I may be hard on shoujo series at times, but don’t get me wrong: when done right I really love the genre (heck, my favourite series of all time is pretty much a shoujo adventure). Patapata Hikousen no Bouken (otherwise known as the Secret of Cerulean Sand) is a bit childish at times, but it’s a wonderfully charming adventure series that doesn’t shy away from dark topics.
As a story that’s constantly moving forwards, it tells about Jane Buxton and the people she meets as she tries to find her lost brother. While seemingly realistic at first, it quickly shows a number of science fiction roots not unlike Nadia and the Secret of Blue Water. Not surprisingly, since both are based on stories by Jules Verne (a guy who wrote about aeroplanes, decades before they were actually invented). A lot of attention went into creating all kinds of different machines, where this series puts especially its focus on flying machines, but there is a lot more than just that. It’s pretty much the science fiction of 150 years ago. The story also gets pretty epic and fast paced, leaving hardly any time to get bored.
Jane as the lead characters has a ton of charms. She may be a teenager, but she’s smart, knows what she wants, she can think for herself and overall she’s a great character to keep the entire series from flowing smoothly. Among the side characters there’s also quite a bit of character-development throughout the entire series, and I can really only recall two characters whose antics become annoying (a dog and a kid), but even they are not that bad.
While the key animation frames may not look impressive, the in-between animation is where this series really shines. You can spot some repeated frames here and there, but it really is surprisingly smooth and lively at others. The ghibli-esque use of bright colours really makes this a pretty series to look at, despite the seemingly average character-designs. The music is also surprisingly good. Combine this with a solid script and the action scenes are all pretty good throughout the series, ranging from the epic ones to small chases.
You’re going to need a lot of suspense of disbelief, though. It’s entertaining, but this series does remain a children’s adventure. Its main problem is its “children are smarter than adults”-mentality. I mean, I know Jane is smart and all, but when she keeps escaping the bad guys after being captured, time after time, they should have started wondering about how efficient their own security is.
The main bad guy is an interesting one. I mean, he’s as stereotypical as you can get, but the series is aware of it. It knew that it needed a guy like him in order to show the things it wanted to show, and so they did take care in giving him a background, personality and solid motivation… which actually are quite good, and actually result into a surprisingly solid ending. Nowadays, you hardly get to see any new adaptations of classic novels. Which is a pretty darned shame when you see series like this one. It’s not the best, but it has a lot of charms.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – If you bring a healthy dose of suspense of disbelief you’ll be rewarded by an exciting adventure whose story just keeps moving and evolving.|
|Characters:||8/10 – The stereotypical bad guys don’t prevent the charms of the main cast to shine.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Good soundtrack. Smooth animation, surprisingly good for its looks.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Very neat ideas behind the setting, machines and plot twists. Don’t try to ask the how and why behind it, though. It’s not that solid.|