Nadia - the series

in this section I'll try to give you all the important information (and probably also a lot of unimportant stuff) about the TV series that brought to us the wonderful Elektra-chan! I have:

By the way, if you want more of this kind of stuff, look at Marc Hairston's Nadia homepage. He has among other things a complete set of episode synopses.

Basic information

The series' full Japanese name is "Fushigi no Umi no Nadia", which translates as "Nadia of the mysterious sea". It consists of 39 episodes, each about 25 minutes long. It was produced in 1990 by Studio Gainax, with Hideaki Anno as the chief director and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto as character designer. Actually, the organization at Gainax is reported to be rather chaotic, so that everyone probably did every job he could do at one time or the other. The series was a major success in Japan, its heroine Nadia becoming the most popular anime character, taking away that position from Nausicaä who had held it for 6 years. This was very good luck for Gainax, since they were in financial difficulties during the production of Nadia, which is also reflected in the fact that the technical quality is less satisfying in some episode than in others.

Nadia was also released on LD with some additional footage and eventually brought to the USA by Streamline under the title "Nadia - Secret of Blue Water". Unfortunately, they stopped after 8 episodes.


At Anime Expo 1998, AD Vision announced that they acquired the rights for "Nadia". In early 2000, at Katsucon, they finally announced that they would be starting to release the series in March 2000 under their new "ADV Fansubs" label. This meant a sub-only, VHS-only release, presumably because they were tring to get Nadia (and City Hunter) broadcast in the US. Well, apparently it didn't work out, since they started releasing Nadia on bilingual DVD in mid 2001, apparently with good quality and 4 episodes per disc.

Story Synopsis

If you haven't yet seen "Nadia", only read this if you are certain that you don't mind being told the plot!

Before the Storm

The story starts in Paris during the world exhibition in the year 1900. A young boy named Jean meets a dark-skinned girl named Nadia and is immediately fascinated by her. Together with Nadia's pet, a lion cub called King, they have to run away from the evil Senorita Grandis and her henchmen who are trying to take away the blue gem Nadia carries around her neck, and end up on the ocean in a broken airplane. They are saved by an American warship hunting the sea monster that has been sinking a lot of ships lately. The monster is confronted, but during the battle, Jean and Nadia fall into the sea and are swallowed by the monster which turns out to be a submarine. Its name is "Nautilus" and it is commanded by captain Nemo. A masked woman called Elektra who is Nemo's second-in-command cares for the two kids. After a while they are set free and directed to a nearby island.


Unfortunately, the island is in the hands of the criminal organization "Neo-Atlantis", and Jean and Nadia have to take care of Marie, a little orphan girl whose parents were killed by the soldiers of Neo-Atlantis. But they get caught and meet Gargoyle, the organization's evil leader. He, too, is after Nadia's gem (which he calls "Blue Water") but he also wants Nadia herself (he calls her "princess"). Together with their former enemies (Grandis and her servants are also on the island), Nadia and Jean manage to escape Gargoyle and ruin his plans. At the very last moment the Nautilus appears and saves them from Gargoyle's revenge.


Actually, the only purpose of the Nautilus and its crew is the fight against Neo-Atlantis. The refugees decide to become members of the nautilus crew and witness many strange and dangerous adventures. They go to places and see things they have never heard of or even imagined. At the same time, Nadia and Jean are having a pretty hard time figuring out their relationship. They are falling in love with each other and have the problems that come with it.

You should really stop reading here if you haven't yet seen "Nadia"!

Lincoln Island

But eventually the Nautilus is destroyed by Gargoyles air battleship and only Nadia, Jean, Marie and King can leave in an escape capsule, while the Nautilus sinks heavily damaged into an underwater trench. Just before thy leave, Nadia learns that Nemo is her father. Our heroes end up on a small uninhabited island where they have to survive on their own. One day, a second island appears. On it are Grandis and her assistants. This strange island turns out to be an ancient spaceship that is activated by the presence of Nadia's Blue Water gem. But Nadia declines to command the ship because she doesn't want her friends to die. They all escape and reach the African coast.

Our planet

After some adventures, they end up in Thartessos, the place of Nadia's birth. Unfortunately, Gargoyle has caught up with them and captures Nadia. With her gem he is able to assume control of the spaceship, the incredible power of which he then uses as a threat to achieve world domination. Meanwhile Jean and the others have met Elektra, who takes them to the new Nautilus, which is also a spaceship. The final battle begins. It ends with the destruction of both spaceships and the death of Nemo and Gargoyle (and his followers). The Blue Waters (Nemo had one, too) lose their power and so the threat that the ancient technology of Atlantis posed to the world is removed.

