Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nadia—The Secret of Blue Water (ADV and Streamline Versions)

In the mid 1970's, prior to obtaining his well-deserved status as Japan's greatest animator ever, a young Hayao Miyazaki was hired by Japanese movie giant Toho to develop ideas for TV series. One of these concepts was "Around the World Under the Sea", based on Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, in which two orphan children pursued by villains team up with Captain Nemo and his mighty submarine, the Nautilus. Although it was never produced, Toho nonetheless kept the rights to the story outline. Miyazaki would reuse elements from his original concept in later projects of his, notably the Sci-Fi series Future Boy Conan and the action-adventure feature Castle in the Sky (this explains why Anime fans often find similarities between the show I'm about to review and the latter film).   Flash forward about ten years later. Animation studio GAINAX was appointed by Toho in 1989 to produce a TV series which would be broadcast on the Japanese educational network NHK (the equivalent of PBS). Miyazaki's outline for "Around the World Under the Sea" captivated GAINAX's interest.  Under the direction of a brilliant but angst-ridden (and some might argue, eccentric) Hideaki Anno, the animation studio took the central story and setup Miyazaki had developed and touched it up with their own creativity. The result was Nadia:  The Secret of Blue Water, which has since become a longtime fan favorite with many followers of Anime. (Incidentally, Anno had previously worked for Miyazaki; his most notable credit for animating the climax from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.) The show was a tremendous success in its initial 1990 Japanese broadcast; the title character, Nadia, showed up on the Japanese Animage polls as favorite Anime heroine, dethroning Miyazaki's own Nausicaä, the previous champion.

The show has been dubbed into international languages around the world, but its English premiere in America was another matter.  In the early 1990's, Carl Macek and his company, Streamline Pictures, produced an English version which only got about as far as eight episodes.  Interestingly, Macek has stated that he had planned to make some cuts in the latter half of the show (notably the "island/Africa" sequence, which, aside from episode 31, fell short compared to the show's superb 22 opening episodes and final five) to eliminate what even the original producers felt was a lot of padding.  Due to financial difficulties, however, Streamline was unable to complete the dub, and in 1996, they went out of business and their license expired.  Since then, the show has been acquired by ADV Films (now known as Section 23), and provided a new dub at their now defunct Monster Island studios in Austin, Texas.  All 39 episodes (plus the lesser-known, often maligned theatrical film -- which I will not cover here, nor will I the filler arc) were dubbed under the production period of a full year.

Although the website containing detailed information about how the present-day dub was produced is no more (one made by diehard Nadia fan Marc Hairston, who conducted interviews with the cast for a memorable article in a 2001 issue of AniMerica -- which this writer still holds onto to this day), it is a shame that Monster Island's version has never gotten the recognition it deserves.  There are naysayers who have given this dub the cold shoulder (including DVDTalk and the initial reviews of the first volumes by AnimeNewsNetwork -- the latter volumes were more positively reviewed by Allen Divers), declaring it as a dub to avoid.  However, I think that doing so would deprive you of a charming, delightful dub that matches the tone of the show. According to the aforementioned source, the dub directors, Charles Campbell and Lowell Bartholomee, cared about the quality of the show and worked hard to ensure that the dub would match its tone.  It's not perfect, but considering that this show is set in Europe, watching this show in Japanese would seem odd. No offense to the original Japanese voice actors, but there are many things about this dub which add in many ways to the show, particularly in the use of the accents for each character. While some, like Jean's, are shaky in places, others, like the crew members of the Nautilus, work in their characters' favor, as they are supposed to be survivors from around the world.

I have only heard samples of the Streamline dub on CrystalAcids Database due to the difficulty of finding it.  As such, I will be focusing mainly on the performances of the principal characters from that version and the current one in this review.

