Nadia Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Nadia, Secret of Blue Water

Nadia Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     June 12, 2001
Release Date: June 12, 2001

Nadia Vol. #01
© ADV Films

What They Say
The World's Fair, Paris, 1889: a young inventor crosses paths with an enigmatic girl and her pet lion.
Suddenly they find themselves pursued by a villainous trio intent upon stealing the magical Blue Water. Thus begins an epic adventure inspired by Jules Verne's masterpiece 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Join Nadia and Jean as they travel the high seas in search of Nadia's homeland and her past, their only clue the mysterious jewel Nadia wears.

Can they unravel the Secret of the Blue Water before it is too late?

Discover Nadia, Secret of Blue Water, the animated series beloved by millions, and find out for yourself!

Dual Layer Disc contains the first 4 episodes of the series.

The Review!
Nadia, one of the many shows consider classics among the elder caste of anime fandom, was finally licensed back in 1998 by ADV. They appeased die-hard fans of the show by releasing the show in their ADV Fansub line, which had left DVD consumers left with mixed feelings about picking it up. While I did buy them myself to support the concept of sub-only releases at a time when sub VHS was disappearing, I never watched past the second episode. And yes, I have all the tapes that have been released so far. But now that 2001 has rolled around, the dub is ready and the bilingual DVD is here. And you too can check out what those wacky folks at Gainax were doing before Evangelion showed up.

For the purpose of our primary review, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Throughout the track, which is essentially a stereo mix, dialogue was clean and clear and the music and effects sounded pretty much on target. There's not much in the way of directionality, but the whole front soundstage works pretty well with the varying number of locations used throughout the show. While it's not a huge standout, it's a solid sounding track.

This is probably the best this shows looked, especially in comparison to the VHS release. I can't speak for the Japanese laserdisc set from a few years ago either. One thing that's quickly noticeable is just how nice the majority of the colors look here. The sunsets in particular look great as well as a lot of the blue seas. The only problems with the video side of things is the source itself, with the showing being from 1989. There's a small number of minor nicks here and there as well as a few bits of dirt. You'll also notice the flaws in the animation itself a lot more, such as a scene early on with a balloon expanding from a vehicle, you can see the path the brush took to fill in the white on it. If you're not set out to be critical and just to watch the show, you're likely to not notice a lot of these little source driven problems.

The cover is laid out in what looks to be the same as the VHS release and that's more than fine by me. I loved the look of it when I first saw it and the consistency is really nice. The layout works well also, with the action all centered and the logo free from covering up any of the artwork itself. The reverse side gives a bunch of nice little pictures, the obligatory "It's from the Eva folks!" plug and a good summary. On the plus side, we get the episode titles and the episode numbers, though on the negative we don't get the volume number.

The menus follow the simple is best method here, with the main screen being an image of Nadia with the waves flowing in behind her while the opening song plays along. Everything's laid out in a simple and straightforward manner and the access times are pretty quick. We had no problems at all with this layout.

The extras of interest here for me are the textless openings and endings, which look great. Including these on the first volume is always a big plus since we generally want to see them clean after watching the show. ADV has also included the collection of promotional trailers they made for the show and a quick preview of volume two.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As you'll learn right from the opening animation, Nadia, the Secret of Blue Water, is inspired and based upon the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. And while it's been an age since I've touched anything by Verne, the influences are quite obvious.

The setting starts with the 1889 World's Fair, with a wide variety of technological achievements being shown off during an age of widespread creativity and imagination. This almost feels like one of those golden moments of days gone by. Well, except for the number of poor inventions, notably among the airplane inventors. We meet young Jean, a boy whose worked with his uncle to build the worlds first working plane. They're watching the other entrants demonstrate their own planes and failing miserably each time. Some of them are amusing and some of them you know just had to have been tried back then, adding only more to the humor.

While unpacking their own equipment and getting it ready, Jean spies a lovely looking young girl riding by on her bicycle. He's smitten right from the start and runs off after her. He eventually catches up to her at the Eiffel Tower, where his outgoing nature forces himself on her and he introduces himself. We learn that she's Nadia and the "kitty" by her side is actual a young lion cub named King. Nadia'd prefer to be alone though, but Jean's not the kind to really listen to what others are saying.

It's at this point that the evil villains show up. You know they're evil cause the henchmen are wearing white. And the leader, Grandis, has the evil eyes and the laugh. She's got the look down as well. This trio is after a pendant that Nadia has, the mysterious Blue Water. They dash to get her but are foiled by the acrobatic and nimble Nadia and King, who proceed to escape with ease.

Jean's pretty much ignored in all of this.

Jean eventually catches up to Nadia again later on after Grandis buys Nadia from the circus she was working at and helps in her escape. From there a series of chases across France and the ocean commence, with Grandis and her henchmen using their advanced vehicles to try and capture her several times.

The first four episodes here are primarily setup of the characters, initial interactions and the world setting. It's all done quite well, but by the fourth episode the chasing gets a bit old, but is offset by some interesting revelations as the more Vernian aspects of the show begin to come into play with the mysterious submarine that shows up. This looks to be one of those shows that gets more interesting after the opening batch of episodes. While it may have been more original and exciting twelve years ago, I have to admit it's a bit more mundane. But that may just be my watching so much anime in the past couple of years.

The animation for the show is very nice however, with a lot of early hints at what Gainax would do in the future. Their trademark style is definitely at work here and it's always enjoyable to watch that in motion, especially their tinkering with retro machines and technology.

With 35 more episodes to go after this, there's definitely plenty of time for things to twist, turn and change. If the quality level keeps up from what's here and the story builds up, it'll be an interesting ride.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,ADV's Nadia Promotional Trailers

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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