As I’m not much of a fan of watching anime series on a weekly basis save for some shows, I usually find myself re-visiting or watching older anime series. It can be an anime from the previous season or the previous year or the previous decade. Even with all the improvements in the current animations of today, I still find older animations endearing.
Anyhow, to start the year, I re-watched an anime which became part of my childhood — Ashita no Nadja a.k.a. Tommorow’s Nadja.
Just for some background, Ashita no Nadja is an anime series that ran from Feb 2, 2003 till Jan 25, 2004, having 50 episodes in all. The original creator is Toudou Izumi (a collective pseudonym for the staff at Toei Animation, apparently). The manga was simultaneously published in Nakayoshi, though it started later and ended earlier than the anime (Feb 3-Dec 29), having only 2 volumes (12 chapters).
The series is about a girl named Nadja who grew up in an orphanage and when she turned 13, she discovers that she was handed out to the orphanage and that her mother is still alive. Then, an incident happens wherein there’s an attempt to steal her brooch. Because of the turn of events, she ends up sneakily leaving Applefield (her orphanage), joining the travelling troupe of circus performers that she met, and falling in love with a blue-eyed blonde guy on a white horse.
So, we follow Nadja as she meets various people from different places where their troupe performs. She searches for the people who are mentioned in the ball diary of her mother, which she received when she turned 13 along with a ball gown.
However, there’s always the need for her to be on the lookout while on search for her mother because the people who attempted to steal her brooch are desperately looking for her. Just from the start, with her mother’s journal and dress, that pretty brooch, and the attempt at stealing said brooch, it’s set early on that Nadja is, in fact, of noble birth.
The series actually didn’t hide identities and I like that it did it that way. There are some anime which still tries to hide facts even if it’s obvious and it just frustrates me more. Anyway, the man behind the attempts, Nadja’s mother, and her family are actually introduced early in the series. The thrill of it all is in the question of how Nadja will meet her mother. Only four people stands in Nadja’s way to meet her mother, but these four are somehow enough for it. Fate also plays its role of becoming cruel, but that’s out of Nadja’s hand.
As part of the nobility, Nadja, then, finds herself gradually being acquainted with a lot of wealthy people. Some mocking her. A lot of them liking her. It’s mostly thanks to her dancing. Considering the setting of the story, there are a lot of dancing parties organized by nobles. One way or another, Nadja ends up attending such balls which, by the way, can vary with the quality of animation. At times they just had still images, at times the people are dancing. A lot are from top view and I think it’s because it’s easier to replicate animation that way.
Back to Nadja’s dancing, in extension, her being able to dance during those parties is thanks to her troupe which made her somehow famous. Considering the animation around 2003, I think the dancing parts (this one is for her performances for the troupe) are decent at least. I’m really glad that they didn’t stick with only one dance for Nadja. She learned flamenco at one point and did some other dances. Out of them all, flamenco’s my favorite one. Actually, it’s one thing about this series that I didn’t forget.
Anyway, the Dandelion troupe consists of their very strong leader George, violinist Thomas, clown Abel, lion tamer Rita with lions Créme and Chocolat, singer Silvie, then dancer Nadja, and later on, samurai Kennosuke. They also have Grandma who’s in-charge of playing their music during most performances and of making clothes.
Because Nadja is frequently with them, they serve as Nadja’s support as well as people of another opinion on other matters. Nadja frequently jumps to conclusion and gets angry at people, so she also frequently gets on my nerves. I had lots of time when I just wanted to pull her hair, but because of other characters, I continued watching. Part of the “other characters” is the troupe members who are understanding. (At least most of them are. Kennosuke is at times being irritating as Nadja. I know that it must be because of their age, but it’s still frustrating.)
I think the series does giving different views of every matter very well as it gives an episode or two at least for other characters. These characters just doesn’t appear and disappear, too, because Nadja meets them again at different times under different circumstances. There are times when the characters are going through something different from the other time, so we know that something happened to them, but we’re only left to our imagination how things became such because they’re not the main character. These people are the other part of the “other characters” that I liked. (With this, I guess I really liked all the characters more than Nadja and one antagonist and one spoiled brat on the story.)
Most of them are actually guys in different backgrounds, ages, and professions. And they’re from different countries, of course, because the Dandelion Troupe is travelling. Most of these guys are attracted to Nadja because little Nadja here is a pretty girl with a pleasant personality and the determination to push through her circumstances even if she’s at risk. Her love and concern for her family that she left in Applefield is true. There are some scene when she thinks of them first while the guys with her thought of fantasies of them being with Nadja. Anyway, Nadja is also vocal about not being pleased when she’s teased. She can be meddlesome, though, and I disliked that.
I also disliked when she bursted out crying after knowing she judged others unfairly or… just when she’s crying. I don’t know. I usually don’t mind crybabies, but she just gets on my nerves because of the circumstances. Doesn’t help how I disliked how Koshimizu Ami voiced her. (But I liked how she did it with her other characters on other anime!)
Or sometimes, Nadja’s really just unreasonable. Well, I mostly become irritated because of her love life. I disliked how dramatic she is when it comes to her love story. See, on the other side of Nadja’s story of search for her mother is the story of her falling in love with a noble named Francis Harcourt. He’s a noble who holds the term noblesse oblige in his heart. It’s the obligation of the nobles to act honorably and generously.
With that is the story of Black Rose, a Robin Hood-like character. Nadja gets involved with him, too. With the art, it’s obvious that Black Rose is like Francis in black clothes, so the story explores who he really is, who Francis really is.
It’s interesting because Black Rose presents a differing view of wealth and equality with that of Francis’. It’s a discussion that the characters tackled and I think the series ended it nicely, without being offensive.
Though I’m not a fan of love-at-first-sight’s and, honestly, of Nadja’s love story really, I liked how they concluded this part of Nadja’s story. Actually, the stories about Nadja’s search for her mother and about her love life gradually intersected and tied up well. It’s a good end.
Even if there are a lot of frustrating scenes because of Nadja, I can say that I enjoyed it. The music and OST is good, too. The OP (Nadja!! by Honda Minako) and ED (Que Sera, Sera by Koshimizu Ami) are the same all throughout but I didn’t mind. I’m actually fond of Que Sera, Sera and I adored the ED sequence.
Now, I can finally say that I genuinely like this one because I know the whole story. Yaaay!