profiles, and an assortment of preiviews.
This is an uneven series that hits a few bumps but is generally pretty
good. Unfortunately the nine filler episodes near the end of the
show are abysmally bad and really hurt the show. Anyone who's thinking
about this series should just skip episodes 25-34. The show would
play much better than way. This isn't a bad series, and though it
has some problems is mostly enjoyable to watch. The tin that these
come in is attractive and a nice way to store the series. Overall
this gets a light recommendation, since I really don't regret watching
it and the show did have its moments.