Posted on 14 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



“Nadja Applefield grows up in an orphanage, but on her thirteenth birthday she finds out that her mother is still alive, and possibly even a noble. Thus she joins a band of travelling performers and travels all across Europe to find her.” That doesn’t exactly sound like a top-tier shoujo series, now does it? Ashita no Nadja indeed takes the format of a classic shoujo adventure, and makes it downright awesome. I am really surprised with how actually GOOD this series turned out to be.

I originally decided to check out this series on recommendations of Wyrdwad, but I put it on hold around episode 23, discouraged by how the final 13 episodes haven’t been subbed yet. My impression of this series at that point was a fun adventure series across Europe. It’s a fun watch, in which Nadja meets all sorts of interesting people who get the chance to tell their story. Most episodes are light in nature and a lot of fun to watch. It wasn’t anything special at that point, it was episodic, but the individual stories all have their individual charms.

Anyway, eventually I got too impatient and just finished the rest of the series raw (so yeah, don’t bother asking for subs of the final 13 episodes: they’re unfortunately not there yet, but they SO deserve to be!), and with that I was blown away completely by the strength, GUTS and charms of the main storyline of this series. I was so expecting your average cheesy shoujo storyline with stereotypically incompetent villains and a lot of time spent on the lead characters being incredibly indecisive. None of that returns here: instead we get a story where always something interesting is going on and where characters manage to show their utter best in terms of character-development.

And the villains! This series really has some of the best villains out there, who are nothing like your average bunch of incompetent idiots who can never get anything right. The main villains for this series all are a bunch of excellent actors: they’ve created a scenario in their head and stick to it, and time and time again they manage to foil the lead characters’ plans and happiness (which usually is the other way around!). Eventually, this series evolves into a battle of wits and emotions between Nadja and the main villains, which involves an intricate plan that looks simple (and isn’t of the ridiculously complicated variant like you see in shows as Death Note), yet incredibly hard to find any holes in it.

This series seriously has a bunch of incredible script-writers, who have the talent to make a solid and engaging story of just about everything. As an episodic series, I often found myself doubting whether an episode was going to turn out all-right based on its premise, especially around the middle parts of the series. However, nearly every single episode delivered with solid build-up, excellent characterization and a conclusion that felt intelligent, believable and yet pushed the characters further in terms of character-development. Even the small side-characters who only appear in one episode have multiple sides to them and feel fresh.

With all these praises I’m singing for this series, I unfortunately also have to admit that it has a flaw, and a really big one at that. Wherever Nadja travels in Europe, wherever she goes, she always meets up with the right people. Even though European cities are incredibly big, she always meets up with recurring characters if they happen to be in the neighbourhood, she also conveniently runs into a bunch of nobles that she immediately befriends, (including one of them that becomes her love interest).

This really happens a lot, throughout the entire series. Still, I guess that the creators had good intentions when they used them: they don’t use these plot-holes just for cheap laughs, but instead to allow characters to tell their story, to allow for more and better character-development so that we as an audience get to know more about the cast. There only was one plot twist in the series that really felt cheap and rushed. Apart from that they can all be forgiven. Still, they can become a major reason for some people to get turned off by the rest of the storyline. It all depends on your suspense of disbelief. For me, I indeed acknowledge that these sorts of coincidences are a bit lazy and convenient, but the rest of the series is just so damn good that I really stopped caring about them at one point.

Overall, this series was in a way just like Glass Mask 2005 and Kaleido Star for me: all three are 50 episoded Shoujo Series of Awesomeness. They all stand out in their amazing characterization and rivalry that goes waaaay beyond what you normally expect from anime. All of them are very well paced and truly excellent in the thing they do, with a storyline that just keeps evolving and time and time again they come with unexpected situations. They all involve performing (Maya acts, Sora does acrobatics, Nadja dances) and all three of them try to reach the hearts of their audience by performing, all in their own way. All three series are highly underrated (with two of them not even fully subbed, for God’s sake), but perhaps the most important thing: all three of them have the power to reach an audience beyond the usual shoujo fans, and are a true example of the great things that the genre is capable of. Of the three, Ashita no Nadja is the most light-hearted one, but make no mistake that the story cannot get really dark at times, and the light and dark parts combine wonderfully.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

13 Responses

  1. Solaris says:

    This is another of those shows that were licensed in Italy.

    I don’t know if it’s really a blessing as anime are adapted for a much younger audience here in Italy, so they’re cut and censored whenever there are traces of blood (aka violence) or kisses (aka sexuality).
    It’s well known that japanimation is dangerous for youngsters when it comes to those taboo topics :P (note: read the irony)

    Anyway, i’m going OT, so, back in topic: Who’s living in Italy may give this anime a try.

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    Yay, glad you liked it! I was pretty sure you would. (: I actually have yet to finish it, as I was never able to locate all the raws for the unsubbed episodes, even on Winny (which I can no longer access, too, as my ISP seems not to like it). If you still have the raws, though, and would be willing to work out a means of sending them to me, I’d be more than willing to send you something in return. Drop me an email if you’re interested – wyrdwad at metalbat dot com.

    -Tom

  3. psgels says:

    Wyrdwad: I got my raws from this torrent here: http://tokyotosho.info/details.php?id=175223

    It took a while to get them in, but after about a week it should finish downloading. Let me know if this isn’t enough, then I’ll think of some way to send you the individual episodes.

  4. Wyrdwad says:

    Ooh, excellent! Thanks for the link!

