A Review of Episodes 14-26 of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” [“Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”]

Nadia, Jean, Marie and King on the Infamous Island...Hey guys, Samurai here, and we’re continuing our voyage with Jean and Company through “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia”. In the scope of the last thirteen episodes, our main characters, the pre-teen inventor Jean and his crush, the former vegan circus performer Nadia, ran away from a group of petty thieves, encountered the US Navy, got shipwrecked, picked up by the fantastic submarine Nautilus helmed by the mysterious Captain Nemo, got air-wrecked on an island and encountered the newly orphaned Marie, discovered the real bad guy in Gargoyle, thwarted his plans to use Nadia’s Blue Water necklace with the help of the petty thieves who are now fully certified Good Guys, get picked up by the Nautilus again, and join her crew to help them bring the hurt to Gargoyle. Quite a lot has happened…will the same be said about the next 13 episodes? Let’s find out.I’m Cajun Samurai and this is Part 2 of my review of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” or “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”.

The next thirteen episodes we will be looking at are: #14. The Valley of Dinicthys, #15. The Nautilus Faces its Biggest Crisis, #16. The Mystery of the Lost Continent, #17. Jean’s New Invention, #18. Nautilus vs. Nautilus, #19. Nemo’s Best Friend, #20. Jean Makes a Mistake, #21. Farewell Nautilus, #22. Electra the Traitor, #23. Young Drifters, #24. Lincoln Island, #25. The First Kiss, and #26. King, The Lonely Lion. All titles in italic from here on out are what has been classified as “Infamous Island Episodes”…we’ll discuss these later…

Warnings and Other Objectionable Content: Slightly more intense this time around, but still not enough to break the TV-13 rating. There’s more gun violence, but it’s a little more intense as one of the main characters threatens to commit suicide. Might be a little extreme for some viewers. There is also a bath scene with Electra, Nadia and Marie, but it’s not sexual in any way and nothing is detailed or defined.

The Crew of the Nautilus...

Story Breakdown (Episodes 14-26):  This triodecad of episodes has our characters going through their own share of trials and tribulations aboard the Nautilus as they orient themselves to life aboard a submarine. Marie and Nadia fall victim to a tropical illness which gives them the…DUN…DUN…DUNNNNN…KILLER ANIME FEVER, and an entire episode is dedicated to the overused “We have to find the rare magical serum to cure their sickness or else they’ll die” trope. Nemo and company engage in a severe battle with Gargoyle on the Nautilus which ends the lives of several crew members, including one with whom Jean has made friends with [Off-Camera of course…]. When the crew goes to bury their fallen heroes, Jean finally finds out the fate of his father, and…well…it ain’t good news, folks. Nadia also gets some familial news from one of Nemo’s close friends who tell her that she will not only find her father, but her brother as well. We learn about Electra’s background in this group of episodes and find out just how she met up with Nemo. Thanks to one of Jean’s inventions being hacked by the Mythbusters and exploding, the Nautilus’ position was located by Gargoyle and the two engage in a battle resulting in the Nautilus being severely damaged. With Nadia, Jean, Marie and King tucked away in the captain’s quarters, which doubles as an emergency lifepod, Electra reveals her true nature, reveals that Nadia is Nemo’s daughter, and attempts to kill herself and Nemo, but the good captain manages to slap her out of it and launch the lifepod away as the remnants of the Nautilus sinks to the briny deep. Eventually our quartet surfaces and find themselves on a deserted island, with only themselves for company. And…this is starts what has been declared the “Infamous Island Episodes”; a group of episodes where the story abruptly slams on the brakes and goes into a world that, well, we really didn’t know or want to know about. Pretty much, all talk about the Blue Water, Nadia’s past, the crew of the Nautilus, Gargoyle, you name it…all goes bye-bye, and what we’re left with is something that one person described accurately as as “…a painfully boring, tenth-rate Saturday-morning cartoon.” The episodes leading up to it were some of the best episodes in the series, it could be argued. Even the ones that didn’t feature much action still took advantage of every minute and gave us some great character moments and development. It’s just…from episode twenty-three on down, things get crazy, and not in a good way. One episode in particular has Jean trying to find herbs for Nadia, who gets sick when she eats rotten food. He wanders into this cave with Marie and he encounters some…special mushrooms. He then proceeds to, unintentionally, get higher than a hippie at NadiaTheSecretofBlueWater_15.jpgWoodstock on their spores. You read right—Jean gets stoned on ‘shrooms. I mean, I just don’t get what made the creators think that this new comedic approach was a good idea; that this Looney Tunes approach would work; especially after what we went through in the earlier episodes. I mean, we’ve seen people get shot down, killed, maimed, you name it. We NEARLY had a character commit a murder-suicide, for crying out loud! And now, all of a sudden, we’re falling off cliffs without getting hurt; we’re defying the laws of gravity. While it could be argued that the Island Episodes were used for character development, I submit to you that there was more of a de-evolution of our characters during their time on the island. I’ll explain a bit more in “Characters”, but nobody really gained much from these initial Island Episodes, and the pattern will most likely continue as this story arc goes on. And before you open your mouth to offer an explanation from a production standpoint, or to argue that I could simply skip those episodes, please note that my scores are based on the end product—what the viewer actually sees when they put DVD to player or put eyes to monitor. Nothing more and nothing less. I’m aware that there were some studio issues and that the original director left the project, but as a viewer, all I care about is the end product, and in this case, these episodes are pretty much making an already long series even longer than need be. (3.15 / 8.3)