NADIA (Meg Bauman, ADV dub; Wendee Lee, Streamline dub) -- The first thing that struck me about ADV's dub is that the three young protagonists who propel the plot are all voiced by actual children.  While there is an understandable air of inexperience in their performances, it also adds an intangible aura of realism and charm to the dub.  It's also a refreshing change from hearing actors/actresses straining their voices to sound like children (no offense to said people, of course, it's just nice to hear children sound like children for a change).  Of the three, it's Bauman as Nadia who gives the stand-out performance.  This character is a very complicated one; moody, temperamental, stubborn, and suspicious about everything, yet has a kind, caring side that gradually transforms her as a result of her relationships with her new friends (notably her growing love for Jean).  There's a complex array of emotions to be had with this character while maintaining a fragile childlike innocence, and Bauman nails all these emotions perfectly... to the point where it is hard to imagine anyone else voicing her.  It is also interesting to note that, like Nadia, she was fourteen at the time she recorded the part.  She even speaks with a neutral accent--a surprising choice, but it works well.
Lee's take, on the other hand, I'm of two minds about.  I like the voice she uses, but on the flipside, it doesn't come across as convincing to be a fourteen-year-old girl.  This aspect proves to be a major plot point toward the end of the show, as both she and Jean age by about a year.  Disappointing enough, but she also doesn't emote as strongly as she should.  Especially cringeworthy is her confrontation scene with Gargoyle, "You are murderer!" she shouts, in a tone which is both lifeless and enough to make one cringe.  Unlike ADV's Nadia, Lee also uses a French accent for the character.  It's one thing for Jean to have a French accent since the boy is, after all, French, but considering the nature of who Nadia turns out to be (and essentially appears to be at the start), I don't think this is a particularly ideal choice.  Wendee Lee is a talented actress, but if there's anyone who I'd rather hear as Nadia, it's Meg; she does the better job all around.

JEAN (Nathan Parsons, ADV dub; Ardwright Chamberlain, Streamline dub) -- Okay, here's the voice which determines wheteher you like ADV's dub or not.  Like Bauman, Parsons (aged 12) has a very daunting task in his voice acting debut as Jean.  He has to be enthusiastic, genuinely charming, and express growth over the course of the show... all while speaking with a French accent.  As mentioned, this accent is on the thick side.  Viewers have made the mistake of writing off Parsons' performance alone due to the accent, as there are places in the early episodes where he obviously struggles to pull it off without sounding fake (he drops it at several points for select lines, too, at least in the early episodes).   There's also the occasional missed line, although it happens rarely. With each subsequent episode, though, Parsons grows more and more into his character... to the point where his accent sounds completely natural.  In a way, this, and a few moments where his inexperience shows, is complimentary to his overall performance at portraying Jean's innocence and naive view of the world.  This issue aside, Parsons brings an infectious exuberance and determination to the character which is impossible to dislike, coming into his own especially around episode 9.  Like Bauman, it's hard for me to imagine anyone else other than him voicing this character.  One of his best moments, if not his best, is in Episode 15, in which he bears witness to the death of a lovable sailor.  While he admits on the DVD interview that serious scenes are not his specialty, he obviously gives his all to this moment, and his breaking-down at the end is genuinely heartrendering.  Another major important factor of his performance is the chemistry betwen him and Bauman -- it's absolutely terrific and a huge plus.  Interestingly, both knew each other in real life as students at the Austin Musical Theatre; perhaps because of this, their interactions feel so natural and organic in ADV's dub.
He is also better than Chamberlain's take on the character in Streamline's version.  While this guy has more experience as a voice actor, there are several things that work against his performance as Jean.  No, it's not the French accent, which is less shaky than Nathan, but his voice sounds too mature, giving off the affect of a stereotypical French butler character.  I often steer around the argument of needing boys to sound young to represent children, especially if their acting is sound (in dubs such as Vic Mignogna's Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist and, perhaps to a lesser extent, James Van der Beek's Pazu in Castle in the Sky).  With Nadia, however, this flaw is detrimental to Chamberlain as the character is supposed to age by about a year by the end of the show, and as such, it works against the character.  Not only that, but his emoting sounds more artificial instead of genuine, a trend not uncommon with most dubs of the early 1990's.  So for that, even though Nathan rarely gets the credit he deserves for his work as Jean, he gets my vote.   To me, Ardwright and Wendee are both miscast.

