Posted by psgels on 6 August 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Watching a series like Nadia is interesting, if only because of the place it takes up in the history of the adventure genre. It’s based on the novel 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, who was one of the pioneers of the science fiction genre and wrote about aeroplanes and submarines before they were even invented. The visuals are clearly inspired by Laputa Castle in the Sky, one of Ghibli’s earliest classics, and you can also see traces of the awesome Mysterious Cities of Gold. In its turn, you can see its influence amongst great future adventure series as Bonen no Xamdou, Blue Submarine No06 and of course Ashita no Nadja. Amongst these excellent works, Nadia obviously doesn’t stand out as the greatest adventure ever, but nevertheless it’s an excellent series and a proof of Gainax’ ambition.

Nadia starts out as an historical series in the year 1889 and shows the two lead characters (two kids named Jean and Nadia) as they are chased by what at first sight seems to be the prototype for Team Rocket. Gradually though, this series gains more and more depth, and the setting develops into something truly epic, and a great look at how science fiction would have been more than a century ago. We gradually get to see more and more of the back-story of the world that this series plays in, which really becomes increasingly more interesting as the series goes on.

Throughout the series, we get to see a wide variety of situations, as we see Jean and Nadja travel on aeroplanes, hot air balloons, robots, the Nautilus Submarine of which the novel 20000 Leagues Under the Sea has become famous for, and much more. There’s also an entire arc that takes a step back from being epic, and instead has the lead characters stranded on a desert island for about eight episodes, with the focus being much more on “slice of life” and trying to survive on that desert island. While it will probably be boring for those who are watching this series for its action, but these episode did a great job of fleshing out and developing the characters.

But what great action this series has! Consider that this series aired in 1990, it looks like no other TV-series that aired before. Hideki Anno did a great job in creating a TV-version of the Ghibli-esque graphics, in the days that Hayao Miyazaki was really at his most prolific. The series has a excellent selection of rich and colourful character-designs and other graphics, and while you can see that the drawings in this series were still done by hand, the animation is surprisingly smooth and detailed.

There unfortunately are a bunch of flaws that hold this series back from calling itself among the greatest adventure series out there. Especially the villains of this series just are hardly fleshed out. The major villain is your typical evil mastermind who wants to take over the world, and every single one of his subordinates has the personality of a paper bag. It’s very hard to take these guys seriously and consider them a serious threat, even though they’re usually competent at their jobs. I think that it’s also because of this that the ending contains a bunch of weird Deus ex Machina that just seemed to have been inserted to wrap up the story. Also, Nadia may have been a bit too often a damsel in distress, especially in the first half of the series.

At times the show is a bit hard to watch, because the barrier between men and women forms a major theme for especially the lead couple, but most of the important characters end up nicely developed by the end. Nothing memorable, but this development does makes sure for a bunch of really charming scenes in which this development comes together. And a honorable mention has to go to King, the animal side-kick who proved that subtlety and GAR do go together.

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

11 Responses

  1. Wyrdwad says:

    This one really haunts me, as I really *want* to like it… I’m a huuuuuge fan of adventure shows, with Ashita no Nadja, Future Boy Conan, and Castle in the Sky all among my favorites. But Nadia… ooph… admittedly, I only watched 8 or 10 episodes of this, but I really, really couldn’t get into it. And the reason I couldn’t get into it was Nadia herself… I really, really couldn’t stand Nadia. I just found her extremely unlikable! And I have a pet peeve about unlikable protagonists… if I can’t relate to them, I find myself unable to enjoy what I’m watching.

    I’m guessing she DOES get better over time… but I question how MUCH better she can possibly get. Because as of episode 8 or 10 or so, she just seems totally pompous, ungrateful, and distrustful of everyone.

    So what do you think… does she become more likable over time, or does she retain her general attitude and temperament throughout the whole series? ‘Cause if she DOES become more likable, it might be worth giving this show a second chance…

    -Tom

  2. Uebo7 says:

    Oh, you actually liked the island episodes? For me there was nothing good about them. They almost ruined the whole show. Character developement? More like de-development ( is that a word?. We finally get one good episode in the bunch when Nadia is released from the underground mind fuckery and whatnot and we see her with Jean looking quite content. Then on the next episode, we get a rediculous plot point that involves her getting a crush on a random African dude. They should have just went directly to the place they were at a few episodes later and it would have flowed better. From there the episodes felt like the earlier ones and things were good again. And then the animation is the worst I have ever seen in these middle episodes. It doesn’t really connect too well with the otherwise beutiful animation of the rest. Really the moment I saw Jean fill up with water litterally in the submarine…yeah I could tell things were going down hill. The only other middle episode I liked was the one featuring Jean passing out and dreaming about making a large oil factory and so on. But really I do like the show for everything else.

