Nadia Omake Theatre – episode 2

May 21, 2006 on 11:21 pm | In Nadia | 1 Comment

“This is Neo-Atlantis!”

The Triumph of the Wills reduced to two and a half minutes. GAiNAX achieved this by editing out all of the marching.

Nothing but two images after the cut

Continue reading Nadia Omake Theatre – episode 2…

Nadia Omake Theatre – episode 1

March 23, 2006 on 9:29 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia Omake Theatre – episode 1

Remember Nadia? Its 39 episodes were amongst the best and worst anime I had ever seen. It had a very inconsistent heart, and were it 13 episodes shorter and had a faster start, it would be undoubtedly in my favourites.
Continue reading Nadia Omake Theatre – episode 1…

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – The “Motion Picture”

June 12, 2004 on 6:22 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – The “Motion Picture”

What? No. These are the only two words, in that order, that can spring from having seen Nadia: Secret of Blue Water: The Motion Picture – incontrovertible evidence that GAiNAX is evil. They’re quite capable of making good anime, but that doesn’t stop them from being evil.
“Motion picture” probably isn’t an accurate description for this. ADV used to use that term to describe pretty much any one shot OVA back in the day, so I’ll go with that. One of the biggest clues is the 4:3 ratio.

Two years after the series ended, Nadia and Jean are living apart as Nadia wants to prove that she can live independently. Nadia is working as an assistant reporter at a London newspaper (read: she gets the tea), and the big scoop is that prominent politicians and businessmen from all over the world are evaporating. Turns out that they’re robots, despatched by some guy to replace the real aristocrats so that he can slowly take over the world!
Jean finds the daughter of the scientist responsible for the robots washed up on his beach. Her name is Fuzzy, which in Japanese sounds like “Fudgey”. Then Nadia is brought into the “web of intrigue”.

25 of the first 30 minutes of the film are all recaps of the series. Unfortunately, these repeated scenes are rarely framed by anything to give them context and they are all incredibly poorly chosen. They aren’t even shown in chronological order, as something that happened in the 36th episode is shown before something from the 22nd. It’s never clear what the writers hoped to achieve with this recap, as it doesn’t give a sense of anything from the series.
Vague attempts are made to link the villain, Griegar, to Gargoyle. His organisation simply doesn’t make any sense; these aren’t really the remnants of Neo-Atlantis.

It gets worse, though; the characterisation is off. Grandis, Sanson & Hanson are money grubbing villains who betray Nadia and Jean. Essentially they have regressed to before the TV series even started. Nothing that they do here is in their characters at all. Nadia and Jean have come much further than this, too, which is why the general premise that they would separate irks. They can’t really question their feelings for each other when what happened to them earlier had happened.
Griegar has no real motive, and the link to Gargoyle is non-existent. It’s kind of like Gundam Wing‘s White Fang, but at least that could be explained. Having said all of this, though, the few seconds that the Doctor and Fuzzy get to interact provide the film’s only light.

But hey, at least the OP and ED looked nice. The rest of the production is quite ugly, particularly the laziness of the new designs (not by Sadamoto of the series). Everything else about the film sticks in a really bad way; it’s hard to believe that the seiyuu came back to record this. Despite the flawed nature of the TV series, overall it was something to be proud of. This … this is nothing.

I can’t consider this as part of the Nadia continuity. It played like a much worse for wear Secret of Mamo and the characterisation ruined it. There was nowhere for these characters to go once the series had been resolved, and thusly they don’t go anywhere for the course of this film. Take the epilogue provided by the TV series and run with it. This “movie” never happened, folks … just move along.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 37 to 39

June 10, 2004 on 11:24 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 37 to 39

Fortunately, the phrase “too little, too late” does not apply here.
The final battle with Gargoyle! Electra looking increasingly like Ritsuko … and other incredibly spoiler laden things! The point is that everything was handled exceptionally well and completely satisfactorily. It’s just sad that they couldn’t have brought the conclusion around sooner.
Nothing really can be said about these episodes other than that they were full of high drama and capped off with a nice little prologue segment that wrapped up everything … and one of the characters’ fates translates from sweet to creepy dependent on cultural setting.
And Ayerton; who’d have thought. He was representative of what was wrong with Nadia though: that at one stage it had forgotten itself.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water was a series that had some extremely bright and shining moments but was damaged by its success, with thirteen episodes or thereabouts seemingly inserted just to give a credible amount of time before the stunning finale for the wheels to be set in motion in the background.
With the epilogue provided at the end of the series, one wonders; is the Nadia follow up movie really necessary? Given that I find the basic idea of the plot offensive, I’ll just have to go and find out.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 33 to 36

