They’re the best Anime that 1991 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Ningyohime Marina no Bouken, Fushigi no Umi no Nadia, Trapp Ikka Monogatari, and more!
3: Ningyohime Marina no Bouken
English: Saban’s Adventures of the Little Mermaid
Japanese: 人魚姫 マリーナの冒険
MAL Score: 6.24
Marina is a mermaid who is in love with Prince Justin, a human prince from a kingdom on the shore. Marina saves Justin when he almost drowns after a chase from a giant Cyclops and a shipwreck attack from a three-headed sea serpent. She then makes a deal with Hedwig the sea witch to become human temporarily to try to win Justin’s love. Justin and Marina become close but Justin thinks that Princess Cecily, a human princess, was the one who saved him from drowning and therefore he gets engaged to her. Justin eventually remembers that Marina was the one who saved his life but by then Marina becomes a mermaid again. The two continue to secretly meet and try to find a way to be together while dealing with Hedwig’s plans to take over the kingdom, and Cecily’s attempts to get Justin to marry her. Marina and Justin are aided by their underwater friends, Winnie the seahorse, Bobo the tropical fish, and Ridley the sea otter. They are also aided by the wizard Anselm and by Chauncey, Justin’s page.
I espesially loved the two first episodes who reflects the tragic lovestory between the land and the sea.
Moest exiting outside the story itself is to discover the backgrounds of the Seawitch and the wizard Ansem.
On the downside I think there is too long until they find any selution to the main conflict.
2: Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
English: Nadia: Secret of Blue Water
MAL Score: 7.53
In 1889, the world is on the pinnacle of great discoveries in technology. In mankind’s grasp for the future, a sinister foe known only as Gargoyle, obsessed with restoring the former Atlantean empire to the glory it once held, begins his plans to take over the world. Nadia, with the help of a young inventor, Jean Roque Lartigue, and Captain Nemo of the submarine Nautilus, must fight to save the world from Gargoyle and Neo-Atlantis. Based on the Novel ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ by Jules Verne.
Of course, no review of Nadia can get around a certain arc in the middle. Episodes 23-34 are directed by a replacement director. The twelve "filler" episodes, in my opinion, aren’t horrible, but they ARE horribly mediocre in comparison to the rest. For those twelve episodes (episodes 30 and 31 excepted), the plot comes to a stand still. Life on a deserted island simply doesn’t compare to the excitement of the main plot. However, that’s not actually the worst part of it. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it hadn’t also distorted the characterization to a nigh-insulting level. More on that later.
So would you be better off skipping the island and Africa arcs? While they have their moments, in my opinion, the answer is yes. The experience would probably be enhanced if you left them out. The director felt only episodes worth keeping from those twelve were 30 and 31 and I’m inclined to agree. Those two are good and should be watched. You won’t lose anything by watching the rest unless you’re remarkably touchy, but you won’t really gain anything either.
Art: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s character designs are as nice as ever, and the animation is generally good. Emotions are portrayed nicely and the complicated technological wonders and battles are quite nuanced and pretty. However, the series IS 20 years old and looking its age.
As for the supposed iffishness in part of the animation during the filler arc, I can’t say I noticed it. It did, however, suddenly become somewhat more cartoonish than previously (like a character running off a cliff and only falling when he noticed it…) It wasn’t very fitting, in my opinion.
Sound: The sound of Nadia is good but not notable. I watched the subbed version and the voices were fine. They suited their characters and the performances were good, as far as I can tell. Nothing much to say on this. In any case, the soundtrack was composed by Shirou Sagisu, so you know its good. The action-comedy parts and the epic struggle for the fate of the world are both handled nicely, but Sagisu’s tracks for the bittersweet scenes really shine. I can safely say the score greatly enhances the emotions of the last episodes, especially the ending.
Character: Nadia’s characters are, in a word, great. The leads and supporting cast are all very well developed, but even the minor bit parts aren’t left as two-dimensional ciphers. The relationships between them are very carefully crafted and actually change believably over time and with new revelations. I personally rooted for Nadia and Jean’s romance.
Especially noteworthy is Gargoyle, who is, in truth, a world-class villain and one of the best I’ve seen in anime. He appears in only about a third of the episodes, but comes off as a true menace who you really learn to hate by the end.
