"Say, Nana... Do you remember the first time we met?"
These words are the introduction of the beautiful world of "Nana". Ai Yazawa is probably the most convincing shoujo manga writer ever. With colourful, realistic characters, breathtaking events and just a pinch of music she creates a world in witch every girl can forget about reality and fall into the embrace of romantic fantasies.
One of the best things about "Nana" are the characters - we can actually see the reflection of ourselves in some of them and believe, that someone like that can really exist. This is proof that you can make a good anime
without the conventional tsundere, moe or annoying childhood friend.
One thing I didn't like though is Hachi's personality. Her behaviour at times is despicable. Mainly because she has no ideals or dreams (except getting married witch is pretty boring compared to the rest of the characters).
The story is also one of Nana's strong points. Ai Yazawa worked really hard on it, and did her best to create a realistic world so that the reader can almost become part of it and experience it emotionaly.
Even though the plot is a typical shoujo tearjerker (with a bit of music) it has that magical something that makes you cheer unconsciously for some characters and experience emotionally some events almost as strongly as the characters themselves. Another good thing about the story is that it exposes the hard, cruel reality, which has no happy endings and pure loves. Yazawa-sensei gives her characters a big imagination (especially Hachi) But the world they live in is just like ours.
As for the art, it wasn't that impressive. It annoys me how all the characters are so thin and tall. Other that that I think the art matched the story pretty well. There were lots of details regarding shadows and highlights. That's in order to underline the mood of certain moments, mainly in room 707.
Nana has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard. The openings and endings were songs by the 2 fictional bands in the show, witch was a brilliant idea imo. Olivia Lufkin and Anna Tsuchiya fit the characters perfectly. Nothing much to add here: the music in Nana is brilliant. Period.
Overall, Nana is a must-see position for shoujo-fans. It tells us a lot about life, it's hardships and also teaches us an important lesson about the mistakes, that we shouldn't make.
This is my first review, so please don't be hard on me ;)
One of the things I like to see the most in anime is how they portray relationships. I’m a sucker for romance, but I hate the cheesy stuff you usually see in typical shoujo anime. Sometimes you’ll find an anime with realistic characters, with the typical flaws of human nature, and usually people love them. We can identify with them. Like in Evangelion many people who have dealt with depression could identify with Shinji (in some levels…).
For those of you who have watched your share of anime about love/relationships, I bet you could identify somehow with “Bokura ga Ita”, “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien” or
“Kare Kano”. Or at least you felt connected with its characters. I have watched them all and know what I’m talking about.
Recently, I finally sat down and watched “Paradise Kiss”. It’s a short (12 episodes) anime that, to make it short, is about relationships and growing up. I was impressed by its maturity. The art style took a while to get used to, but afterwards I loved it. After watching it, I decided to watch “Nana”, which is by the same author and deals with similar issues.
“On board the train to Tokyo to meet her boyfriend Shoji, Nana Komatsu ("Hachi") happened to sit beside Nana Osaki who was traveling to Tokyo to fulfill her dreams of becoming a musician. The vocalist for her punk band "Blast", Nana aims for a major debut for "Blast" in Tokyo where her boyfriend, Ren, is the guitarist for a popular band "Trapnest". Sharing the same name "Nana", both girls quickly form a bond of friendship. Their paths cross again when they encounter each other while searching for accommodation in Tokyo. Eventually they decide to live together in the same unit and this further strengthens their bond as the two "Nana(s)" go through their love lives and career.” – AnimeNewsNetwork
I almost have no words to express how it made me feel. It’s amazing. Incredibly realistic and moving. I started watching it without knowing a thing about it (not even synopsis), though the title “Nana” sounded familiar as something popular among anime fans. The anime was broadcasted in 2006, lasting 47 episodes, but the manga first came out in Japan in 2000 and is still ongoing.
