Nadia, Secret of Blue Water Perfect Collection (Tin) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Monday, December 31, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2007



What They Say
The World's Fair, Paris, 1889: Young inventor Jean crosses paths with an enigmatic girl named Nadia and her pet lion, King. Suddenly, they find themselves pursued by a villainous trio intent upon stealing the Blue Water, a mysterious jewel Nadia wears around her neck. Join Nadia and Jean as they travel the high seas in search of Nadia's homeland and her past, with the Blue Water as their only clue. Can they unravel its secret before it's too late?

The Review!
Hailed as a Gainax classic, Nadia manages to stand the test of time but is starting to show its age.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my viewing session. It is a clean track, free of any noticeable distortion or other problems. Dialogue, music, and effects were well balanced and managed to provide some decent stereo effects at times. It may not tax your audio system, but it is a remarkably solid track given its age.

Video:
Produced back in 1990, Nadia survived the digital transition without any issues cropping up. The print itself has its flaws; you can see dust, print nicks, and such throughout the show. However, they are minor flaws and do not detract from an otherwise enjoyable visual experience. The quality of the animation drops during the infamous "Island Episodes", but the colors and artwork are bright and detailed for the bulk of the series.

Packaging:
Housed in a tin case, the ten thinpak cases all use the same artwork from the original individual releases. The back covers contain the requisite information and screenshots in a clean, readable format. The tin is a bare silver box with the series title embossed on the lid. It is a rather spartan container for the discs and doesn't really stand out on the shelf. This needed a splash of blue, the iconic Blue Water embossed on a side, something to reduce the drab, money box aesthetic.

Menu:
The menus are simple affairs featuring a static image and a loop of the catchy opening theme. Transition delays are negligible allowing you to get into the content quickly.

Extras:
The extras remain the same as on the individual releases; scattered through the discs are clean versions of the opening and ending themes, text interviews with the English dub cast, brief trailers for the US release, and character profiles.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having grown up around my grandparents, I gained an appreciation for the "oldies", especially the early days of film and television. Most of the episodic adventures on TV these days can trace their roots back to the old serial cliffhangers played in movie houses every week. The genre has evolved over time, but Nadia, the Secret of Blue Water captures the essence of those old serials in animated form.

It starts out simple enough; Jean is a precocious young French lad in 1889, interested in science and becoming an inventor. His interests soon turn to girls when he meets Nadia in Paris. Enter the bad guys stage right bent on stealing Nadia's gem and link to her hidden past, the Blue Water. Jean and Nadia manage to escape but are stranded at sea; a US warship rescues them but is promptly sunk by a "sea monster". The monster turns out to be a high tech submarine that strands Jean and Nadia in the sea again. They and the bad guys pursuing them eventually end up on the Nautilus, a technological marvel of a sub. Captain Nemo and his crew are hell bent on destroying the mysterious but evil Neo Atlantis group lead by Lord Gargoyle.

While the press for the series bills it as based on the Jules Verne novel, the similarities end at the name of the sub and its captain. Nadia combines action, Atlantean mythology, and Gainax's emphasis on character interaction and development. The end result is a show that perfectly fits the serial format, a series to be enjoyed a bite at a time.

Nadia's primary focus is how two young teens cope with trying to lead a normal life in an alien world. The Nautilus is not of their time or world, and Jean and Nadia react quite differently to the experience. Ever the scientist, Jean immerses himself in studying the science behind the ship. While he still wants to win Nadia's heart, he tends to absorb himself too much in the books resulting in a frequent cold shoulder or scolding from Nadia.

Nadia is a fourteen year old girl and consistently acts like one through most of the series. She is opinionated, stubborn, and obnoxiously shortsighted about everything. This could have been death for her character, something that would drive the audience away. However, the audience can relate to her attitude and her growth into a more mature individual along the way. All of us go through that teen period where we believe the adults are full of it; it isn't until life smacks you around that you learn the wisdom adults were trying to impart. This contrast of Nadia's normalcy in a highly abnormal situation makes her less desirable behavior engaging.

There is plenty of action and mystery driving the series as well. Befitting the cliffhanger format, the crew of the Nautilus manages to survive one scrape during an episode only to be setup for the next trap near the end. The mysteries behind Neo Atlantis are slowly revealed and manage to link Nadia, the crew, and Atlantis together.

When it aired, Nadia became a victim of its own success. Originally planned for roughly thirty episodes, it was popular enough for the producers to order the series to be extended beyond that count. Production was behind though, and the animation and story work were farmed out to cheaper sources. These dreaded "island episodes" leave Jean and Nadia stranded on a deserted island. There, the focus shifts more to sight gags and over exaggerations of the characters worst qualities.

Some decent nuggets of character and story development can be mined out of these episodes, but the overall effect kills the momentum of the series. You went from anticipating the next adventure to dreading the next asinine situation contrived to extend the series. However, the series does reward you for trudging through this mess. The ending mixes in good, if not predictable, sci-fi elements with some moving resolutions to the various relationships.

When it was first released, it was considered a classic by the bulk of fans, and I tended to agree with them. Sitting down with it after a decade since I first saw it, I cannot say that I am as enamored with it now. It certainly has its place in history, but it is showing its age. It perfectly captures the spirit of the golden age of serial cliffhangers, but the story does not feel as compelling as it did on the first viewing. I still found myself eager to watch the next episode, but I did not feel compelled to watch it right away. It is still a fun series to watch, but it is something best enjoyed one episode at a time.

In Summary:
Capturing the spirit of the old serial cliffhangers, Nadia is an enjoyable adventure mixing a coming of age tale with a dash of sci-fi, Atlantean mythology. The focus is less on action and more on teens trying to find their place in an alien and hostile world. Something about the characters, even their more irritating qualities, endears the viewer to them; as one episode ends, you can't wait to see what will happen next to Jean, Nadia, and the rest of the Nautilus crew. While not as charming when I first watched it, Nadia still manages to be the perfect Saturday morning show, one you can watch an episode and then eagerly wait a week to see what happens next.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,All extras from single volume releases

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 79.98
Running time: 975
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Nadia, Secret of Blue Water