The worst offense of the filler arc is probably the messing with characterization. Nadia herself is by far the worst victim of this. While she has a canonically difficult personality, the the filler arc upgrades this to "annoying bitch". Every flash of likability is negated by another act of irritating stupidity. Especially retarded is her falling in love with some random African kid – a huge slap in the face of the love story that forms the core of the whole series. Thankfully, this and most everything else that happens in the island and Africa arcs is pretty much ignored later on.
Enjoyment: While one can certainly like Nadia solely for its artistic competence, it’s also damn good fun. It’s been a while since I watched a series as engrossing as Nadia. It’s humorous moments are amusing and its sad moments are ridiculously touching. I’ve rarely come as close to crying while watching an anime as during the ending of Nadia. The characters are likable and easy to get into. The series doesn’t take itself seriously all the time, but when it does, so do you.
Overall: Nadia, the Secret of Blue Water isn’t nearly as well-regarded as it should be. I saw a bit of it as a child on television, and expected to at least nostalgically like it when I rewatched it. Instead, the series forced its way into my Top 10 list. It’s an undervalued classic that most people have not heard of and possibly never will because of its age. Do yourself a favor and watch it. And you wouldn’t be doing yourself a disservice if you only watched episodes 1-22, 30, 31, 35-39.
The story begins at a Paris World Exposition Fair where Jean, a nerdy but charming and instantly lovable inventor boy of fourteen, becomes smitten with a pretty, dark-skinned girl his own age. The girl, known as Nadia, is an unhappy circus acrobat with no clue about her past other than a jeweled necklace she wears. After rescuing her from a trio of comic bandits (the Grandis Gang) Jean earns Nadia’s trust. The two set off on an even bigger adventure to find Nadia’s birthplace, which supposedly lies in Africa. Along the way, they have run-ins with a supercharged submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo and his pretty but overprotective first officer Electra as well as a shadowy cult of Nazi-like masked soldiers known as Neo-Atlanteans led by the misanthropic, sinister Gargoyle, who wants Nadia’s pendant at any cost. In the course of their around-the-world adventure, Jean and Nadia adopt an orphaned little girl, Marie, who senses that her new guardians will become more than just close friends. Although Nadia’s explosive temper poses problems, Jean’s patience and loyalty keeps their relationship afloat, and her growing love for the boy gradually transforms her as a person.
Nadia has all the makings of a classic series: a well-rounded cast of characters, unforgettable sequences, and a long, involving action adventure. There is a distinctive “Miyazaki-esque” style to the visual designs of the leads, yet only Jean seems to emerge as a Miyazaki creation. Which is arguably what makes him the most lovable character in the whole show. It’s easy to see why Nadia finds herself falling for him–who wouldn’t want to be with a boy as intelligent, genuinely compassionate, and impossibly generous as Jean? While he does display clumsiness in terms of social graces around the opposite sex, it only makes him all the more appealing as a character. Nadia herself, by contrast, is not always lovable. In addition to having serious anger management issues, she also has unbending and irrational principles about killing, eating meat, or trusting grown-ups. She does, however, display courage and, as mentioned, finds herself growing to care for Jean. Actually, Anno has said that he created Jean and Nadia based on his “light” and “dark” sides. Shiro Sagisu’s music is sometimes bland, although some of the later tracks, notably the Neo-Atlantis themes, are memorable. The opening and ending theme songs as sung by Miho Morikawa are also enjoyable.
For all its assets, however, Nadia suffers from one fatal flaw that prevents it from being the classic it aims to be–it doesn’t always stay afloat throughout its 39-episode count. The first twenty-two episodes are old-fashioned adventure at its best, with humor, young love, traumatic situations which involve death, and compelling, engrossing mysteries as we learn about Nadia, the Nautilus, and the Atlanteans. The production values in these episodes show their age at times, but frankly, they still exude detail and clarity for an early ’90s series. In episodes 23-34, however, it devolves into a painfully dull, unengaging, haphazard, incoherent Saturday morning cartoon, with warped characterizations, and even worse scenarios totally devoid of imagination or credibility. Simultaneously, the animation takes a hit in these dozen episodes, with some episodes looking downright sloppy or dreadfully cartoonish. (In all fairness, these dreadful half-hours weren’t supposed to have existed; distributor NHK requested that they be made after the show became a smash hit in Japan.) In the final five episodes Nadia does recover in terms of artistry and storytelling, delivering a satisfying finale, but it’s hard to compensate for the damage that has been done. Simply put, the show would have been far better if it were eleven episodes shorter.