The concept itself isn’t anything too extraordinary. People living together, people falling in and out of love, people trying to make it in showbiz and other stuff. You could say it blends many overused ideas, then twists them around and reinvents them, transforming itself into a completely original and brilliant idea. And it contains romance, drama and comedy, but the transition between them is really well done, so it doesn’t feel weird.
What really makes “Nana” shine is the incredible character development. The evolution of each character’s personality and relationships with other characters. The things we watch them go through seem so real, like we’d probably make the same mistakes and choices as they did. No one is perfect – that’s a fact. We often think to ourselves “If I was [him], I wouldn’t have made that choice”, but the truth is we are lying to ourselves. We are insecure, emotional beings, that often ignore rational thought and make reckless decisions. “Nana” is so realistic that it’ll blow your mind away.
This is a long series, but it’s not hard to watch. In the first episodes, the action often switches between the actual time and many flashbacks, but they really are important to understand a character’s background. At some point you might get the feeling that they’re repeating the flashbacks, but don’t worry. This isn’t a filler-filled series.
In the end I felt that the story was really well told. But they leave you in a sort of cliffhanger… because the manga isn’t finished yet. But they made it more than obvious that at some point there’ll be a second season of Nana, so don’t worry. In fact, I loved watching this and the way it ended wasn’t too frustrating because I’d just experienced an awesome series.
The way the characters look might be a little hard to get used to (at least imo), but I really like the art style. I don’t think there’s anything too impressive or revolutionary about the visuals here… which is a good thing. I think the plot alone would be enough to hold the audience and maybe if they’d done something too extravagant visually (*cough* Air *cough*) the viewer would get sidetracked from the story itself. I think the animation was very fitting for the anime.
The animation studio is Madhouse, which was also responsible for “Beck”, “CardCaptor Sakura”, “Paradise Kiss”, “Death Note” and a bunch of others.
I watched the episodes with the original Japanese voice actors and English subtitles. As for the actors, I think they were perfect for their roles. KAORI gave her voice to Nana “Hachi”, which suited the character perfectly with the childish and girlish tone (but thankfully not an annoying high-pitched voice). For the tough rock singer Nana Osaki we have Romi Paku, who also voiced Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist. They knew that “Nana” would be an instant success, so they gave it a cast of famous actors and spared no expense.
At first this seems like an anime about music, but it doesn’t play that much of a part here. I mean, we hear lots of songs, but the story isn’t focused on showing us the making of the songs in detail. Compared to “Gravitation” or “Full Moon wo Sagashite”, music wasn’t as important here.
I loved the songs. The fictional bands’ songs are used as openings and endings. OLIVIA is the singing voice of Reira, and we hear many songs from her. My favourite was “A little pain”. It was the first Ending, and since each episode ended on a relatively sad tone, the song fit perfectly. When I heard the first words of the lyrics (“Travel to the moon…”) it almost made me want to cry.
As I’ve mentioned, the characters are the best thing about the anime. We get the chance to know a bit about each character’s history, motivations, thoughts and desires. They are so realistic that we just can’t help but being sucked in by them.
As the anime progresses, the characters gradually grow. This is a very “slice of life” genre of anime, so we watch them growing up. I love how they all interact and deal with their decisions. I love how they aren’t perfect… but as flawed as humans should be.
I loved this anime and it will definitely become one of my favorite series of all time. I feel like watching it again and again, but since it is 47 episodes long and makes me very emotional, maybe it’ll have to wait until I have more time.
I don’t feel like reading the manga for the sole reason that it is too damn long. If it weren’t for that, I would have already ordered all the volumes. But I gained new respect for the mangaka Ai Yazawa.
There are 2 live-action movies for “Nana”. I haven’t watched them yet, but will soon. I’m curious as to how they squeezed all that plot into 2 movies (I’d say they have enough material to make a whole 11 episode drama or maybe something even longer).
The anime will have a second season… I’m sure of that. But for that to happen, we’ll have to wait until the manga is finished. Hurry up!