MARIE (Margaret Cassidy, ADV dub; Cheryl Chase, Streamline dub) -- The third of the child trio, little Marie, is also voiced by a child actress, 11-year-old Margaret Cassidy.  That's approximately seven years older than her onscreen character, but you wouldn't even know this by hearing her performance.  From the start, she brings an intangible cuteness and charm to the character which makes her presence onscreen a delight.  For the most part, Marie gets to be happy and cheerfully childlike (especially when she's playing with King), although she also does have scenes where she has to be serious and in tears.  One such moment in particular, ironically enough, is the episode where she is introduced.  This scene, in which she describes her parents being shot (and her subsequent heartbreak from learning that they are dead) is utterly believeable, and really makes the audience share her trauma.  It must have been a lot of hard work for Cassidy to pull it off, especially since it was her first episode, but she does it beautifully.  Elsewhere in the show, she obviously relishes her character, and it pays off.  Her interactions with Parsons and Bauman also deserve a shout-out; she went to the same musical theater they did, which is why there's a genuine attachment between all three that really comes across in the ADV dub.  Since the whole show rests on these three children, Monster Island deserves commendment for bringing that extra punch of effort for their version.
In Streamline's version, Marie (Mary) is voiced by Cheryl Chase, better known to viewers as Angelina Pickles but unforgotten by many as Mei in Streamline's own dub of My Neighbor Totoro (arguably Carl Macek's finest moment ever).  The tone of voice she uses isn't that much different from her Mei, and while she doesn't do a bad job, Cassidy ultimately provides the more convincing performance, because she sounds more natural and cuter.

GRANDIS (Sarah Richardson, ADV dub; Melanie MacQueen, Streamline dub)
SANSON (Martin Blacker, ADV dub; Steve Kramer, Streamline dub)
HANSON (Corey Gagne, ADV dub; Tom Wyner, Streamline dub)
Aside from the children, the other main characters in the show are the "Grandis gang", who start off as villains but ultimately turn into allies.  And like the children in ADV's version, the three actors chosen to play their parts couldn't have been better.
From the start, Richardson simply is Grandis.  She recreates the character's fiery temper, amorous fickleness, and secret soft nature to a T and beyond.  It's an over-the-top performance which works very well in her nature, making her all the more hilarious when things goes wrong... which they often do.  It is interesting to note that while her character is Italian (or Spanish, it's debatable), she speaks with a somewhat disciplined English accent.  This was because when she auditioned for Italian and Spanish accents, it sounded too much like she was in a pizza parlor(!), according to Hairston's interview.  It doesn't matter, though; it fits her character marvelously, and her grandiose relish for the role really comes through.
Likewise, it is very obvious that Blacker had a lot of fun voicing Sanson, who, like Grandis, uses a veddy British accent.  He also has a goofy, yet vain and expressive voice that works wonderfully with the character, and he lets loose every time Sanson goes over the top.  Blacker also excels in the more quieter moments, such as a moving, tender scene where he tearfully worries about Marie potentially dying from a tropical illness.  In short, every second of Blacker's rendition is an unbridled delight.
The third member of the trio, Hanson, is voiced by the rather down-to-earth, sometimes scrappy sounding tones of Gagne.  There's a certain "nerdy" quality to his delivery which is fitting for his character.  When he raises his voice, he is a hoot, but Gagne also handles the quieter moments very well.  I also found his scenes with Electra very sweet and heartbreaking.  One other interesting aspect is that he has a somewhat neutral accent.  I'm not sure why this was done, but strangely, this doesn't detract from his character at all.
What really makes these three come alive is their chemistry; it is so natural you'd swear they were all in the recording studio together.
But what about Streamline's counterparts?  Well, I had no problems with either of them.  McQueen, Kramer, and Wyner all sound pretty good with their roles, and are roughly about on par with ADV's dub, but I think I prefer the current voice actors for these parts a bit more.  Perhaps it's because it's bias, but that isn't to discredit Streamline's actors of these guys; they're decent in their own right.

KING (Shawn Sides, ADV dub; Carl Macek, Streamline dub) -- This character is a grey-colored lion cub who doesn't speak a word at all.  Rather, he does a lot of growling noises, roars, or even purrs.  There have been lots of animated features where traditional voice actors have provided animal noises, such as Frank Welker as Abu the monkey from Aladdin and John Kassir as Meeko the raccoon from Pocahontas.  The voice actress behind this little guy is none other than Sides, who adds a bit of a high-pitched gargle to emphasize how much of a cub he is.  This is a very difficult task, and she manages it superbly.  (It is also interesting to note that she recorded all her lines before Cassidy's Marie, which is what makes their playful relationship all the more natural.)
Interestingly enough, in Streamline's version, King is voiced by none other than Carl Macek, who also serves as the opening narrator for the first episode.  Not having access to any clips of King's performance, I cannot evaluate him altogether.

