Blu-ray Review: Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – The Complete Series
15/06/2015 1 Comment
I take a look at Animatsu Entertainent’s second anime release; the classic Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water; but what secrets does it hold and has this HD release stood the test of time; Find out in our review.
*NOTE* All Screenshots shown in this review have been taken by using a Roxio Capture Card connected to a PS3; and as such the quality of these screenshots do not reflect the actual quality you shall receive on the blu-ray. In other words the Blu-ray looks a lot better than these screenshots.
The World’s Fair, Paris, 1889. A young inventor crosses paths with an enigmatic girl and her pet lion. Suddenly they find themselves pursued by villainous trio intent upon stealing the magical Blue Water. Thus begins an epic adventure inspired by Jules Verne’s masterpiece 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Join Nadia and Jean as they travel the high seas in search of Nadia’s homeland and her past, their only clue the mysterious jewel Nadia wears. Can they unravel the Secret of the Blue Water before it is too late?
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is considered a classic amongst older anime fans, especially those who imported the release from America several years ago; but looking back over the 39 episodes it’s nothing more than a puzzling storyline waiting to find its ground; which it eventually does so with a rather over-informative and potentially rushed ending.
Lets take a step-back; Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water follows the exploits of Jean, a young French inventor, who arrives in Paris to take part in a flying competition with his uncle; however before attending the competition he meets Nadia a young girl who performs in the circus. It all starts off quite charming with Jean developing a ‘love at first sight’ approach to Nadia; but in time this alters to where a group of misfits, known as Grandis, Hanson and Sanson, want to kidnap Nadia so that they can acquire her blue water stone for an, at this point in time, unknown reason. And so this is where the adventure beings, with both Nadia and Jean escaping time-and-time again from the glutches of this comedic trio.
Ironically at this point you’d think the story would carry on with Jean, Nadia and her lion-cub friend King, constantly avoiding Grandis, Hanson and Sanson; but in reality it moves onto something a lot more interesting – if only for a short period of time. You see after a series of encounters, some more comical than others, Jean, Nadia and King find themselves rescued by the Natutilus, a submarine which features highly advanced technology, and its here where the real story of the show begins to surface; a story which sees ancient civilizations do battle over the Blue Water stones. It’s an interesting storyline; but don’t expect to see it unfold anytime soon as you’ll have to sit through plenty of “filler-styled-content” before getting to see the good stuff.
Of course this content is not filler; it just feels like it. For instance after the second encounter with Neo Atlantis, an organisation attempting to obtain the Blue Water stones and dominate the world, we find our group of protagonists, who at this point have now been joined up with a young-girl known as Marie, stranded on a desert island. Jean wants to escape but Nadia wants to stay; and as a result for the next eight or so episodes we see nothing but comical banter and mishaps between the characters; with one involving mushrooms and a pretty big cameo reference to Thunderbirds. Basically these episodes do not really add anything to the overall story, which seems like a waste; however it does see the relationship between Jean and Nadia break-down and then build back-up again; with some rather interesting conequences.
In retrospect Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is accurately titled; as everything within the series is shrouded in mystery with details about characters, machinery and intentions left in the dark until the very last moment. For instance subtle hints or references, such as glances at an unknown character or a name being used, are brought up throughout but nothing ever follows through so instead you have to wait (and wait) until a later point in the series to find out. I guess this is Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water’s biggest asset; putting information on hold so tha you ‘have’ to watch the show in order to find out.
Usually I like these types of shows, as it gives you a purpose for watching and something to ponder over, but unfortunately there is no real momentum to keep you engaged while watching; it all feels very bland and plain; but this being said there are a few worthwhile moments and a uniquely satisying story waiting to be told – you’ve just go to be paitient.
With Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water being a combination of an early 90’s anime series and an original American release by Sentai Filmworks I wasn’t expecting much in ways of bonus materials; luckily for me however I am wrong as there is quite a nice selection included on this Blu-ray release.
As per usual viewers can expected textless (or clean) opening and ending animations; but in surprising fashion the original Japanese promo and Japanese TV spot have also been included. It’s interesting how a show that’s over 20 years can still find its original assets yet those released two years ago have nothing; eitherway I’m grateful that they are included as it shows the vast difference between the HD-Native episodes and the SD-Native promotional materials.
