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Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water - Collection 2 (Vols. 6-10)

ADV Films // Unrated // July 6, 2004
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted November 2, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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 Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water Collection 2, the second half of the series, that detailed the further adventures of our heroes as they journeyed through life and the follow up movie that revisited the cast in the future. 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 Gargoyles.

As this set of nineteen episodes begins, the Nautilus is sunk by the Gargoyles and the cast were marooned on a deserted island to fend for themselves amidst a series of various misfortunes. The bright side of their plight is that Nadia learns more of her secret past and gets even closer to Jean as they become a couple (again, of sorts). With the fate of the Nautilus all but over, Gargoyle launches their final offensive to gain control over the secrets of Atlantis, finding the ill prepared crew to attempt to stop them.

Okay, the second half of the Nadia series was rushed through and not really to my liking. I think it could have been salvaged if the last nineteen episodes had been pared down to about half that (or maybe even less) since it was all over the place in terms of quality (both in writing and in the execution of the show). The plot loop holes were such that you could drive a truck through them, the characters became substantially different on many levels and even the little things seemed off to me, making it a chore to watch more often than not. The ending wasn't particularly satisfying either but it did end on an up note of sorts that wasn't bad. Sadly, the final disc, Nadia: The Motion Picture, was almost a knock off in terms of quality and other aspects. To say I hated it with a passion would presume that I felt anything at all for it (which I didn't), since it just made me sad that all the solid creative components were in place but no one was home.

As much as I wanted to enjoy the rest of the series, having seen the first collection this past summer, I feel obligated to rate this one as Skip It. I wanted to like it more but couldn't and I didn't want to let a feeling of nostalgia win me over with a set of rose colored glasses. The Music CD's were good, there were again two of them (the third from the series and the soundtrack to the movie), but all too often they sounded much like the previous discs, making their value less than the initial collection.

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, the first season of Orphen, as well as the usual clean openings and closings.

Final Thoughts: ADV Films should be commended for trying to offer older series at bargain prices but even they sometimes falter. This is one such time and I think only the most loyal of fan (of the series that is) will want to buy it. What started off with such promise ended with a fizzle but the good news is that ADV Films has been releasing more boxed sets of older series, many of which are very appealing to anime fans. That this one didn't live up to its promise is just something you'll have to live with and move on from.

If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime article!

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