AYERTON (Jason Phelps, ADV dub; Bob Bergen, Streamline dub) -- When we first meet this character in episode 3, he is a flamboyant and charismatic, but flakey and arrogant man whose main characteristic is bragging about himself.  He doesn't show up again until much later in the island arc (where the writers clearly decided they needed another character); the Ayerton portrayed there is every bit as boastful, but he also becomes a bizarre whacko, ranting about ridiculous happenings on an island and trying to act like he is a Count from England.  Phelps is clearly having fun with this character, and, for all of the stupidities Ayerton is reduced to doing in the filler arc, he really lets loose and shows enthusiasm throughout.  One oddity is that he uses an American accent--which is somewhat strange when he is revealed to be from England.
Bergen is less manic in his approach with Ayerton, but then again he's only featured in one episode in Streamline's version (which stopped at 8 episodes).  The little bit of him I heard there sounded more like a mellow, easy-going but slightly over-the-top guy.  He sounded fine, but I prefer Phelps.

CAPTAIN NEMO (Ev Lunning Jr., ADV dub; Jeff Winkless, Streamline dub) -- A professional accent coach and graduate of Yale, Lunning lends his voice to the mysterious leader of the futuristic submarine, Nautilus.  As required for the character, he brings a sense of intrigue and aloofness for his initial appearances.  It should also be noted that Lunning uses a sophisticated Indian accent, providing an exotic tilt to his performance.  This was a decision on the voice directors' part, as they were trying to link Nemo to the origin of the "Mysterious Island" story (where he's revealed to be a lost Indian prince).  It is not only an ingenious touch, it works excellently in the character's favor.  There are moments where his delivery comes across as stiff, mostly in the opening episodes, where it comes across as though Lunning is still trying to figure out where he wants to go with the character.  As the show progresses, however, Ev really gets into his role, sounding especially good in the final four episodes, whether he's belting orders to his crew, or engaging in tense debates with Gargoyle.  One other thing that deserves mention is that in real life Lunning was Parsons' director in a play the latter participated in, and he coached the boy into pulling off the accent.  Learning about this, the scenes where Nemo is educating Jean gave me the impression that I was listening to a real-life schooling session between Ev and Nathan.  I like this, as it brings a very natural touch to the performance as a whole.
In Streamline's version, Nemo does not use an Indian accent, but he still has a deep voice.  This is provided by Jeff Winkless, who has had a career of being cast for random roles with varying degrees of success.  His Muska in the older dub of Castle in the Sky was a dreadful misfire, and he sounded rather cheesy (and artificial) as the evil Count Lee in Vampire Hunter D.  However, this is one of his better roles, in that he does succeed in bringing an edge of mystery to the character.  He's also less stiff than Lunning, although it's primarily because the latter was dubbing an Anime for the first time.  Having said this, though, Ev still gets my vote; despite a shaky beginning, he nonetheless rises to the challenge. But I have nothing against Jeff's turn.

ELECTRA (Jennifer Stuart, ADV dub; Edie Mirman, Streamline dub) -- The first thing you'll notice upon hearing Stuart's performance as Nemo's pretty but multi-layered first officer in the ADV dub is that she speaks with a British accent.  Again, this was a creative decision on the part of the directors.  Since Electra is a complex character, complete with a "no-nonsense" attitude, and an overcontrolled nature she tries very hard to display, it adds a depth of dimension to the role.  This is an excellent performance throughout, sounding very natural and distinctively memorable.  There are a few places at the beginning where her accent wavers, but I emphasize the word few.  Particularly spectacular are her explosive catfights with Grandis--she and Richardson obviously relish those scenes--and her emotional breakdown in Episodes 21 and 22.  The latter, especially, is utterly engrossing and powerful.  (Interestingly enough, Stuart, who was pregnant while recording the part, was going through labor at the time she delivered this particular moment; no wonder she nails it so beautifully.)  Anyone who says that English voice actors cannot emote should hear these two examples in the ADV dub--it's the stuff of absolute excellence.  (While some may compare it unfavorably to Kikuko Inoue's performance in the original Japanese version, in my opinion, both versions excel in their own right.)
In Streamline's dub, Mirman plays the character pretty much the same way, with the same light tone and also with a British accent.  While the performances in the older dub vary, I will say that she ties with Stuart.

