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Anime / Ashita no Nadja

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Ashita no Nadja (明日のナージャ, Ashita no Nāja, lit. "Tomorrow's Nadja") is an Anime First series produced by Toei Animation in 2003, airing right after the end of one Cash Cow Franchise, and before the beginning of another. It premiered in Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial TV Asahi network, as well as several local cable channels. The series is available on DVD (in Japanese) containing two to three episodes each. Was aired once in a while in Latin America Cartoon Network and is occasionally seen in local Latin American cable stations. It also had a manga adaptation, serialized by Kodansha in the manga magazine Nakayoshi and collected in two bound volumes.

A long time ago in western Europe, a young twelve-year-old orphan named Nadja Applefield lived a peaceful and humble life under the care of Applefield House, a British orphanage. She's the local Cool Big Sis, a keen dancer, and is steeling herself for her thirteenth birthday, at which age she will be forced to leave her home and make her way in the world.


However, one day her guardian Miss Applefield presents Nadja with a trunk filled with several luxurious things including a Pimped-Out Dress, a diary and a anonymous letter. The author of the letter reveals Nadja's deceased mother is actually alive, and that Nadja was (unwillingly) placed into the care of Applefield House when the mother's life was threatened by a serious illness.

Before Nadja can process all of this, Applefield House is attacked in the night by two mysterious burglars looking to steal Nadja's prized medallion, which seems to be the key linking Nadja to her heritage. A Mysterious Protector saves Nadja's life, but Applefield House is almost burned to the ground.

Stuffing all her belongings and newfound dress into her new trunk, Nadja sets off on a journey across Europe with the aid of a traveling circus to discover the secret of her medallion and hopefully reunite with her birth mother, while evading the sinister plots of her greedy Evil Uncle, Hermann Preminger.


This anime provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Nadja's music box is clearly CG.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Nadja loves Francis because he helps her out, but also is attracted to his twin brother Keith because of this.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Poor Sylvie...
  • Anachronistic Clue: Played for laughs in one episode. Leader is in a tent about to buy many things from a wandering peddler, like the binoculars that Columbus used to see land, only to be told that binoculars didn't exist then. And a real engraved samurai sword, only to be pointed out as well that Japanese swords usually aren't engraved in the Latin alphabet. He ended chasing the peddler with his very sword.
  • Animation Bump: Episode 26 is very noticeably different from the other episodes in the series. It is more serious in tone, contains higher quality animation and the gorgeous use of high-contrast backgrounds. This is due to the fact that it is directed by Mamoru Hosoda.
  • Arc Words: "Open the door of fate".
  • Arranged Marriage: Leonardo and Julietta, which becomes a Perfectly Arranged Marriage once Leonardo gets over himself. Francis and Marianne were going to be betrothed, but Nadja appears and throws a huge wrench in the plans.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Nadja uses this twice in the series.
  • Belly Dancer: Nadja dresses up as one during the show's ending credits.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rosemary, post Freak Out
  • Body Double: Since both she and Nadja are sweet-faced, blue-eyed, blonde pre-teenage girls, Rosemary plays this role and impersonates Nadja real well.
  • Break the Cutie: Colette was very broken at some point. Nadja gets broken later, as well. And Rosemary gets so broken that she jumped off the slippery slope.
  • Broken Bird: Sylvie, to a degree. Rosemary as well by the end, even admitting it to Nadja during a talk, though her final scene shows her still moving forward .
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: As Nadja and Black Rose aka Keith get more Ship Tease and Nadja learns that he's more of a Stepford Snarker than a simple Handsome Devil, they evolve into this.
    • Nadja also turns out to have such a relationship with Keith's brother Francis, after Francis is revealed to have severe emotional/mental problems.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Christian "Mummy Professor" Strand. Harvey Livingston.
  • Cain and Abel: Colette and Hermann (siblings), Keith and Francis (twins), Nadja and Rosemary (childhood friends). The two latter get better.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Colette gives this to her dad, when she finds out about the whole deception.
    Colette: I don't care about royalty or honor, Father! I just want to see my true daughter!"
  • Changeling Fantasy: Subverted: Rosemary loved to dream she was a lost princess who would someday find her true noble family, but the "princess" was Nadja and not her... And when she found out... boy, did she snap.
  • Character Development: One of the reasons why the series is so enjoyable.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Rosemary is just a face in the crowd in the first two episodes, then starts getting some more scenes by the second part... and by the end is one of the most important characters.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Of the Unlucky kind: Oliver, for Nadja. Marianne, for Francis. Count Waltmuller (Nadja's stepfather) used to be this, but he became Colette's kind second husband, Second Love, and Victorious Childhood Friend.
