Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (Fushigi no Umi no Nadia) – Visual Analysis

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

I took far too many screencaps with these posts and so I thought I’d better to do something with a few of them!

Visual Analysis

Firstly, I thought I’d start with some random single shots:

From the prologue with that ‘hand-drawn’ look that sometimes appears elsewhere in the series (and maybe even with a line to simulate the fold in a book). Next is some nice framing for the kids in hiding, and then lighting interrupts the line of soldiers, Jean finally has someone to share his love of science with, and at the end of the block, Sanson in action.

Round two! I’m including this first shot here because I like the composition but it’s also nice that it removes the unnecessary Ayerton too. Next is just an example of some detail on the new Nautilus because I didn’t share much of the mechanical visuals during the other posts. Next, Gargoyle adding super-dramatic lighting to his super-casual pose and finally, a close-up of Nemo’s blue water – another thing I forgot to show much in the reviews.

Okay, perhaps kinda randomly, here’s a bit of a longer section on Gargoyle’s introduction:

I like the way the camera pans up his body since starting from the feet reminds me of the classic femme fatale introduction in film noir – but obviously that genre hardly owns the technique 😀

Instead, it’s a tension-building moment combined with a signal that this is an important character. It also seems to really highlight the way Gargoyle thinks of himself as being quite the dapper gent, really. And in a way he is – he fits the type of villain with excellent manners but is also an utter psychopath. I think it also suits his ego, to have that striking suit. And look how casually unflappable the blighter is, with that single-hand-in-pocket stance!

Of course, when the camera finally reaches his face you get his disturbing but fancier-than-my-subordinates mask too. His design is one of my favourites but I also really like Motomu Kiyokawa’s commanding performance (who some will recognise as Norman from The Big O or maybe Kozo from NGE.)

There’s a lot of Nemo in these sorts of two-shots across the series, ones that put him in the foreground while he converses with others, usually without turning – I feel like it’s done to reinforce that notion of him as the boss, and super-driven, someone who can barely even take his eyes off the goal.

And to stick with Captain Nemo a moment, the scene below is always funny for me – aside from a rare glimpse of him bereft of hat, Grandis has taken the time to tie a bow upon the meal she made for him 😀

Now, to finish this post before it turns into a monster, maybe a look at Camera and Power.

This is the sort of thing that happens a lot (in all film) and it’s a nice and simple but still really effective sequence, using different shots to show a power imbalance between characters. Again, I’m not highlighting anything groundbreaking or anything that you wouldn’t find elsewhere but I’m having fun at least 😀

Okay, to start it’s two establishing shots and both reveal the scale of the setting and the power of the one who owns it, which we know is Gargoyle. The wide shot shows one character at ease and one not – being tied to a chair hardly seems like fun, right?

Next, a pair of over-the-shoulder-shots (classic for dialogue) but since this is not a conversation between equals, the camera isn’t ‘neutral’ at all. Instead, it’s a high-angle shot that shows Nadia looking up, seeming smaller than Gargoyle (more so).

For the reverse they switch to a low-angle – and now we can see Gargoyle looking down on Nadia (or at least, he would if I’d taken the snapshot at the right moment!)

And there’s the basic sequence! Similar things can be found in films all over the world of course.

But to continue in this scene a moment, I noticed the camera switches to a close-up a little later on, but rather than doing so in order to show Nadia’s defiance here, we see the classic anime ‘shadowed face/hidden eyes’ pose, because she’s giving in to his demands and feels the requisite shame.

Gargoyle then walks away in this wide shot – one that is another high angle, showing once more the scale of what she’s up against, a force Nadia cannot challenge just yet. The long shadows I reckon are a nice little call back to her moment of distress from earlier.


And finally for this fairly self-indulgent post, here’s a shot from Marie’s point of view during one of her lessons aboard the Nautilus 🙂

Here, Marie becomes an unreliable narrator of course, which is part of what makes the scene funny.

Tomorrow or maybe the day after (as I’m feeling a little fatigued from writing blog posts) the Nadia/Atlantis piece at last.

3 thoughts on “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (Fushigi no Umi no Nadia) – Visual Analysis

  1. I enjoyed that visual analysis. To be honest, I do need to be better at explaining shot composition more often in my reviews besides the occasional example here and there. A lot of those interpretations of these screencaps make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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