The table was her stage, the mobile phone was the microphone and the moon was the spotlight that kind of magic only Nana could make happen. Nana Komatsu, a fragile and insecure girl, hopes that moving to Tokyo will help her start a new beginning. She plans to leave her fruitless love life behind. In the meantime, another Nana arrives in the city determined to become the best vocalist on the best rock stage of Japan. She has no intention of a future as a lovely housewife. Although the two young women are so different, they quickly make a strong bond. Prepare to experience the world of love, music, fashion, and gossip as the two live through the troubles and joys of the path they have in store for them. Will this show conquer a place at the top charts? Let us find out.
What follows is my review of this relatively unknown gem, Nana. A romance/slice of life/music/drama josei written and drawn by Ai Yazawa and later adapted into a 47 episodes anime series (the one we’re reviewing). We’re analyzing Animation, Characters, Sound, Story and Personal Enjoyment. For those who do not know what a josei is… It’s the adult version of shoujo.
Animation and Art of Nana
Ai Yazawa has a firm and unique trait that can make me recognize any of her works instantly. There must be something good about it right? The series has wonderfully drawn characters, especially their clothing and fashion sense as it’s one of the main highlights of the series. If you are used to characters wearing one set of clothing for the whole series then prepare to be astonished. Animation is nothing too mind blowing but it’s more than fulfilling for a 2006 series. The scenes that have intense animation are not physical fights but music concerts at a stage, everything does its job brilliantly. Also the eyes and expressions are rich with feelings.
Characters of Nana
This is arguably the best part of Nana, even though everyone is entitled to one’s own opinion. What sets this apart from the rest of the works with similar genre and themes is the crude and endearing realism that surrounds the whole series and its characters. “Relationships” is the key word in this show and it’s a genuine masterpiece at making them captivatingly complex. Situations and characters feel so alive and relatable that it hurts. It doesn’t take a long time before you are dragged inside the world of Nana. You feel for every character. You will love guy X and hate girl Y, but with such a passion that few shows can make you experience this level of personal involvement. The contrast between the two Nanas are amazing. So different yet so compatible with each other, and Nana Osaki… She is amazing beyond words.
Soundtrack and Acting of Nana
Nana is about music and its world right ? We’ll explore its progression in the next section. This is about the musical score and the voice acting. The series is not based on background music but it’s rather a song based series. Indeed we have a remarkable number of tunes by Japanese artists that most resemble Nana and her mentality, her dreams. Even if you dislike rock and similar genres, the songs are never too invasive and you’re too busy cheering for Nana to care about it too much. As for the acting… It’s an imperative that you will watch this show in Japanese dub. The cast has the best group of talents and veterans I’ve ever seen in this genre of animation. Romi Paku I obsessively love you…
Story and Pacing of Nana
This part is what ultimately gives Nana a not so perfect score, but it’s not a fault in itself. Let me explain. The anime ends half way through the manga and there is a feeling of “come back for more”. The manga continues right ? Yes and no. Unfortunately the manga has been on a hiatus since 2010 leaving all fans to starve as the manga is even better after the anime ends. It becomes notably darker than the original series. This is an adult series and it’s clearly visible like the sun in a morning of summer. We often have highly controversial themes the characters are drawn into, the show doesn’t try to be shy at all and slaps everything in your face. the result is quite blunt yet rewarding overall (careful for those who are morally sensible!).
Personal Enjoyment of Nana
This is the purely subjective part of the review. What Nana gave me and how I reacted to it, its characters and its themes and situations. I’m not usually into these kind of shows, but they are giving me things that other shows do not have. Do not judge a series by its genre but by its content. I was absorbed into the series for all the run, cheering, fan boying, hating and rejoicing. When the characters were happy, I was dragged into that vibe as well, and I suffered along with them when life hit them harshly. Remember that the perfectly happy ending to life does not exist, sacrifices are made and things are lost.
Overall Score 9.0/10
– Humble Reaper from Anime Amino, Italy (Sicily)