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Tom: granted, you did drop the series at its weakest point. The whole exploding second babel tower did get on my nerves as well, but this series gets a lot more enjoyable once the characters fully board the Nautilus and this series gets to flesh out the crew. But I guess that whether or not you should continue is going to depend whether you like the idea of three kids being thrown on an island and having to survive on their own for a number of episodes, which are probably the most controversial episodes of this series like noted by Uebo. I found them really charming and innocent, but you don’t want to watch them for the action or animation.

  4. Wyrdwad says:

    As long as Nadia’s less obnoxious during those episodes, that actually sounds rather charming to me. Remember, I’m a huge advocate of PopoloCrois 1998, where basically NOTHING HAPPENED between episodes 12 and 21… it was just character development, with almost no story advancement whatsoever. And I *loved* it. (:

    -Tom

  5. Anonymous says:

    This review really shows you know really little about animes and must have started watching them not that much time ago. A prototype for Team Rocket? More like an homage to the “evil” Doronbo Trio of the Time Bokan Series (Yatterman and others), which the Team Rocket was too. Oh and you really think that Xamd, Blue Submarine and Nadja are better than this masterpiece? Please. This tv series was really innovative back in the day, it was something no one had ever seen before. The only other series that stood a chance against it, in the adventure department, is the immortal classic Mirai Shonen Conan, but that’s it. Maybe I’m biased, because I watched it when it was released, but truly, there was no other series like this, and imho, there still isnt. Yeah some of the island episodes are kinda shit, but thats like the only flaw I can find.

  6. psgels psgels says:

    Well, seeing as I was only three years old when this series aired, I indeed lack the backstory here. This review is simply written from my perspective on how well it aged.

    Another reason why I didn’t take the age of this series into account is because of the Mysterious Cities of Gold: another adventure series which aired nine years earlier (and there are actually quite a few similarities between the two settings), and yet I had no problems whatsoever enjoying that series and it stands among my favourite adventure series I’ve seen, even though I watched it a bit less than a year ago.

  7. Pax says:

    I do remember I saw this anime back when I was a kid but I can’t remember anything about the story,oh well,maybe I will start watching it again,who knows.

    btw if you want to watch another great adventure try Takarajima(Secret Island),unfortunately it’s not completely subbed,still,that is why I recommend it to you and also to those who know german,since a german dubbed version can be found online.

  8. Amber says:

    Nadia’s Ghibli-esque storytelling is no accident. Miyazaki worked on an outline for a similar story. When he went on his own, he took his ideas with him and made Castle in the Sky and other such stories. However, Gainax got their hands on this outline and were so in awe of it, they decided to make the series.

    Also, the Isand and Africa episodes were done by a different director while the original fleshed out the last five episodes.

    All in all, I agree, it is a fun series, I just finished watching it myself. If only Nadia were more tolerable as a character, I would like it more. I agreed with a lot of things she pushed for, but the way she argued her stance made me hope someone slapped her and told her to shut up and sit down. Instead of being strong willed, she comes off as annoying. I guess…she is fourteen so I’ll let it slide.

    I love this series, and while it may not usurp every anime series ever, it is one of my personal favorites.

  9. Hettan says:

    Oh I know this anime!There was the kid, a boy genius who made that airplane and the helicopter when they were in a submarine and also invented a rocket or was it a jet? And the girl, Nadia has this diamond shape, violet/blue pendant whose from atlantis. My memory is kind of fuzzy but I remember liking it very much . . . and you did too! Great to know that it stood the test of time. ^^

  10. greentea says:

    I actually just finished rewatching this anime just now, and I thought it was pretty decent… as long as you cut out all the weird filler on the deserted island up till the part where they find the Red Noah…

    The entire storyline on the deserted island just feels like it was tacked on after the rest of the story was done. It seemed to me the whole deserted island part was about Jean and Nadia coming to terms about their feelings for each other, but the first thing they do when they land on Africa is get Nadia to fall in love with some random African? To me that seemed to kill the point of the entire deserted island arc. It also didn’t help that the animation seemed very inconsistent during the arc either.

