The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water

Title: Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water aka Fushigi no Umi no Nadia
Company: Gainax
Genre: Action/Romance
Format: 39 episodes
Dates: 13 Apr 1990 – 12 Apr 1991

Synopsis: At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889, Jean Rocque Raltique, a young inventor, encounters a mysterious foreign girl named Nadia and immediately takes an interest in her. Nadia only wants Jean to leave her alone until she is captured by three villains who want the mysterious jewel she possesses, which known as the Blue Water. Unbeknownst to any of them, the Blue Water holds a powerful secret. This secret inevitably brings Jean and Nadia into the middle of a conflict between the diabolical Gargoyle and his nemesis, Captain Nemo, captain of the Nautilus.

The Highlights
Music: Beautifully composed; very memorable.
Characters: Well-developed; a pleasure to watch.
Pacing: Atrocious; over one third of the episodes are filler.
Plot: Slightly cookie-cutter, but well-written enough to be entertaining.
Ending: A nearly perfect example of how to end an anime.

Captain Nemo? Yes, Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water was inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the two have little in common except for names. Instead of being a prophetic description of the future of science, Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water is a celebration of young love and a coming-of-age story created before Anno and Gainax took a darker turn with titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion. Contrary to these later series, Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water remains a light-hearted adventure story and is one of the most beloved and influential anime of all time.

Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water’s strongest point is its characters. Having thirty-nine episodes allows for plenty of development and fleshing out of even the most minor characters. Jean and Nadia’s romantic ups and downs always brought a smile to my face, as did Marie’s precociousness. Each character is believable, likeable, and crucial in their own way to the progression of Jean and Nadia’s development as characters. The web of character relationships was meticulously built to allow for great interaction between the characters, and there are few better casts of characters in anime.

The execution of the plot is where Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water is lacking. The infamous deserted island episodes, which take up over one third of the entire anime, are mostly filler. The character relationships that those episodes further could have been furthered in far less time to the betterment of the entire package. Plotwise, Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water is nothing special, but it manages to hold the viewer’s attention in between bouts of character development. At the end, the plot picks up considerably and ties up all loose ends while providing a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Sagisu Shiro’s music is another of the many highlights of Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water. The beautiful melodies complete the package and create a nostalgic adventurous mood throughout the series. Even the characters’ theme songs, while truly awful, are priceless. But perhaps Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water is most famous for its character designs, which pioneered the use of the more angular defined faces that are widespread today. A slow moving but enjoyable tale, Nadia – the Secret of Blue Water is an enjoyable experience that will take you back to more innocent times.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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