Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Anime Music Video Compilations: “Nadia of the Mysterious Seas Music Video”

Publisher: Toshiba EMI
Format: VHS and Laserdisc, NTSC, Japanese Dialogue
Length: 29 minutes
Original Release Date: 30 August 1991
Animation Exclusive to this Release: Sort of…
Other Sources (Japanese unless noted): Nadia of the Mysterious Seas Music Video (Laserdisc, 1997), Nadia of the Mysterious Seas DVD Box (2001), Nadia of the Mysterious Seas Music Video (DVD, 2001), Nadia of the Mysterious Seas Music Video (DVD Re-issue, 2004)
Currently Availability (as of writing): Out of Print

Note: Originally published on the Anime Archivist blog December 2012.

In the early 1990’s, anime fandom in Japan and the west went absolutely nuts for “Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water” (or “Nadia of the Mysterious Seas”). Even the lead character, Nadia, a moody orphaned African princess and a vegetarian to boot, managed to knock Nausicaä from Animage magazine’s monthly character poll. That’s quite a feat as Nausicaä had been on top of the poll since 1984, and due to her personality and dare I say it, skin colour, Nadia seemed to be a highly unlikely candidate to make it to the top of the Animage character poll. In 1991 “Nadia of the Mysterious Seas” also won Animage’s annual Grand Prix. The irony of Nadia ending Nausicaä’s reign at the top of Animage’s poll was that “Nadia” itself was based upon a rejected Hayao Miyazaki story concept. He pitched the idea in the 1970’s to Toho Studios which was originally titled “Around the World in 80 Days by Sea”, which in turn was loosely based upon Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. While Toho shelved the idea, Miyazaki did use elements of it for his own TV series “Future Boy Conan” and his 1986 film “Laputa, Castle in the Sky”. However when public broadcaster NHK saw Gainax’s “The Wings of Honneamise” they was so impressed that in 1988, in cooperation with Toho, revived Miyazaki’s unused story and asked the studio to produce a series based upon it. It was first broadcast on Japanese TV in April 1990 and became Gainax’s first hit anime.

The story of “Nadia” begins in Paris during the World Exposition in 1889. 14 year old Jean Rocque Raltique along with his uncle, are here to compete in flying machine competition in an attempt to not only take home the prize money, but to be the first person to fly an airplane. While doing the final checks on the aircraft, Jean is taken aback by the sight of a young dark skinned girl riding a bicycle. He follows her to the Eiffel Tower in an attempt to become friends, however Nadia is very standoffish and refuses to have a bar of him. Suddenly a bodacious woman, Grandis Granva, and her two male companions, Sanson and Hanson (collectively called the Grandis Gang), attempt to rob Nadia of her pendant, the Blue Water. Nadia easily escapes and Jean decides to follow her and the gang back to Nadia’s current home, the circus. There she is a lion tamer and an acrobat. The Grandis Gang “buy” Nadia off the ringmaster, but Jean scatters the gang and rescues Nadia using a motorised monocycle borrowed from the circus. Despite this, Nadia still won’t have anything to do with Jean. That is until the Grandis Gang kidnap Nadia using their gadget packed Gratan tank. Using his uncle’s plane (unfortunately totalling it) and his own boat, Jean rescues Nadia again and the pair head back to Jean’s home in Le Harve.

Unfortunately racism rears its ugly head, and Jean’s aunt refuses to take Nadia in. With the Grandis Gang still in hot pursuit of Nadia’s pendant, the pair then set off in Jean’s own aircraft in search of Nadia’s homeland, supposedly somewhere in Africa. However the engine breaks down, and they find themselves stranded in the middle of the ocean. Luckily they are picked up by a passing US battleship. The battleship is currently in the midst of hunting down a mysterious sea monster that has been sinking merchant ships. One of the sunken vessels was the ship of Jean’s father, who is still missing. Later the battleship is attacked and sunk by the sea monster and Nadia and Jean are forced to abandon ship. Luckily Jean’s damaged aircraft manages to survive the carnage, so they climb on board in the hope of being rescued. As luck would have it, they suddenly find themselves inside the belly of a highly advanced submarine named Nautilus piloted by the mysterious Captain Nemo. The crew are in the midst of fighting Neo-Atlantean Empire, led by the evil Gargoyle, who wishes to enslave humanity and are the ones behind sea monster menace. The synopsis I’ve written only covers the first few episodes. I could write a whole lot more about this series, but the focus for this post is to look at its first music video compilation;

“My Precious Trick Star ~Yasashisa o Kureta Anata e~” performed by Silk
The opening song of this music video compilation comes from the rather hideous Nadia movie sometimes known as “The Secret of Fuzzy” which was released a month or so before this compilation. The song originally ran over the movie’s end credits and is performed by Silk, Kinuko Oomori’s (the voice of Priss from “Bubblegum Crisis”and possibly the best pop idol from the period in my opinion) band. While the song was originally released on the Nadia movie CD soundtrack in July 1991 (also released on Silk’s “Face” EP in December 1991), curiously the video itself doesn’t contain any footage at all from the film. Instead we are treated to a bunch of random footage from various episodes. Oddly enough this video also contains a couple of very short sequences which didn’t appear in the TV series itself; a corrected shot of the Nautilus and an alternate shot of a landing of a Neo-Atlantis saucer. They’re both “blink and you’ll miss them” types of shots. Why these shots appear here in this compilation is anyone’s guess.

