Described as being inspired by Jules Verne’s 20, 000 Leagues Under The Sea and directed by anime legend Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water certainly sounds intriguing. Recently re-released by Animatsu, the series is considered an anime classic by many people.
The show itself first aired in Japan in 1990-1991 and was subsequently released by ADV Films (R.I.P.). It tells the story of Jean and Nadia, a young inventor and an enigmatic young woman (who happens to have a pet lion) as they set out to unravel the truth about the mysterious blue water and find answers to their questions about Nadia’s unknown past and homeland. Along the way, they are pursued by a villainous trio intent on stealing the blue water.
All in all, it makes for an interesting tale, sharing some similarities with another classic animated series, The Mysterious Cities of Gold. This release features all 39 episodes spread across several discs (the exact number is dependent on your format), along with a smattering of extras. Sadly, this is where the box set is slightly let down: as this is a re-release celebrating a classic series, you might expect a little more than just the standard openings and closings of the anime and the usual promos. Even if original extras from the 90s did not exist, a few exclusives might have been recorded for the release, such as a short documentary about the anime and its impact on the genre, or perhaps an interview with Hideaki Anno. Surprisingly absent is the 1992 prequel film, Nadia: The Motion Picture, though it is possible that the rights to this were separate to those for the series, or even that Animatsu may have a future release for the film in mind.
Niggles about extras aside, the rest of the release is average but not ground-breaking. The series is presented in its original 4:3 format and does hold up surprisingly well against its modern counterparts, thanks to a mixture of bold and vibrant colour choices for the characters and scenery. The characters are also brought to life well thanks to strong performances from the American voice cast, led by Meg Bauman as Nadia and Nathan Parsons as Jean. Plot-wise, the series is an enjoyable romp which fans of anime of this era, and indeed of this director, are sure to enjoy.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water Complete Collection is available on Blu-ray and DVD now courtesy of Animatsu, and is an ideal way for parents to introduce their children to anime the way this series introduced them to the form. It is also one that anime fans of any era will either delight in re-visiting or in discovering for the first time.