on July 18, 2015 by Mitch Jay
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is a tricky one to review and I couldn’t help but have relatively high expectations when going into it, considering how acclaimed Director Hideki Anno, the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, is.
It’s clear Anno wasn’t quite as depressed when writing Nadia, a much more light-hearted and comedic affair when compared with his other works, but it’s also painfully noticeable how new he is to directing. Nadia is 39 episodes and focuses on Nadia who’s being chased by thieves for her unique blue-jewel necklace. She teams up with Jean, a young French inventor who wishes to fly, as they work to protect the pendant and later on become part of a much bigger, world-harming plot. There’s also King, Nadia’s lion cub, who’s more or less there to be cute as he doesn’t add much to the overall show.
The story itself is far from poor but the direction doesn’t do it any favours, making the show feel episodic when it isn’t with questionable cuts. 39 episodes sees Nadia outstay its welcome too, with some episodes being obvious filler that you could skip ahead of if you so wished without harming the story or character development, and it seems that there might’ve been some people at odds during development. Similarly to how I feel with Evangelion, Anno loses sight of what he’s trying to achieve as the series goes on and its pacing is inconsistent, making it difficult to binge but also hard to pick up again if you leave it for a while.
Considering Nadia started airing in 1990, I was curious as to whether the visuals would hold up and how they would benefit by being on Blu-ray. Fortunately, the visuals still look great although they’re not as polished as most anime today are, although it’s hugely aided by Blu-ray. Due to its age, it is in 4:3 aspect ratio meaning that there are black bars on both sides of the screen, forming a square. The actual art style is colourful and features creative character and outfit design with the Team Rocket-esque thieves, the adventurous Nadia, the gruff Captain Nemo and the well-dressed Jean who’s much more outgoing than his design would lead you to believe and I quickly became fond of him.
Animatsu have done the best with what they have available, making an incredibly old anime look clean and polished when it easily could have been hugely disappointing. The art still holds up today even if it lacks the fluidity and technology of today, and the HD transfer might appeal to people who usually don’t bother with older anime as there’s such a huge gap in terms of visual quality. Sadly, this doesn’t make the plot anymore interesting as the slow-paced plot is made more apparent with the abundance of still frames.
As is expected of anime releases, both English and Japanese spoken languages are available but I opted for dub which was gloriously camp and fun. Jean’s French accent seems to waver but I had an enjoyable time listening to it, as I did with all characters in the dub, and it really put a smile on my face. The sound quality is crisp and clear and although the OST is nothing to write home about, the OP and ED are both pretty catchy. If you do pick Nadia up, I recommend the dub as I feel that it enhances the overall experience.
Despite being 39 episodes long, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. There’s an incredible amount of filler that lead to me becoming disinterested with the show the longer it went on, and the jarring scene changes were poorly implemented and once again it seems like Anno was writing it as it went along with no clear goal in mind. You do get an ending rather than a cliffhanger but by the end you’re just happy it’s over. Maybe if it was around 26 episodes it would have been a far better, coherent experience but it instead outstayed its welcome.
I might not be a huge fan of the show but I can’t fault Animatsu’s effort in its Blu-ray treatment and the quality of its release, especially the Blu-ray released which is spread across five discs in a sturdy box with gorgeous art. As much as I love my brilliant anime releases where Animatsu has excelled here, it doesn’t excuse the mostly boring plot which even the likeable characters couldn’t save. Whilst you’ll have to watch Nadia to find out what the secret of blue water is, I can say that it’s not a secret that Anno’s poor directing is the reason the show suffers so much. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water has a great story hidden away somewhere, but Anno did his best to make sure nobody ever gets to see it.