Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water - Production


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 NHK Educational TV. 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 the 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, a sentiment that even Anno shared. Out of the newly commissioned episodes the director 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 Marieā€”Meg Bauman (14, 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 perceived 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 August 2002.

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