Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 13 to 20

June 6, 2004 on 7:59 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 13 to 20

One has to wonder if, when composing Nadia, Anno had any concept of thematic and emotional consistency. From episode to episode, the mood of the Nautilus crew members is totally different. When one episode is heavy on the dramatic punch and the next is just a standard “Jean does stuff with machines” episode, it’s somewhat disconcerting. Ironically, when episodes jump from the comedic to the dramatic in the space of an instant, it’s amazing.

The first of these episodes is one of those old anime standbys, the “big adventure” episode, in which a minor character (usually a mascot) goes off by themselves and does things without the main characters. In this case, it’s our good friends Marie and King who go off by themselves to have fun. The exploration part is fun, but the real adventure comes when Sanson and Marie go on the run from one of Gargoyle’s machines. This section had some really good animation and some great visual gags. Then came the conclusion, which was truly shocking.
For some reason, Marie and Nadia then contracted a fatal illness and Captain Nemo’s heart was melted enough to go to Reef 64 to harvest the antidote … but not before a run in with a prehistoric fish! The way that this episode was structured, however, doesn’t make Nemo appear as caring as they would perhaps have liked to make him. That which spurs him into action is too contrived, and would have been better received had Nadia not been struck with an affliction.

The two stand outs were episodes 15 and 16, which contrasted incredibly strongly to the previous episode. A new character is introduced as an inspiration for Jean, setting him up for inevitable tragedy. This is one time that Nemo could not change his plans to save a life. As the chief engineer said, “This ship may be built on super science, but it can’t perform miracles!” The direction was clearly notable here, and reminiscent of Evangelion‘s more introspective episodes – thus setting groundworks. Anno’s taste for brief flashes of images is an effective way of getting messages across.
But what was truly great about this episode was that the three engineers caught in the room with the fatal gas were never shown after their fate was sealed by Nemo. Jean could only talk to them by the intercom. Something truly shocking happens thereafter, that really has to be seen. Hidaka Noriko’s performance was at the height of strength here.
While the crew of the Nautilus may seem stoic, they really do care about lives lost. And stoicism can still betray someone in their final moments …
In episode 16, Anno uses that technique which deserves a lot of respect – knowing when not to use the eyecatch music. Believe me when I say that at the half way point of this episode something happens that will make your blood run cold. It’s a metaphorical death, made all the more powerful by the fantastic setting. Episode 16 was the series’ highest point so far … and so maybe it can fall from here.

I suppose that the Jean developments are the logical continuation of the events of episode 16, but it just doesn’t seem quite right … and one starts wishing that the “romance” between Nadia and Jean could be handled better. Better than Nadia coming up to Jean in the corridors and saying “I hate you!”, at any rate. And then the secret base of the Nautilus stuff was a bit weird. (A 20,000 year old whale?)
Nemo is poised to reveal some secrets; one has to hope that he’ll do it soon.
Finally, the Evil Trio are a really bad influence on Marie (whose purpose seems largely to create a reason for King not being with Nadia).

Still, Nadia is highly watchable. It’s just at its best in high octane drama mode.

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