And they live happily ever after...


If you want to see the story from Elektra's point of view and in more detail, take a look at the character description page. Of course only the parts that affect Elektra-chan are covered there.

The stones

The Extras

When "Nadia" was released on LD, Gainax gave the hardcore fans some extra value for their money: at the end of every LD (there are 10 LDs), there is a short "bonus feature". Most of these are similar to the "science lessons" in "Gunbuster" - Elektra and Jean in "super deformed" mode discussing various historical or scientific issues having to do with the series. But Extra #9, "In search of that lost time", is different: Elektra (no SD this time) is interviewed about what happened to her and the Nautilus between the battle in episode 22 and their reappearance in episode 36. And there is a very interesting detail! I have a transcript of that Extra available.

"Nautilus"? - "Nemo"? Sounds Kinda Familiar!

Nautilus plaque

Yup, you're right. Gainax obviously drew inspiration form the "father of schience fiction", Jules Verne. In his book "20,000 leagues under the sea" (there's also a movie starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason, made in 1954).

Verne wrote about the hunt for a strange sea monster that has sunken many ships but turns out to be the world's first submarine, the "Nautilus", built and commanded by a man who calls himself "Nemo" - "nobody". In "Nadia", Gainax took that story and went their own way with it. Verne already gave hints that Nemo knows something about Atlantis, but there's no Neo-Atlantis mentioned and, more importantly, there aren't any kids or women (and therefore no Elektra-chan!), no Tower of Babel and no spaceships in "20,000 leagues". Verne also wrote another book, "The Mysterious Island" in which captain Nemo reappears and dies in the end, so "Nadia" is obviously incompatible with it. But anyway, it seems that in the early stages of Nadia, Gainax planned to stay a lot closer to Verne's book. There are character designs for two men who never appeared in the series but look very much like the scholar and his assistant who are the protagonists in "20,000 leagues". And in the original Japanese version of "Nadia" there is a part at the beginning where still-frames of sea-monsters sinking ships are shown.

Other sources of Inspiration and In-Jokes

The biggest source of inspiration for "Nadia" are obviously the anime of Hayao Miyazaki. Some might even say that Gainax simply copied Miyazaki's masterpieces. That claim indeed holds some truth. Gainax is known for taking well-tried-out priciples and mix and modify them until a new anime is "born". However, they are good at this and never leave it at simple copying. They play around with the elements they borrowed and also add entirely new ideas so that the final result is always original. For example, in almost all their anime, Gainax has lots of silly jokes and Superdeformed or at least semi-SD scenes, something which Miyazaki's anime do not have.

Sheeta and Pazu

The most obvious anime the traces of which are found everywhere in "Nadia" is "Laputa-Castle in the Sky". It tells the story of a young girl named Sheeta who is chased both by a gang of pirates (who later become allies) and agents of the government. The reason: Sheeta unknowingly is heir to the builders of Laputa - a gigantic flying fortress (to be taken literally!) that has been missing for centuries. She also has an amulet and knows words which enable her to control Laputa and its guardians. Early on, she meets a boy named Pazu who is also looking for Laputa because it was the dream of his father to find the castle, a dream which eventually cost him his life. Sheeta and Pazu become friends and together with Dora and her pirate gang they manage to escape Mooska, the evil government agent who wants to use Laputa's weapons to achieve world domination. In the end Laputa is destroyed.

You see, the parallels are overwhelming. But there are also major differences: The world of "Laputa" is nowhere to be found in our history, it is an original creation of Miyazaki. The various flying machines and Laputa itself are completely phantastic and do not have the half-scientific air that the mecha in "Nadia" have. Sheeta and Pazu are younger than Nadia and Jean, and their relationship is not yet of a romantic nature. Dora, the leader of the pirates is an old woman, although she's not less lively than Grandis. There is no equivalent to captain Nemo, since Sheeta's parents are dead. Part of his role (leader of the good guys, person of respect) is played by Dora also. Finally, the character and role of Elektra has no model in "Laputa". This alone makes "Nadia" much more than a simple plagiat. In fact, it is a symptom of the probably most important original element in "Nadia": a lot of attention is paid to the background of the characters, to their hopes, fears and motivations. And some of them (namely Elektra and Nemo) are revealed to have severe psychical problems.

Nausicaä and Teto

Another obvious source is "Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä". Hideaki Anno had worked on it too. More importantly, "Nausicaä" had been a very successful anime and Gainax wanted to repeat that success.