  • Circus Brat: Rita, Nadja, Kennosuke.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: It starts when Nadja has to leave the only home she has known, travelling with the Dandelion Troupe to find her origins and grow up...
  • Compressed Adaptation: The manga. They shortened it, thus taking away many characters (which means loss of Character Development), including but not limited to: Keith, Rosemary, Marianne, Jose, and Carmen.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sylvie "the Songbird" Arte, Julietta. And actually, Nadja used to be one in Applefield House, and sorta has these dynamics with little Rita.
  • Cute Mute: Rita. She gets better.
  • Dances and Balls: Six of them, where Nadja is always in a nice dress. Except, in a subversion, at the last one, intended for her.
  • Deconstructed Trope: For such an idealistic series it examines several tropes such as Greater Need Than Mine, Sheltered Aristocrat, Princely Young Man and Wide-Eyed Idealist through Nadja's love interest Francis Harcourt. Because when he sees that his philanthropy is not enough to make the world better, his huge hidden problems come to the surface, and not only he gets called out for his naivete and lack of self-worth by some of the people that he's attempting to help... but at the end of the series he crosses the Despair Event Horizon, and both Keith and Nadja have to work damn hard to bring Francis back to stability.
  • Discussed Trope: Several Rich People and Princess Tropes, but specially Ojou.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: To a degree, both Oliver and Kennosuke.
  • Domestic Abuse: Just another reason to hate Hermann Preminger: his treatment of his wife Hilda.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Miss Applefield got a shelf dropped on her. It happened pretty much off-screen, save a flashback, and only to have the Orphanage of Love disbanded and give Nadja yet another reason to angst.
    • Let's not forget how Jose gets hit by a carriage right after he and Carmen have resolved to separate but stay in friendly terms until they truly reach their dreams.
  • Dude Magnet: Nadja gets a lot of romantic attention from many male characters.
  • Evil Plan: Hermann's plan to steal Nadja's brooch, ruin her chance to claim the Preminger fortune (though she doesn't care about money and only wants to meet up with Colette) and become heir.
  • Evil Uncle: If what he does to get his niece's inheritance doesn't qualify Hermann as such...
  • Eyes Always Shut: Thomas O'Brian, Anna Petrova.
  • Expy: Black Rose is one for Tuxedo Mask.
  • Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Rosemary is in the background during the first two episodes, but is only introduced as a close friend of Nadja's from the orphanage way later, and that same episode sets her up as a future nemesis for Nadja.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hermann never had a chance to make friends during his childhood because his father kept him too busy with the training to succeed him and now resents Nadja for being chosen over him despite this.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Grandma Anna has one
  • Gentle Giant: George "Leader" Haskill
  • Gentleman Thief: Black Rose aka Keith Harcourt. Also Francis is the Black Rose Thief in the manga.
  • Generation Xerox: Nadja and Colette once meet before they learn about their bond. They're practically the same, personality wise.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Kennosuke, Nadja and Rita. Rosemary too before she became an Evil Orphan.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Francis is a male example.
  • Hot for Student: Nadja's father Raymond Colbert was Colette's piano tutor. They fell in love and eloped. Much misfortune followed.
  • Idiot Ball: Nadja's attitude towards the brooch is nearly incomprehensible. She had it for thirteen years, it being the only memento of her family, obviously incredibly expensive, and she had never tried to open it. Then, once she learns it is important and that it has a ring inside, she not only never inspects the ring or brooch, she also keeps using both in plain sight. She should have locked it away the moment she found out someone was trying to steal it or, at least, separated ring and brooch to keep at least one safe. Not to mention she almost lost it twice, and she still never took precautions to keep it safe. No wonder it got stolen. The only excuses for this behavior would be that Nadja doesn't want the others to be at risk for it (which is pretty in character considering how she left the Applefield home when it was almost burned down) and/or that she had been ridiculously sheltered in her Orphanage of Love (not that unbelievable, Miss Applefield never said anything either and the orphanage itself is located in the countryside, rather far from London itself), and even those run thin soon.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: One episode revolves around Nadja, Kennosuke, and Leader searching for a treasure supposedely buried by Joan of Arc. Kennosuke imagines himself being able to invent a revolutionary automobile (and to conquer Najda's heart), while Nadja imagines being able to rebuild her old orphanage (and get the admiration of her old friends). As the treasure is implied to be more and more valuable, we see each of their fantasies get more preposterous, but it's revealed to not be that kind of treasure (flowers, representing Joan's wish for the war to end). At the end, the kids ask Leader what he would have done if they had actually found a treasure. He explains that he would have spend it in search for a bigger one.