    If I ever rewatch this series I’ve left myself a note to skip episodes 25,26,32,33, and 34. However these only serve to slightly tarnish the lustre of a generally good series that is well deserving of praise.

  11. Momo says:

    Well..this is old,

    but as for the filler, they DID tack on those episode because the show was exceeding their expectations in popularity. You know, they needed to drag it out =P

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 12:31 PM)
    @Raggers, Thanks for the advice. The arus it is then. Should do me till this “laptop revolution”.
    @afgm, Wasn’t there a female army sergent who got a anime picture drawn of her because people thought she was Moe? She didn’t seem to mind.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 06:39 AM)
    @Afgm: You’d hope that one would be shocked by it though. It’d be pretty narcissistic to get off on the notion someone would be doing that to an image of you…
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 05:47 AM)
    @afgm: Surreal was the word I was going to use for it yes.
  • afgm
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 05:37 AM)
    That must be surreal having random people pleasuring themselves to a cartoon version of you.
  • Nessie
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:51 AM)
    I still figure Shirobako is a dream the writers had of wanting attractive young girls working in their dingy workplace that they’ve realized into a series.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:48 AM)
    I know theres a hentai doujin out there of the big glasses guy and he’s based on seiji Mizushima =<
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:43 AM)
    Oh..dear…knowing that shirobako, that some of the characters are designed after a few real people thats going to be awkward if I ended up finding any of them attractive lol
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:29 AM)
    :facepalm: I meant the Asus looks decent
  • Raggers
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:28 AM)
    Aidan: the Aidan looks decent, and supposedly has good fans that aren’t horrendously loud so that’s a plus. You will still need headphones though, and it’s not too expensive so can last you a couple years, at which point I would recommend getting another one for the next 3-4 years.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 1. 2015 04:14 AM)
    Also shirobako was referred to once somewhere as this generations Honey and clover, that got my attention.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Death Parade Review – 65/100

  When I heard that Death Billards would be getting a full 12 episode series called Death Parade I was quite excited. The one episode short looked to be an excellent concept for a episodic series. A bar which people are sent to when they die which decides whether they go to heaven or hell […]

Death Parade – 12

So this is the end of Death Parade. Or at least this is the end of what may be it’s first and last season. The ongoing plot didn’t so much as tie itself up but rather fizzle out. Leaving a second season to tie up loose ends. A second season that may never come. I […]

Parasyte The Maxim Review-82.5/100

Parasyte, along with Gugure Kokkuri-San, are the only two shows from the last season that I’ve actually finished, and that’s actually saying quite a lot–seeing as how I haven’t been watching (much less blogging) anime at all this past season. However, I figured I should at least write a final review for Parasyte, just because […]

Death Parade – 11

So we are reaching the final conclusion and things are coming to a head. Chiyuki’s memories are restored and we find that in life she was an ice skater. An odd choice but it did lead to a rather beautiful scene of Chiyuki skating on Ice as she recalled her past. Admittedly I did try […]

Death Parade – 10

So Onna name is finally revealed and newly christened Chiyuki plays a game of old maid with a storyteller. Death parade, you are doing it again. You are drifting from what should be the focus of the series and really pushing this ongoing plot thread. So we learn a number of things. One, that Chiyuki’s […]

Durarara!!X2 – 09

  In reflection I think Durarara may have been a poor choice to blog. The reason being that when I sat down to watch this episode I was fully intent on finding something I could comment on. Then as the end credits roll I find myself at a loss to what to write about. With […]

Death Parade – 09

Well the end of the episode did get over melodramatic but still, a very good episode. It is rather amusing to see two people bond over a shared goal of revenge. Their thinking slowly edged towards a dangerous outlook it became clear that one of these two is not on the same wavelength as the […]

Durarara!!X2 – 08

No animation issues this time around thankfully. Really like the touch of Irelands flag on the cup Shinra gave the girl at their apartment. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Celty is indeed Irish. Probably one of the few Irish characters in anime. And here we learn that the one who told the little girl […]

Death Parade – 08

Why do you do this to me death parade? You dodge your true potential and instead focus on background exposition or, of all things, comedy. Then just as I was about to lose interest and give up, you present the best episode of the series so far. Now this, this is what I was talking […]

Latest Reviews

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]