For their part, however, ADV Films deserves a shout-out for their work on bringing this series to American audiences. The visual and aural transfers are competently done, but it’s their translation that really shines. The English dub, provided by Austin-based Monster Island studios, is notable for casting three actual children in the roles of Jean, Nadia, and Marie–Nathan Parsons (12), Meg Bauman (14), and Margaret Cassidy (11), respectively. For inexperienced youngsters, all three do exceptional jobs, and are amply supported by a similarly entertaining cast of adults, particularly Sarah Richardson, Corey Gagne, Martin Blacker (as the Grandis Gang) as well as Jennifer Stuart (Electra). Ev Lunning Jr. (Nemo) and David Jones (Gargoyle)’s performances do take a bit longer to find their groove, but when they do, they really shine. This dub has taken a lot of undeserved flak from critics who have made the mistake of writing it off on account of the sometimes uneven accents (Jean’s admittingly shaky French dialect in particular takes some getting used to; although Parsons does improve on it as the show goes on). Despite that and the occasional trepidatious moment in the opening episodes, the end result is still a spirited, energetic, emotionally charged dub that really brings its characters to life. It is most certainly a very commendable effort that deserved better recognition than what it was accorded for back in 2001 and even today.
The ADV dub is not the only English track of Nadia to exist. In the 1990’s Streamline Pictures attempted a release of the show. Interestingly, the head of Streamline, Carl Macek, did express interest in paring down the much maligned filler arc. As his version only got about as far as eight episodes, we probably never may know how it would have turned out. Having said that, though, I don’t think the Streamline dub compares favorably to the ADV version. Wendee Lee and Ardwright Chamberlain are both very credible actors, but both are miscast as Nadia and Jean and unfortunately underwhelm. Jeff Winkless is a bit less stiff than Ev as Nemo, but even then his turn isn’t anything amazing. I did like Edie Mirman as Electra (she ties with Stuart) and the Grandis gang doesn’t sound too bad, but on the whole I prefer the ADV dub. It strikes me as the better of the two by far.
Out of curiosity, I did sample a few episodes of the Japanese version. Although some voices are solid (Nemo, Gargoyle, and Sanson), I felt rather indifferent about the others. Marie’s voice is the weakest of the bunch; no offense to the late Yuko Mizutani, but I feel Margaret Cassidy does a far better job of bringing out this little girl’s innocence as opposed to Yuko’s high-pitched shrieking. Likewise, despite Yoshino Takamori and Noriko Hidaka’s solid turns as Jean and Nadia I found myself preferring Bauman and Parsons, if mainly because both characters are supposed to be children. It just feels more natural to hear them voiced by actors of the appropriate age. Despite insistence from some long-in-the-tooth fans that this show should only be appreciated in its native language track, I don’t consider either version better or worse, only different. Whichever one you prefer is a matter of personal preference.
Is Nadia a complete waste of time? Not at all; as mentioned, the characters are fully-realized, and for twenty-two episodes and the final five, the show does indeed deliver an entertaining, consistently engaging adventure story with just the right amount of heart, humor, and drama. It’s just too bad that it goes downhill in the second half (despite delivering a phenomenal conclusion). Otherwise, this series would truly be worthy of the praise it receives as one of the greats. The best way to appreciate Nadia is to view episodes 1-22, then 31 (the only “filler” episode to have any genuine plot development), and finally 35-39. It will provide for a much more pleasing experience.
Well, I say that, but this series wasn’t actually made by Miyazaki… It was his idea, but after some initial financial controversy, the project was picked up by Studio Gainax, a rising animation studio who recently changed their name from Daikon in order to pursue more high profile titles. After already having a successful movie and OVA series under their belt, Gainax decided to take Nadia as their first televised series, and it was highly successful… to a fault, even, but we’ll get to that later.
