Patapata Hikōsen no Bōken, or Secret of Cerulean Sand, is a 2002 Japanese / Korean co-production and lasts 26 episodes.
It takes inspirations from the novels Face au Drapeau ("Facing the Flag") and L'Étonnante Aventure de la mission Barsac ("City in the Sahara"), both written by Jules Verne.
The mother of Georges and Jane Buxton died while giving birth to them, and her father was remarried three years later to Margaret, who already had a son named William, then 11-years-old, who come to the Glenar Castle, where the family now lives; he then proceeds to have it in for everywhere in Glenar, apart from Jane.
One day, Georges hears talk of Azurium - a mysterious cerulean sand with the ability to enable flight. He goes to the University to discuss this discovery with several scientists, but no one believes him, with the exception of Christopher Barsac.
In a separate event, Lord Buxton learns that William has embezzled money from the bank, and Georges is invited participate to an expedition led by the Prof. Barsac to the countries from which Azurium originates.
Several weeks after, a letter arrives at Glenar telling Georges was shot for treason.
Bad things then begin to happen: the Buxton Bank is robbed and stricken ill by this long suite of misfortunes, Lord Buxton is bedridden.
One day, Jane receives a letter containing some this mysterious sand and decides to mount an expedition to rescue her brother, whom she now believes to still be alive...
- Adaptation Amalgamation: The series is adapted from Facing the Flag and City in the Sahara, both written by Jules Verne.
- Artistic License Geology: William claims to George he was sent there to work in a steel mine. Of course, steel is an articficial alliage of iron and carbon. Especially jarring since George had a scientific training.
- Asshole Victims:
- William let his spymaster Morillire die when his airship is damaged. But it's hard to feel sorry for him, since he was a traitor, a Smug Snake and a coward who threatened Jane's life a few moments earlier.
- It's difficult to feel sorry for the denizens of Neo-City blown up by William, knowing that they remorselessly benefited from the enslavement and plunder of the neighbouring communities.
- The Atoner: Pr. Kamale for causing several deaths during an explosion but it's subverted by the fact the Pr. Kamale, who is, in fact, Georges Buxton, was made believe by William, the real culprit, he had caused the death of several British soldiers during the expedition to acquire azurium.
- Bank Robbery: The plot proper opens with the Buxton Bank Robbery, for which Mr. Buxton is accused of even though it's his stepson William's employees who did the deed.
- Battle Butler: Chambellan.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: William still loves Jane because she was the only one consistently nice towards him during his stay at Glenar Castle.
- Brainy Brunette: Jane know very much in mechanics to the point to jury rig a flying machine using azurium.
- Bitter Sweet Ending: Although Jane found her brother Georges alive and cleared his name, he then died with William.
- Breaking the Fellowship: After Jane revealed to Barsac her real identity, Barsac decided to separate the group, explaining he might have to execute George for treason if the circumstances called for it, and he doesn't want Jane to see this.
- By the Hair: A bandit thug grabs Camille by her long hair to give his leader an upper hand in the fight with her, prompting Camille to have it cut off in the aftermath of her loss. Jane also gets pulled by the hair by one of Morilire's men a few episodes later when she and her friends are caught inside their airship.
- Death by Childbirth:
- Jane's mother died while giving birth to her.
- Margaret, William's mother, met the same fate after moving to Glenar Castle. Mr. Buxton just can't take a break...
- Desert B Andits: Jane and Chambellan unknowingly hire such men as guide, and are saved by Sabri foiling an attempt by them to murder and then rob them, along with Jane managing to call the good nature of one of these.
- Disney Villain Death: Morillire and several guards end up being thrown out of Harry Killer's airplane when the latter accidentally opens a hole in its wall with his super weapon.