It begins already with the title "Fushigi no Umi no Nadia". After "Nausicaä", "A no B no C" was considered the ideal title for an anime, and "Nadia" followed that receipt exactly. Then there's the young female protagonist with a small animal as sidekick. Nausicaä had Teto the fox-squirrel, Nadia got King. Nadia and Nausicaä are also very much alike in many aspects. Both are princesses. Both can talk to animals and are basically pacifists (though Nausicaä isn't as extreme as Nadia).

A more general similarity is the preeminent theme "flight". Hayao Miyazaki simply loves things that can fly. it's an almost dominating aspect of all his anime: "Laputa", "Majo no Takkyubin", "Porco Rosso", "Nausicaä", in all of these anime flight and flying are very important to the story. And in "Nadia" we have Jean's fascination with airplanes, Gargoyle's various air battleships and two giant spaceships.

There are also some in-jokes in "Nadia", direct allusions to other films:

  • The original name of the New Nautilus is "Exelion", as Elektra-chan tells Jean and Nadia in ep. 37. The name is the same as that of the flagship of Earth's fleet in "Gunbuster". On top of that, the main engine of the New Nautilus looks very similar to the Exelion's and the automatic targeting mechanism shown when the New Nautilus fires for the first time in episode 36 is an exact copy of the one used in "Gunbuster".
  • The whole scene before and during the launch of the New Nautilus (especially the diagonal elevator) is straight out of the classic anime series "Uchuu Senkan Yamato" aka "Starblazers". Additionally, the layout of the bridge is very similar to that of the Yamato.
  • The bridge of the old Nautilus is based on the bridge of the SDF Macross in the series of the same name ("Robotech" in the US) and the character design of Nemo is taken straight from the SDF's capatain Grobal.
  • Grandis, Hanson and Sanson are carbon copies of the trio of villains in the Japanese TV series "Time Bokan".
  • In episode 25, when Jean dreams, he builds an airplane that looks exactly like the Thunderbird 2 in the puppet animated series "Thunderbirds".

Production Credits

Production Studio Gainax
Chief Director Hideaki Anno
Character design and co-directorYoshiyuki Sadamoto
Writers Hisao Okawa and Kaoru Umeno
Continuity director and backgrounds Mahiro Maeda
Continuity and storyboards Masa Yuki and Takeshi Mori
Second Unit director Shinji Suzuki
Mecha design Shoichi Masuo
Animation director and character design Syunji Suzuki
Art directors Masanori Kikuchi and Hiroshi Sasaki
Music director Shiro Sasisu
Sound director Katsunori Shimizo
Editor Akio Satsukawa
Producer Hiroshi Kubota
Nadia Yoshino Takamori
Jean Noriko Hidaka
Nemo Akio Otsuka
Gargoyle Motomu Kiyokawa
Grandis Kumiko Takizawa
Sanson Kenyuu Horiuchi
Hanson Toshihara Sakurai
Elektra Kikuko Inoue
Ikoriina Kikuko Inoue
Narrator Kikuko Inoue
Marie Yuko Mizutani
Captain Maybil Teiji Ohmiya
Emperor Neo Kaneto Shiozawa
Eaton Kouji Tsujitani
King Toshihara Sakurai

Episode List

#1 "The Girl at the Eiffel Tower"
#2 "Little Runaways"
#3 "The Mystery of the Sea Monsters"
#4 "The All-purpose Submarine, Nautilus"
#5 "Marie's Island"
#6 "The Fortress on the Solitary Island"
#7 "The Tower of Babel"
#8 "Nadia's Rescue"
#9 "Nemo's Secret"
#10 "Gratan in Action"
#11 "A New Student on the Nautilus"
#12 "Grandis' First Love"
#13 "Run, Marie, Run!"
#14 "The Valley of Dinictus"
#15 "Nautilus' Biggest Crisis"
#16 "The Mystery of the Island that Vanished"
#17 "Jean's New Invention"
#18 "Nautilus vs. Nautilus"
#19 "Nemo's Close Friend"
#20 "Jean's Failure"

#21 "Goodbye Nautilus"
#22 "Electra's Betrayal"
#23 "Little Castaways"
#24 "Lincoln Island"
#25 "First Kiss"
#26 "King's on his Own"
#27 "Island of the Witch"
#28 "The Floating Island"
#29 "King vs. King"
#30 "The Underground Labyrinth"
#31 "Goodbye Red Noah"
#32 "Nadia's Lover"
#33 "A Rescue Operation for King"
#34 "Love to Nadia"
#35 "The Secret of Blue Water"
#36 "The All-purpose Battleship, New Nautilus"
#37 "Emperor Neo"
#38 "...To Space"
#39 "Inheritor of the Stars"

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