The background of NANA feels like an endless white night. Things seem to be continuously in motion; beginnings and endings wrapped up in an infinite wave of falling snowflakes waiting to melt into each other. The forefront sits in perpetual twilight; characters seem to be eclipsed by their own shadows with barely enough to catch a glimpse of who they are. The entire landscape depicts the frigidity of life rising from frosty gales to a calmer ether, only to revert to stormier lands. Movement here isn’t linear. Nothing is. NANA, as a whole, is pure kinetics; an explosion of emotional energy circling, clashing and always
in motion. This is all infused as a careful exploration of fate, transience, and relationships in a modernized setting. NANA as a work fully invokes the power of pathos while taking “drama” to new heights.
Based on the acclaimed manga by Ai Yazawa, Studio Madhouse adapted NANA into a 47-episode series. The story follows the pivotal journeys of two incredibly “different” girls bound by the same name and circumstance. Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu are planets apart yet exist in the same sky; tethered by each other’s gravitational force. Nana Osaki is externally a cool cat, adorned in Vivienne Westwood – the quintessential punk queen with a voracity for musical success. Whereas, Nana Komatsu, who garners the nickname “Hachi”, is a dreamer who sees, breathes, and dreams in pink; her ambitions don’t extend beyond finding her fairytale romance. Both are headed to Tokyo to pursue their various dreams (one to establish the perfect domestic life with her boyfriend, while the other wants to form her band and actualize her musical ambitions). Fate brings these two together as roommates and the narrative unfolds to reveal the tender anatomy of relationships and the power they have; to shape people and their respective worlds – for better or for worse.
Then, what makes this work more than a seemingly run-of-the-mill drama about two girls discovering the pains and gains of life? What does it possess that other philosophized-by-life dramas don’t? The answer is simple: understanding. Yazawa writes candidly about people and the world, not as a spectator, but as someone clearly living in it. Nana portrays an acute understanding of how people are and their complexities that are simply written off as natural proclivities. There is reason even if Fate seems to play some indiscernible part. There is meaning even if chaos seems to rule it out. However, what’s impressive is not the mere incorporation of “understanding”, but “HOW” the work manages to create a stylized drama that is as visceral as the cold touch of the wintry night that it starts on.
Even with its luridly icy sensation, NANA is never detached or impersonal. It may be highly temperamental, but it never indulges in its own despair. It’s often cold but driven by the innate warmth of its living, breathing cast, who aren’t just personifications of suffering or “insert-theme.” This is partly what makes it sublime in its approach to drama. The drama isn’t a descriptor or a simple add-on. An event doesn’t happen so it can be “dramatic.” It doesn’t happen only in effect. There is an ebb and flow; a serpentine path painted with emotional uncertainty. The characters drip with it, but the difference is that they own it. There is accountability here. Events happen for the characters as an extension of them. They don't occur only as a platform for causality (which makes all the difference).
Considering how easily emotional appeals can be manipulated to rehash emotional evocations, NANA remains earnest. There is a purpose in isolating feelings; to let the characters lather in them, not just merely show them; to explore them to such a degree that the feeling/the state itself becomes autonomous. Loneliness becomes its own character; as does love; as does happiness. It is as transient as it is eternal. The characters are so refined that it’s hard to separate them from the elements that define them. Drama is all about nurturing these humanistic nuances and intricacies in its own habitat. Yazawa knows this all too well. Instead of showing these conditions as mere outputs of a decision or situation, they exist on an aqueous spectrum blurring the lines used to divide them AS a part of the being that gives them shape and substance. Then, causality only becomes a mean, just like Fate, just like chaos, not the end. Ultimately, that’s what makes NANA idyllic as a drama, and even more so, as a story driven by life.
Holistically, NANA showcases its prowess for drama through natural rawness, unflinching realism, and scope for understanding its subject matter(s) on a cellular level. The picture is impressive, but what makes it a pinnacle of its kind are the details – the pieces of storytelling that it utilizes to convey its narrative.