Favorite Scene:
My favorite scene from this set, though I hate to admit it, is the Hallucinogenic Mushroom sequence with Marie and Jean. This is a prime case of something being so bad, so absurd, you just can’t help but laugh. Also, ANY scene with Electra and Grandis arguing back and forward with each other is priceless.

Characters (Episodes 14-26):

Nadia la Arwall Nadia has changed ever so slightly in this group of episodes. Granted, there are still PLENTY of moments when I still yell at my screen “Oh, for the love of—JUST SHUT UP”, but now I don’t do it with a passion that burns like a thousand suns. I now find myself feeling empathy for her. That being said, I don’t know what the heck happened when they got on the island, but she regressed back to a point where she just gets almost completely unbearable. I mean, girlie runs off on her own in the jungle saying that she’s going to live off nature and shun science and technology, but then comes back and steals the supplies from Jean, Marie and King stowed in the lifepod. But, of course, she has no way to open the cans, smashing several completely flat before finally admitting defeat and schlepping back to the group. It’s like two steps forward and 50 steps back with regards to her character development. And it doesn’t get better as it goes on, either. It’s a crying shame that this complex character gets reduced down to a mood-swinging, self-righteous, selfish witch-with-a-CAPITAL-B.
Jean Roque Raltique Jean does a lot of maturing this time around. The events of having witnessed the death of a crewmember with whom he has an established a friendship, learning the truth about his father, and learning some hard life lessons about depending on others and knowing just how much he can do by himself. It was great seeing Jean in episode seventeen come to grips with who he is and what his goals are. That being said…don’t expect to see that version of Jean in the Island Episodes. This time around we get zany, cartoony, tripping-on-‘shrooms Jean. Seriously, this is not the character we saw in “Jean’s New Invention” or “The Nautilus Faces it’s Biggest Crisis”. All that development pretty much disappears. Again,; this Jean might be amusing to watch, but he pales in comparison to the developed Jean we see Pre-Island.
Marie en Carlsberg Marie doesn’t change much in this set of episodes…though it could be argued that in Episode twenty-six, she gets a slight evil streak and torments poor King by slinging him around by his tail. It could be argued that out of everyone here, she’s the one with the most sense.
Grandis Granva Not much can be said about the leader of the Grandis Gang this set, though she does behave in a more motherly fashion towards the kids. I have to admit, watching her and Electra go back and forward arguing is priceless.
Sanson Thankfully, his character is pretty much the same for this set of episodes. We see how much he cares about the young kids, especially Marie, and the advice he offers Jean and some of the other characters is nice…if not odd and wrong.
Hanson Another thankfully unchanged character in this set, though there is a scene where he gives Jean some uncharacteristic tough love which shows another side to this gentle semi-giant.
Captain Nemo Our father figure has come quite a long way from when we left him in the first set of episodes. He’s a little warmer, more communicative, heck, he even laughs a few times this set. It’s downright fascinating to watch him and Nadia interact—how he wants to act real fatherly towards her, but he either doesn’t know how or holds back on it until the last possible second. His relationship with Electra finally comes to light this set, and the standoff between the two borders on the line of legendary. Without spoiling too much, it reminds me of the standoff scene between Ritsuko and Gendo in “The End of Evangelion”. I’ll draw another “Evangelion” comparison in a minute, but suffice it to say, if you’ve ever seen “EoE”, once you watch this scene, you’ll see the parallels.
Electra Ritsuko Akagi, I presume? Seriously, this woman is the template for Ritsuko, right down to the glasses and the blonde hair; the smart, devoted spurned woman who falls for the man in control. We find out a LOT about her extremely tragic past and how her relationship with the good captain shaped her into the person that she is…for better or worse. I love the fact that her betrayal in episode twenty-two was not just a sudden “Muwa-ha-ha! I’m turning against you!”, but it was slow and methodical like a pot about to boil. You see that she’s getting frustrated with Nemo about his orders and his failure to deal the final blow to Gargoyle, despite the fact that it will kill them in the process. You can actually see the moment when she snaps, and it’s done very well.
Gargoyle Well, not much to say about our series antagonist. He’s been gone a while during some of the earlier episodes of this set, sending in a few of his lackies to do the grunt work every so often, but when he DOES comes back…oh, brother…He’s a deliciously evil bad guy, though as we see in this set, he’s not the TRUE bad guy…are they ever?
King Not much to say about our mascot character except for the fact that he seems to be getting more and more human as each episode goes along…even playing a game of Shiratori with Marie and writing a letter on leaves that Nadia seems able to decipher…yeah, I don’t know how that works either.

