Posted by psgels on 19 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.

Mahou Shoujotai
Ashita no Nadja

12 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    Yay! You reviewed this! I’m actually halfway through the series and I really like it so far. By the way, you kinda posted the review twice in the same post. And yes, I agree with you that Jane is a great character.

  2. teresita says:

    Actually this is my first time hearing of secret of cerulean sands, but i really want to watch it now. sounds a bit like FMA though, still great review

  3. Generic Individual says:

    good review! – been reading your blog for a while and I was wondering when you’d get to this/

    it’s a great little show – I think it starts a tad slow and is full of some ludicrous plot holes and leaps in logic (even for a kids show) but its got such a fun adventure, almost Ghibli-ish vibe that you have to love it.

    Hopefully more people go out and find it.

  4. Hunter-Wolf says:

    @Generic Individual

    I totally agree about the Ghibli-ish vibe .. it really feels like a Ghibli adventure from the pics .. this alone will make me want to check it out.

  5. yamapishy says:

    awww..I never thought you’d review this series!!! It’s one of my favourites!!! wahhh arigatou gozaimasu!!!
    I love everything in this series neh…I think shoujo animes should be like this one. It’s definitely one of the best in history…oldies but goodies!!!^_^

  6. vucubcaquix says:

    Well, damn. Another show to put on the list…

    I can’t believe I never heard of this. Any similarity to Kemono no Souja Erin? Because I really liked that show.

  7. psgels psgels says:

    Vucubcaquix: Well, I guess that they’re both shoujo adventures, but the big difference between them is that Erin was very slow paced, while the Secret of Cerulean Sand has a bit of a fast pacing.

  8. vucubcaquix says:

    Thanks for that, I found a copy on bakabt, but the encode is pretty ancient. I mean, man, DivX…

  9. DangerMouse says:

    I absolutely loved this, a great adventure show, nice to hear about it again, it’s been a while. :)

  10. crazedrace says:

    ive just started watching the show, ive got to disagree with your assessment of Jane, she just seems like a spoiled brat, at least for the first 6-7 episodes that ive seen so far

  11. Firechick says:

    @crazedrace: Don’t worry. Jane gets a lot better in the episodes after that. I assure you.

  12. Piroca de Fantasma é Geladinha says:

    Finished it a few days ago, already in 2015, one decade after it was fansubbed.
    Really liked it. Recommended.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 11:09 PM)
    I have to finish the world is mine someday…and read all of Yamamoto Naoki’s works, looks like some good obscure seinen there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:52 PM)
    @Realist: Slice of life fan, you’ll want to go off and read Taiyou matsumoto’s work, Sunny being one of them.
  • Kevin
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:50 PM)
    @ninjarealist Ha u that one nigga that jet lol nice way to sneak back, I missed you. Remember me?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:48 PM)
    @Realist: I imagine you will be seeing black mass?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:47 PM)
    @Realist: Oh by the way I remember ages ago you recommended Meserine to me, not the biggest gangster fan out there and this did suffer from the usual issues of the bipic format but some great action bits in it =) and Vincent Cassel doing what he does best.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:45 PM)
    @Realist: Whatever name you prefer is fine. Though its Kaiser now so we may as well use that.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:28 PM)
    @Kaiser/Emma (do you prefer to go by Kaiser now?) Punpun is the best, but I don’t see it getting adapted any time soon. As someone who personally loves slice-of-life, I love Dead Demons.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:11 PM)
    My concern for subete is largely, is it 11 or 22 episodes long? 22 episodes would be better because the story could develop better.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:04 PM)
    I had a look into the black jack manga and I remember the other two black jack anime I saw, the mangas stories seem a bit more fantastical.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Oct 8. 2015 10:00 PM)
    And this really looks to be more grown up and mature than sakurako. Sakurako was pretty disappointing.

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