First, there is perspective. Works revolving around the musings of “life” usually have a philosophy driving their vision of it; Nana has perspectives. What the series employs are contrasting, continual planes that converge with each other to give a wholesome view through Nana and Hachi. Their interconnectedness matters more than their seemingly opposing natures. The perspectives confess, observe, share, and exploit the hearts of the events and the characters. The episodes start with a stream of confessional thoughts spilling onto the screen and morphing into the events that transpired them. Structurally, this does two things: One, it offers balance. Two, it contextualizes. This approach helps establish reliability because there are two narrators. This naturally aids in mitigating the problem of the unreliable narrator. The image becomes complete even if it is in broad, disconnected strokes. This show is unwavering in its personalization, and both perspectives will establish that with an uncanny persuasion.
Additionally, there is the context. The synergy between Nana and Hachi creates its own ecology. This isn’t something that is easily fabricated by romanticizing the power of friendship. It is pure symbiosis, of two lives reflected through a continually cracking mirror. As the story progresses, the bifocal gaze of the two melds into one. Even the apparent contradictions between the two begin becoming whole. At first, Nana and Hachi seem to complement each other but gradually start inverting their traits. The evolution of each character is highly dependent on this progression which is why context is crucial. Hachi and Nana, along with the supplementary cast provide this even when the truth is far from being transparent. Although, getting to the truth feels trivial anyway. What the structural decisions do at their very core is reinforce the means (never the end). The importance of every word, emotion, and event that happens is preserved and with it, parts of the individual and their entire world for that moment in time.
That is what matters. These moments where time comes to a standstill and that instance singularly defines the world. Incepted through bursts of chemical reactions; frozen yet in flames, quietly burning everything around them. A tempest consumed by shadows of the past and uncertainties of the present. Where entropy orchestrates all and everything seems to fall into contradiction; where dreams are simply just dreams; where expectations are merely mesmerizing mirages in the distance; where love isn’t a fairytale; where the importance of understanding each other becomes more important than anything else that could ever exist. All of this is the essence of NANA’s characters. Hachi, Nana, and the rest of the cast are crafters of their own moments. They coat the ashen night-sky with them. Constellations composed of moments; visual strings connected by the last and the next, in a cycle of change. It is through these anecdotal glimpses that these characters take form.
The characters embody this candid usage of memory, singularity, and understanding. There is much emphasis on individual events and actions. These subtleties develop to reveal how the characters are constantly at odds with themselves (even when the tone seems to be lighthearted, and all seems to be well). This is why the symbiosis between Nana and Hachi becomes so vital because their moments are not only reflected in each other but formed by each other. Additionally, it’s their relationship that breaks the feigned insularity of the other characters. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their own identities as does the rest of the cast. Everyone has a dynamism to them: their own palettes, shades, and gradients. Good. Bad. These words have no place here. Bound by insecurities, identity, and passion; constantly seeking themselves in a game of hide-and-seek, these characters are more than just adjectives and a system of traits. The show doesn’t waste time in judging its characters because it has so much to say about them.
Even then, the one that seems to be the most misunderstood and unfairly scrutinized is Hachi. She is by far the most superficially flawed character. That is never shied away from. That makes her easy to hate or dismiss as a standard shoujo lead. Hachi is perplexingly idiotic. She flings herself into the worst situations and finds herself in a never-ending state of ambivalence. Not only that, she creates disharmony between many other characters like Nana and her band members. Unlike, Nana who is easily likable due to her strong candor, intense personality, and devotion to her principals and goals, Hachi is unstable, unreliable, and utterly whimsical.
