is a Japanese animated television series inspired by the works of Jules Verne, particularly Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the exploits of Captain Nemo. The series was created by Toho, from a concept of Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by Hideaki Anno of Gainax.
The series follows a young inventor named Jean and a former circus performer named Nadia, who wishes to return to her home in Africa.
In its original Japanese broadcast, it aired from 1990 to 1991 and ran for 39 episodes. The complete television series is available in the United States from ADV Films on DVD. ADV's Anime Network has broadcast the series in the United States. Reportedly, the series was to have been screened on TV in the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s, but the UK distributor balked because of the amount of violence in the series.
The series centers around Nadia, a young girl of unknown origins, and Jean, a young French inventor. Early in the story, the two protagonist were chased by Grandis Granva, Sanson, and Hanson, a group of jewel thieves who pursue Nadia for the blue jewel she possesses. After being rescued by Captain Nemo and his submarine, the Super Sea Cruiser Nautilus, the jewel thieves and the young protagonists join forces and participate in the struggle against the Neo-Atlantean forces, who seek to dominate the world.
In the process, Nadia and Jean save the world from violent domination by the Neo-Atlantean forces led by Gargoyle, explore worldly mysteries and the powers of the blue pendant, uncover Nadia's hidden family ties, and ultimately discover the secret origins of Nadia.
Nadia: Nadia is a 14 year-old African circus performer of Kenyan decent. She is stubborn, short tempered and a strict vegetarian. After Jean rescues her from the Grandis Gang, she sets out on an adventure with him to determine the origin of the "Blue Water", the jewel that beckons the criminals to her.
- Jean Roque Raltique: Jean is a young 14 year-old orphan from Paris who fell in love with Nadia at first sight. He is generous, patient, friendly, and devoted to science as well as his friends. His father is a wealthy trader who was lost at sea and declared dead, but Jean refuses to believe that and is determined to find him.
- Marie en Carlsberg: Marie is a 4 year-old orphan found by Nadia and Jean whose parents were murdered by the Neo-Atlanteans. The two decide to stay with her and protect her. She is incredibly intelligent and charismatic for her age. Her playmate is "King" the Lion cub.
- Grandis Granva: Grandis is a 28 year-old woman. She was born into a rich French family, but is now broke and disowned by her relatives. She is the leader of the "Grandis Gang", a trio of jewel thieves. After being rescued along with Nadia, Jean and Marie by the Nautilus, she and her henchmen befriend the children. She develops a huge crush on Capt. Nemo. She also becomes a mother-figure to Nadia.
- Sanson: Sanson is 22 years old and the muscle behind the "Grandis Gang". He considers himself an expert on handling women and is an excellent artist with a rifle. He develops a relationship with Marie and tries to help Jean grow closer to Nadia.
- Hanson: Hanson is 29 years old the brains of the "Grandis Gang" who built the Gratan, the gang's small multi-purpose vehicle. Like Jean, he's into science and has a mild crush on Electra.
- Nemo: Nemo is the captain of the Nautilus, a submarine manned by individuals looking to stop the Neo-Atlanteans at all costs. He is a mysterious man with a dark past who acts cold when he first meets Jean and Nadia, but later warms up to Jean's outgoing cheerfulness and enthusiasm. He becomes a father-figure and mentor to both Jean and (most especially) Nadia.
- Electra: Electra is 26 years old and an orphan since the destruction of her hometown. She was saved by Captain Nemo and is his first mate on the 'Nautilus'. She and Nemo share a past experience that's never explained.
- Gargoyle: Gargoyle is the head of the Neo-Atlantean forces and is the primary antagonist. He is hell-bent on world domination, but to do that he must first destroy Nemo and the Nautilus, and take possession of the Blue Water. He is ruthless, cold and remorseless and will kill anyone who gets in his way.
This show's origins date to the 1970s when Hayao Miyazaki
was hired by Toho
to develop a television series. One of these concepts was "Around the World Under the Sea", (adapted from Jules Verne
's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
), in which two orphan children pursued by villains team up with Captain Nemo and the Nautilus
. It was never produced, but Toho retained the rights for the story outline, while the animator reused elements from his original concept in later projects like Future Boy Conan
and Castle in the Sky
In 1988, Gainax was appointed by Toho to produce a series for the Japanese educational network NHK. Miyazaki's outline for "Around the World Under the Sea" captivated the Gainax staff and, under the direction of Hideaki Anno, created The Secret of Blue Water.
The series was scheduled to run for two cours, but show's popularity prompted the network to request more episodes. Production on new episodes ran late. Starting with episode 11, Anno was working up to 18 hours a day. After episode 20, NHK put Nadia on hold due to limited budget. The series returned a month later with episode 21. Production was still slow, and Anno asked friend and Gainax co-founder Shinji Higuchi to take over the direction from episodes 23 to 34, while he focused on crafting the final five episodes. These were occasionally referred to as the "island episodes" by fans who consider them oddly-animated and poor-quality filler. Out of the newly commissioned episodes Anno has later stated that he would have saved only episodes 30 and 31 if he were given a chance of omitting them; he produced a shortened compilation of Nadia called "The Nautilus Story", which deletes much of the island/Africa continuity and focuses more on the struggle between Gargoyle and Nemo.)
Shortly after Nadia completed its first broadcast in Japan, Carl Macek and Streamline Pictures purchased the rights to Nadia. Because of financial difficulties, Streamline could only dub the first eight episodes, released over eight VHS tapes. The dub's cast included Wendee Lee as Nadia, Ardwight Chamberlain as Jean, Jeff Winkless as Captain Nemo, Cheryl Chase as Mary, Melanie MacQueen as Grandis, Tom Wyner as Sanson, Steve Kramer as Hanson, Edie Mirman as Electra, and Steve Bulen as Gargoyle. In 1996, Streamline's rights for the show expired. Later, In 2001 ADV Films purchased the series, and commissioned a new dub to be recorded at their Austin-based Monster Island studios. The new dub cast included actual children in the roles of Nadia, Jean, and Marie--Meg Bauman (13, Nadia), Nathan Parsons (12, Jean), and Margaret Cassidy (11, Marie).
A Nadia feature film sequel premiered in Japanese theaters in 1992. The events take place three years after the defeat of Gargoyle and Neo-Atlantis. Gainax had no involvement in the production of this movie, and the quality suffered greatly as a result; nearly one third of the ninety-minute feature consists of frequently edited clips from the show. Due to its preceived poor quality, the movie is not well-known in the United States. ADV licensed it and released as "Nadia: The Motion Picture" on DVD in February 2003.
A Nadia video game
was released in 1991 for the Famicom
console and Super Famicom. The player controls a cast of characters in a simplistic strategy battle game. Battles are carried out through an RPG
The series won the Animage
Anime Grand Prix in 1990.