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Nadia The Secret of Blue Water (1990, Toho/Gainax)

Anime Reviews

Nadia The Secret of Blue Water (1990, Toho/Gainax)

Fushigi no Umi no Nadia [Nadia of The Mysterious Seas]


Optimistic young inventor and machine enthusiast Jean is off to Paris to take part in a flying competition. Along the way he is captivated by a dark skinned girl and is immediately determined to befriend her. He wasn't expecting to be chased by dangerous armed figures but he is determined to protect the girl. Soon he learns her name was Nadia, an orphan like himself and the people after her wanted the Blue Water pendant she possessed. After losing her place at the circus she had been travelling with, she decides to join Jean.

Meanwhile, many ships have been sunk by what is rumoured by sea monsters but countries across the world accuse each other of secret weapons. As Jean and Nadia continue to escape from their pursuers, they soon find themselves aboard a submarine full of ancient but advanced technology and, the secrets behind Blue Water begins to slowly unravel on their journey.

Saw a bit of this classic show and decided to watch it as it's directed by Anno Hideaki best known for Evangelion. Right off the bat, you'll recognise familiar music and fonts that feel like something out of Evangelion. Well, Gainax did take part in the production and Shiro Sagisu composed the music but it's awfully similar. Show itself feels like a mix of Laputa with the magical pendant and villains, persistent boy meets girl from Kiki's Delivery Service except the villains are like the idiots from Pokemon. We've even got a Mei from Totoro.

Interestingly enough, Hayao Miyazaki was indeed involved in the concept of this show during his pre-Ghibli studio days and is based on Jules Verne's French novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas: A World Tour Underwater". It started off as a sequel to Future Boy Conan (a great show) but Miyazaki then founded Studio Ghibli and decided to use some of those ideas to focus on his studio's first movie Laputa. This was when the left over plan at NHK was given to Hideaki from Gainax to continue building on which resulted in this show. Evangelion itself was originally supposed to be a sequel to Nadia too apparently which explains all the Evangelion and Ghibli vibes. Crazy bit of history which means this show could be called "Future Boy Conan II" and Evangelion "Future Boy Conan III" in a way.

I can definitely see Evangelion's roots from this show along with reminiscent of Ghibli's Laputa. They all started from the same show after all. Those of you have watched Evangelion and Laputa like me will spot them right away and throughout the show which is quite funny in itself.

It starts off quite kiddy-ish. When it's not the kids outsmarting the incompetent villains, it's Nadia praising and then mocking Jean's inventions. It's got some good principals similar to Ghibli movies like Totoro and Kiki so not all bad influence instead of just plain violence like Dragon Ball or worse (well, mostly).

However, it doesn't take long before there's a lot of cold blooded killing and cults. There are some cruel moments and, despite no bloodshed the art can get quite eery and there are some philosophical moments akin to the later Evangelion. 2/3's way in it does have a fair bit of gore. In contrast there are some nice peaceful moments before it moves onto the next arc.

It's entertaining watching Nadia and Jean on their adventure along with the rest of the gang. Obviously it's not all happy times as they travel with the crew of the Nautilus and they are made to make hard decisions that the young kids find it hard to understand.

Pacing's good until just about the last quarter where it kind of feels dragged out with the dessert island setting. Last third feels kind of weak as it drags out and feels like it's going all over the place, deviating from the main plot. Interestingly enough, Hideaki only directed episodes 1 - 22. After that it was the co-director Shinji Higuchi if you pay attention to the credits in the OP animation which explains why they lost the plot.

I think art is as good as it can get from 1990s and some of it reminds me of another classic Space Battleship Yamato like the Nautilus submarine and Captain Nemo (which means "nobody" in Latin interestingly enough). Other than that, there's a bit of fan service where Grandis is trying to impress but not the blatant kind like in modern day shows. Well, there's the odd bath and changing scenes similar to Evangelion. As a bit of trivia, Jean's voice actress Noriko Hidaka also voices Akane from Ranma 1/2.

It's a fun action comedy with a bit of mystery in it where you can think of a Ghibli story but with bits of Evangelion direction. Odd combo huh? A sci-fi action comedy where I enjoyed almost every episode. Watch out for the scene change in episode 36 OP.

There's also a sequel movie that takes place 3 years later so just before the epilogue. Half an hour of it is just recaps with Nadia reminiscencing about her adventures and the main plot isn't all that excitingly new but, it's pretty cool to see the the grown-up Jean and Nadia working hard towards their goals. Important figures across the world are evaporating and it seems to be the work of the Neo Atlantis remnants. Meanwhile, Jean finds a girl with amnesia drifted ashore who only remembers herself as Fuzzy. As Nadia uncovers their secret as a apprentice journalist in London, Jean and the rest of the gang find themselves out to save the world again.

Nadia Secret of Blue Water

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