Nadia I Watched

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My ambition for this post is thwarted by my weak motivation and flimsy recollection. But I just really needed to get this out of my system. It took over six months, but I finally watched all 39 episodes of the Jules Verne inspired capricious classic, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. (Please forgive the lack of images. It’s hard to screencap when you’re watching the blu-ray on the TV).

If you’ve been following my epic journey with the show on twitter, you may have noticed a general positive reception toward episodes 1-22 followed by one aghast video of Krusty the Clown reacting to episode 23 in place of my somewhat analytical observations from the previous tweets. And then a lack of continuation with the thread altogether. This is because I had a hard time surviving the 12 episodes from 23-35. Not to speak on the quality of them myself, but they’re notoriously bad for a reason.

But for all the disservice that those episodes do to the show, I still think the last three episodes were a fine way to end the series. It’s just unfortunate that by that point I stopped caring.

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While the show is quite wonderfully deft at handling some pretty mature themes (see ep 15 where the concept of death is explored in a grim fashion) in a show presumably aimed at a really young demographic, the thing that distinguishes Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water I believe is the attention to detail of naval vessels and acquatic-based combat scenarios.

The awesomeness of the tactics, while not complex, are sold on the back of tense and tightly-cornered situations. You won’t find anything as intricate and methodically planned out as you might in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but when you manage your expectations and remind yourself that this is more of a kid’s show than its contemporaries (see Neon Genesis Evangelion, Eureka Seven), it helps a lot in setting the bar for maximum enjoyment and appreciation of what it does well on its own terms.

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Little girl, war is supposed to be HELL. Not cute!

Here are some of the things I enjoyed:

  1. Underwater battles, especially when they involve: sonar tracking (a given, but awesome nontheless), dire circumstances (i.e. 1 v 6 while low on ammunition), torpedo storm (though single torpedos are good too), a palpable sense of urgency (alongside reports of damage to the ship) and magnificent teamwork.
  2. The character designs and colours. Captain Nemo’s look in particular always succeeded at giving the impression of someone in a position of authority with a lot of responsibility and burden weighing on his shoulders, and a badass rough and tough mystery man. I fanboyed every time he appeared on screen.
  3. Character-wise: Sanson, Miss Electra, Captain Nemo, and the leader of Gargoyle were the show-stealers above all else. Sanson being the awesome outer voice of manly reason, and Captain Nemo being the more reserved display of GAR aspirations. The Gargoyle leader was a deliciously detestable and classy villain with awesome levels of elegant domination over virtually every scene he’s in. And Miss Electra as the kind mother figure of the group is always a welcome and warm sight, especially when she’s teaching the kids a lesson or exposing her inner Ritsuko (with grace).
  4. The Grandis Gang and the dynamics between Sanson, Hanson, and Jean – bonding over science and ships, and generally treating him like a younger brother.
  5. Beautiful composition. I think a lot of the images are superbly composed, especially ones involving the Nautilus or Gargoyle, which I greatly appreciate. There’s clear effort gone into making many moments visually captivating in one way or another (a number of which are excellent parallels to Eva).
  6. The music, but especially the OP. It’s such a gorgeous and lovely treat. I danced around the room as I let it play every episode.
  7. Beautiful backgrounds galore (i.e. sunny surface submarine shots over the ocean) and places like the Nautlius crew’s base in the Anataric were just chok full of goodness, in terms of aesthetic, cinematography, and world-building.
  8. Whimsical expository dialogue, particularly of the technical variety relating to the Nautilus, and inventions.
  9. The sexy pretty juxtaposition of Electra in bed (getting to see her laid back for a change) to appearing out of an elevator in her uniform with her usual stern but genteel look.
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Sanson: “Ah, I see you are a man of culture as well.”

I’ve been putting this off for the longest time, because I kept catching wind of red alert warnings from fans (and non-fans) of the show. And given its length of 39 episodes, with almost one third of those being considered “anime hell”, that’s an awful lot of reason not to watch it.

But I did. And for the most part, I’m quite glad I did. As much as there is to hate in those 12 episodes, and some scenes in the earlier episodes as well (miss me with the animal antics, preachy moralism and tsundere crap), I still found a great deal to appreciate in the rest of the show.

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