Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes one to five

June 1, 2004 on 10:29 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes one to five

Going into Nadia, I expected the most romantic anime ever made. Not thematically romantic, but physically so; anime born of the era when GAiNAX was a young king of industry, when every project was a labour of love.
It’s getting there.

In 1899, Jean Le Havre goes to a Parisian inventor’s fair to showcase the aircraft that he built with his Uncle in order to win 20,000 francs and the acclaim of someone or other. Of course, his plans get scuttled when he sees the beautiful girl Nadia rides by on a bicycle, and he runs to meet her atop the Eiffel Tower. His introduction to Nadia, and her pet lion King, is interrupted with the entrance of the fiery red head Grandis ad her henchmen, Sanson and Hanson. They want the Blue Water pendant around Nadia’s neck!
And so the chase begins. At one point, this “evil trio”, as they are known, grab Nadia in the extended hands of their craft – and thus a precedent was set that Team Rocket were bound to honour eight years thereafter.

The first episodes of Nadia are fairly unremarkable. Grandis drives Nadia and Jean out of France, and then their plane crashes into the ocean. At the end of the second episode, I was actually heard to say “What a crappy cliffhanger”. Things pick up somewhat when the American battleship saves them. The “sea monsters” offer a glimpse of what is yet to come. Something with lights that red can’t be organic, and unsurprisingly, it’s not. When Nadia and Jean board the Nautilus in the fourth episode, that’s when it starts to get interesting. Start. Captain Nemo (a deliberate eponym, so don’t complain) is scary, though, in that he looks exactly like Macross‘ Captain Global. It’s like they’re twins born 100 years apart!
Still, at this point Nadia and Jean are given direction, and when they arrive on the island after this, their party is complete. This episode, which would appear to be the start of a story arc, has some great scenes in it. Nadia and Jean’s adoption of Marie was touching, as I was worrying that they wouldn’t have the heart to tell the girl that her parents had been killed. It’s sad that she’s too young to understand the concept of death, and it was really hard for Nadia and Jean to explain that her parents, and her dog, were never going to come back.
The problem with these episodes is an over reliance on the Evil Trio, who are not Team Rocket. When they’re at a point where they’re part of the story but are not the story, it will be better, most definitely. When the cultists come in, it feels just that much more like it should be.

Nadia does have the production values, though. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto turned in some good work with the character designs; the Evil Trio look just like the comical villains that they are, Marie is a genki girl despite it all … Jean is a bit of a nerd, and Nadia is just that little bit more exotic. The only problem is that Nadia’s darker skin tone is frequently inconsistent with the light levels shown.
The crew of the Nautilus is great because they don’t belong to any country, which means you can get things like Indians in tartan and what have you. They’re only glimpsed at for now, but that truly is multiculture!
But King is just a bit weird, like he’s … there.
The scenery is detailed, and it feels very much like the late eighties series that it is. This would have been perfect for Australian television broadcast back in the day. It perfectly evokes the feel of both eras that it represents; also it is reminiscent of Ghibli productions and Sherlock Hound: half remembered patches of childhood. It is not, of course, strictly children’s fare, but it has just the right ability to capture the imagination.
The music is by Sagisu Shiro and, not surprisingly, it’s heavily reminiscent of his work on Evangelion. Of course, predating Evangelion by six years, they’re future echoes. The music is at times heavily inspirational, but it seems that the onscreen events have not yet earned the grand music that they wear; that Sagisu has congratulated Jean and Nadia rather too soon. Sagisu wrote quite a wide variety of music for Nadia, and it is my sincerest hope that the content will come to live up to the masterpiece he composed in Bye Bye Blue Water.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is not bad at all; it, like one of Jean’s planes, has just got to get itself off the ground and fly. The first four episodes are proof enough that a 39 episode series can’t be judged on its first volume alone. The fifth is proof that the series is suggesting that it might go somewhere now.

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