So, yeah…for this set of episodes, some of our characters have really grown, matured and become more interesting…crying shame that they couldn’t STAY like that for this entire set. The only characters that got this group any points AT ALL was our secondary characters like Hanson, Sanson, Electra, Nemo and Gargoyle. (3.3 / 8.3)

Jean Strung out on 'Shrooms with Marie Expressing her (And the Audience) Disapproval. Animation (Episodes 14-26): Again, it’s the same story as the above…everything is great until we hit the Island Episodes…then things get wonky. The animation becomes less refined anime and more Americanized, poorly drawn, cartoony fare. Seriously, Jean et al just seem to throw the laws of physics, logic and common sense out the window even when, just a few episodes earlier, our characters were in this serious situation where the laws of physics were no. We see Jean pull a Wile E. Coyote by walking off a cliff, hovering in midair until he notices he has no ground beneath him, then after a literal eye-popping expression of shock, fall down and SLAM into the ground, leaving a large Jean-shaped hole. Naturally, this kills him, right? WRONG. Jean recovers and to his shock, the hole is not only mineral rich, but it spouts oil. This then leads into a montage that…uggh…makes no sense whatsoever. The character designs get very strange as well…it’s like the animators didn’t follow the the guidelines from the earlier episodes and just eyeballed it until it kinda sorta maybe looked right. It’s downright pathetic, which is something that I rarely, if ever say about animation. (2 / 4.16)

Music (Episodes 14-26): Nothing much has changed here—we’re still given the awesome “Blue Water” opening theme and the anything but awesome”Yes! I Will…” ending theme, both performed by MIho Morikawa. We are given some new incidental music that will obviously get used later in “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. I can’t deduct for that because, well, unless I watch a show that proves otherwise, “Nadia” had it first. (2.16 / 4.16)

Performances and Production (Episodes 14-26):

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

"Dude...I'm so stoned..."You’ll notice this time around that I gave Nathan Parsons, the English voice of Jean, a green flag this time. Well, I have to say that he improved GREATLY with this set of episodes. The accent sounds more natural and is nowhere near as annoying. Maybe it’s something I had to get used to, I don’t know, but the fact is he was WAY better this time around. His heart-shattering performance in episode fifteen is amazing, no question about it. It’s extremely difficult to listen to, but only because you truly feel the pain that Jean is going through. And the fact that he was able to play Jean high on ‘shrooms earns mad respect from me. I mean, imagine what the conversation with the director must’ve been like: “Okay, Nathan. For this scene, I want you to act like you’re just strung out on mushrooms. Okay? AAAAAANNNDDD GO!” With regards to the narrator…she was a little better this time around, but still not quite enough for me to grant a green flag. (7.3 / 8.3)

Scoring Summary (Episodes 14-26):
Story Breakdown – 3.15 / 8.3
Characters – 3.3 / 8.3
Animation – 2 / 4.16
Music – 2.16 / 4.16
Performances and Production – 7.3 / 8.3

Total Point Tally (Episodes 1-26)

Story Breakdown – 10.15 / 25
Characters – 6.3 / 25
Animation – 5 / 12.5
Music – 4.3/ 12.5
Performance and Production – 14.3 / 25

Total Points: 40.05/100
Must Achieve a Minimum 70 Points to Pass

So, where does that leave us with Episodes fourteen through twenty-six? Well, it started with a bang and ends with a “Nani?!” For a show that starts out with so much hope and ambition, it certainly wastes no time in nearly destroying that hope almost to the point of self-destruction. With the beginning of the debilitating Infamous Island Episodes, the backtracking of key characters development, and the abysmal animation, it’s enough to make any fan just give up. There’s only the microscopic ray of hope that maybe…just maybe…this show can pull itself together and redeem itself… though that’s one tiny ray of hope indeed.

And so we’ve reached the halfway point of our trip through “Nadia”! Our final section will be the deciding factor as to whether or not this anime will get a passing score! Can “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water” get the 29.95 points it needs to achieve the minimum passing percentage of 70%? Or will it fall short and drown in its own shortcomings? Lemme put it this way–about 5 or so episodes in the last group are Island Episodes…

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “A Review of Episodes 14-26 of “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” [“Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”]

  1. I just have to ask: how does the mushroom episode here compare with the Cowboy Bebop episode? That had to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I must say, despite that cartoony interlude, Nadia seems like a great show so far.

    1. Good question. I admit, I found the “Nadia” Mushroom episode to be funny, but as compared to the mushroom episode on “Bebop”…it pales in comparison. “Cowboy Bebop” mushroom episode felt more genuine and it didn’t really try as hard to make me laugh as the “Nadia” one did.

  2. “what we’re left with is something that one person described accurately as as “…a painfully boring, tenth-rate Saturday-morning cartoon.”

    That was probably me who said it. I was completely horrified with episodes 23-34. IMO, cut that section down to three episodes and remove the unbearable Nadia bitchiness from them (her personality is better and more consistent in the first 22). Then you have a better show. Period.

Speak Your Mind...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s