Right from the first few minutes of episode 1, Nadia shows you exactly what it’s animation style is going to be. We’re shown a few frozen panning shots of people enjoying themselves at a science fair, immediately followed up by the impressive CG effect of an electricity machine. This is indicative of a well allocated budget, where the bulk of the production money will be spent giving motion to scenes that need it the most, while leaving other shots… Not all of which will be as unimportant as these opening ones… High and dry. Thankfully, the budget is managed well enough that those opening shots are the exception rather than the rule, and for the most part, this show does look very good.
While it may look cheap and dated, in terms of it’s visual style, keep in mind that Nadia came out back in 1991, when an anime couldn’t look expensive without actually being expensive, due to the limits of the technology of the time… High frame rate, Miyazaki quality productions were a rare treat, and the lesser spectacles were given a lot more leeway than they are today. Having said that, as cheap as Nadia can occasionally look, there are a ton of moments in the series that look like they could have come straight out of Ghibli itself… The visual of Nadia daringly leaping down from the Eiffel Tower to protect her sacred jewel is only a small taste of this, and it will in no way be the last.
While most of the character designs may seem generic at first, they grow on you more and more as the characters in question develop throughout the story, and their backstories begin to become unraveled. There are only two designs that really stand out right from the start… One of them is Gargoyle and his sinister cult of Neo Atlanteans, the true villains of the series whose actions are unfortunately wrapped in spoilers too heavy to discuss. The second one is Nadia’s, as she’s wearing what has to be one of the most iconic outfits in Studio Gainax’s long history. It works very will with the backstory of her being an acrobat and a utility performer at a circus, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, the reason this design has endured for over twenty years in peoples’ memories is because of how revealing it is. I’m not going to say this is necessarily a bad thing, as I know that women should wear whatever they want to without feeling ashamed, but it does feel kind of strange when you consider that Nadia was wearing a normal looking european dress when we were first introduced to her, implying that that’s how she likes to dress when she’s off the clock… But for the rest of the series, she seems to prefer skin baring clothing so much that she’ll tear entire pieces off of any other outfit that’s handed to her. Again, this wouldn’t bother me if it felt like her decision, and not just that of a horny animator.
But that’s not the only thing about her that’s made her such a fixture of Gainax’s history… She’s also, in general, a very likeable and dynamic character. She’s cautious around new people… Who wouldn’t be, after working in the circus for so long… But she’s willing to give them the benefit of the doubt after she becomes more comfortable with them. Her convictions and principals are also a very strong part of her character. She’s a pacifist, who’s adamantly against the idea of people killing each other for any reason, and while this belief isn’t portrayed as strongly as it was in Trigun and Fullmetal Alchemist, she also takes it a step further by being a strict vegetarian… Yes, she believes that animals and people should both be spared from the wrath of greedy humans, and she’s not afraid to act on those beliefs, even when it may cost her the good graces of her peers. She can be difficult because of this, but she never seems to cross into the territory of becoming unreasonable, at least not until… We’ll get to that later.
Oh, and her baby albino lion has giant balls. Because… Yeah, courage, and stuff. He’s awesome.
Jean isn’t really as complex as his nimble crush, but that’s not to say he’s some bland self-insert character, either… The darker tones of the series take their toll on his happy-go-lucky outlook, maturing him just like the rest of the cast. He also has a very distinct personality, even if other personalities sometimes overshadow his in the story. He’s very open about his feelings for Nadia, that visibly develop from infatuation to actual interpersonal romantic interest throughout the course of the series. He’s very passionate about technology, and not just about his own inventions, but about the technology of the anachronistic Nautilus submarine, as well. He’s fascinated by Nadia and the Nautilus, and will take any given opportunity to learn as much as possible about both, as they respectively become the inspiration and the basis for his future inventions, since only a flying machine can take Nadia to the faraway land she yearns for. But just because he’s an inventor doesn’t mean he can just whip up deus ex machina devices whenever he needs them… Unlike that Mary-Sue technology-bender from Big Hero Six, Jean’s inventions are consistent with his familiarity of technology and the materials available at the time, at least until… Once again, we’ll get to that later.
