The eighth volume of NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER has its share of saving graces. The third episode on this DVD -- the 31st -- is the best of the four. For the first time it offers us something we haven't seen since episode 22: valuable hints to the core storyline. Here we learn about the origins of the Atlanteans, Earth, and of Nadia's own identity. We also get foreshadowings of a dark moment to come (Nadia declaring that she will change her own destiny, even though she is warned that she cannot), and arguably one of the most powerful bonding moments in her relationship with Jean -- a scene which should finally solidify them as a genuine couple and not just friends. Episode 30 is yet another filler episode, but it gets points for having its climax tie into the 31st. In fact, you can easily just watch Episodes 30 and 31 and just move onto Episode 35 on the ninth volume.
The voice acting continues to be excellent on both tracks (even if the scripting leaves a lot to be desired, but that's no fault of the translation team; the dialogue flows smoothly, but even it is unable to overcome to plotting problems this volume faces). Aside from episode 31, the best bonus of this DVD is a text interview with Meg Bauman, the talented thirteen-year-old starlet who voices Nadia in the English dub. Considering the fantastic job she has done for the character (especially in regards to the chemistry between her and Nathan Parsons as Jean), it is intriguing and interesting to read her thoughts about the show and voice acting in general. One wishes the interview was videotaped; it would have been nice to actually see her talking in person.
That's all you really need to know, because the bookending episodes are completely useless and stupid. Episode 29, "King vs King" is particularly dumb; whose idea was it to have Sanson and Hanson construct mechanical lions resembling King in order to run a race? That we don't even get any explanation on how exactly they acquire the materials to do so is baffling. But then again this is no different from what we have been seeing from episodes 23-28. The only thing that prevents Episode 29 from being a complete waste is an explanation about Nadia's past where she tells Jean and Marie about her learning to talk with the animals. This is another valuable plot thread that we have been waiting to see for a long time, although it is too bad that the writers didn't consider having Nadia describe her past toward the beginning of the island arc. (It would save us the trouble of having to sit through episode after episode of her anti-socialness.)
Sadly, Episode 32 has no such redeeming qualities. In fact, it and episodes 33 and 34 (on Volume 9) are, after 25 and 26, truly deserving of being called the biggest low point of the show. This terrible trio, subtitled the "Africa arc" is an utterly stupid, despicable, mean-spirited, boring waste of celluloid that has absolutely no reason to be in the show at all. It's offensive, too: the action mostly sets in a badly stereotyped tribal village which worships a lion statue (with big testicles), with treasures such as a silver can of catfood(!) and a super juice that can make one run fast. An attempt to give Jean a rival for Nadia is hackneyed, cliche, and hits all the wrong notes from the start. Most unforgivable is that it is both seriously out of step with the plot and all but totally destroys Nadia's personality. Furthermore, the new characters are neither interesting nor, frankly, worth caring about at all. Working Grandis' exfiance into the story is an even bigger offense, especially the decision to portray him as a moustache twirling Snidely Whiplash clone and rather monodimensionally. Way to ruin a credible backstory, and not even providing anything remotely interesting. The rather anonymous Tarzan clone who Nadia inexplicably becomes "infatuated" with is bland as well, totally devoid of any real character. The writers do not help matters by making him look 21 but stating that he is thirteen; even the potential hint that he knows about Nadia's birthplace is never fully realized. As such, his presence serves no real purpose. There is absolutely nothing to gain from sitting through the Africa arc. It is easily the worst of the worst and absolutely unnecessary. Bottom-line: don't watch episodes 32-34.
All in all, those who have been disappointed by Volume 7 will find little to resuscitate their interests with Volume 8; the first and last episodes on this DVD obviously HAVE to go, but the second and third episodes are watchable. My recommendation? Stick with the good episodes on this disc, but skip the horrible stuff. And you'll be pleased to know that, after a horrible first episode on Volume 9, NADIA: THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER will return to its initial roots wherein lies its appeal.