A Review of Episodes 1-13 of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” [“Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”]

The Principal Cast of "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water"Hey everyone, Samurai here! I’m still somewhat in recovery from my anime funk, so I figured I would tackle a major anime that I was originally going to do later this year, but I figured that now would be as good a time as any. Besides, it’s been a while since I watched and reviewed a good old-school anime. And in many cases, it doesn’t get much older than this one. And it also doesn’t get much longer than this one, so we’re gonna break it down in three parts. Why? Because I love a challenge! I’m Cajun Samurai and this is Part 1 of my review of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” or “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”.

For this first review, we’ll be looking at the first 13 episodes; #1. Girl at the Eiffel Tower, #2. The Little Fugitive, #3. The Riddle of the Great Sea Monsters, #4. Nautilus, The Fantastic Submarine, #5. Marie’s Island, #6. Infiltration of the Secret Base, #7. The Tower of Babel, #8. Mission to Rescue Nadia, #9. Nemo’s Secret, #10. A Crowning Performance by the Gratan, #11. New Recruits for the Nautilus, #12. Grandis and her First Love, and #13. Run Marie Run!

Warnings and Other Objectionable Content: “Nadia” is rated TV-13, and I have to say, that would be a very accurate rating. There is some gun violence in the first thirteen episodes, but nothing too out of the way. No language, but I will add a nudity flag as there is a scene where Nadia is changing her clothes…though nothing is really seen. With regards to religion, there are some allusions to Sodom and Gomorrah, the Tower of Babel, and our main baddie, Gargoyle, has ambitions to harness the power of God. It SHOULDN’T be a problem, but your mileage may vary; just something to keep in mind.

Series Availability:

Wal-Mart

Once upon a time, “Nadia” WAS available at Walmart in a 10-Disk “Special Edition” release which came in a tin box. However, that ain’t the case now. It’s not available either online or offline at the time of this printing.

Best Buy

Negative. However, if you’re interested in the soundtrack to the MOVIE…ugh…then you’re in luck. Otherwise, not available either online or off.

F.Y.E [For Your Entertainment]

Affirmative for in-store and online purchase. Though store availability may vary depending on location.

Target

Negative for online or offline purchase.

Other Purchasing Sites

If you do a search in your favorite online buying sites like eBay and Amazon, then you’re sure to find it, and probably for a decent price. Once again I have to remind you guys to be careful buying blind online.

Online Streaming

Umm…yeah, I don’t think so. This show is OLD…and not “Evangelion”. No standard streaming site would carry it. Unconventional sites might have it, but as per usual, please exercise caution.

Series Premise (Episodes 1-13): “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water” is a 39 episode series directed by Hideaki Anno […oh have mercy…] and is based off the book “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne. [Admittedly, a book that I have never read. Don’t look at me like that…] Our series takes place in the year 1889 at a time when mankind The Initial Cast of "Nadia" (From Top) Nadia, Marie, Jean and King. Captain Nemo can be seen eerily glaring in the background...is on a roll with its fabrications and inventions. Great wonders are being created at a record pace. At an inventor’s exhibition contest in France, our male lead, Jean Roque Raltique encounters and subsequently falls head over heels in love with, a girl named Nadia. Nadia is a circus performer who, due to her current circumstances, is extremely distrusting of…well…just about everyone, including the young man who manages to catch up to her and talk. But just as the two are getting acquainted, along comes Team Rocket the Grandis Gang, a trio who is hell-bent on getting a hold of a crystal jewel Nadia wears around her neck called “Blue Water”. However, there’s a far worse threat to Nadia’s Blue Water in the form of Gargoyle; the merciless leader of the Neo-Atlantean group whose sole mission is to dominate the world using the Blue Water crystal. It’s therefore up to Jean and the mysterious submarine Nautulus, helmed by the equally mysterious Captain Nemo to defeat Gargoyle and keep Nadia and her Blue Water safe. “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”, at least in these first thirteen episodes, is a story that anyone can get caught up in, young or old. It has something for everybody, and it has a decent pacing so you don’t get bored with it right away. You’re not given all the answers right away about the characters, but you get enough to form an initial opinion about them and to figure out who you want to root for. Speaking of people to root for, I have to give a shout-out to Jean. I mean, dude pretty much gets the cold shoulder from Nadia all through the first couple episodes with some notable exceptions, yet he still loves this girl and is willing to go through hell and high water to be near her and protect her! That’s what I like to call love and dedication…if not abject stupidity. (7/8.3)

Favorite Scene/Episode (Episodes 1-13):

I have to admit, Episode 13, “Run, Marie, Run!” is a great episode this time around. It was a joy watching Samson and Marie interact, and the chase sequence involving those two and a Gargoyle baddie is all kinds of awesome.

