Anime Reporter travels back 25 years in our world and 126 years in the world of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. N:TSBW comes to us from the collaboration of Hideaki Anno (of Neon Genesis Evangelion acclaim) and Hayao Miyazaki (the man behind such masterpieces as Spirited Away, and who should need no introduction). I’ll be covering the complete collection (39 episodes) in this review, but I’ll be doing my best to keep it overly spoiler-free.
Set in a world with a passing similarity to our own in 1889 (if my memory serves), N:TSBW primarily follows a young French inventor Jean, a self-declared genius who occasionally overlooks small details in his inventions such as how long an aircraft can actually stay in the air or how much weight his moving-staircase can carry, and Nadia, a travelling circus performer who searches with her pet lion, King, to find the birthplace and parents she has no memory of. Nadia immediately, and unwittingly, charms Jean, drawing his attention and his surprising willingness to help this girl on her quest to journey the world and find her true home. Jean is also searching for answers about his father, whom many believe was killed when his ship was attacked by a sea monster.
Nadia’s biggest clue about her home is the Blue Water, a large blue gem around her neck which many seem desperate to claim and which lights brightly when danger is near. At first, the pair are hunted by a trio of bumbling but determined miscreants, but these are soon vastly overshadowed by an army of masked fanatics, the Neo-Atlanteans and their leader, Gargoyle. As they uncover more about the stone, it seems like it might be too dangerous for anyone to have.
Their journey sees them making all kinds of new allies and enemies and a lot of the sci-fi and fantasy elements of the series are plucked right from that era, with a certain Captain Nemo and a vessel called the Nautilus forming an important part of the series’ events. Though only twenty five years old, there are some very noticeable differences between it and what younger viewers would be more used to. That said, while the animation certainly looks less than brand new, but it’s still impressive, immersive and beautiful to watch. While there’s certainly less extreme violence showcased than in many more modern series’, what violence there is can often show a few more realistic consequences than you might think and this show earns itself a 15 age rating. (Expect a couple of bullet-hole filled corpses early on).
The characters are charming, complex, and, in most cases, hopelessly stubborn. While the plot is certainly full of sci-fi, high stakes action and adventure, there are a few episodes centred on the relationships between different characters and these are treated with as much weight and thought as any life and death struggles.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water starts off with the appearance of a simple tale of adventures and thwarting bad guys, but it develops over 39 episodes into something much more profound and something very easy to become invested in. Hardly surprising, given Miyazaki’s involvement.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water Complete Collection is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Animatsu Entertainment from 22nd June 2015.
81% – “A True Treasure!” – Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water begins as a fantasy children’s animation and becomes a tale of science fiction, fantasy, history, mythology and the human heart. Don’t mistake this for a purely silly little show and don’t miss the chance to experience it.