GARGOYLE (David Jones, ADV dub; Steve Bulen, Streamline dub) -- This is probably the only voice that took me a long time to get used to in the ADV dub.  Considering that Gargoyle is the major villain of the show, one would expect something menacing and vile-sounding.  Instead, Jones opts to give him a deadpan, casual sounding tone which I initially found off-putting.  As his performance develops, however, Jones begins to bring a depth of haughtiness and sarcasm, which actually works in favor of Gargoyle's arrogance and his condescending attitude about humanity.  He even gets to do some really evil cackling in the last two episodes, to the point where you'll be surprised that it's the same actor.  Nowadays, I can't imagine Gargoyle in English without Jones' voice.
And that represents the problem with Streamline's Steve Bulen, who takes on the challenge of the character.  While he has the right "sinister" tone, he plays him too much like a straightforward, run-of-the-mill villain instead of an arrogant being obsessed with restoring Neo-Atlantis to its former glory.  I don't think this would work very well for the character, particularly in the final episode where he finally drops his mask.

These are all the principal characters that make up Nadia as a show.  The additional characters are similarly well-cast and give genuinely lively performances.  My favorites in particular include:  Edwin Neal as Jean's fun-loving, jovial uncle (a deliciously funny role which only appears in episode 1), Lana Dietrich as the sourpuss aunt (episode 2), Eric Henshaw as the blustering Captain Melville, Maurice Moore as the doomed sailor Ensign Fait (a genially charming one-episode role culminating with a truly heartbreaking death scene), Robert Rudie as the gentle whale Irion (his voice slightly amplified to emphasize his spirituality as a creature), and Russ Roten as the stentorian robotic voice of Red Noah, also amplified by electronic effects (this character is in the only "island" episode that Hideaki Anno would have saved, episode 31; as it ties in better with the central plot than the rest of the island/Africa episodes, I couldn't agree more).

The crew members of the Nautilus are initially stiff in their first appearances, but they gradually get more comfortable in their roles as they go on.  It should be noted, though, that Dan Bisbee as the Primary Helmsman is replaced for the final four episodes by Brian Yanish.  The voice from the latter is slightly higher, although since we don't see him again after episode 22, it doesn't really matter.  Aside from that, other crew members which show distinctive performances are Greg Gondek as the Sonar Officer (who reveals himself to be a survivor of the ship Jean's father captained), Lowell Bartholomee as the German-accented doctor, Amie Elyn as his granddaughter Ikoli, and Douglas Taylor as the cook.  Another performance that deserves mention is Billy Hardin as the Chief Engineer; he has a great character voice for this role and sounds very natural throughout.

I was unable to evaluate the performances of the supporting characters in the older dub, although most of them consist of Streamline regulars such as Cliff Wells, Michael McConnohie, Kerrigan Mahan, and Milton James... a considerably smaller ensemble compared to the dozens of actors assembled for the "walla" moments in the current dub.

One performance I neglected to mention is the disembodied voice whose gentle narration opens each episode (save for 36-39).  This voice belongs to the late Karen Kuykendall, whose elderly intonations give one the impression of a grandmother telling a child a bedtime story.  This is a nice touch and also works better than the opening narration in the first episode on Streamline's version.  No offense to Michael McConnohie, but while he does a credible job, his deadpan delivery gave me the feeling that I was hearing a typical newscaster giving a cold read.

Vocal performances aside, the script adaptation, penned by Lowell Bartholomee, warrants a shout-out.  Rather than providing a literal word-for-word transliteration, he somehow skillfully manages to transform the literal, dull subtitle script into convincing, believeable English with little touches that give the characters more personality.  Even some occasional awkwardnesses in the original script, such as Gargoyle's speech about the destruction of Sodom and Gamorrah, is corrected to fit better with the original Bible story.  There are also several moments where the characters in the original Japanese version speak English phrases.  Wisely knowing that using these phrases directly would feel out of place in the dub, Bartholomee rewords them into jokes that are still very much in line with the original intention yet pleasing to the English ear.  In other words, his script succeeds as both being smooth and natural while remaining faithful in tone to the original.

That said, I did have two minor quibbles in the final two episodes.  In previous combat scenes involving the Nautilus, a European-accented sailor sends his voice through the radio reporting the status of the submarine.  For the climactic battle between the newly supercharged spaceship and the crimson-colored flying saucer, there are lines from the Status Sailor in the Japanese version, but mysteriously they are not spoken at all in the dub.  Not that it affects the episodes too badly, but one moment in which Nemo reacts verbally to an announcement about the barrier weakening comes across as odd without the voice.  Furthermore, a space satellite, Slave Star Michael, is nuked in one blast from the aforementioned spaceship in a previous episode, but when Gargoyle and his minions decide to raise the saucer into outer space to use the more deadly Slave Star Lucifer, one technician says "transferring power to Slave Star Michael"!  This is an obvious error that will make even casual viewers scratch their heads.