Characters:

Nadia la Arwall Our title character. Nadia was sold into the circus at a young age and as such, has a very distrusting attitude towards, well, everyone who isn’t her pet lion, King. She believes that she comes from Africa due to her dark colored skin, and she longs to return there one day. She’s a staunch vegetarian and, dawg gone it, she thinks that should apply to everyone and woe to the person who descents. Nadia is…well…I think it’s safe to call her a Tsundere as she possesses quite a few of the traits. However, I can honestly say there were times when the Tsun-Tsun goes TOO far and you wind up really disliking her. I swear, I don’t think I went one episode without mumbling “Oh, will you SHUT UP, Nadia!” She can just be so unreasonable. They say love is blind…and Jean does wear glasses, after all.
Jean Roque Raltique Our male lead character from France. Jean is an ambitious young inventor who, along with his uncle, creates a number of steam-punk inventions, mostly centered on travel and flight. While Nadia is more distrusting of adults, Jean tends to trust people instinctively unless given a reason not to. He’s also head over heels in love with Nadia, having fallen from her from the start, even though in these episodes, she doesn’t really return his affection. He has vowed to keep her safe and to get her back to her native Africa. Jean is a guy you can’t help but to cheer for. He’s almost then antithesis of Nadia, and I guess that’s what makes the two of them have such great chemistry together.
Marie en Carlsberg An orphan that is “adopted” by Jean and Nadia early in the series. Marie once lived on an island with her mother, her father and a large fluffy dog, but tragically all three were shot down while trying to escape from Gargoyle’s henchmen. Upon making the decision that they simply cannot leave her behind, Jean and Nadia take responsibility for Marie and she tags along with the group through all their adventures. Marie is quite mature for her age, and quite bright, thus making her one of the few anime characters under the age of 10 that aren’t genuinely annoying.
Grandis Granva The Leader of the Grandis Gang. In the first couple episodes Grandis and her group of cronies were after the Blue Water crystal because…well…it looked pretty. But, after teaming up with Nadia, Jean and Marie to escape from Gargoyle’s island, and after falling head over heels in love with Captain Nemo, Grandis and her henchmen team up with the good guys and help out whenever needed. I admit, I didn’t think too much of Grandis until episode twelve when I learned her backstory and why the heck she really was after Nadia’s Blue Water. Watching her verbal spar with Electra is one of the highlights of this crop of episodes.
Sanson The brawn of the Grandis Gang. Sanson is a super strong henchman and a crack shooter who is unabashedly proud of his good looks. He does have his sensitive side, especially in the later episodes when it comes to dealing with the kids.
Hanson The brains of the Grandis Gang and the inventor of the Grattan [Short for “Grandis Tank” – Also known as the “Katherine”]. Short and stout, Hanson is known for his intellect and his ability to fix just about everything that comes his way. It’s no surprise that he and Jean become fast friends in the series.
Captain Nemo Commander of the Nautilus. Not much is known about him in these 13 episodes except that he’s a loner who has sworn his life to defeat Gargoyle no matter the cost. While he sometimes come off as being a cold, unfeeling Commander, he is sensitive to the needs of his crew and does his best to accommodate them. He even lightens up every once in a while around the kids. He’s truly a commander to be admired and one of the most interesting characters in the show.
Electra First officer aboard the Nautilus. Not much is known about her at the onset except that she’s motherly towards Nadia, Jean, Marie and King, and she kinda has a jealous streak towards Grandis. Like Nemo, she also has a bone to pick with Gargoyle and she is equally determined to defeat him.
Gargoyle Our series antagonist and leader of the Neo-Atlantean group. Like many bad guys, Gargoyle wants to rule the world. The key to his plan lies in acquiring both Nadia and her Blue Water Crystal which possess a mysterious power vital to his plans to create the ultimate weapon. Gargoyle and his minions are everything you could want in a bad guy; cold, calculating, ruthless, and willing to go to any means to accomplish his goal. He is, for all intents and purposes, the perfect foe for Nemo.
King Our mascot character. King is a baby lion and Nadia’s devoted pet. He’s quite intelligent and is jealous of anyone who tries to get between him and Nadia. However, as the series goes along, King seems to grow attached to young Marie…or is that vice-versa?

