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Joseph Petitti —

Gunbuster references in Nadia

It's no secret that Studio Gainax likes to hide references to other anime in their shows, with varying degrees of subtlety. But perhaps the most interesting are the parallels between their first OVA series, Gunbuster, and their first TV series Fushigi no Umi no Nadia.

Though appearing very different in tone, setting, and target audience, the two series actually end up sharing a lot of similarities. Gunbuster is a mature sci-fi space opera along the lines of Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam, while Nadia is a steampunk adventure loosely based on Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and aimed at younger audiences. But they share a lot of common themes and plot points. They're also both written and directed by Hideaki Anno, who would go on to make the legendary Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Reused names

A lot of little things in Nadia, like names of minor locations, are taken directly from Gunbuster.

Captain Tashiro mentions Leaf 64, the name of a star in Gunbuster
Gunbuster episode 3
Captain Nemo mentions Reef 64, the name of an underwater trench in Nadia
Nadia episode 14

Not to mention the fact that both captain characters have cool moustaches, which itself may be a reference to Captain Global of Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

The Exelion and Nautilus share a lot of similarities too, even the location of their combat shelters.

Gunbuster battle announcement instructing non-combatants to take shelter in block 3
Gunbuster episode 3
Nadia battle announcement instructing non-combatants to take shelter in block 3
Nadia episode 5

The Nautilus and New Nautilus originally had the same names as the two main ships from Gunbuster as well:

The Nautilus was originally called the Eltreum
Nadia episode 15. "Eritrium" is very close in pronunciation to "Eltreum."
The New Nautilus was originally called the Exelion
Nadia episode 37

Reused shots

Hideaki Anno has a very distinctive visual style, and often reuses similar types of shots within the same show, or even across different shows. Here's an obvious example:

Exelion preparing to launch nuclear torpedos
Gunbuster episode 4
Nautilus preparing to launch torpedos
Nadia episode 21

Sometimes it went beyond just reusing a shot's framing, there are a few instances where entire shots are reused with only slight modification.

Missile tubes opening on the side of the Exelion
Gunbuster episode 4
Missile tubes opening on the side of the Nautilus
Nadia episode 21
Barrier guages on the Eltreum
Gunbuster episode 6
Barrier guages on the Nautilus
Nadia episode 18

Bonus

There are plenty of Nadia references hiding in later Gainax works too. One of my favorites is the gross-looking fish that reappeared 17 years later in Gurren Lagann.

Fish with a bow in Nadia
Nadia episode 11
Fish with a bow in Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann episode 25

There's even a musical reference in Evangelion 3.0. The music that plays when the Wunder launches for the first time is almost exactly the same track used in Nadia for the first launch of the New Nautilus. ShirĊ Sagisu composed the music for both.