Otherwise, Bartholomee's script job is a very commendable effort.  Even the songs in the (thankfully) last of the filler episodes (34, which is mostly a sequence of recapped footage accompanying character songs, although one of them serves as the focal point of this episode's "plot") are very well translated into English without diverting from the original intent.  As a nice bonus, too, the dub cast rises to the challenge of singing them!  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's Bauman's Nadia's songs that fare the best; as with her overall performance, her reindition of the original Japanese written songs are both beautiful and very haunting.  Not that the rest of the songs aren't any well handled.  the Grandis Gang's song is a hoot (particularly Blacker's opening line), and Cassidy obviously has fun with her musical rant about grown-ups (there are a few places where she strains her notes, but I emphasize the word few).  Parsons' vocals have trouble hitting high notes, but he acquits himself very well in the final two songs, particularly in the former where he's supposed to sing off-key.  While this entire episode is not considered one of the best in the show by many (myself included), I do have to give Monster Island a shout-out for their efforts at translating the songs.

As mentioned, Carl Macek has stated that if he had been able to complete his dub of Nadia, he would have pared down the dozen filler episodes into something shorter and less time-consuming (a sentiment that even director Hideaki Anno shares).  As much as hardcore fans have detested his editing practices on previous shows (in fact, some have even termed such moves as "Macek-re"s, rather unfairly), this editing choice probably would have been one of the few decisions that even detractors of these episodes would agree with.  Since he no longer has the rights, we probably may never know how that would have turned out.  Not that it compares favorably to the ADV version overall, however.  While far from the total writeoff fans made it out to be, it falls short of greatness.  Even though it has its share of good voices, the overall weaknesses of the Streamline dub (including the miscast voices of the leads) outweigh any assets this version may have had.  It's not surprising that it isn't very well remembered.  At best, it is an average quality dub.

As for ADV's dub of Nadia, reception has been mixed.  Aside from Allen Divers and Marc Hairston, there have been a share of reviewers who have provided praise (Bob's Anime Corner Store, as well as Roman Martel , Brett Barkley, and Bryce Coulter of Mania.com, Bryan Hansen of AnimeJump, and Jeremy Conrad at IGNDVD).  Unfortunately, others, such as the guys at the aforementioned DVDTalk, AnimeInferno, Digitally Obsessed, Sequential Tart, AnimeBluRayUK, UK-Anime, and DVDVerdict have been unkind.  There are few, if any, online Anime fans who elect ADV's dub as one of their favorites.  In fact, there are fans who labeled it as a dub to avoid during its first release in 2001 (despite a successful premiere at 2001's A-Kon in Texas) and even some newer Anime fans spoiled by today's efforts have been similarly negative.  This is unfortunate, because Monster Island's Nadia deserves better recognition.

Despite the divided reaction, Nadia has nonetheless proven to be something of a turning point in terms of quality for Monster Island.  Most of their previous productions have been poorly received by critics and fans alike, ranging from a bottom-barrel train wreck in Sonic The Hedgehog:  The Movie, a disappointingly wooden and often monotone undercutting of the otherwise powerfully dramatic Ruroni Kenshin:  Trust and Betrayal, and overbaked, overacted and awkwardly scripted misfires like Lost Universe.  Perhaps because of the dramatic range of its cast and the passion Campbell and Bartholomee poured into this project, being huge fans of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Nadia, in spite of the sometimes inconsistent accents and somewhat sketchy initial episodes, is otherwise thankfully free of any such major defects, emerging as one of the studio's first truly good efforts.  This would eventually be followed by other efforts such as Steam Detectives, Cosplay Complex, Jing:  Bandit of Kings, and their swan song Petite Princess Yucie, all of which are great to excellent dubs.  While debates on the effectiveness of the accents may rage on, and opinions divided, Nadia remains a grossly underrated achievement in Monster Island's repertoire.  Bartholomee and Campbell have every reason to be proud of their work on the show, as it has aged fairly well over the years.  It's also refreshing to hear from fans who have given it a second chance.