  • Ill Boy: Stephan, Abel's crippled and long-lost son.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Hermann being perceived as such by his father is what started the plot. If not for this, Nadja and Colette would probably never learn about each other being alive.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Harvey Livingston. Chasing stories is how he justifies running into Nadja all over Europe.
  • Jerkass: Fernando Gonzales, Hermann Preminger, Duke Preminger, Antonio and Rosemary.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Keith, Marianne, Antonio, John Whittard.
  • Karma Houdini: Though Hermann, Rosso and Bianco go to jail, Rosemary goes away without more punishment aside of Nadja slapping her once and beating her verbally.. Also, Antonio never was punished for his Screw the Rules, I Have Money! mentality, aside of failing to woo Julietta.
  • Kid-anova: Nadja. Oh God, Nadja.
  • Ladykiller in Love According to Julietta, Leonardo stopped flirting with other girls when Antonio became his rival in love, paying more attention to her.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Back when Hermann was a kid, his father made him spend so much time training to inherit the Preminger Dukedom he never had a chance to make friends back then.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Nadja has several guys pining for her romantic attention (Oliver, Kennosuke, Francis, Black Rose aka Keith and Christian). She herself loves Francis, but is strongly attracted to Black Rose alias Keith (making this a Sibling Triangle). Marianne loves Francis and tells Nadja that she should hook up with Keith at some point).
  • Love Hurts: Holy shit, it does.
  • Mad Love: Rosemary has a crush on Fernando, who treats her like crap, purely because of his noble status.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Antonio, Hermann, to a degree Oscar. Rosemary takes it to new extremes. Duke Preminger also counts for what he did to Colette and Nadja just because the latter was born from a marriage he didn't approve.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Nadja in the first episode, "Nadja, Door of Destiny". Seen from the side, a gust suddenly blows up her dress forwardly and her hat off her head.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: Francis, as time goes on .
  • The Masochism Tango: Jose and Carmen.
  • Meaningful Name: "Nadja" means "hope" in Russian and is the title of a novel by Andre Breton.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Grandma Anna
  • Missing Mom: Nadja's mother, Colette Also, Francis's mother. Who is also Keith's Missing Mom, of course.
  • Moral Myopia:
    • When Keith finds out about Nadja choosing Francis, he berates brother his twin for "wanting to keep a free spirit like Nadja in a Gilded Cage" in his opinion. Well, who does Keith think he is to single-handedly decide that Nadja will undoubtly be unhappy with the guy she has chosen - a guy who is not him? At least he should ask Nadja about it instead of treating her like his property.
    • Rosemary's whole world revolves around her dream of being lost royalty, and will not tolerate any threat to it. While she was already slipping into mental instability at the time, when Rosemary sees Nadja dolled up at a ball instead of playing the role of an ultimately insignificant side character, (as if Nadja would have control over such a thing,) she deems this a betrayal so heartless that it drives her over the edge and into villainy, but Rosemary still thinks she's in the right because she "deserves" to be a real princess.
  • Mouthy Kid: TJ Livingston, Fernando Gonzalez
  • Naïve Everygirl: Nadja. Rosemary starts as one.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Nadja keeps wavering between Francis and Keith. By the end of the series, the three meet up and reach a common agreement so they leave it there for a while, until they're more mature. Still, it's hinted that Keith is more than willing to pull an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy if needed...
  • Nostalgic Music Box: Nadja buys one in episode 10 that plays the waltz she danced to with Francis. At the time, she has no idea it was her mother's.
  • Not Afraid to Die: How Jose Rodriguez became the best matador in Barcelona. After Carmen dumped him for a wealthier man, he no longer cared if he lived or died, which made him completely fearless in the bullfighting arena.
  • Ojou: Marianne, Julietta, Colette. The trope itself is discussed and explored.
  • "On the Next Episode of..." Catch-Phrase: "Finally, the door of fate has opened!" or some variation (Nadja).
  • Orphanage of Love: Applefield house.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Nadja's medallion is the biggest proof of her identity. To a degree, also her Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Parasol of Pain: Sylvie uses her Parasol of Prettiness rather efficiently when she needs a weapon.
  • Parental Abandonment: Nadja and all the Applefield kids, Francis and Keith, Antonio (Disappeared Dad, distanced from his mom), Harvey and TJ, Kennosuke and Hanako, Rita...
  • Parental Substitute: Emma Queensbury cared for her nephews when they lost their mother.
