9 December 2004 | gladrius
Guyver was my first anime love, but Secret of Blue Water always loved me back
Possible spoilers ahead.
I don't know what I can possibly say about this phenomenal series that hasn't been said already, but I'm here to try anyway. From the moment I saw a review of this series in Gamefan magazine (rest in peace), I fell in love. I had to see it. I dashed out to the mall and grabbed the first copy I saw. And it grabbed me right back, and would not let me go.
The series uses 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (and to a lesser extent the sequel Mysterious Island) as a jumping point for its own story. It takes place in 1889, and revolves around two teens, Jean, a French boy who wants to change the world with inventions and is the biggest weenie who's ever been the hero of an anime, and Nadia, a circus acrobat and animal trainer who has a magical crystal, the Blue Water, and no clue about where she comes from. During the course of things they embark on an adventure to get to the bottom of Nadia's past, meet Captain Nemo and help to stop a group of people from Atlantis from taking over the world. And I loved every minute of it.
I mean for crying out loud, what kind of mad genius does it take to make episodes on end of adjusting to life on a submarine entertaining? Whatever kind it is, the guys at Gainax had it. Their smarts in storytelling show in other areas too, mainly the finely tuned characters, like the obligatory kid, Marie, who manages to be anything but the obnoxious brat the kid in an anime series almost always is. Nadia's the only short-tempered anime girl I've ever actually liked. The Grandis Gang go from the comically inept antagonists to helpful and resourceful back-up for the other characters once the real menacing villains show up. In the two really big battles of the series it's arguably them who ultimately save the day.
It does warrant mentioning that this show kind of flounders in the middle, owing to a bunch of quickly-proudced episodes that were shoehorned in to pad out the length of the series when it became an unexpected hit. Most of the mid-to-late 20's of Nadia can be skipped without missing anything worth seeing.
If you're an anime fan, want to watch a series with people in it you'll care about, and don't mind being expected to root for a dork like Jean, please do yourself a favor and pick this up. Oh, and do yourself another favor and watch it with the subtitles on. I'm sure Nathan Parsons is a wonderful human being who'd give me the shirt off his back, but a friend of mine actually started laughing out loud at how dumb Jean's voice sounded when we watched it with the English voices.
And before I go, I want affirm what everyone else is saying, that the sequel movie is terrible and should be avoided by fans of the series at all costs. Unless you want to see how badly a story can undermine itself (pretty much every suspense issue is defeated by watching the series epilogue and twenty five minutes straight of the movie is series flashbacks). Otherwise, stay away. You'll thank me.