8 comments:

  1. Would you please let me quote part of your article in my blog?

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    1. Wonderful review Mr. Turner! Your passion towards this dub definitely shines through. In truth, it was because of reading this article as well as your comments on the behind the voice actors website that I decided to watch Nadia's ADV Films english track first and foremost as my introduction to the series. After seeing the show in it's entirety, I've concluded that the ADV dub is indeed very well done and deserving of praise ( My favorite performances overall came from the three children and the Grandis Gang in particular ) I also want to thank you for posting your two part Nadia documentary on YouTube, I loved being able to learn more about the series itself along with the people who created it :-) However, if you don't mind I would like to offer some constructive criticism regarding my thoughts on the Streamline dub, especially where the original english voices of Jean and Nadia are concerned. I don't think Wendee Lee was miscast as Nadia so much as she was misdirected, it's true, she doesn't sound like any fourteen year old girl I've ever heard but maybe if she had raised her voice a bit, that problem could have been fixed pretty easily, and to be fair we as the audience don't find out exactly how old she's supposed to be until episode 35. I do agree that giving her a French accent was silly, I suppose one could make a very slim argument that Nadia had performed in France long enough to pick it up but that's a BIG maybe. Aside from that, I thought her actual acting was genuine and un-cringeworthy as it usually is though. As for Ardwight Chamberlain, while he does sound more mature as Jean than he probably should, even if you don't always need boys to sound young in order to be played convincingly and in his case he's also a bit of a stretch. I think he put enough energy and enthusiasm into the role which makes up for the fact that he didn't really sound young enough to pass as a fourteen year old either in the same way that Nathan Parson's exuberance as Jean made up for his initially inconsistent French accent, although, granted I wasn't so sold on Chamberlain's ability to pull off the few emotional scenes he had as Jean like I was with Parsons but who knows? If Steamline Pictures had been allowed to complete their version, maybe he would have improved given time ;-)Please excuse this long-winded comment, and thank you so much for allowing me to share my thoughts with everyone on this great site, it's my first time doing so!

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    2. Wonderful review Mr. Turner! Your passion towards this dub definitely shines through. In truth, it was because of reading this article as well as your comments on the behind the voice actors website that I decided to watch Nadia's ADV Films english track first and foremost as my introduction to the series. After seeing the show in it's entirety, I've concluded that the ADV dub is indeed very well done and deserving of praise ( My favorite performances overall came from the three children and the Grandis Gang in particular ) I also want to thank you for posting your two part Nadia documentary on YouTube, I loved being able to learn more about the series itself along with the people who created it :-) However, if you don't mind I would like to offer some constructive criticism regarding my thoughts on the Streamline dub, especially where the original english voices of Jean and Nadia are concerned. I don't think Wendee Lee was miscast as Nadia so much as she was misdirected, it's true, she doesn't sound like any fourteen year old girl I've ever heard but maybe if she had raised her voice a bit, that problem could have been fixed pretty easily, and to be fair we as the audience don't find out exactly how old she's supposed to be until episode 35. I do agree that giving her a French accent was silly, I suppose one could make a very slim argument that Nadia had performed in France long enough to pick it up but that's a BIG maybe. Aside from that, I thought her actual acting was genuine and un-cringeworthy as it usually is though. As for Ardwight Chamberlain, while he does sound more mature as Jean than he probably should, even if you don't always need boys to sound young in order to be played convincingly and in his case he's also a bit of a stretch. I think he put enough energy and enthusiasm into the role which makes up for the fact that he didn't really sound young enough to pass as a fourteen year old either in the same way that Nathan Parson's exuberance as Jean made up for his initially inconsistent French accent, although, granted I wasn't so sold on Chamberlain's ability to pull off the few emotional scenes he had as Jean like I was with Parsons but who knows? If Steamline Pictures had been allowed to complete their version, maybe he would have improved given time ;-)Please excuse this long-winded comment, and thank you so much for allowing me to share my thoughts with everyone on this great site, it's my first time doing so!

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    3. Oh! And I neglected to wish you a Very Happy Thanksgiving earlier as well! Thank goodness I remembered now. With that in mind, again, Have a fantastic rest of your Thanksgiving and please keep up the good work Mr. Turner! :-)

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    4. @Rheanne

      Thank you for your kind words! It's rare that I get compliments on my reviews, and when I do it means a lot to me.

