Welcome aboard the Nautilus Episodes!
Jonathon Turner | Highland Park, NJ USA | 02/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although one may feel tempted to stop watching NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER after Volume 2, especially since it comes to a rather suitable closure, they'll be missing out on the real adventure that is just beginning. Yes, there's more to this tale than meets the eye. The third volume in the series begins the Nautilus episodes, which are ultimately what make NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER not only a pleasant inspiration on Jules Verne's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA but where it's heart lies. There are a total of fourteen episodes which span three-and-a-half volumes, and while they are much slower than the two-volume long opening and the five last episodes, they're certainly leaps and bounds above the filler garbage which plagues the show for about three volumes.
But what also makes the Nautilus episodes worth watching are not only because they're simply engaging and full of surprises, danger, and exploration, but we also get to see the characters and their relationships unfold. It starts out with Jean, Nadia, Marie, and their foes-turned-allies (the ever-funny trio of Grandis, Sanson, and Hanson), having escaped from Gargoyle's island, being taken aboard Captain Nemo's fantastic machine. Although they're at first kept within cabins and denied access around the submarine, everyone nevertheless comes to find a special place of their own on the Nautilus. Jean, in particular, is extremely excited -- after all, what better place is there to learn about technology and wonders beyond his imaginations than the Nautilus? He continues to be extremely outgoing and friendly, and makes friends with all the crew members, including Electra (with, in the English dub, a British accent to "accentuate" her proper, controlled attitude), who treats him like a little brother, and eventually Captain Nemo himself. Nemo (voiced with a mixture of remorse and moodiness by Ev Lunning, Jr.) is more obsessed with his struggle against Gargoyle and has no interest in children or new recruits, but Jean's ever cheerful personality warms his tormented heart and he comes to find a supplementary son in the young lad. Hanson, too, is excited, especially since he, like Jean, is a mechanic who wants to learn more about scientific marvels. He also has an eye for Electra -- even if she doesn't feel the same way about him. Even Grandis changes her initially harsh opinion about the Nautilus when she falls head over heels in love with Captain Nemo! She attempts to catch his eye (unsuccessfully) by cooking a bizarre platter of fish in one episode, then, in another, dons a rather daring (by 1880's standards) bikini. Unfortunately, this also ignites a series of heated catfights with Electra, who is jealous not only of Nadia, but Grandis as well. Their arguments are probably among the funniest moments of the entire show, and it's obvious that Sarah Richardson (Grandis) and Jennifer Stuart (Electra) are having a fun time hamming it up in these scenes.
Not that everybody else is pleased, however. Marie and King both get reduced to having a school session with Electra, which infuriates the former because the latter beats her to solving math problems (another fine moment for Margaret Cassidy and Shawn Sides, whose growls as King are nothing short of funny). Sanson's only concern, aside from looking out for Grandis's welfare, is showing off his new suit (even though all of them look the same). He also has a strong detestation of the rather redundant menu of meals on the Nautilus, as expressed in probably his best line on the volume: "Fish for breakfast! Fish for lunch! More fish for dinner! Every day it's the same thing over and over: grab a plate and eat fish, fish, fish, fish, fish, FISH!!!!!!!!!!! Overall, I... have to say I'm a bit tired of fish." Actually, most of the humor from Sanson's lines are made all the more hilarious by Martin Blacker's over-the-top goofy performance.
Aside from the somewhat slow pace, there are two other minor shortcomings with this volume. First, the last episode, although well told, ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger which makes one greatly anticipate the next volume (especially if you've just collected this one and have not purchased the remaining seven). Second, (this is a personal gripe), Nadia herself can be annoying at times, particularly when she shows suspicion toward *everybody* on the Nautilus, especially Captain Nemo and occasionally throws temper tantrums for no good reason at Jean, who obviously doesn't deserve them. Fortunately, Nadia is intelligent enough to recognize whenever she's out of line with Jean (after all, she *does* trust him along with Marie and King), and does more than one reconciliatory thing to show that she cares deeply for him. The most moving part of all this is how patient Jean is -- he never gets angry back but instead forgives her instantly because he recognizes that she has her faults and needs to experience true friendship. This, to me, is where NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER's central heart really lies -- how Jean's constant kindness slowly teaches Nadia how to be a good person herself.
That said, the third volume in NADIA is among the "must-see" gems of this show, as there's plenty of character development, great artwork, and one great action sequence (Hanson and Sanson struggling to clear the Nautilus out of a deadly mine field set up by Gargoyle) which are too good to miss."