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.

Leave a Reply


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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:59 PM)
    @Masky: no definitely not every game, but you made it sound as if the whole idea of realism in videogames is ludicrous. Now I haven’t played Undertake myself, but looking at the Steam pics in looks like a humorous retro pixelart indie project, in which case it doesn’t need to be realistic but it still should respect it’s own internal logic. Unless it’s meant to be all bonkers like an Xavier: Renegade Angel episode, but again very few things are like that.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 07:30 PM)
    Oh lol the Symphogear guy teased the idea of a fourth season for it, you mad mad bastard.
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.

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