    -Tom

  5. elianthos says:

    ah, lovely anime this was. As Solaris mentioned in her/his comment, it was licensed in Italy. Living there, I was able to follow the whole series, minus the early episodes and I enjoyed it a lot, in spite of having outgrown the intended target audience by a good number of years XD. But the plot was interesting, and the different places around the world well rendered (I loved the Alhambra episodes the most , I think. Also, it was very romantic *__* ) and I was admittedly intrigued by the seemingly dual nature of the blond guy *winks wink* .
    I can’t tell if it was censored as I haven’t cross-checked it with the english fansubbed version (I was waiting for it to be completed. wishful thinking it seems ^^;;;).
    One of the few really good series having being broadcast in recent years, especially among the ones advertised to children/early teens here in Italy too.
    Shame it’s so underrated and neglected abroad , even among fansubbers :( .

  6. windy says:

    I watched ” Ashita no Nadja” more than a year ago and just like you I was surprisingly amazed by the quality of this show, yes, I also expected a typical shoujo series for children, all the more. But it turned out to be sooo good and well- built that I immediately stuck to it. I really started to love it from the 28th episode, where the plot really starts to evolve and the situation getting worse and worse for Nadja. I totally agree with your rating!!! It is in many ways marvellous!!! And the character of Rosemary is unforgettable too, with all the hardships Nadja had to through by her fault , and her acting was merely infallible, she would never have made a wrong step or stepped down from her pedestral, never would have been discovered if there hadn’t been Herman who messed up just everything!!!

  7. Camario says:

    It’s also been licensed in other countries too, but I unfortunately completely overlooked this while it was still on TV. The time slot didn’t help, of course, but I probably could have tried to tape it.

    Still, I’ve been hearing good things about it for some time now and Nadja sounds like something I would be able to enjoy as well. I may get back to you on this, probably much later, but it’s on the list at least.

  8. Sapphire says:

    This has been on my plan-to-watch list for ages, I’m still waiting for it to be fully subbed. Isn’t there anyone interested in forming a fansub group only for these shoujo/slice-of-life gems? Ashita no Nadja, Glass Mask (2005), Lady Georgie, Lady Lady, Perrine Monogatari, Romeo no Aoi Sora, Snow Queen, La Seine no Hoshi…

  9. Blue says:

    Ah, nice to know you enjoyed it too. Ashita no Nadja was a pleasant surprise to me, as I didn’t expect much of it when I first watched it a long time ago on the TV. I was soon hooked.

    The characters are lovely and the romance isn’t too over the top nor drags too much like it usually does in other shoujo shows. Although the story was mostly light-hearted, it knew when to get serious.

    Highly overlooked series in my opinion. Hope some group decides to sub the remaining episodes.

  10. Luiza says:

    Yes, one of my favorite anime ever. It’s cute and meaningfull at the same time.

    I do hope they decide to sub the rest of it. I watched the brazilian kid’s channel version and I am pretty sure they cut a lot. Now I want to follow the uncut series. XD

  11. Firechick says:

    Good news and bad news (I think?).

    Good: Ashita no Nadja is going to be dubbed in English and released for America.

    Bad: apparently there are rumors going around that the company dubbing it is going to edit the series into 2 movies and such. Is that even possible? You can’t cram 50 episodes into two 2-hour long movies, right?

  12. anonymus says:

    good news: finally subtitled the last episodes of anime into English xD
    liked his rewiew: 90/100 really agree with you
    is a pity that many do not agree

  13. kolom ayah says:

    wew.. Thanks for the link!

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  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 03:05 AM)
    Course, reviewer is synonymous to critic nowadays, but that’s what I understand as separating a critic from the layman.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 03:04 AM)
    I’ve been told that you can’t just be a critic by having seen a lot of the medium. You have to dig into its history and understand the work’s place in the whole of the medium. Because then you’re getting as comprehensive a view of the work itself as you could reasonably get.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 03:03 AM)
    To distinguish a critic from the average person now who can just pawn info from the Internet, it’s someone whose views are consistent because they’re grounded in a certain foundation of knowledge and understanding. Now, those foundations can certainly change over time, so maybe consistent is the wrong word. But to put it simply, they can put reason to views rather than just echoing others. Of course, there are plenty with flimsy reasoning, but yeah.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 03:01 AM)
    They’re exposed to information, but for a good part, the general audience might not understand what information to be looking for. They’ll certainly pick up patterns and they’ll expect to see that in quality works. But that’s also where you get that discrepancy with evaluations. Since if a set pattern could automatically pump out a high-quality work, we’d have machines do all of that.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:57 AM)
    Good answer =)
  • Nyangoro
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:50 AM)
    I think that the internet has, to an extent, weakened the influence of critics. Now, everyone with enough spare time can be a critic. In this deluge of people with their own opinions, it’s hard to figure out who’s opinion is, for lack of a better word, better. Rather than look at any one critic, they may look at a conglomeration of critics. Even still, with the wealth of info about any given thing, they may just decide to see it for themselves.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:47 AM)
    I guess I’m curious as to how effected people are by the professionals reviews when they decide to see a film.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:45 AM)
    well, critics are part of the audience too. they’re just more “knowledgeable” about the field.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:45 AM)
    yeaahh! Lia ED, been so long (i think).
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Apr 20. 2014 02:43 AM)
    Audience accepting things, yes thats important , but critic approved also carries its equal worth, not just talking comics here on both sides of the world but in general…also interests me…in the end who has most influence , the critic or the audience? How influenced are the audience in comparison by critics to their own judgement non effected by critics?

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