Available from Hobbylink Japan
Gainax is geeky.
Very, very geeky.
Anyone who has seen even one of its series – or films – for that matter can see that from the beginning. From its work on the ‘Daicon’ convention animations, to the latest Evangelion movie, the narratives, characters, mechanical details and so on, which Anno and his people have created, are rich with an awareness of the media in which they are rooted.
There are more lifts, outright theft, cameos, homages and general fangirl/boying going on than any number of us can shake any number of sticks at.
It is clear that the whole Gainax crew still keeps in their hearts that almost ‘celestial’ fire which ignited their passions when they were young students, and drove them into anime in those imaginative boom years, when anything seemed possible for women and men who dared to dream.
Nothing which they have ever tackled has ever been free from this sort of cultural borrowing, but this is no bad thing, especially as the company’s most outrageous intellectual mashups have produced the best possible fruits…
Such as in the – literally – incomparable 「不思議の海のナディア」The Secret of Blue Water.
Here is a series which on paper defies all expectations.
Taking Jules verne as a source – mainly 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, but other works as well – this series adds in HG Wells, a little bit of Godzilla, some Yattaman, The Three Stooges, Gundam, and seemingly anything that might raise a giggle in the studio.
The series follows a young orphan named Nadia who, with her lion cub ‘king’ and her inventive friend, Jean, journeys out into the world to seek out the truth behind her mysterious origins…
The show’s pedigree is as mysterious as its subject matter into the bargain.
On the back of a number of ‘Adventurous Children’ series in the mid-late 70s, Toho hired on the, at the time, up-and-coming Hayao Miyazaki to produce and direct a series based on a merging of ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ and ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’. This would call for a pair of orphans to travel around the world encountering characters from both novels.
Though the plans eventually fell through when Miyazaki began work on ‘Future Boy Conan’, Toho retained the rights for the story outline. Some minor issues did arise when the putative director recycled elements into his smash hit ‘Castle in the Sky’ film. However, with pragmatic aplomb, Toho recognized that there could be something made of the seemingly popular ‘Gothic technology’ story idea which they had kicking about.
This is where Gainax enters the fray. The brand-new company had little to lose on what for some seemed to be a poisoned chalice – the project from which Miyazaki himself had walked – but, as Anno Hideaki has said, after Wings of Honnemaise, they felt that they could take on any challenge.
Even with some Korean outsourcing, this was a costly show for Gainax, however – and not just financially. Production had put the company over 70 million yen in debt, which could not be recouped easily, as NHK retained all the rights to the series. However, the greater cost was the political fallout of the company split which almost destroyed the production, as former friends went to war on each other over the legacy of Gainax itself.
Despite problems in production, however, the show quickly established itself as a fan favourite in 1990, and might even be seen to be a distillation of the ‘anime dreams’ of the preceding decade which had seen the transformation of Japanese animation into an international phenomenon.
Though the characters rightfully earned high praise (especially Nadia herself – the first positively profiled African character to feature as lead in an animation in Japan), it was the technology which attracted the attention of many fans, especially the Nautilus ‘ships’.
It is the second of these ships, the ‘Neo Nautilus’ which Kotobukiya has chosen for its latest Gainax kit.
Seen later in the series after the apparent destruction of the Nautilus itself (and having its own OP sequence) the ship carries the story into space, and its epic climax. It was designed as homage to several important spaceships of the classical period, and if one looks carefully, one can see visual cues in the design taken from ships like Space Battleship Yamato, Capt. Harlock’s Arcadia and, most obviously the Moonlight SY-3, from the Godzilla movies ‘Attack of the Marching Monsters’ (AKA Destroy all Monsters).
I’ve been looking forward to this kit for some time as the only models available to date have been the original soft vinyl kit from Tsukuda and a rather pricey garage kit…
The kit includes a very nice ‘Blue Water’-themed base in translucent plastic, which is a very nice touch.
With the kit cast in the correct shades, throughout I plan to try simply matting it down (using Mr. Hobby Matte Coat) and highlighting, then airbrushing from that. It is going to be an interesting build – a small kit to be sure, but one which carries a great weight of nostalgia for me.
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