The final selection of bonus materials come in the form of trailers and as Animatsu Entertainment have opted to use the original Sentai Filmwork disc masters we are treated to American trailers; namely Girls und Panzer, From the New World, Kokoro Connect and Little Busters – majority of which are licensed for release in the UK by MVM Entertainment.
Media: BD50 x4, BD25 x1
Running Time: 3:57:09 (Disc 1 to 4), 1:19:03 (Disc 5)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow for Dialogue & White for Translations)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Nadia: The Secret of the Blue Water sees French inventor Jean become acquainted with Nadia and King while trying to avoid a group of thieves in Paris; along the way Jean and Nadia set out on an adventure to return king to his African homeland however along the way get caught up in an ancient battle between two divisions of Atlantis; with Neo Atlantis wanting to take over the entire world. It’s up to Nadia and Jean, along with their new friends Captain Nemo, Grandis, Hanson and Sanson to put a stop to it; but along the way harsh realisations and revelations must be made if peace can be acquired.
It seems like I may have expected too much from Nadia: The Secret of the Blue water but in actuality I didn’t know what to expect form it; although I do know that this is considered a classic amongst anime fans – so surely it should have some good merits to be had. Unfortunately for me I didn’t find much enjoyment with the show, sure I loved the characters – such as Nadia, King and Marie, but the way the story progressed just didn’t seem entertaining or enticing to watch; it’s not straight forward and instead opts to take a long approach to delivering the story; so much so that it nearly compromises the ending. Personally I would have preferred less dreary narrative and character insights, both aborad the Nautilus submarine and on the desret island, with more potential confrontations with Neo Atlantis; a higher sense of danger if you will.
Storyline elements aside this Animatsu Entertainment release of the series, which sees the discs handled by Siren Visual and Sentai Filmworks, also raises a few eyebrows. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water can be considered an old show, as it was released in 1990, and as such the animation quality isn’t as high standard as those we receive today (or the movies released at the same time); however this being said the Blu-ray quality is quite impressive with the picture remaining true to the original colours and relatively sharp. In short it’s a superb HD transfer but there are a few issues; for starters throughout the series, with it being most notable in Episode 2, the picture softens and becomes blurred; as if the camera was out of focus during that scene. Another issue I spotted was in Episode 25 (at the 19:29 mark) whereby for several noticeable seconds the picture quality becomes terrible and the audio goes out of sync (for the English Dub at least) – This issue occurs again in Episode 26 (around the 4:00 mark). I can’t explain why this happens but I assume Sentai Filmworks (or even Siren Visual) spliced in footage from a VHS/DVD to fix an issue with these scenes; amusingly enough this ‘issue’ is much more noticeable than problems found within Anime Limited’s Gurren Lagann release.
It’s not just ‘certain aspects’ of the video quality which are disappointing as the English Dub isn’t all that great either; in fact its pretty comical. Sentai Filmworks opted to use the original ADV Films English Dub version of the series and, as older anime fans will know, their dubs weren’t particular great – but at least they put some effort in. For example Jean, who we all know is french, speaks constantly in a french accent and at times can be difficult trying to understand what he is saying; while other characters don’t seem to have the right voice, like if they weren’t cast correctly. The Japanese Audio on the other hand feels much more natural and with thanks to the English subtitles it is easier to understand as well.
It’s also worth mentioning that just like older Sentai Filmwork releases the English subtitles are yellow, but translated text and multiple dialogue options will be in white – so if two people are speaking at the same time one will be yellow and the other will be white; thus making it much more easier to understand who is talking.
So; this Blu-ray release of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water has some pros and cons; the pros being it looks fantastic in High Definition, with the exception to some minor picture quality issues, and that it offers an interesting story surrounding ancient civilizations, relationships and conflict. The cons are of course its relatively drawn-out progression of the story and it’s multiple filler-styled elements. In short Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is one of those rare types of shows that’s different to the norm and if you don’t expect too much from it you may like what it has to offer; you’ll just have to pay attention otherwise you could miss something important. It’s definitely a classic worth watching.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 22nd June 2015.