No, this has nothing to do with the shopping centre just south of the Dartford Crossing. It does, however, have a bit to do with the Jules Verne adventure, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and the doings of Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus. The story, however, starts elsewhere.
We start off in Paris, where a boy and his uncle are about to compete in a flying competition. As this is 1889 (as we are reminded at the start of much of the series), flying is currently not something that has been achieved by man, the closest being the invention of the balloon and the blimp. The idea of this competition is to fly as far as possible without using such floating inventions, the winner getting 20,000 francs. However, what the boy, Jean, doesn't expect is that, while he is working, he spots a young girl with dark skin cycling past towards the Eiffel Tower with a strange looking cat balancing behind her. He decides to follow her. It's the start of an adventure that would see Jean pursued all over the world along with this girl, Nadia.
Nadia, you see, has no memory of her home, her parents or anything like that. Her only memory is of her life in a circus performing as an acrobat and an animal tamer. She is very friendly with the animals, this being the reason why she refuses to eat meat or fish. The only link to her past is a pendant that she knows only as "blue water", a diamond shaped blue crystal of some kind which seems to glow whenever she is in danger, something which happens quite often as, in the early episodes, she is hunted by the "Grandis Gang" in their "Gratan" (Grandis herself prefers to call is "Katherine", this naming argument between Hanson, Sanson and Grandis being a running gag through the series). It is during this early chase that Jean promises Nadia that he will take her to her homeland, wherever that is.
This early chase is resolved when Jean and Nadia encounter the Nautilus after crashing in the sea in one of Jean's inventions and the pair make it to an island which is, unknown to Nemo, a base for the Neo-Atlanteans. This is where they meet Marie, the unfortunate survivor of a massacre that saw the death of both parents and the family dog. The series resolves into a struggle between Nemo and the Neo-Atlanteans led by Gargoyle, a ruthless tyrant bent on world domination, Nadia's search for her past and her increasing distaste for what she finds and Jean's inventions. It also has a love story twist in it as Jean and Nadia try to work each other out, Jean being a little clueless with relationships and Nadia being stubborn with a bit of a temper.
It gets a little stuck in the middle with stories based on Jean and Nadia's period marooned on a desert island but soon gets going again as Jean meets up again with Nemo and his adopted daughter Electra and the whole lot takes on Gargoyle in a final battle. Yes, this leaves out a lot of the detail but you wouldn't want me to spoil it, now would you?
The animation is reasonable, though I get the feeling that insufficient attention was given to research, with a number of things standing out as out of keeping with the period. Examples such as Grandis' bikini, the appearance of a boom box and the use of the song "Happy Birthday to You" in one episode which cannot be totally explained away by the connection with the Nautilus. Otherwise, it's not too bad. There is a movie connected to this series which I have yet to see, but I'll deal with that later.