I think it works OK; but it's substantially cut throughout, of course. The Africa arc is gone, and so is the island arc except for a couple of brief scenes to provide continuity. (Disclaimer - I've not actually watched it through end-to-end.)
I haven't been able to find it all. Someone put a version of it on YouTube
in 34 ten-minute segments at 480x360 resolution (English soundtrack only), but five of them got taken down (why just five? no idea); I have copies of the remaining 29, and they include the ones that immediately surround the island arc, so I can see how the continuity works there, and it seems fine (the taken-down episodes are all from the last third of the show, though). Of course, this version, being English, is not the original, but is a fan-made version replicating the edits of the Japanese VHS/LD version.
Here are some notes on it which I collected from various sites (including elsewhere on this one):
This is a compilated version of "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water". Entitled "The Nautilus Story", this version, produced by Hideaki Anno exclusively, chops down the show from 39 episodes to six hours (effectively eliminating the infamous island and Africa arcs), concentrating on the struggle between Gargoyle and Nemo. Disappointingly, some of the earlier episodes (including the Nautilus ones) are cut, but all in all, if this is the equivalent of "Rebuild of Evangelion" as we're going to get, I'm all for it.
It is no secret that there are many Anime fans who love Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, myself included, but it's also no secret that its creator, Hideaki Anno, was dissastisfied with the result. As such, this six-hour compilated version, subtitled "Nadia: The Nautilus Story" was released in Japan. I had long heard about this version, but it wasn't until recently that I finally got a chance to see parts of this compilation. Well, sort of. Someone actually made an "English version" of this compilation, using the English voice actors/script from ADV's dub, following the edits on the original Japanese LDs/VHS of this compilation closely.
And I have to say that The Nautilus Story is pretty much as close to a remake of the series as we're going to get--actually, "compressed and edited" might be a better term, as it's basically the show cut down to six hours. No, it's not Rebirth of Evangelion, but it does come kinda close.
What I was mainly interested in was how Anno (who produced this compilation before finally cutting his ties with NHK) managed to pare down the series. For the most part, the edits are very much welcomed, as they do give Nadia a much-needed faster pace, but there are scenes from the Nautilus episodes that I wish they didn't have to omit but I understand why they would in order for the story to be tighter. One edit I did have a problem with, however, was the handling of Ensign Fait's death scene. In that episode, there was a more rounded introduction to the character to get a glimpse of his likeability which makes the viewer feel all the more devastated as it does Jean and Nadia when he lays down his life (where he fixes Jean's glasses, gives him flowers). This intro is unfortunately gone, and as such the impact of the death scene isn't as strong as it should be. These aren't the only trims I noticed from the Nautilus arc. Others include the following:
-Episode 9 is shortened, and serves as the "ending" for the first "volume" in the compilation. I like this, as it gives the viewers a sense of mystery about what is to come.
-Episode 10 is completely gone, as is 3/4 of episode 11 (the only scenes that remain are Jean discovering the engine, askng Electra about it, and finally, his charming talk with Nadia)
-Episode 12 is chopped down as well. It actually starts out when the crew docks at the island, and then focuses mainly on Grandis trying to impress Nemo in her bikini (they even leave in the scene where Jean accidentally stumbles on Nadia changing, but strangely take out their subsequent walk to get over their embarrassment.) But that's about all that remains.
-All that remains of episode 13 is Marie and Sanson's chase with the crab robot all the way to the end when Nadia screams "Murderers!" to everyone.
-Episode 14 is gone. Yes, I said completely gone. A shame, because I really LOVED this episode. But again, I understand why they would do that.
-Episode 16 also has some cuts; Nadia doesn't go to Jean's cabin to ask him about the Blue Water, for instance.)
-Episode 17 is also gone. This was another favorite episode of mine (as I loved the gyrocopter scene and the flight at the end; it served as a wonderful bonding point for the two protagonists.)
-Episode 18 is chopped down to barely a quarter of its running time, leaving only the announcement to go to Antarctica, and the table scene where Sanson does a humorous tirade about the North Pole. They also reach Antarctica much faster; they don't fight a squid. Again, that was a favorite episode of mine, but I understand why they cut it down.