  • Pet the Dog: Rosemary in her final scene, even though the cost is her getting away without consequence, makes sure to tell Nadja that she wishes her good luck and that she should take care of her mother.
  • Plucky Girl: Nadja, in the best tradition of young shoujo heroines.
  • Princely Young Man: with poor Francis.
  • Promotion to Parent: Kennosuke and Harvey had to take care of their little siblings (Hanako and TJ) once their parents died.
  • Proper Lady: Julietta, Emma, Hilda, Marianne, the deceased Countess Harcourt.
  • Rags to Royalty: Nadja is the direct heiress to an Austrian clan. In the very end, she's revealed as Rebellious Princess because she refuses to fully take over the clan per her grandpa's orders and, with Collette's approval, returns with the Dandelion Troupe.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The tiny little lions Cream and Chocolate
  • Rich Bitch: Fernando's aunt, oh so much. Subverted with Marianne, who is blunt and selfish but doesn't use her riches to make herself look better than she is; she's more of a Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • Sacred First Kiss. Subverted. Nadja is mad as Hell at the Black Rose Thief for kissing her... but this isn't her first kiss. That one was given to her by Francis... who happens to be Black Rose's twin younger brother, but nobody knows that. Though she seems to be more mad because Black Rose's kiss was a borderline Forceful Kiss.
  • Sad Clown: Abel Geiger is a more or less normal one with great wisdom and knowledge, but his backstory is maybe the saddest in the whole series.
  • Scenery Porn: Some episodes are really good at showing off Europe. Special mention for episode 26, set in Granada, Spain.
  • Spanner in the Works: When Hermann betrays them, Rosso and Bianco ruin his plans as they let Nadja escape from the room they're locked in and tell her where to find their reports, which is ultimately Hermann's perdition. At the same time, Hermann thought Rosemary would be his puppet, but she proved him brutally wrong by being more ruthless and smarter than he thought.
  • Stepford Smiler: Oh, Francis.
  • Story Arc: The show is a somewhat episodic world tour up until the last 15 episodes, in which a more concrete storyline finally transpires.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Again, Antonio and Keith (despite him being blond)
  • Those Two Guys: Leonardo and Thierry
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Nadja and Rosemary
  • Too Dumb to Live: Colette. When she was about to elope with Raymond, one of the family's servants filled her music box with some gold coins and a note explaining it all. Colette eventually sold the box without even suspecting there was something valuable inside it.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Keith, so much.
  • True Companions: The Dandelion Troupe.
  • Twin Switch: When Francis is mistaken as Black Rose, he refuses to discard his identity and fully intends to pay for Keith's acts as a Gentleman Thief. This is seen as a sign of Francis's increasing mental/emotional stability, however, and not to mention Keith himself is very distressed by the prospect as he immediately recognizes this attitude as a signs of an incredibly unhealthy behavior pattern that Francis has carried on from early childhood.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Sabine is a 10-years-old Bifauxnen from Switzerland who unsettles Kennosuke, Nadja and Rita.
  • Unstoppable Rage: What happens when Thomas is given booze.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Rosemary was a genuinely kind girl in the past. But good lord, did that change.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Hermann has one at the end. In fact, all of episodes 48 and 49 cover his increasingly erratic and crazed behavior.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Hermann is the example of what happens when this trope becomes someone's Start of Darkness.
  • Wham Episode: Mainly Episode 26 but also Episode 30. These two episodes form Part A and Part B of a revelation that completely changes what Nadja (and the audience) had come to believe was true. Although the outcome of this reveal is more positive than negative, things aren't quite the same anymore after these two episodes.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Thomas hates violence, George hates ghosts, Rita hates fire.
  • Wicked Stepfather: While Hermann's stepson Oscar isn't the main victim of his wickedness (aside from how Hermann treats Oscar's mother Hilda), it doesn't change the fact Hermann is somebody's stepfather and a wicked person. While Hermann occasionally pressures Oscar into marrying some wealthy woman, it's unlikely it'd be any different if they were related by blood. In fact, the only relevance Oscar not being Hermann's biological son has to the plot is that it's the main (or only) reason Duke Preminger doesn't consider making Oscar his heir.
    • Count Waltmuller averts this trope by allowing Nadja to live with him. She decided to return to the Dandelion Troupe, anyway, and he didn't hold it against her either..
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: When Nadja dolls up to find out the truth about her Body Double and her stolen medallion and sees Rosemary posing as her, Rosemary claims at first that she's been kidnapped and blackmailed by Hermann. Nadja falls for it and Rosemary destroys her Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Wrench Wench: Kennosuke is a male example.