What really substantiates her as a compelling character is how she is unapologetically grounded in her humanistic tendencies and flaws. This gives her a kind of awareness that the other characters, except for Yasu (Nana’s longtime friend and drummer for her band), just don’t have. Everyone acts like they are in control, regardless of how fragmented their reflection is. Where everyone else is running from the phantoms they fear, Hachi absorbs them. Nana is about as broken as they come but constantly hides her inner turmoil; stubbornly trudging through hardship and heartbreak. Pride means everything to her. Nana survives by hiding her true feelings, while Hachi lives by constantly embracing them. Hachi is fundamentally an honest character. She subconsciously recognizes her lack of control and her predispositions. Though, she often seems to be driven by her pseudo-idealization of romance which often recycles itself in ways worse than the last. She owns up to her wretchedness and attempts to reconcile; to change. Though, this doesn’t make her immune. Her awareness is often drowned out by her naivete resulting in incrementally worse situations (almost to the point of becoming stuck in a self-prophetic rut). Still, amidst it all, she remains transparent. There are no contrivances necessary with her. Transparency can be far more compelling than clarifying opaqueness, for what lies under the milky sheath is never truly clear.
Conclusively, the characters are superb because they are etched with all the shades of humanity. The physical and psychological are all accounted for. Character and emotion; feeling and action; change and stagnation; a sincere lust for meaning and acceptance are all encompassed by these characters. The best part is that there is no room to judge. The hearts of these characters beat in such sync with our own; that the only thing that’s left is empathy and understanding even if it shrouded in frustration.
All this is packaged visually by Madhouse. They did an exceptional job adapting this series. There is a certain grittiness to the visuals and atmosphere that keeps the show from wandering too deep into the typical shoujo aesthetic. The series depends heavily on delivering rawness and realism. Otherwise, there is a nice balance of bubbly, bright scenes (in all their shoujo glory) contrasted with the necessary grunge required to keep the actual spirit of the story intact. The characters' idiosyncrasies are also poignantly preserved. The aesthetical and auditory direction kept the maturity of NANA blossoming throughout the show, despite its shoujo dispositions.
One further thing to note is that the manga is still publishing. The anime ends on a controversial note. For many, it leaves much to be desired. In the context of the story and especially how its told, the ending works. The story moves retrospectively. It doesn't bring the necessary closure needed to substantiate all the complexities it introduces, but it provides enough insight into what's important. It leaves room for more because there is more, but keeps the sanctity of the story still flourishing onwards. Another criticism it has received is its slow pacing. The pacing is slow as this isn’t a show focusing on high-octane plots. It is about people. It seasons itself over time, maturing with its characters, and their lives. It never feels redundant nor inflated. There are silly subplots but they aren’t superfluous; for they always work in tandem with a character. As aforesaid, the show never treats anything as an end. Sometimes things happen with no end and sometimes things spontaneously end. The point is that there is something concrete beneath it which ultimately sheds light on those involved.
That is what drama is.
Time lost in an emotive frenzy. Moments molded from remnants of what passed. Transformed into what is to come. Even in the calm, something moves. The scenery here is indeed a bit too chilly sometimes, laden with the melancholy of yesterday and the loneliness of tomorrow. Even so, the present waits in an ethereal stasis; attempting to understand itself. Remembering, being, and accepting; it’s all here, often presented as unyielding blizzard internalized by those who live it. As the single snowflake finally dissolves upon touch into a pool of white, to become something more than just one, those walking in NANA also find themselves inseparable from those around them. Nothing is perfect here. Nothing needs to be.
For what happens here is relentlessly flawed yet at the same time, essential and real. What happens here is, life.
Nana is one of those acclaimed anime that everyone seems to know the existence of, but very few people have ever actually watched. The fact that it’s almost 50 episodes long is a bit of a turn-off in of itself, but even the people who have seen it barely discuss the thing anymore. Very few “favorite anime” lists that I’ve read actually include it. It’s up there with Great Teacher Onizuka, Hajime no Ippo, and most of the Major anime in terms of high-ranking MAL darlings that the majority of MAL users will go “oh yeah, I’ve heard how good this thing is. Better put
it on my PTW list that I’m never going to clear out” or “that was a really good show. *Forgets about it after a few months*”.