“Jinsei-Koro no March” performed by Yuuko Mizutani
Like the majority of songs in this compilation, this one is a character song. Yuuko Mizutani is the performer and it is sung in the character she plays, Marie, a four year old saved by Nadia and Jean from being killed by Gargoyle’s troops in the early stages of the series. Most of the footage is from episode 13, “Run, Marie Run!” which has Marie playing with Nadia’s pet lion cub, King around the island she lives on, until she is rescued by Sanson from Gargoyle’s troops. The video also culls Marie and King material from the infamous “Island Episodes”, which were a batch of low quality filler episodes towards the end of the series. You’ll note that Marie often seems to torture King rather than play with him. This song was first released on the “Music in Blue Water” soundtrack in July 1991.

“Deai Ha Kousyo Kyoufusyo” performed by Yoshino Takamori
In this music video, the focus is on Nadia and Jean’s relationship. Most of the footage is taken from the first episode, “The Girl at the Eiffel Tower”, with the rest being taken from various other episodes. Like the bulk of the music here, this song is another character song taken from the “Music in Blue Water” soundtrack which was released in July 1991. Nadia’s voice actress, Yoshino Takamori, provides the vocals to this song.

“Warera no Bannou Sensuikan Nautilus” performed by Yasunori Matsumoto, Kikuko Inoue and Akio Ohtsuka
The third character song (from the “Music in Blue Water” soundtrack of course) and this one is a bit of a corker. It’s a rousing symphonic track which features three of the members of the Nautilus. I have previously mentioned Captain Nemo, played by Akio Ohtsuka (also Batou in “Ghost in the Shell”), but on the track we also have the vocals of Kikuko Inoue, who plays Electra, the blonde first officer of the ship who has a love/hate thing going on with Nemo. Interestingly Yasunori Matsumoto also provides vocals on this track. He plays Eiko Villan, whom most would consider a minor player in the story of “Nadia”. He’s the sonar operator aboard the ship but does have a link to Jean, albeit a minor one. The three actors sing the song together and there are no solo sections dedicated to any of them. There is however a breakdown part in the song where the three of them act out a scene on the bridge of the Nautilus during the heat of a battle. Unsurprisingly the footage in the video comes from various battle sequences in the series.

“Let’s Go Jean ’91” performed by Noriko Hidaka
Yet another character song culled from “Music in Blue Water”. This one is performed by Noriko Hidaka who provides the voice for Jean. The video’s main focus is on the many, many fights between Nadia and Jean. However there are also quite a few scenes which show them getting on together. A number of episodes provide the source of the footage, but the bulk of it comes from the infamous “Island Episodes”. This song is not to be confused with “Let’s Go Jean”, a completely different song which was previously released on an earlier soundtrack.

“Song for Beginning” performed by Kenyu Horiuchi, Kumiko Takizawa and Toshiharu Sakurai
This is the final character song on this compilation and it also appeared on the “Music in Blue Water” soundtrack like the majority of songs here. This one features the Grandis Gang; Grandis (played by Kumiko Takizawa), Sanson (Kenyu Horiuchi), and Hanson (Toshiharu Sakurai). And stating the bleeding obvious, the footage here is from various episodes and highlights the exploits of our favourite trio of inept jewel thieves. Apart from the actors singing in character, there’s also a few lines of dialogue towards the end of the song. I’ll note here that the Grandis Gang are essentially a homage to the bumbling evil trios in Tatsunoko’s “Time Bokan” franchise such as the Time Skeletons in “Time Bokan” or the Dorombo Gang in “Yatterman”. Gainax were probably referencing the Dorombo Gang more than anything else though.

“Blue Water” performed by Miho Morikawa
The final video on this compilation is “Blue Water”, the opening theme of the series. There isn’t much to say here, it’s edited rather uninspiringly (like many of the videos here) from various episodes. The song is performed by Miho Morikawa and was first released as a CD single in April 1990.

Probably the best thing you can say about this compilation is that it’s rather mediocre. With the exception of “Warera no Bannou Sensuikan Nautilus” and “Blue Water”, I found none of the tracks all that interesting. Couple that with some really uninspiring editing of the series footage. Again, with the exception of the video for “Warera no Bannou Sensuikan Nautilus”, the anime footage for the most part is not really edited in sequence to the audio. It seems at times they just slapped in any old footage they could find to create them. It makes for some rather tedious viewing at times. With the disastrous Nadia theatrical feature being released only a couple of months before the release of this compilation, one can only assume that Toho or NHK were trying to wring as much cash out of fans of the series as fast as possible before they gave up on the show and moved on to the next hit anime franchise. At the end of the video the “To Be Continued” title comes up. This is because Toho/NHK were planning on second compilation, due for a December 1991 release.

If you want the series legitimately, there are a number of options available. The easiest ones are of course the 2001 and 2004 DVD releases of both music video collections (I’ll be covering the second compilation in a few months or so). The 2001 version comes in CD jewel case (like normal CDs) which was a standard packaging for many Japanese DVDs in the format’s infancy. The second release in 2004 is in a standard DVD case. The sad part is that the minimum you’re going to pay for the 2001 release is about ¥3,000 and you may well pay over ¥6,000 and far, far beyond that (try five figures). The figures for the 2004 release start at ¥6,000 and beyond. Note that most of these are going to be second hand copies. A 2001 DVD Box Set of the series also contains the music videos, but is rather pricy, even on the second hand market. The only other option is the original VHS and Laserdisc release (with cover art – reused box art from a General Products garage kit of Nadia – as uninspiring as its contents) or a 1997 Laserdisc which compiles both music video compilations. All are rather hard to find, in particular the latter which is as rare as hen’s teeth. It’s rather telling that reissues of the series on DVD since 2001 and the recent Blu-ray box set omit both music video compilations. Both remain out of print on all video formats.

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