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Majikoi ~ Oh! Samurai Girls DVD Complete Collection (Hyb)

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Recent reviews of titles here:

Kill la Kill DVD/Blu-ray 2 (Hyb) Limited Edition + Bonus DVD
Matthew R. Dustman - Aug 29 2014
Rating: Wonderful!
Simply Amazing
Japan pays more than this amount for only two episodes of anime at a time... This is more than a fair price point for the episodes and extras. If you want to complain about the price, then the product is not for you.

I say to not listen to the reviewers who gripe about the price of the product when a review is meant for the product itself, which in this case is amazing.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water Blu-ray Complete Collection (Hyb)
Jon F. Turner - Sep 1 2014
Rating: Pretty good!
A mostly great series, but no classic.
"Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" is one of those shows that could have achieved true greatness if not for a serious crippling flaw. It starts out with great promise: a Jules Verne-inspired epic which, in a way, feels like an extension of Hayao Miyazaki's CASTLE IN THE SKY (incidentally, the master created the concept for this show, and basically recycled that for his 1986 masterpiece), filled with humor, drama, young love, friendship, moving moments, adventure, danger, and mystery. Incidentally, the series is based on "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", as a good portion of the show (episodes 4, 9-22) sets on a submarine which just happens to be called "Nautilus", and yes, it's commanded by Captain Nemo. "Nadia" offers a rich tapestry of compelling characters, from the decidedly comic Grandis trio (who start off as bad guys, then become heroes), the captain and his crew, and the children protagonists who propel the story. In fact, much of the focus is about the growing friendship (and yes, romance) between Jean and Nadia, two orphans from different worlds brought together in unusual circumstances and forced to face situations that are very unfamiliar to them. Both are also of different personalities: he is sweet-natured, brilliant, caring, eager to please, and overwhelmingly genial, while she is introverted, distrusting, emotionally troubled, and sometimes impulsively bad tempered. (This can sometimes make the latter a very alienating character, but on the other hand, another focal point of the show is Nadia's growth into a more stable, trusting adult on account of Jean's loyalty and compassion.) All of this is underscored by great animation (for a TV show) and memorable bits of action and drama.

All of this should have made "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" a classic series, but sadly, it misses the mark for one fatal flaw: it is much too long, clocking in at 39 episodes. And a good third of these half-hours (subtitled by fans as the "infamous island episodes", although the better term is island/Africa) are absolutely useless. But don't blame Gainax for episodes 23-34; the real problem was that backing distributor NHK requested them to be made -- the show was supposed to be a 27-30 episode series, but better-than-expected ratings prompted said filler arc. Unlike episodes 1-22 or the climactic 35-39, episodes 23-34 turn a compelling sci-fi epic into a nonsensical, poorly animated, haphazardly directed and written, unimaginative, unengaging, unpleasant mess that feels more like a bad Looney Tunes cartoon on drugs than anything else. The characters become caricatures of themselves (Nadia herself, in particular, regresses into a completely unlikeable brat), the idiotic, slapstick-oriented stories are absolutely devoid of any adventure, substance, and, most damaging of all, ultimately sabotage the momentum of the first 22 episodes. With the exception of episodes 30 and 31 (which even director Hideaki Anno would have salvaged if he was given the choice of eliminating the filler), the rest in the filler arc have absolutely no reason to exist. None.

Now don't take this as a meaning that "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" is a bad show. On the contrary. Its characters, as mentioned, are compelling, the core storyline is interesting and labyrinthine, and as long as it is focused on adventure and mystery it is indeed deserving of praise. It's just too bad that it suffers from an unfortunate filler arc; without it "Nadia" would have been a classic. To truly appreciate the show, it is recommended to watch the show like this: episodes 1-22, 30, 31, and 35-39. Although the missing gaps may seem jarring, take it from me, it's better than sitting through episode after episode of discouraging nonsense that negatively impact one's enjoyment of the show. Even Gainax agrees that it plays better this way.

In spite of my misgivings with "Nadia", though, I personally have no qualms with the English dub provided by Monster Island. The characters are all excellently cast and give splendid, lively performances. The voices of the children in particular are spot-on: Meg Bauman (13), Nathan Parsons (12), and Margaret Cassidy (11) as Nadia, Jean, and Marie, respectively, are what really drive the dub's heart, providing it with an intangible feeling of realism that really enhances the characters onscreen. For inexperienced youngsters, they do outstanding jobs, and the chemistry between all three is terrific (some may have trouble with Jean's shaky French accent, but I thought it was very appropriate and fitting for his character). The Grandis gang, too, is excellently cast, and have electrifying chemistry. "Nadia"'s dub has taken a lot of undeserved flak from critics who have made the mistake of writing off the dub on account of the sometimes uneven accents, but beneath it lies a spirited, energetic, emotionally charged dub that really brings its characters to life.

The Blu Ray set by Sentai Filmworks, too, deserves a shout out, mostly in the visual department. The DVDs by ADV weren't BAD, visually, and had a rich serving of extras on the latter discs, particularly (text) interviews with the dub cast. However, the video quality is simply superior to those of the DVDs. The colors are very vivid and rich with detail, although some of the latter episodes suffer from some specks and occasional film scratches, but that's more on account of the poorer quality of the island/Africa episodes in general. Still, this is the best the series has ever looked. Apparently the production crew went back to the original 35mm negatives to provide better visual results, and it shows. Even the DVDs never looked this good. It would have been nice if the DVD extras were ported over, and sadly there isn't much in the way of new material other than two television spots.

This is about as compact a collection as you'll probably ever get from a show as beloved as "Nadia", and I do generally recommend the show overall, but be warned, the lead character can be hard to deal with at times and there is a pointless filler arc that falls flat on its face.