Action, drama, excitement, and more!
Jonathon Turner | Highland Park, NJ USA | 01/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second installment of NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER is arguably the best of the ten volumes (until Volume 10), and, even if one decides to stop watching the show by the time Volume 2 comes to an end, he/she will feel as they've watched truly first-class entertainment. There's action sequences, truly maniacal villains, and just enough emotional trauma to keep viewers engrossed. And each episode only builds one's interest, encouraging him/her to keep on watching until the grand climax.
It starts off with Nadia, Jean, and King (her pet lion cub) getting shot down from their aeroplane over a strange island. The two seem to be falling for each other as they work together to survive in this mysterious new world which happens to be filled with danger. Little do they know that Grandis, Sanson and Hanson have also ended up on the island and are continuing to pursue them. But the tables become abruptly turned when it is revealed that an evil cult organization is governing the island.
This organization is Neo-Atlantis, whose inhabitants constantly go around wearing menacing-looking masks, almost to suggest the Nazis or any other powerhungry army in real life. Its leader, Gargoyle, is one of the most unusual villains in any Anime I've seen to date. Like his fellow soldiers, he, too, hides his face behind a mask, covers his head in a tall hood, but he wears a red suit and black tie. He's not an over-the-top monster like, say, Wagnard from RECORD OF LODOSS WAR, but a cruel, calculating, misanthropic fiend obsessed with world conquest. He's also manipulative, sarcastic, and very deadly -- he threatens to kill anybody he pleases, and taps into other people's weaknesses in order to make them do his bidding. He even employs a supercharged weapon, the Tower of Babel, which can wipe out an entire island in one blast... much to his glee and delight. "It is glorious! The world will know the wrath of God once again, and they will kneel in fear to our authority!" he gloats as he observes the destruction of one such island, demonstrated by the power of his weapon.
In their efforts to stay alive, Nadia, Jean, and King encounter a little girl named Marie (an absolutely adorable cutie who is the spitting image of Mei from MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO), whose parents, we find out, have been gunned down by the Neo-Atlanteans. Marie and King are both captured by the soldiers, and Nadia and Jean sneak into the secret base to rescue them, only to have Nadia be captured herself. In Gargoyle's clutches, Nadia is brutally interrogated and almost forced to betray Jean by revealing that she left the Blue Water with him before turning herself in. Jean nevertheless is determined to rescue her, and, in doing so, finds unlikely allies in Grandis, Sanson, and Hanson, who are also captives at the base.
To reveal anything more would be giving major spoilers, but the buildup in this volume is so spectacular you'll wish it would stay that way throughout the show. (More on that in a later review, however.) The artwork is imaginative and spectacular for a 1990 Anime TV series, and the music, which started out as a bit bland, turns dark and mysterious, like the show. What makes this volume stand above the rest is that it can be watched as an individual adventure *without* seeing the first installment. It's suspenseful, action-packed, and full of interesting twists and turns which will leave you dangling on the edge of your seat.
ADV Films' second DVD continues to share the same great qualities as its predecessor, video and audio wise, even though the extras have remained unchanged. I spotchecked the Japanese language track, and while it's good for the most part, I'm not sure if I liked the voices of Marie or Sanson. Marie sounded too high-pitched and Sanson too deep. Fortunately, the dub does not suffer from this problem. The principals from the first volume continue to display great work (even Jean's French accent becomes less distracting as the show goes on), and the voices for the new characters introduced are well matched. Eleven-year-old Margaret Cassidy -- the third of the child performers which make the dub special -- plays Marie, and she does an excellent job sounding like a cute little girl. Her childish voice is convincing, her giggling endearing, her cries mournful, and she offers some of the best lines too. Cassidy's biggest moment, however, is to sound stressed and frightened as she recalls the death of her parents. This is a very demanding scene which requires a lot of emotion to pull off, and Cassidy truly shines here -- a rare feat for child actresses at any age. Gargoyle's English VA, David Jones, was the one voice that I found to be questionable. The problem isn't that Jones doesn't do a good job, but his inflections of Gargoyle are a rather different contrast to that of Motomu Kiyokawa. Rather than sounding menacing and scary, Jones instead comes off as casual, sarcastic, and arrogant. However, this is all in line with the character. If the dub directors were trying to emphasize his attitude a little bit more, then Jones succeeds in doing so. Despite this debatable performance, Monster Island's dub of NADIA is good work, and probably one of their most underrated efforts.
The quality of the show varied after this volume (the Nautilus episodes are on the same level as these four episodes, however), but the second addition to NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER remains a classic."