Surprisingly, those two aren’t always the most likeable characters in the cast(YES I KNOW I’M GETTING TO THAT). I mentioned before that the three villains who attacked Nadia for her jewel go through a heavy amount of development and reveals, and I wasn’t kidding about that… They have a backstory that will redeem their actions almost immediately after you hear it. The motivation that led them to the Nautilus changes soon after they take up residence in it, which is a refreshing development compared to the Team Rocket baddies that they almost certainly inspired. They become more and more relatable as time goes on, and there are points when their roles in the story become even more interesting than that of our two main heroes… In fact, after one of them pulls off the daring rescue of a young orphan girl named Marie from a Giant Enemy Crab, I could see him instantly becoming a fan favorite.
And the English dub, well… It’s not the worst I’ve ever heard, by far, but it’s also not really up to par with the time period in which it was released. It was initially dubbed by Streamline Pictures, and if you’re familiar with their work on films like Vampire Hunter D and Wicked city, then you’d probably guess that Nadia is one of their better dubs… But you’d be wrong, and being worse than those two titles is saying a lot. The dub was picked up by ADV films after Streamline put out the first eight episodes, and ADV completely redubbed them, producing much better results… Mediocre results, yes, but they’re still much better than the awful Streamline dub. While the ADV version isn’t bad by any means, the only actor that really merits any praise is Meg Bauman in the role of Nadia, who puts forth a much more sincere performance than voice acting heavyweight Wendee Lee. Actually, that seems to be a common theme of this dub… A cast full of unknowns who would mostly go on to have very brief careers in the industry did a much better job than a dub full of respected talents and recognized mainstays.
It is worth mentioning, though, that Nathan Parsons has gone on to have a moderately successful live action career. Most recently, he played the role of James in True Blood, which I guess is an interesting bit of trivia.
Aside from her, this is a dub that has to grow on you in order to be enjoyed… There are several characters sporting foreign accents that are fake-sounding, inconsistent and half-committal, with the worst offender being Nathan Parsons in the lead role of Jean. His attempt at a french accent replaces all of the ‘th’ sounds with ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds, but aside from that, he barely inflects when he should. Sanson’s upper-crust accent sounds irritatingly like James from Pokemon(Which makes sense because Grandis sounds like Jessie and Hanson sounds like Meowth, and I don’t think any of this was accidental), and in the role of Elektra, Jennifer Stuart focuses so hard on perfecting her British accent that she barely emotes in the process. As I said before, it’s not a bad dub, and all the performances do grow on you after a while, but unless you’re a hard core dub fan like I am, there’s really no reason to switch the Japanese version off.
So, when I started watching this series, I didn’t know whether or not I’d be able to review it, and I had Mahoromatic on standby just in case. The problem was, of course, that there wasn’t really anything to talk about. It just felt like a really, really well made action adventure/title. It wasn’t terribly deep, but it was well written, wonderfully paced, and it was able to handle a large, diverse cast while showing respect to all of their differences in background. There were clashes between the beliefs and ideals of our main characters, especially where Nadia was involved, and there was an admirable level of ambiguity in regards to who was right and who was wrong. All in all, I didn’t really have anything interesting to say about it, and I was fully ready to review something else… Until IT happened. It, which I’ve been putting off until this point in the review. It, which if you’ve seen the series, you know exactly what It is.
See, as the series was airing, it was earning very high ratings… And deservedly so, all things considered. Because of this, the network got greedy and hired an entirely new director to extend Nadia’s 26 episode run into a 39 episode run, adding in 12 episodes of filler material just to pad their precious success’s run time. If you ask any Nadia fans to talk about the series, this story arc will inevitably be one of the first things they bring up, as it’s believed to be the single worst thing about the series. And having seen it for myself, I can say that this assessment is… Completely accurate.
After some spoiler events occur, Nadia, Jean, Marie and Nadia’s lion cub King wind up stranded on a mysterious island, with no clue where they are, and no hope of summoning any of the ships that they keep seeing out in the distance. And I’ll say right off the bat that this idea, in and of itself, wasn’t a bad one. There are a ton of ways this development could have been a great opportunity to further the depth of the series… But it wasn’t that at all. It’s boring, it drags the pace of the series down to a dead crawl, and it does everything in it’s power to rape, dismember and display the remains of everything that was good about the show up until that point. The animation quality also tanks, looking uglier and cheaper than it ever did before. No joke… This show has worse filler material than Naruto and Bleach combined.
