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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water - Collection 1 (Vols. 1-5 + 2 CD soundtracks)
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water - Collection 1 (Vols. 1-5 + 2 CD soundtracks)
ADV Films // Unrated // May 18, 2004
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted June 6, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Those of us that enjoy science fiction know that along with H.G. Wells, Jules Verne was one of the founding fathers of the genre. From the fantastical Journey To The Center Of The Earth, to From The Earth To The Moon, the man described adventures and devices that took the human race decades to invent. Some would say that such writers helped make it all happen, causing the inventive minds to focus on concrete goals, and I happen to agree with them. In short, Mr. Verne was the best thing to come out of France since French fries and French toast. One of the famed author's greatest works was a little story known as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. While most of us are probably familiar with the live action version released fifty years ago by Walt Disney Studios, there have also been a great many incarnations of the famed Captain Nemo and his fantastic submarine, the Nautilus, on the silver screen over the years. A more recent attempt to capture the spirit of the story was made in Japan by Gainax, a company known for a myriad of anime releases, called Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water.

The story took a number of liberties with the characters of the original novel but also retained much of the inventive essence of Verne's work. It had several lead characters, most notably Jean Ratique, a French boy with a genius for inventing devices that sort of work, and a mysterious Black girl, Nadia. The subject of this review is ADV Films release of Collection 1 of the story, which provides twenty episodes of fun and adventure, with a second volume scheduled for July. The boxed set contains five DVD's and two CDs, at a decent price compared to their original release several years ago.

The show aired in Japan about fifteen years ago and followed Jean and Nadia as they run from a host of villains and thieves, always managing to keep one step ahead of the bad guys. The show started off with the two meeting at a World Fair in France; Jean trying to win a prize for inventing an airplane and Nadia traveling with a circus (and her cute pet lion cub, King). Initially, the story centered on Jean but as the episodes unfolded, Nadia's past was slowly revealed, a past tied to some dark secrets and heroic figures.

Nadia carries a blue crystal pendant around her neck and at times, it glows brightly, indicating some form of energy or magic at work. The thieves trying to take it from her find that they are no match for Jean's inventiveness and an American Battleship designed to fight sea monsters that have been attacking ships in the Atlantic ocean. As the story progressed, we learn the truth behind the "monsters" and a secret battle going on between the captain of a highly advanced technological marvel, Captain Nemo and his submarine, the Nautilus, and a race of nearly extinct beings going by the name Gargoyle.

I'd tell you more about the story but suffice it to say, the show had a lot of twists and turns that are better left for the loyal viewer and any spoilers I added here would weaken the entertainment value of the boxed set. While the anime style of the show was somewhat limited due to the age of the show, it was still fun to watch and I think kids of all ages will have fun with this one. I'd suggest you go in with an open mind and simply let the show entertain you rather than spend a lot of time comparing it to the various versions you've read or seen over the years. It wasn't the best release I've seen from ADV but it was above average and that's why I'm giving it a rating of Recommended. Fans of anime, science fiction, and even shows you can watch with your kids will likely think very highly of this series and I can only hope the second boxed set lives up to the promise this one established. I also think the marketing of boxed sets like this one has renewed the interest of many fans that seek value in their anime purchases, so the inclusion of the two solid CDs was very much appreciated. Each had it's own flavor and I hope ADV Films will start releasing them sooner in the future. Here's a breakdown of the volumes and episodes included in the set:

Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water: The Adventure Begins:

Episode One: Girl At The Eiffel Tower
Episode Two: The Little Fugitive
Episode Three: The Riddle Of The Giant Sea Monsters
Episode Four: Nautilus, The Fantastic Submarine

The Dark Kingdom:

Episode Five: Marie's Island
Episode Six: Infiltration Of The Secret Base
Episode Seven: The Tower Of Babel
Episode Eight: Mission To Rescue Nadia

Aboard The Nautilus:

Episode Nine: Nemo's Secret
Episode Ten: A Crowning Performance By The Gratan
Episode Eleven: New Recruits For The Nautilus
Episode Twelve: Grandis And Her First Love

Battleground:

Episode Thirteen: Run Marie Run!
Episode Fourteen: The Valley Of Dinicthys
Episode Fifteen: The Nautilus Faces Its Biggest Crisis
Episode Sixteen: The Mystery Of The Lost Continent

Nemo's Fortress:

Episode Seventeen: Jean's New Invention
Episode Eighteen: Nautilus Vs. Nautilus
Episode Nineteen: Nemo's Best Friend
Episode Twenty: Jean Makes A Mistake

Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water TV Soundtrack 1

Blue Water 4:06
The Start of the Story 2:57
Flap Your Wings and Go to the Sky 2:25
S.S. Nautilus Go to the Great Deep 2:49
The Inside of the Ship Is Pleasant 2:21
Real Heart 4:40
Daybreak 1:47
All-Purpose Submarine 3:12
The Secret of Blue Water 0:09
Battle at Sea 1:34
S.S. Nautilus Launch! 2:28
When My Lover Is Here 3:07
Paris World Fair 1:34
Circus Girl 1:55
Loneliness and Tranquility 2:56
Relaxation Time 1:30
Grandis' Pursuit 1:43
Yes! I Will! 4:26

Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water TV Soundtrack 2

Blue Water 1:29
Jean 3:37
Nadia 5:43
Nemo 2:40
Life Inside the Ship 1:58
Neo Atlantis 3:35
Quiet Dawn 3:52
Hope (Blue Water) 2:11
Gentler Than the Sea 3:38
Let's Go Jean! 3:27
The Secret of Blue Water 0:08
Clear Morning 1:14
Crisis 2:19
The Evil Trio 3:20
Electra 3:35
Tragedy 1:21
Requiem 1:27
To Tomorrow 3:05
Yes I Will… 1:14
FAMILIES (Family Structure) 5:03

Picture: The picture was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color, as originally shot in Japan. The source material being made in 1989, you can't expect it to hold up to the latest offerings from ADV Films and this aspect didn't surprise me. There was some grain and video noise but most of the problem derived from the print scratches and lack of fluid animation. Some of the colors were off a bit here and there too but it looked better than several shows made around the same time so you should expect some limitations in the source material.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo Japanese or English tracks. This is one case where the original Japanese track was better hands down, no questions asked. The worst dubbed voice of the entire show was that of the young male lead, Jean Ratlique (Nathan Parsons). The fake French accent made me hate that I listen to both tracks before reviewing since it made me wince every time his character spoke. Stick with the original Japanese this time folks! Otherwise, the audio was pretty good for such an old show and ADV must've put some extra work in mastering it for DVD (mostly cleaning it up).

Extras: There weren't a lot of extras in this large set but some of them were pretty solid. The best extras, by far, were the two CD soundtracks as described above. Each had numerous tracks with an emphasis on the score but also some cute pop-flavored songs to enjoy as well. Otherwise, there were some short character profiles, trailers to such older titles as Sakura Wars, Princess Nine, Original Dirty Pair, Dai Guard, and the first season of Orphen, as well as the usual clean openings and closings.

Final Thoughts: I think a lot of people will enjoy this collection and while it wasn't as great as some fans seem to think, it certainly had a lot of value at this new price. Fans of the show that have been holding out might want to grab a copy today since you can find it fairly cheap and the show is considered one of the lynchpins of modern anime (bringing lots of new fans to the genre).

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