June 10, 2004 on 7:29 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 33 to 36

Upon saving King from crucifixion, and then an episode which is essentially a collection of music videos (and the few ‘new’ scenes made of cels from 20 episodes ago used against new backgrounds) that culminates in Jean performing a love song for Nadia that degenerates into his listing all of her faults … the story comes back to stay. Thank God for that. As the increasingly put upon narrator said at the beginning of episode 33, “Cheer up, Nadia! You only have a few stories left!”

I’ve sounded like Nadia has been nothing but terror for about 13 episodes … it’s not been that painful, but it has not been the joy that was promised. Thirteen episodes of inconsequential activities that ultimately did nothing to further plot or characters; in fact there may well have been regressions just wears thin. Nadia could quite easily have been edited down to 26 episodes (not that I’d advocate such a thing, oh no!). Bear in mind that I’m one who loved the last ten episodes of Macross, so that might be indicative of your own tolerance.
What seemed like a four episode run of tolerable nothing became a six episode run, then ten, then thirteen – so one third of the series became essentially negligible. The music video episode wasn’t actually bad, because it included footage from good times and the songs were also pretty amusing and tuneful. The editing itself was a mixture of the appropriate, the there for the sake of it, and the wildly inappropriate.

Anyway, the tour de force was the visit to Tartessos. GAiNAX used its dramatic black and white technique which is so effective that you don’t realise that the animation is entirely in black and white with the exception of the Blue Water until about five minutes after its come into effect. Fifteen minutes worth of black and white animation is surprisingly (or perhaps not) much more dramatic. This was also helped along by the mostly absent music. When colour returns, it’s blindingly bright. GAiNAX used this technique to great effect in the final episode of Gunbuster, which was both black and white and 16×9 (or at least “letterboxed”).
The content of the episode itself was high drama, and the stuff that harkens back to the old days of high drama. Then at the end, when everyone bursts into “Happy Birthday to you” (which is dubbed as “It’s your birthday today” because of the ancient laws against dubs using songs that are probably technically copyrighted), it’s good will all over again.
Finally, Gargoyle reveals himself to be a bastard and some of the new character designs are confusing. Only three episodes left. There’s no room for slack any more. This ending had better be damned good; and people had better not complain about the “given” events happening.

The wild ride of Nadia (oh, how long a week is in the world of anime …) is almost at its end. Can it find ultimate meaning? And what is the secret of Blue Water? Ah, crap, we already know that one.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 29 to 32

June 8, 2004 on 11:00 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 29 to 32

Okay, so get this: Hanson and Sanson get into a fight, which they try to settle by racing robot Kings. Then Jean jumps into the ocean to save the batteries that he had installed in these robots, and everyone thinks he’s dead. Realising that their foolish quarrels led to Jean’s death, they apologise to each other. Then Jean reappears and everyone expresses their happiness at his continued existence.
Yeah; that’s what Nadia’s all about nowadays. Bring back the sea, damnit!
These episodes would be better if they hadn’t brought back Ayerton. His time in episode three was just fine – in fact, he was a bright patch in the dull orientation period. His appearance in the teen episodes was also welcome for a spot of irony and the suggestion that he did care. Now he’s just a blowhard and has disrupted the harmony of the six member and one lion alliance.
Thankfully, however, the writers did away with the “this island has weak gravity and you can run really fast and it has a desert as well as a snow area!” idea, treating the island forever after as just a tropical island. That makes it marginally more pallatable. The fact that Sanson has made a dishwasher and a vacuum cleaner – technological appliances he couldn’t have hoped to have created on the Nautilus – really grates.

Then Nadia finds a secret cave and history is revealed – important history that is interesting to one and all and has something to do with the overbearing plot! It’s odd that it took them four months to find these things. But hey, at least they did.
Then they land in Africa and are treated to a feast by an African tribe. Then a poacher steals King so that he may lay claim to the tribe’s beloved treasure of a tin of food (!).
It’s really depressing that Nadia became such a series of stops and starts. It’s not that it’s no good at all any more; it’s that the story has fallen asleep. For the very short time that it pokes its head in, though, it’s interesting. At the start of one of the episodes, the narrator (now played by Inoue Kikuko, the first narrator having disappeared [possibly because he saw the island coming]) asks “oh, and what is the secret of Nadia’s Blue Water?” as if conceding that the preceding episodes have been largely irrelevant.