Said lack of enthusiasm along with the fact that it’s a relatively long show directed by Morio Asaka aka that flowery director who’s so slow-paced in his storytelling that even the stuff of his I’ve actually liked ended up feeling underwhelming in the end, is the main reason I never watched Nana. But part of said reason was just that I wasn’t interested. I never even cared enough to learn what happens in the show other than the fact that it was about two women named Nana who become friends and deal with relationship issues. And as much as I like the Paradise Kiss anime, part of its appeal was that it was really short. Eleven episodes, which admittedly made manga fans a bit grumpy considering an important male character and some story details got shortchanged as a result, but if it meant less boredom caused by dead space, than I was all for it.
But even with the huge amount of summer anime I keep up with riding my ass like a sexual metaphor that I’m not going to elaborate on because it would be too nasty even for me, I had free time to surf Netflix for new shows to get into. And after my failure to get into the Netflix originals that I tried, along with browsing the anime selection and noticing Nana was on there, I decided it was as good a time as any to watch it and ended up finishing the show in less than two weeks. You have no idea how much free time I sacrificed regarding other activities I could have been doing - like finally playing Bioshock Infinite for one - to accomplish that, especially since I don’t actually love Nana. Not that I don’t think it’s good. It is. But if you were to ask me if I wanted to rewatch in the future, I’d just shove my Paradise Kiss DVDs in your face, and not because I managed to get those really hard-to-find DVDs for a relatively cheap price and want to brag about it. Not just because of that, anyways.
And yes, it is the pacing that’s the problem. I’m okay with taking a break in-between dramatic moments in order to set them up so that they’d actually have some impact, but not breaks that go on this long. The very first episode of the anime introduces our two twenty-year old protagonists, a happy go-lucky idiot named Nana Komatsu and a rock punk chick named Nana Osaki, by having them meet on a train during their move to Tokyo and end up becoming roommates due to various circumstances. I was expecting the next episode to showcase the two getting to know each other whilst revealing their motivations for moving to Tokyo in the first place, until I read the Netflix summaries and discovered that the next five episodes would flashback to their pasts in a “how we got here” sort of way meaning we wouldn’t get any meaningful interaction between them until half a one-cour series has passed. And to top it all off, they rehash the opening episode in Episode 6, which makes me wonder why you needed a prologue to begin with. I mean there’s hooking the audience and then there’s just baiting them with cookies for breakfast. It’s an extreme, but by no means the only example of this sort of pacing dragging the show down. Certainly not the worst example from the show either.
Not that the downtime is dull. It’s just pretty average. If you’ve seen one story about a quirky female trying to make friends and ends meet, then you’ve seen Nana’s light-hearted stretch of episodes. The only thing that makes it tolerable compared to most go-nowhere shoujo series is how despite Nana K trying her hardest to be independent, she’s completely dependent on others, which becomes increasingly problematic on the people surrounding her as well as herself throughout the series. This leads to a decently engaging climax ⅓ of the way through the series when said hypocrisy pushes her boyfriend towards another woman, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had just watched a romance movie that was the first part of a trilogy and stretched out to three times the length it needed to be.
It wasn’t until Nana O’s circle of friends, including the band of which her former boyfriend is a member of, shows up that the average-to-engaging ratio started to tip more towards the latter. But even then, it has its slow moments. Whilst I appreciate Nana for having buildup so that I could actually care for the “will they or won’t they” part of the story rather than act like a man in his forties who’s desperate to lose his virginity, I could have completed an entire workout routine in the time it took for the buildup to go somewhere whilst still having enough time to cook some meat afterwards.
The absolute nadir of the experience was with the story’s final arc, where after Nana K makes a mistake that causes her and everyone to face their own demons in a heart-wrenching string of episodes that rivals Kids on the Slope’s final stretch in terms of emotional intensity, the show then spends the next ten episodes trying to have the characters go on with their lives with each episode having about 3-5 minutes of compelling drama and 17-20 minutes of “whilst I like these characters, this doesn’t further the story in any real way” I know a bunch of people were sour on Kids on the Slope for skipping an entire volume of the manga - amongst other things - but please explain to me what showcasing the actual process of Kaoru moving on from wrecking his entire life would actually add. Sometimes, some things are best left to the imagination and you just need to end the thing right then and there.