To be fair, I’m not actually bothered by the fact that this filler arc screws up the original material. Representing somebody elses work can be an extremely tough thing to do, and I don’t think anybody should ever be vilified for failing to do so. What bothers me is the outright contempt that the new director, Shinji Higuchi, had for the original material. You see warning signs right from his first episode, which I believe was 23, when the four children of the series are riding a jettisoned mini-sub to reach the mysterious island. The sub starts to flood, and Jean drinks all the leaking water, blowing up balloon-like as though he were a freaking Looney Toon, despite the entire series up until that point featuring no such cartoon physics whatsoever. He then spews the water back up, which in retrospect is pretty good metaphor for the way Higuchi barfed up the rest of Blue Water.
Higuchi proclaims early on, loudly and proudly, that he has no respect for the themes and characters that have been unfortunately entrusted to him. It also becomes clear all too quickly through his treatment of Nadia that he doesn’t possess a very high level of respect or understanding for women or vegetarians, either. Immediately after setting foot on land, Nadia turns her back on the very idea that her companions may have to eat meat to survive for an extended period of time, as the canned food they brought over with the mini-sub won’t last them very long. Instead of working this out with him rationally, she dashes off into the jungle like a monkey and goes feral, which ultimately culminates with her stealing his food cans and crushing them under rocks, despite the fact that the island is clearly shown to be covered with fruit bearing trees. I’m not a vegetarian myself… Far from it, as the partial pizza I just deposited in my fridge will tell you… But when I hear Nadia saying things like “I’ll go a week without food and water to prove that I’m a better survivor than you!” it even offends ME.
That’s not to say Jean is a whole lot better, though… With Nadia reaching levels of likeability that make Asuka Langly Soryu look like Belldandy, Jean is left to fill out the role of ‘smug white male,’ a role that would be more subtly played by Seth McFarlane. It’s Jean’s job in this story arc to be right about everything, sigh and shake his head whenever that angry woman-thing yells at him for no reason, and whip up inventions from the giant piles of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that the island has to offer him in terms of material.
And the relationship building that happens between the two is the absolute worst of it. I don’t consider this much of a spoiler, because it has nothing to do with the plot or ending, so I’m going to describe the moments that begin their relationship in detail… This is going to be a rough patch, so brace yourself.
Nadia finds an old, moldy can of spinach. She eats it… Because it looks so much more appealing than any of the plants on the island… And it gives her a fever. Not a stomach-ache, but a fever. She winds up sick in bed with Jean going out to fetch herbal medicine for her… for the second time in the series, I might add. But he winds up finding a patch of drug mushrooms, which knock him out, so Marie has to drag him back to the tent. Later, Nadia wakes up, completely fine, despite receiving no medical care of any kind, and is told by Marie that Jean tried to help her. She kisses his unconscious lips, and all of a sudden, her attitude completely changes towards him… All because he tried to nurse her back to health. Like a fucking pet.
Oh, and later, after they finally share a consensual kiss under the stars, she blows up at him for not remembering the kiss she gave him WHILE HE WAS UNCONSCIOUS.
In other words, this director has boiled women down to petulant pet dogs… They bark at you for everything, can’t understand or care about your feelings, and they’ll love you forever if you help them while they’re sick or otherwise vulnerable. Puke. Well, at least the relationship development doesn’t wind up mattering, because after they escape the island on a popped balloon that never runs out of air and wind up in Africa, she falls head over heels in love with some sexy African guy, which gives her a new reason to hate Jean. Like a dog finding a new crotch to smell. Oh, and then there’s an episode of music videos.