- Domestic Abuse: The unnamed overbearing woman during episode 5, who falsely accused Jane and Banchi of stealing her brooch. When Jane reveals that her pet duschehound was the culprit, the woman began throwing fruit at it, then attacked Banchi for trying to defend the poor pooch. This finally spurred her Henpecked Husband to action, by striking her across the cheek and calling her out on her callus behavior. She walks away stunned, but by the end of the episode, Jane saw that she had given him a blackeye and a swollen jaw in retaliation.
- Due to the Dead: After finding the remains of the members of a previous expedition, Jane insists on giving them a proper burial. Despite needing to press forward with their search for Neo City, Barsac and his men comply.
- Empire with a Dark Secret: Neo-City, which appears, at first glance, as a shining exemple of progress, was founded on the enslavement and the robbing of the neighbouring communities.
- Faceless Goons: Harry Killer's men all wear masks, except for Morilire. Captain Marsenay and Barsac attempt to use this to their advantage twice, in order to infiltrate Neo City. Morilire betrays them the first time, the second try succeeds.
- Faking the Dead: A tombstone bearing Georges Buxton's name is found in the carnage site but is revealed to contain only the miniature flying machine model Jane gave him just before he left.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Averted: Jane is fits this trope. In an episode aboard the Armadillo, she was unable to cook whereas her Private Tutor-Battle Butler Chambellan is shown to be in his element in the kitchen; the reverse is true for tending to machines.
- In fact, this trope was averted Duncan (chief mecanician) and Willy (chief cook) were asking Barsac to switch Jane and her butler.
- Foregone Conclusion: You'll already know who Harry Killer is the moment you lay eyes on him, since the first two episodes practically beats you over the head with it.
- Freudian Excuse: William spent much of his life feeling inferior to his stepbrother, because of his accomplishments and their father's praise. Whereas their father barely acknowledged his efforts, which caused him to resent both of them, though he pretended otherwise. Jane was the only one he felt any connection with.
- Gilded Cage: After coming to Neo-City, Jane is sent in such a prison. After she started to complain about how villagers were mistreated, Harry Killer ordered her to be locked in her luxuous room. Her companons Chambellan and Sabri weren't so lucky.
- Happily Ever After: Near the end of the final episode, Marsenay is shown to have resigned from his post to take up residence in Hamman, where he marries Camille.
- Henpecked Husband: At first glance, one of the pasengers of the boar Jane is aboard appears as this until he slaps her after one week of her being generally unbearable and capricious.
- Heroic BSoD: After being attacked by a flying bomber, Jane realizes that flying machines can also be instruments of death.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: A raider tells to a female villager that he would have liked to be able to bring her to Neo-City with him.
- Impoverished Patrician: After their bank was robbed, the Buxton family ends up less wealthy and has to dismiss most of their domestics to the exception of Chambellana and Kate.
- Lady of Adventure: Jane isn't about to let a few hundred thousand square kilometers of sand stand in the way of finding her brother. So she sets off on a grand adventure across the globe, at 15 years old.
- Lady of War: Camille, the current leader and primary defender of the Hanan Tribe.
- Layered Metropolis: Neo-City's upper level is reserved for Harry Killer's follwers, who live in luxury because they've stolen the wealth of the neighboring villages and press their people into slavery on the level below.
- Lessons in Sophistication: Jane is receiving these lessons in the Pilot Episode and is shown sewing for herself a trouser.
- The Lost Lenore: In the train, Barsac esplains to Jane that, when he was in India, his wife and daughter died because he wasn't able to have a doctor come during a tempest, commenting a flying machine could have saved their lives.
- Love at First Sight: Marsenay first sees Camille while she's defending her village against raiders from Neo City and becomes taken by her valour as well as her beauty. The feeling becomes mutual when he volunteers to train her people. They later marry at the end.
- Made a Slave: Jane is horrified when she finds out what the people of Neo City have done to the people they've kidnapped from the neighboring villages. And moreso when she discovers that her brother William is responsible for it.
- Merchant City: Hamman, headed by the queen Camille.