But there are only seven episodes left! Bring on the inevitable resurrections! Bring on the worthwhile! The island episodes (both islands) would have been okay, but stretching them to what amounts to more than a quarter of the series is definitely just that – pushing it. With the Nautilus, you knew where you stood. The battles were infrequent, but it just seemed that much more real.
One should just be glad that the concluding episodes are within reach … these past two lots would have been a very sour note to have had to have waited on – this is anime which has a brief detour over broken glass in its journey.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 21 to 28

June 8, 2004 on 6:49 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 21 to 28

From the dramatically sublime to the inexplicably ridiculous in the space of eight episodes. That’s Anno for you! Although to be known for wild inconsistencies in your work is probably not the greatest compliment you can be paid.

Initially, the Nautilus is in vast amounts of trouble. These vast amounts of trouble lead, not surprisingly, to vast amounts of drama. The way that this was directed was amazing and created some of the best scenes of the series so far. Inoue Kikuko’s performance was really one of her highest points; Electra is a great character, with inbuilt tragedy not present in so many of her others. One thing leads to another, and …
… Then come the episodes where the world let out a collective “What the Hell?” Nadia, Jean and Marie get stranded on an Island.

The infamous “island” episodes aren’t the total write off they’ve been made out to be. There are some good moments of character interaction, but these are offset by moments of total bizarreness. Nadia, kicking her vegetarianism into overdrive, becomes at one point completely unsympathetic. Jean has to bear the brunt of the hard work and now Marie of all characters is the smartest of them all. Not to mention King, who suddenly becomes bipedal.
Generally these episodes are fine to watch because Jean has some good material and Nadia gets to do some good things out of “love”. But there’s still problems other than Nadia’s occasional annoying stubbornness. One episode progresses really well until all of a sudden, Jean falls unconscious and there’s an incredibly repetitive dream. It’s the same animation and dialogue over and over for several minutes.
Then comes another island, where the laws of physics and nature don’t apply. This was an unhappy turn of events because up until now Nadia had always been realistic, with simply the application of science to account for what happens. Ignoring the magic whale, of course. There’s been mysticism, but it’s always been explainable. What’s happening here isn’t.
Fortunately, it’ll probably turn out to be a turtle or something.

The few opportunities for the other storylines to happen are the highlights. Gargoyle’s few moments are much needed drama and the appearance of Grandis’ gang for “Sanson’s shark shooting adventure” is definitely appreciated.

These episodes aren’t truly horrible, but at times the animation is. I’m not one who complains about lip synching in anime, but when a character speaks and their mouth doesn’t move at all, it’s disconcerting. Hopefully this is just symptomatic of saving big money for the spectacular finale that is inevitably going to follow.
Otherwise, Nadia up until now will have been a lie.

So these six island episodes don’t destroy what Nadia was about before. They just take some time out from the rest of the series and feature some poorly judged directorial decisions, which may not have been Anno’s fault. Let’s just hope that there will be story again. Not just “it’s evil to eat meat” and “Jean, I hate you!” moments.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 13 to 20

June 6, 2004 on 7:59 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 13 to 20

One has to wonder if, when composing Nadia, Anno had any concept of thematic and emotional consistency. From episode to episode, the mood of the Nautilus crew members is totally different. When one episode is heavy on the dramatic punch and the next is just a standard “Jean does stuff with machines” episode, it’s somewhat disconcerting. Ironically, when episodes jump from the comedic to the dramatic in the space of an instant, it’s amazing.

The first of these episodes is one of those old anime standbys, the “big adventure” episode, in which a minor character (usually a mascot) goes off by themselves and does things without the main characters. In this case, it’s our good friends Marie and King who go off by themselves to have fun. The exploration part is fun, but the real adventure comes when Sanson and Marie go on the run from one of Gargoyle’s machines. This section had some really good animation and some great visual gags. Then came the conclusion, which was truly shocking.
For some reason, Marie and Nadia then contracted a fatal illness and Captain Nemo’s heart was melted enough to go to Reef 64 to harvest the antidote … but not before a run in with a prehistoric fish! The way that this episode was structured, however, doesn’t make Nemo appear as caring as they would perhaps have liked to make him. That which spurs him into action is too contrived, and would have been better received had Nadia not been struck with an affliction.

