Once Upon a Time...

Nadja!Our story takes place around a hundred years ago. Nadja Applefield is an orphan living in the Applefield orphanage just outside of London. Her 13th birthday is approaching, an important event in her life. The tradition at the orphanage states that when you turn 13, you must leave the orphanage and go out into the world and find work as an apprentice somewhere. For Nadja, events conspire to force her to leave the orphanage a bit sooner than planned.

Nadja!The first surprising event for Nadja is the arrival of a mysterious package. In it is a small suitcase containing a ball gown and a diary. The enclosed letter reveals that the items belonged to Nadja's mother, who is not dead, as Nadja had been led to believe. Until this point, the only connection Nadja had to her family was the large brooch pinned to her clothing when she was given up to the care of the orphanage when she was a baby. The brooch is heart-shaped, with a jewel in the center. Nadja wears it wherever she goes.

Starry-Eyed KnightIt is a good thing that Nadja keeps the brooch close to her, because soon after the arrival of the mysterious package in the mail, two equally mysterious men start sneaking around the orphanage, looking for Nadja. They are hired henchmen, sent to steal her brooch! Their attack on Nadja causes the orphanage to catch fire, but before they can successfully grab the brooch, Najda is rescued by a handsome stranger. He comes riding in on horseback out of nowhere, and easily dispatches Nadja's attackers. This handsome guy comforts Nadja and warns her to guard the brooch closely. Nadja is captivated by her savior, and decides to call him her Starry-Eyed Knight.

The Dandelion TroupeWith the orphanage on fire, and bad men after her, Nadja decides to leave the orphanage and strike off on her own in search of her mother. She soon falls in with a very eccentric group of traveling entertainers. Nadja, a talented dancer with a charming grace that seems to enchant everyone she meets, is allowed to join the traveling group. They are the Dandelion Troupe, and they spend their days traveling from city to city all over Europe in their giant steam powered car. The car is an amazing contraption that houses the stage that the troupe performs on in each city.

Francis HarcourtNadja travels with the Dandelion Troupe all across Europe, always in search of her mother. Along the way she meets many new friends and even finds herself entangled in an unusual love triangle. Her heart is filled with the memory of her Starry-Eyed Knight who rescued her from the bad men. She believes she has found him in the form of Francis Harcourt, the son of a wealthy noble family. Francis is handsome and charming, and looks exactly like her Starry-Eyed Knight. He is wealthy, but spends most of his time doing good works and donating money and time to the poor. Francis is immediately entranced by Nadja as well.

The Black RoseAt the same time Nadja is traveling from country to country, a mysterious thief named KuroBara (Black Rose) is also making rounds throughout Europe. The Black Rose is a masked Robin Hood type of thief, who steals from the wealthy and gives to the poor. He strongly believes everyone should be equal, and despises the wealthy nobles who waste all their money on frivolous things. Nadja first encounters the Black Rose on the streets of London, where they have a very unusual meeting. Their paths cross several more times during their travels.

Nadja does NOT give up!The story follows Nadja as she meets people during her travels, has adventures in the various cities the Troupe performs in, and searches for her mother. We also get glimpses of the people working to prevent Nadja from being reunited with her family. The two henchmen hired to steal Nadja's brooch are never far behind her, and as the secret of her past begins to be revealed to her, Nadja must face treachery close to home, and gather the courage to confront her enemies. In the face of danger, Nadja never gives up, knowing that even in bad times, there is always a tomorrow that may be better. She strives for the better days and is certain she will someday be reunited with her mother.

Ashita no Nadja © ABC, Toei Animation. Page Content © Emily Snodgrass