- Morality Pet: Jane is this for her stepbrother William. While he had enslaved people to build Neo-City and caused the death of a lot of people, he still loves her. He actually chooses to sacrifice his life to save her at the end.
- Plucky Girl: Despite occasional moments of doubt, Jane tries to remain optimistic about her chances of finding her brother, George, alive. And she's willing to do whatever it takes to reunite with him.
- Private Tutor: On the boat to the Levant, the butler Chambellan is shown teaching Miss Buxton about Alexander the Great's conquests.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Barsac has been sent to investigate such incidents by Neo-City agents.
- Redemption Equals Death: William and George sacrifice their lives to save Jane during the climax of the last episode.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: Georges, working on the properties of the azurium after being submitted to the emotional blackmail of his half-brother William, who makes him believe he caused the death of these soldiers died in the explosion William caused.
- Replacement Goldfish: William loved Jane so much he named his adoptive daughter Jeanne.
- Rich Bitch: The overbearing woman on the cruise ship is generally snobbish, self-centered, and apparently believes her status entitles her to treat others like dirt. She was also quick to assume Banchee had stolen her jewelry, simply because he was poor until it's revealed that her own dog had done it.
- Sand Is Water: The Armadillo, a landboat of the Barsac expedition, is sailing in the desert.
- Saharan Shipwreck: Sort of: a shipwreck named Raijin - the Japanese god of the lightning - is found with her hold full of azurium, ans was late revealed to be a flying machine.
- Secret Identity: Except not, but the characters themselves somehow fail to make any of the connections:
- Jane nearly reveals herself as a member of the Buxton Family, but hastily switches it to being, "Stuart" when she introduces herself to Barsac.
- Pr. Kamale turns out to be Jane's big brother, George.
- Harry Killer is actually William, though it's a wonder how Jane failed to recognize her older brother's voice.
- Send in the Search Team: Barsac mounted an expedition to search for azurium, investigate about the fate of villagers who disapeared near Hamman and to find what really happened to Georges Buxton.
- Shot at Dawn:
- What the letter claimed happened to Georges for treason.
- What Marsenay wanted to do to Jack, a soldier who deserted after viewing the carnage in the desert, before being interrupted by Jane and the bombing after.
- The Spymaster: To say he's so Obviously Evil, no one suspects Morillre of being a villain until after he's sabotaged Barsac and his men several times, even though he was seen since Jane embarked the ship. And still manages to successfully pull off a double-cross after being exposed and captured by them.
- Steampunk: Secret of Cerulean Sand adheres to a 'Golden Age' aesthetic, set in 1800's London. Journeys across the desert are treated like oceanic voyages aboard steam-powered sand trawlers and, later, there are cerulean sand powered flying machines.
- Street Urchin: Sabri and his band of kids, before meeting Jane while robbing her of her purse.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: George tried to explain, without tangible evidence, he needed funds to research a mysterious substance able to fly, basing only on legends; surely he must have expected to not be believed at all.
- Treacherous Advisor: Morilire, hired by the Barsac Expedition as guide, is later shown as a spy after he made the troops turn in circle in the desert.
- Unobtainium: The titular 'cerulean sand', or azurium, can be used to make flying machines.
- Wrench Wench: Jane shares her brother's interest in wanting to create flying machines. She's named each of her attempts, "Albatross" and numbered them. Apart for the last one, which she names "Silver Wings" and helps the other engineers on the landboat of the Barsac expedition.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: William, who felt alienated in his new family, wanted to take revenge against his step-family and projected to destroy the world with his superweapon before Jane spoke him out of it.
- Wretched Hive: Neo-City is a city based on slavery and the plunder of the neighbourhing communities.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
- What is implied to happen to worn slaves.
- Later, William push his master spy Morilire in the sky to his Disney Villain Death and kill, with his airplane-weapon, the entire population of Neo-City in the airplanes where they were simply because he wanted to use it on humans.