Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (Fushigi no Umi no Nadia) – The Nautilus Arc, Episodes 9-19

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (Fushigi no Umi no Nadia) 1990

Post number three now – this is the longer ‘arc’ as it were, and things are about to get quite episodic, as we head into the longest stretch of episodes before the quality vanishes for a while.

The Nautilus Arc – Episodes 9-19

Okay, I could have split this section into two groupings as it covers quite a large range of episodes but in the end I just… didn’t 😀

Anyway, here we have the biggest arc (and I use that term loosely I guess) of the series and the section that is most episodic. Gargoyle is still a threat, still someone Nemo and his crew are hunting, but smaller problems are met and solved too, maintaining that adventure feel. It’s also an important time for character development, which I’ll mention further down. (There’s also a spoiler during the ‘highlights’ section).

In terms of pacing, things slow down once more so that the audience can now get to know Nemo and his crew. This is a problem in the sense that it impacts the momentum that had been built up, but since I love episodic storytelling I’m kinda easy to please, I suspect 🙂

At first, the interpersonal conflict is perhaps mostly ‘teenage’ as Jean and Nadia continue their awkward (and generally cute) courtship, but hints of more troubling things to come are foreshadowed – chiefly the possible connection between Nemo and Nadia, but also what this might mean for Electra, who is more troubled than she seems at this point.

Aside from new inventions, sea mines, chases, sea creatures, nuclear leaks, underwater graveyards, a god-like whale and a fairly large dose of romantic comedy and rivalry, it’s this arc where more character development is introduced – not that it’s absent previously.

In this section there are a lot of plot threads happening at once but perhaps most important (other than the specifics around Gargoyle’s madness) is both Jean and Nadia’s relationship to each other, and to Captain Nemo. Nadia is always pushing Nemo away – usually through her fear or stubbornness, whereas Jean is drawn to the stern father-figure. And while Jean is helped by both Hanson and Sanson just as much, in terms of the coming-of-age stuff, it is Nemo who seems to have the bigger impact on the young genius.

Now, rather than put you through a breakdown of the sections within this section, I’ll try and mention just a few of my highlights from the arc:

A Stand Out Episode: #12 Grandis and Her First Love

I almost picked this one for Sanson’s outburst alone, poor guy.

But elsewhere it’s a nice change of pace from the (great) underwater tension of the sub, with that comical rivalry between Electra and Grandis taking the main stage. It also allows Jean and Nadia to bond, though of course Gainix couldn’t resist chucking in the old ‘accidental pervert’ trope.

At the end of Grandis and Her First Love however, Nadia’s vegetarianism makes an important return to the plot. Once again, her trust of adults (and Jean) is tested, setting things up for an even more dramatic – probably melodramatic actually – ending to the following episode.

A Gripping Moment: Ensign Fait’s Death

I do wish more time had been taken with this storyline to build it up further by giving Jean and the viewer more time with Fait earlier.

Every time this scene gets to me – probably due to Noriko Hidaka’s performance, and I feel for the crew of the Nautilus, and especially Jean whose blind, even naive faith in technology and science is badly, badly shaken.

A Touching Moment: Nemo’s Tear

Captain Nemo takes the kids to the surface of Antarctica where they witness the aurora and Nemo is quite moved. Despite the tendency for his eyes/one eye to often remain hidden by the brim of his hat, Nadia catches a glimpse of a tear at this point. It shocks her and we get a softening in her attitude toward him – something which becomes perhaps more poignant only a few episodes later.

It’s an important moment for a character who can be kinda cruel at times – and so the audience needs to see those extra facets to her personality.

Now, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve spent a whole heap of time so far in these posts on the storytelling rather than the visuals – and yeah, maybe that’s a bit of an imbalance for an animated series but I do have a few notes here and there in captions at least 😉

And I will get there in more detail soon but I want to note now that the character designs of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Shunji Suzuki really stand out for me, heaps of variety and they’re great at comical faces without (usually) going overboard. (I think most folks know that Nadia and Shinji from Neon Genesis are quite similar too.)

But obviously don’t go in to Nadia expecting modern animation blends with CGI etc – and that’s not to say it’s bad, but you will see a fair few pans across stills and other cost-saving techniques at play throughout. On the other hand, the colours are bright when they need to be and the action sequences always feel cut together nicely, compared to having tonnes of really dynamic camera movements for instance.

Expect a lot of these dramatic close-ups throughout the series 🙂

Okay, that’s probably enough for now – next time, Episodes 20-22 Beneath the Mask as I’m going to call that mini-arc.

As far as I can, tell this is the only female employee on Gargoyle’s evil henchman roster.
Maybe the phrasing is clumsy here from the kids – but this is the kind of utopia I think Nemo feels that he provides in the ship – maybe it’s paternalistic due his role, and I guess it’s a shame that vengeance is the thing that it takes to bring everyone together here.

7 thoughts on “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (Fushigi no Umi no Nadia) – The Nautilus Arc, Episodes 9-19

  1. I knew you were going to mention the Nadia/Shinji art design fact at some point! Hahaha! Yeah, that still blows my mind that they have the same facial structures.

    Yeah, that “blacks and whites” line is so awkwardly worded. I get what they’re trying to say and mean, but that could’ve been phrased so much better regardless if the story takes place in a time when there was even less racial harmony.

    I also have a hilarious in hindsight moment that popped in my head by the time I read your Nadia posts and it involves King. He’s one of three animated lions who have a royal title as a name and the second one who is a white lion (see where this is going?). The first is Caesar from Kimba the White Lion. The third involves using one of the Swahili words for the word “king”: Mufasa! It’s even crazier when you realize that besides Nadia’s pet lion, the other two are father lions who get murdered, were the original kings of their kingdoms, and their spirits show up in the night sky to motivate their sons when they feel like they can’t save their subjects. Also, Noriko Hidaka would play Lukio (Kimba and Kitty’s daughter) in Jungle Emperor Leo ’97.

    It’s been great checking out your Nadia posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fascinating that such tweaks can make such a difference too! I once saw a piece of fan art with Shinji cosplaying Nadia and it was funny, nice in-joke.

      Wow, I wonder if ‘King’ is also a nod from Gainax to Kimba? Glad you’re liking the posts too, I’ve hit a slight snag in the ‘Atlantis’ post but hopefully it’s worth the wait, though I’m trying to keep it short 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, right? There was fan art about that? Oh, wow. Haha!

        That is quite plausible since Kimba is still an anime icon to this day in Japan. There’s even a baseball team called the Saitama Seibu Lions that have used that character as the mascot since the 70s and was on the team’s logo for decades. Speaking of Gainax and Kimba, Toshio Okada (one of the founders) found THIS shirt which is just beyond hilarious!

        Liked by 1 person

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