-Episode 19 focuses mainly on Nemo taking Jean and Nadia to visit the White Whale; but they don't include most of the cavern exploring or the frozen dinosaur scene. Nor do they leave in the "ice cream" finale.
-Only the opening scene of episode 20 (where Gargoyle meets with his officers) remains of that episode, from which we cut to Electra questioning Nemo on how long he intends to keep the children all the way to the Garfish closing in on the Nautilus. This was one of my least favorite episodes (even though it does have a partial explanation on Electra's past, which is nonetheless cut, as is Nadia's jealousy of Jean's friendship with her).
Since there was nothing particularly horrible about the first 22 episodes of Nadia, it may be somewhat disheartening to see several scenes removed, but then Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0 had to make similar choices in paring down a long story to a theatrical feature.
The second volume concludes after episode 22 (arguably the last GREAT episode in the show before the five-episode finale).
While I have somewhat mixed feelings about some of the edits in the first two volumes of The Nautilus Story, the third volume is something else. It is a HUGE, much-needed improvement over the latter third of the series--all that remains of episodes 23-34 is this:
-Open with Jean and Nadia on the beach (from ep. 23), then we hear Grandis' voice, and we see a shot of the Grandis gang from an earlier episode, and we jump DIRECTLY to the campfire scene from ep. 28, sans the flashback to the Nautilus and cuts off just after Ayerton roars, "Did you just call me a dummy?!"
-We then see a downward pan from the sun to the island on ep. 28, and after that, it moves to two scenes from episode 30--the moment where J&N discover the cave entrance, and then we skip over the entering the tunnel to the scene where they're noticing the submarines upside-down. Right after Jean screams "NADIA!" after the latter vanishes into the wall, we immediately jump to...
-Episode 31, or rather, a stripped down version of it, featuring ONLY the scenes where Nadia is with that android (shorter though). After Nadia throws down the Blue Water, we jump back to Jean holding Nadia's clothes screaming her name (as mentioned, we don't see the scenes where everyone packs up in the Gratan or Jean dashing across the collapsing island; so it is somewhat odd to see him holding Nadia's real clothes without that scene). After Nadia receives the Blue Water back, we go straight to Nadia embracing Jean nude (the dialogue about the island sinking omitted) and then we fade out after we see Jean and Nadia reach the tunnel exit.
All this in less than fifteen minutes. About eight and a half episodes worth of island "material" have gone to the cutting room floor.
The next thing we see after J&N leave the tunnel is the opening scene from episode 35, and then we go all the way to the end from there, with a few minor omissions. In other words, the entire Africa village subplot from 32-33 is non-existant (the only thing remaining of it being a brief shot of our pals looking down from the Gratan in the beginning of ep. 32 to substitute for the title card of ep. 35 while Hanson is saying something), and the singing episode is gone too. Since all three of these episodes are Nadia's extremely lowest point, it is both gratifying and not totally surprising that this compilation all but omits them.
The Nautilus Story 3 is all the better for these cuts, as it keeps Nadia much tighter as a show and keeps the characters consistent (the constant derailing in the filler eps omitted was one of the reasons I disliked those episodes so much).
Unlike the Rebuild of Evangelion, though, The Nautilus Story isn't very widely known, as it only exists on Japanese LD and VHS; and they weren't theatrically distributed either. Fans more familiar with the show may be somewhat disheartened that some scenes from their favorite episodes from the early part of the show were cut; even so, this is about as close as Hideaki Anno ever came to doing a "remake" of Nadia; in fact, these three compilated volumes would've worked far better than the disaster that was Nadia The Movie had NHK and Gainax not been so on edge with each other. Even so, if The Nautilus Story is about as far as we'll see as a "director's cut" of Anno's first television success, I'm all for it.
Even Hideaki Anno thought Nadia would have been far better without those episodes. Proof: he made a compiled cut called the "Nautilus Story" which eliminated all those filler episodes except parts of episode 30 and 31 (the only REAL important island episodes in that) and he cuts it down to fifteen minutes. True, he DOES cut down on the more important episodes too, but honestly, I would rather opt to sit through no more than that fifteen minute edit instead of subjecting people to ever sit through them.