The two stand outs were episodes 15 and 16, which contrasted incredibly strongly to the previous episode. A new character is introduced as an inspiration for Jean, setting him up for inevitable tragedy. This is one time that Nemo could not change his plans to save a life. As the chief engineer said, “This ship may be built on super science, but it can’t perform miracles!” The direction was clearly notable here, and reminiscent of Evangelion‘s more introspective episodes – thus setting groundworks. Anno’s taste for brief flashes of images is an effective way of getting messages across.
But what was truly great about this episode was that the three engineers caught in the room with the fatal gas were never shown after their fate was sealed by Nemo. Jean could only talk to them by the intercom. Something truly shocking happens thereafter, that really has to be seen. Hidaka Noriko’s performance was at the height of strength here.
While the crew of the Nautilus may seem stoic, they really do care about lives lost. And stoicism can still betray someone in their final moments …
In episode 16, Anno uses that technique which deserves a lot of respect – knowing when not to use the eyecatch music. Believe me when I say that at the half way point of this episode something happens that will make your blood run cold. It’s a metaphorical death, made all the more powerful by the fantastic setting. Episode 16 was the series’ highest point so far … and so maybe it can fall from here.

I suppose that the Jean developments are the logical continuation of the events of episode 16, but it just doesn’t seem quite right … and one starts wishing that the “romance” between Nadia and Jean could be handled better. Better than Nadia coming up to Jean in the corridors and saying “I hate you!”, at any rate. And then the secret base of the Nautilus stuff was a bit weird. (A 20,000 year old whale?)
Nemo is poised to reveal some secrets; one has to hope that he’ll do it soon.
Finally, the Evil Trio are a really bad influence on Marie (whose purpose seems largely to create a reason for King not being with Nadia).

Still, Nadia is highly watchable. It’s just at its best in high octane drama mode.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 6 to 12

June 5, 2004 on 7:42 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes 6 to 12

Don’t forget to try in mind!

And, as the first arc of the Neo Atlantis story line comes and goes, Nadia becomes blood pumping ultra fun anime! Hurrah for sea legs! Then all of our character related dreams come true.
First up: Nadia’s run in with the Neo Atlantians leads to the discovery of her “weakness”, if you can call pacifism that, and the forced revelation of information. (She’s the kind of character who doesn’t care if she’s tortured, but torture her adopted child and her pet lion …)
The secret base is great, both in appearance and animation. The conveyor belt that Nadia and Jean find themselves on is a marvel, but that’s largely because a personal favourite technique of mine is when the background and foreground are simultaneously animated. Nadia’s animation wasn’t the peak of technical perfection at the time, but there were very impressive scenes, and this is one of them.
Unfortunately, there can be no surprises at times (one can’t exactly be expected to cry “Oh my God! The TOWER OF BABEL was DESTROYED?!” – it’s traditional anime shorthand that anything named after Babel will ultimately fall into ruin. It’s been standard since the father of sci-fi, Metropolis), but that doesn’t destroy the impact completely.
Finally Captain Nemo reveals himself to everyone and they start a new life, and story, aboard the Nautilus. Now we have a sense of the plot ahead.

The best thing about these episodes was the evolution of the Evil Trio. As bad guys, they’re lousy. As vain good guys, however, they’re shinily brilliant. It was poorly suggested in episode five that they cared about Nadia’s well being (at the time, there was nothing really to justify it). Their initial motivation of stealing the Blue Water was never really explained, so in this new capacity as submarine workers they’re much better.
It should be noted that this is not really in any way a spoiler, as the OP has all along shown the two groups of three (and King) getting along.
The initial escape, with Sanson powering through, was handled in such a way that it was genuinely exciting. Excitement that removed any doubts about Nadia‘s being worthwhile. But then Grandis’ sudden change to that of a loving, passionate woman is also great and adds more depth. Her hardened attitude was caused, not surprisingly, by a man. It looks like the presence of another man might be healing her, even if nothing comes of it. Really, though, the trio are all heart.