And just to make things worse, nothing even comes out of all that buildup other than a reaffirmation and closure of old plot threads that whilst engaging, don’t really lend any sort finality to the show as a whole. Without giving too much away, there’s this weird and unnecessary use of time skip before it cuts back to the present with the characters just acting like they usually do, even when major events occur. And whilst a hard decision is made in said finale, said decision is undercut by the timeskip showing that everything is going to be alright in the future, rendering it completely pointless. It feels like the anime ended right in the middle of the story, and whilst I understand that Nana’s source material hasn’t concluded even to this day - although the chances we’ll ever get a conclusion from the author at this point are about as likely as Iggy Azalea ever being relevant again after her breakdown - you could have at least had made some sort of big deal out of things. At least achieve a small last-minute accomplishment? No? Alright then, but don’t expect me to read your manga in order to find out what happens next. Especially since there’s a certain car crash that happens later on that I think I’m better off pretending doesn’t exist.
Am I banging too much on how unnecessarily long I found this series? Well it’s the most unique thing I can say about it, because like me, even if you don’t know what happens plot-wise, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have any idea what Nana was actually about. The whole story is somewhere between Beck Mongolian Chop Squad and a Seo Kouji manga in that the majority of the characters are working towards making it as a punk band whilst dealing with all sorts of heartbreak and truths regarding how complicated relationships can get. All the characters are adults and even the more assholish members of the cast are likable, which automatically makes Nana better than those works. And it doesn’t hurt that it focuses more on the latter than the former, which I prefer because my interest in the inner workings of how a band operates is virtually nil whilst my interest in the inner workings of how a relationship works is higher than the peak of Mount Olympus.
Whilst there are some weird plot contrivances to further the story along, complaining about that in a drama is like complaining they’re emotionally manipulative or comedies are funny. If you don’t like the very idea of them, then you shouldn’t be watching anything from the genre to begin with. You don’t see me watching Bollywood movies for a reason you know. And whilst some of the plot points are eerily reminiscent of Suzuka, they work here because the drama fires in all cylinders rather than play favoritism towards one weak direction. Everything that happens is a result of the characters’ personalities. Events that happen to one character also affects those around them, causing all involved parties to face themselves along with their circumstances. Nobody is a true bad guy, even when it’s clear that one side is more wrong than the other. Even the high school kid who demands money from the girls he sleeps with is a lot nicer in practice than he sounds right no--get out of that chat room! I swear he’s a decent guy...sort of.
And most of all, the romance and relationship stuff is ultimately just a tool for larger issues. Sure we’ve seen said issues addressed before: responsibility, personal luck, inner demons, etc. But those sorts of issues are never going to stop being relevant anytime soon, no matter what your age is. And as long as that remains true and they’re explored in a way that reminds us of said truth, I’m always going to find the stuff that Nana represents intriguing. That is why Nana continues to be remembered as one of the anime greats despite not being popular in this current generation of anime fans. Which makes it all the more frustrating that the show is to romance stories what Monster (sans conclusive ending despite the ambiguity of it all) is to crime stories.
As well-written, decent-looking (although Nana’s actual animation is pretty terrible), nicely dubbed, and overall enjoyable both Madhouse productions are, my desire to ever revisit them is severely tempered by their long lengths and the inevitable dead space and repetition that comes from this sort of serialized storytelling “should have been a movie” format. Maybe if the comedy during Nana’s lower-quality stretches was funny, the pacing wouldn’t have been so much of a problem. But all the jokes come from “How to write shoujo comedy 101”, which is about as funny as a kid from a PBS show throwing a tantrum during the middle of a Lifetime drama. Sure it sounds like a good laugh on paper, but so does page 67 of the Kama Sutra. And don’t blame me if your partner never wants to sleep with you again after that experience.
