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Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
Home Video Release Date (USA): 1992

First Aired (Japan): April 15, 1990
Last Aired (Japan): 1991

Seasons: 1
Episodes: 39

Has two English dubs:
Streamline Pictures (1992 - Eps. 1-8)
ADV Films / Monster Island Studios (2001 - complete series)
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JTurner
said at 8:48 PM on Sun Aug 25 2013
 3 Shout Outs! [?]
"Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" is one of those shows that could have achieved true greatness if not for a serious crippling flaw. It starts out with great promise: a Jules Verne-inspired epic which, in a way, feels like an extension of Hayao Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky" (incidentally, the master created the concept for this show, and basically recycled that for his 1986 masterpiece), filled with humor, drama, young love, friendship, moving moments, adventure, danger, and mystery. Incidentally, the series is based on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", as a good portion of the show (episodes 4, 9-22) sets on a submarine which just happens to be called "Nautilus", and yes, it's commanded by Captain Nemo. "Nadia" offers a rich tapestry of compelling characters, from the decidedly comic Grandis trio (who start off as bad guys, then become heroes), the captain and his crew, and the children protagonists who propel the story. In fact, much of the focus is about the growing friendship (and yes, romance) between Jean and Nadia, two orphans from different worlds brought together in unusual circumstances and forced to face situations that are very unfamiliar to them. All of this is underscored by great animation (for a TV show) and memorable bits of action and drama.

All of this should have made "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" a classic series, but sadly, it misses the mark for one fatal flaw: it is much too long, clocking in at 39 episodes. And a good third of these half-hours (subtitled by fans as the "infamous island episodes", although the better term is island/Africa) are absolutely useless. But don't blame Gainax for episodes 23-34; the real problem was that backing distributor NHK requested them to be made -- the show was supposed to be a 27-30 episode series, but better-than-expected ratings prompted said filler arc. Unlike episodes 1-22 or the climactic 35-39, episodes 23-34 turn a compelling sci-fi epic into a nonsensical, poorly animated, haphazardly directed and written, unimaginative, unengaging, unpleasant mess that feels more like a bad Looney Tunes cartoon on drugs than anything else. The characters become caricatures of themselves (Nadia herself, in particular, regresses into a completely unlikeable brat), the idiotic, slapstick-oriented stories are absolutely devoid of any adventure, substance, and, most damaging of all, ultimately sabotage the momentum of the first 22 episodes. With the exception of episodes 30 and 31, the rest in the filler arc have absolutely no reason to exist. None.

Now don't take this as a meaning that "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" is a bad show. On the contrary. Its characters, as mentioned, are compelling, the core storyline is interesting and labyrinthine, and as long as it is focused on adventure and mystery it is indeed deserving of praise. It's just too bad that it suffers from an unfortunate filler arc; without it "Nadia" would have been a classic. To truly appreciate the show, it is recommended to watch the show like this: episodes 1-22, 30, 31, and 35-39. Although the missing gaps may seem jarring, take it from me, it's better than sitting through episode after episode of discouraging nonsense that negatively impact one's enjoyment of the show. Even Gainax agrees that it plays better this way.

In spite of my misgivings with "Nadia", though, I personally have no qualms with the English dub provided by Monster Island. The characters are all excellently cast and give splendid, lively performances. The voices of the children in particular are spot-on: Meg Bauman (13), Nathan Parsons (12), and Margaret Cassidy (11) as Nadia, Jean, and Marie, respectively, are what really drive the dub's heart, providing it with an intangible feeling of realism that really enhances the characters onscreen. For inexperienced youngsters, they do outstanding jobs, and the chemistry between all three is terrific (some may have trouble with Jean's shaky French accent, but I thought it was very appropriate and fitting for his character). The Grandis gang, too, is excellently cast, and have electrifying chemistry. "Nadia"'s dub has taken a lot of undeserved flak from critics who have made the mistake of writing off the dub on account of the sometimes uneven accents, but beneath it lies a spirited, energetic, emotionally charged dub that really brings its characters to life.


A favorite TV Show
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"Nadia doesn't get enough love. Excellent story (island arc aside) and a great dub from ADV."

- Fulgore2005
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VOICE COMPARES
Listen to all the actors who have voiced the following Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water characters.
Hanson
Sanson
Grandis Granva
Gargoyle
Nadia
Jean Roque Raltique
Marie Rowenbrau
Electra
Ayerton Grenavan
Captain Nemo