The music is never inappropriate in this set of episodes, and there was some genuinely impressive animation aboard the submarine. Oddly enough, this great animation was used for domestic scenes, which is something of a rarity, as budgets are generally saved for “action”. Heck, there’s even Grandis fan service! And when you’re as beauteous as Grandis, you deserve all the service that can be doled out.
The way that the script gets around the technology is highly amusing at times. Aboard the Nautilus, Hanson marvels “I can’t believe a submarine like this has already been built!” and when Jean asks Nemo about the engine, he says “This engine is truly a wonder, that can not be duplicated in this century or the next.”
It’s best not to worry about any anachronisms in this sort of series, because that just takes the fun out of everything. If you’re going to alter one thing, it can’t hurt to change another …

Nadia: Secret of Blue Water is generating so much good will that I don’t see how it can possibly be hurt by the infamous “island” episodes. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes one to five

June 1, 2004 on 10:29 pm | In Nadia | Comments Off on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – Episodes one to five

Going into Nadia, I expected the most romantic anime ever made. Not thematically romantic, but physically so; anime born of the era when GAiNAX was a young king of industry, when every project was a labour of love.
It’s getting there.

In 1899, Jean Le Havre goes to a Parisian inventor’s fair to showcase the aircraft that he built with his Uncle in order to win 20,000 francs and the acclaim of someone or other. Of course, his plans get scuttled when he sees the beautiful girl Nadia rides by on a bicycle, and he runs to meet her atop the Eiffel Tower. His introduction to Nadia, and her pet lion King, is interrupted with the entrance of the fiery red head Grandis ad her henchmen, Sanson and Hanson. They want the Blue Water pendant around Nadia’s neck!
And so the chase begins. At one point, this “evil trio”, as they are known, grab Nadia in the extended hands of their craft – and thus a precedent was set that Team Rocket were bound to honour eight years thereafter.

The first episodes of Nadia are fairly unremarkable. Grandis drives Nadia and Jean out of France, and then their plane crashes into the ocean. At the end of the second episode, I was actually heard to say “What a crappy cliffhanger”. Things pick up somewhat when the American battleship saves them. The “sea monsters” offer a glimpse of what is yet to come. Something with lights that red can’t be organic, and unsurprisingly, it’s not. When Nadia and Jean board the Nautilus in the fourth episode, that’s when it starts to get interesting. Start. Captain Nemo (a deliberate eponym, so don’t complain) is scary, though, in that he looks exactly like Macross‘ Captain Global. It’s like they’re twins born 100 years apart!
Still, at this point Nadia and Jean are given direction, and when they arrive on the island after this, their party is complete. This episode, which would appear to be the start of a story arc, has some great scenes in it. Nadia and Jean’s adoption of Marie was touching, as I was worrying that they wouldn’t have the heart to tell the girl that her parents had been killed. It’s sad that she’s too young to understand the concept of death, and it was really hard for Nadia and Jean to explain that her parents, and her dog, were never going to come back.
The problem with these episodes is an over reliance on the Evil Trio, who are not Team Rocket. When they’re at a point where they’re part of the story but are not the story, it will be better, most definitely. When the cultists come in, it feels just that much more like it should be.

Nadia does have the production values, though. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto turned in some good work with the character designs; the Evil Trio look just like the comical villains that they are, Marie is a genki girl despite it all … Jean is a bit of a nerd, and Nadia is just that little bit more exotic. The only problem is that Nadia’s darker skin tone is frequently inconsistent with the light levels shown.
The crew of the Nautilus is great because they don’t belong to any country, which means you can get things like Indians in tartan and what have you. They’re only glimpsed at for now, but that truly is multiculture!
But King is just a bit weird, like he’s … there.
The scenery is detailed, and it feels very much like the late eighties series that it is. This would have been perfect for Australian television broadcast back in the day. It perfectly evokes the feel of both eras that it represents; also it is reminiscent of Ghibli productions and Sherlock Hound: half remembered patches of childhood. It is not, of course, strictly children’s fare, but it has just the right ability to capture the imagination.
The music is by Sagisu Shiro and, not surprisingly, it’s heavily reminiscent of his work on Evangelion. Of course, predating Evangelion by six years, they’re future echoes. The music is at times heavily inspirational, but it seems that the onscreen events have not yet earned the grand music that they wear; that Sagisu has congratulated Jean and Nadia rather too soon. Sagisu wrote quite a wide variety of music for Nadia, and it is my sincerest hope that the content will come to live up to the masterpiece he composed in Bye Bye Blue Water.

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is not bad at all; it, like one of Jean’s planes, has just got to get itself off the ground and fly. The first four episodes are proof enough that a 39 episode series can’t be judged on its first volume alone. The fifth is proof that the series is suggesting that it might go somewhere now.

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