I wish I could just look past this story arc and consider it non-canon, like so many other people do, but I just can’t. The show does eventually get better, with the animation and writing returning to their former glory around episode 35, but that 12 episode stretch is just unbelievably awful. I’ve heard people say you should skip most of those episodes, taking the entire viewing experience down to episodes 1-22, 30-31, and 35-39, and while that would successfully cut out all the awful, it doesn’t really improve the experience, it just makes it confusing. If you follow this list while watching the series for the first time, you’ll wonder about the things happening in those episodes, like ‘when did this character come back,’ ‘how did these characters come to this point,’ and ‘was that material really as bad as I was told?” Sorry, but those episodes aren’t self contained, and the only way to know how much of an improvement the abridging of the series would be, you’d have to have watched it all the way through at least once… And by that time, the damage is already done, to both the viewer and the series.
Nadia: Secret of Blue Water has been available on VHS in the past, but is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sentai filmworks. Both sets are available online for quite a bit of money, but at the time of this writing, you can find them as part of the Rightstuf.com holiday sale for 30-40 dollars a piece. The collection 1 and 2 DVD sets that were put out a few years ago are available for fairly cheap on Ebay, and you could say the same about the individually released DVDs that ADV put out in the early 2000s. There’s also a series of video games that have never been released stateside, and a movie that I haven’t actually watched yet… Although I’ve heard some not-too-flattering things about it. At least I know that it’s a sequel, and not just one of those BS cash grab retellings.
I really wanted to give Nadia a high score. I really, truly did. If it wasn’t for that filler arc, I’d be calling it one of my favorites of all time with no problem at all. Without them, Nadia is an exciting adventure title that never slows down or panders to the viewer, offering romance, wonder, and new surprises at every turn. There’s some sexism at play, but it’s largely innocent, and hits both genders about equally, never turning into straight up misogyny until the dreaded filler arc. If my initial introduction to this series had been to the episode list that many fans… And even the original director himself… considers superior, I may have given this show a 7, but that sadly wasn’t the case. I can watch it without those episodes, but I can’t review it without those episodes, which is why I’m going to give Nadia: Secret of Blue Water a 5/10.
1: Trapp Ikka Monogatari
English: The Trapp Family Story
Japanese: トラップ 一家 物語
MAL Score: 7.63
Based on the same story that produced the classic musical ‘The Sound of Music’, this is the story of Maria, who leaves her life in a convent to take up the responsibility of taking care of Captain Trapp’s children.
The story itself is really simple and holds no real twists for the most part; Maria Kutschera, a nun in training, is sent to be the teacher of one of the girls who is too weakened to attend school. One thing leads to another and slowly, but unofficially, she takes care of everyone and helps them grow as a person. That is the main gist of it and while there is progress, the series stays the same pattern-wise and although that would normally mean it would get repetitive and possibly boring, it manages to keep a warm feeling throughout with almost every “adventure” of theirs, such as preparing a gift for the housekeeper or fight against a possible new stepmother. The pacing is quite good for a show like this and thankfully, the series does not spend too much time on one thing and thus, keeps the interest high enough and only towards the end it seemed to be a bit more abrupt.
The characters have variety as there are 7 children and the story gives enough time for any of them to show their personality and gain some development (some more than others, since a couple of them are really too young to be able to portray complicated thoughts), through their own personal problems. The father is not as strict as he is awkward; an awkward father who has to work a lot out of his house, but the family values he has shine through. Each family member complements each other and one can really see how much they mean to each other and this makes the series a great family story. Maria is the one true change they all needed to move on and is probably the only person with the least development. She stays true to the main girl cliché that wants her positive and bright and helping anyone, but there is no change in herself. We do get to know more about her past and her personality is very likable, either way, but all in all, she will always be that happy girl only.
Art/Music-wise, the show offers nothing much, especially since it is an older show. For anyone familiar with the movie “The Sound of Music”, this series is not a musical. There are songs throughout, though mostly they are only a couple of songs put on repeat, however the characters do not break in song at random times. The songs seem to be children’s songs, but they are nice and some are very easy to sing along too. The art is simple, not detailed and the animation is saving frames whenever possible, but it has bright colors and it is very easy on the eye. The characters are distinct and despite the fact that the characters wear the same outfits almost in every episode, they are easy on the eye too.
As a family story, it did a good job generally. There were times it felt a bit more dragged on or not as interesting, but it is a very easy watch when in mood for some slice of life with no deep drama in every other episode, but enough to spice things up.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Trapp Ikka Monogatari
2. Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
3. Ningyohime Marina no Bouken