      Thanks sincerely. Yeah, the ADV dub is grossly underrated and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. I feel that viewers give it too much flak; it really IS a sincerely good dub in spite of the iffy accents. I'm not saying Streamline's dub is bad; I just wasn't so thrilled with it. Having said that, yes, it WOULD have been interesting to see what Carl Macek WOULD have done with [i]Nadia[/i] if he had his way. I hear he wanted to cut out those godawful island/Africa episodes in the latter half. Sadly, since he's gone, we'll probably never know.

      I'm tickled you watched the YouTube audio documentary as well; I put a lot of effort into it as a fan of the show, and I felt it was necessary to give an honest account about the difficult conditions Gainax faced when working on the show. Glad you found it interesting.

      (PS: I've also thought of a way to get around those offensively bad episodes in the second half. Let me know if you're interested!)

      Again, thanks for your comments.

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    5. You're most welcome! Forgive me for taking up even more space in the comments section but I'm still a little unsure of how to use Hangouts :( I meant every word I said :-) I was very surprised to hear back from you so soon, it really brightened my Thanksgiving day all the more! And don't worry, I understand your preference for the Nadia ADV Films dub over the Streamline dub, in general I feel the same way although I also think that Macek's adaptation was a pretty decent effort especially for it's time, maybe not quite as good as My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service in my opinion but still it showed some promise (I do see what you mean when you say that Steve Bulen's Gargoyle sounded too stereotypical and Margaret Cassidy did make a cuter as well as an authentic Marie compared to Cheryl Chase who I have to admit, struck me as kind of artificial in her approach which is ironic because I adore Cheryl's work as Mei Kusakabe and she doesn't sound all that different here whereas in Totoro I continue to maintain that she sounds very convincing as a four year old girl!) All in all, neither dub is flawless, but even though I like ADV's version best for the most part, the creative staff behind both versions seemed to have their hearts in the right place when adapting Nadia:) In the case of the show's filler episodes, I don't think I detest them quite as much as most people as select parts of them were fairly entertaining to me if extremely bizarre like the race between Sanson and Hanson's mechanical Kings and Marie having to literally drag Jean back to their camp as she's scolding him while he's in his stoned stupor from eating those darned mushrooms! That said, by episodes 33 and 34 I was about ready to beat my head against a wall due to the ridiculousness of it all, bottom line: the filler arc was pretty pointless for existing and I think Carl Macek (god rest his soul) definitely had the right instincts by wanting to edit it out, I especially hate how much regressing Nadia went through as a character, she ended up becoming so unlikable during the Island/Africa arc, it's nothing but a horrendous embarrassment to the rest of the show which up until that point had been terrific. So please, if you have a way to somehow get around these awful episodes, tell me more Mr. Turner!

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  2. You're most welcome! Forgive me for taking up even more space in the comments section but I'm still a little unsure of how to use Hangouts :( I meant every word I said :-) And don't worry, I understand your preference for the Nadia ADV Films dub over the Streamline dub, in general I feel the same way although I also think that Macek's adaptation was a pretty decent effort especially for it's time, maybe not quite as good as My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service in my opinion but still it showed some promise ( I do see what you mean when you say that Steve Bulen's Gargoyle sounded too stereotypical and Margaret Cassidy did make a cuter as well as an authentic Marie compared to Cheryl Chase who I have to admit, struck me as kind of artificial in her approach which is ironic because I adore Cheryl's work as Mei Kusakabe and she doesn't sound all that different here whereas in Totoro I continue to maintain that she sounds very convincing as a four year old girl! ) All in all, neither dub is flawless, but even though I like ADV's version best for the most part, the creative staff behind both versions seemed to have their hearts in the right place when adapting Nadia :) In the case of the show's filler episodes, I don't think I detest them quite as much as most people as select parts of them were fairly entertaining to me if extremely bizarre like the race between Sanson and Hanson's mechanical Kings and Marie having to literally drag Jean back to their camp as she's scolding him while he's in his stoned stupor from eating those darned 6mushrooms! That said, by episodes 33 and 34 I was about ready to beat my head against a wall due to the ridiculousness of it all, bottom line : the filler arc was pretty pointless for existing and I think Carl Macek ( god rest his soul ) definitely had the right instincts by wanting to edit it out. I especially hate how much regressing Nadia went through as a character, that can only be described as a horrendous embarrassment to the rest of the show which up until episode 23 had been absolutely terrific. So please, if you have a way to somehow get around this awful Island /Africa arc, I am very interested, tell me more Mr. Turner! :)

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