Main cast

And so we have our cast—a rag-tag group of people drawn together by circumstance and fate with a dash of coincidence which, in this small of an amount, is not a bad thing at all. I’ll say this right here and now—in these first 13 episodes, the Grandis Gang is pretty much a precursor to Team Rocket from the “Pokemon” series. Heck, Grandis and Jessie look like they were separated at birth! If you are familiar with any other Hideaki Anno or Studio Gainax productions, you can easily see some of the influence these characters had in their later works like “Evangelion”, “FLCL” and “Kare Kano”. (7/8.3)

Animation (Episodes 1-13): As I said in the opening, there’s something very quaint about the old school animation style in “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”. Its hand drawn and it shows. Character designs are actually pretty cool. Honestly, it’s nice to see some darker skinned anime characters every once in a while. If I had any gripes with the animation for the first 13 episodes, it has to be the fact that the creators seem to always want to keep Nadia dressed in as little as possible. If she’s not wearing the skimpy circus outfit, she’s wearing something that doesn’t cover up much or has holes in it that don’t leave much to the imagination. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a prude and say she should wear ankle-length dresses, but good grief, one would think that Electra or someone on the Nautilus would get Nadia something new to wear! Other than that, on the animation front, this one is very well done…so far. (3/4.16)

Jean is Not Amused...Music (Episodes 1-13): The opening theme, “Blue Water” by Miho Morikawa, is one of the best opening themes I’ve heard in an anime in a long time. It’s stirring, lifts your spirits, and is just a joy to listen to across the board. The opening animation matches very well with the music, and I found myself drawing comparisons between this opening and Anno’s later work, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. [And just because I like you guys so much, here’s Miho Morikawa’s music video for “Blue Water” and a live performance of the song on a Japanese talk show…because she’s just that freaking awesome…in fact, she reminds me of the late Tejano superstar Selena in the first video…] That being said, the ending theme, “Yes! I Will…”, also by Miho Morikawa is the complete opposite. It’s boring, uninspired, and the animation is dull. I’m not sure what Anno was going for with this opening, but whatever it was, it ain’t work with me. Some of the incidental music is a little over the top, but not too distracting. (2.16/4.16)

Performances and Production (Episodes 1-13): “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” was created by Studio Toho, Group TAC, and Gainax with directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi at the helm. For the first thirteen episodes, Anno was at the helm. Here in the US, ADV Films acquired the license from Streamline Pictures in 2001, redubbing the series with all new age-specific actors. At the helm of the US production is Charles Campbell. Charles has had his hand in quite a few old-school ADV projects either as a recording engineer, editor, or ADR director including “Devil Hunter Yohko”, “Blue Seed”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, and “New Fist of the North Star”. Here’s a cast breakdown:

Characters

Japanese Voice Actor/Actress

English Voice Actor/Actress

Narrator

???

Karen Kuykendall

Nadia la Arwall

Noriko Hidaka

Meg Bauman

Jean Roque Raltique

Yoshino Takamori

Nathan Parsons

Marie en Carlsberg

Yuko Mizutani

Margaret Cassidy

Grandis Granva

Kumiko Takizawa

Sarah Richardson

Sanson

Kenyuu Horiuchi

Martin Blacker

Hanson

Toshiharu Sakurai

Corey M. Gagne

Captain Nemo

Akio Ohtsuka

Ev Lunning Jr.

Electra

Kikuko Inoue

Jennifer Stuart

Gargoyle

Motomu Kiyokawa

David Jones

King

Toshiharu Sakurai

Shawn Sides

As you can see, for the most part, I had no problems with this dub cast. Unlike my last review, this cast of age-specific actors actually know what the heck they’re doing so far. The only issues I have this time around as you can see is Nathan Parsons as Jean and Karen Kuykendall as the Episode Narrator. With regards to Nathan…that French accent…bless his little heart. In this first handful of episodes, you can tell he was really trying to get it down pat, but personally, I don’t think it was working for him. He comes off as trying too hard and as such, it comes off as being annoyingly fake. He does get better with it, but it’ll take him a few more episodes to get it perfected. As for Karen Kuykendall as the narrator, I feel that it’s a departure from the original Japanese who was a male. It seems like she just went a bit overboard with the aged grandma-esque tone, and, for me at least, it doesn’t sound quite right, but I admit it adds atmosphere, so I won’t hammer it too badly. (7/8.3)

Scoring Summary (Episodes 1-13):

Story Breakdown – 7 / 25
Characters – 3 / 25
Animation – 3 / 12.5
Music – 2.16 / 12.5
Performance and Production – 7 / 25

So, what can be said about the first thirteen episodes? Well, simply put, this is an excellent launch of a lengthy series. These initial episodes gives us everything we need to know about this cast of characters and the world they live in, and they start us on our way down this long yet interesting road. Now, if all goes well, with the remaining 26 episodes, we should see that world expand greatly and we should see some excellent character development with little to no wasted time…what’s the keyword there? We SHOULD…

Stick around for Part 2 of my review of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” where we embark upon episodes fourteen through twenty-six…the start of the “Infamous Island Episodes…oh have mercy… 

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2 thoughts on “A Review of Episodes 1-13 of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” [“Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”]

  1. Thanks for the reviews. To update one detail, this show actually is available for online streaming on Hulu.com as of April 2014. Also, this show really isn’t that old. Heck, Speed Racer and Prince Planet have recently been available for streaming as well.

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