NANA is even better than Paradise Kiss for me. I love all the elements that make up the plot – Music, fashion, a little (a lot) of drama which goes hand in hand with some comedy and finally, Girl Power! It’s almost as if Ai Yazawa knew what I like to see in an anime series.
The story revolves around Nana Komatsu (Hachi) and Nana Oosaki – how they live their lives and accomplish their goals, how they interact with the various men in their lives and the friendship between the both of them. They go through all of this with a
lot of tears and thankfully, a lot of laughs as well. The other characters are great too, especially the members of the Black Stones. Yasu is a bad-ass but altruistic lawyer/drummer, Shin is the adorable, childish bassist and Nobu, the all around boy next door guitarist. I like the members of Trapnest too, but my favorite has to be Naoki. He’s really funny.
There were a lot of times when I almost cried, especially when it comes to Ren and Nana O’s relationship. It’s almost like they’re a rock n’ roll Romeo and Juliet. There’s also Hachi’s MANY relationships, I don’t want to give out spoilers but let me say Shoji sucks and Nobu rocks! ;)
Ai Yazawa and Madhouse is the perfect anime team I can think of. The animation was of course, very well done (although there were a lot of repeated scenes – laziness!). The character designs were sleek and modern. The color coordination is something to be lauded as well. The colors represent the clash of Hachi (bright and luminous) and Nana O’s (Dark and Strong) personalities – Even though they differ they go well with each other.
I really like the voice acting too. A lot of familiar names are found in NANA’s cast list, such as Romi Paku as Nana Oosaki and Aya Hirano as Reira Serizawa. There’s also one of my favorite male seiyus, Tomokazu Seki as Nobu Terashima, who happens to be one of my favorite characters from the anime. I also like KAORI, Hachi’s seiyu. Her voice really matched Hachi’s personality, in fact, every seiyu did a good job in portraying their respective characters.
The music rocked, of course. NANA’s music made me a huge fan of Anna Tsuchiya. I like how varied the tracks are. “Rose” is a little bit dark and gloomy, while “Kuroi Namida” is sad and weepy, then there’s “Lucy”, my favorite because it’s really upbeat and energetic. The insert song “Zero” is another favorite. OLIVIA’s equally just as good. I still can’t get over “A Little Pain”. The emotions embedded in the song really touch me. “Wish” and “Starless Night” were also nicely done.
My only complaint would be the abundance of recaps. I don’t understand why there are so many recaps. Maybe they wanted more screen time for Junko and Kyosuke? This one isn’t really a complaint, but I have to note the excessive amount of nudity (including frontal nudity) throughout the series. Since the anime depicts a more accurate account of mature relationships, I recommend NANA to mature audiences only.
It was almost painful for me that the show had to end and with such a sad conclusion too (at least for me). Thank goodness the manga is still ongoing and there are hints of a second season.
NANA is one of those shows that no matter how stupid it is at times, you still find yourself liking it. I would classify this show as a guilty pleasure because in all honesty, it can be compared to teen shows such as One Tree Hill or Dawson's Creek. That's how annoying it is. Despite all that, I still enjoyed NANA to a certain extent. I would recommend it, but not to everyone. Is it a decent show to watch? Yes. Is it as good as everyone says it is? No.
Story (C) - First of all, let me just say that NANA can be
pretty ridiculous. Everyone in the show throws around the word love like it means nothing, and everyone has sex with eachother without thinking twice about it. Like I said before, the content of the show is your typical teen drama. NANA is very stylistic though, and can cover up all of these flaws with the way everything is presented. So what I'm really trying to say is that Nana is all flash and no substance. It's a stylized, glossy, teen soap opera. It's a basic girly slice of life story, so I don't think too many guys will be interested in it. I liked the first half of the show a lot better than the second half. In the beginning we get introduced to Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki. They're both 20 years old and coincidentally meet eachother on a train while moving to Tokyo. Their personalities are immensely different, which is something I liked. They end up renting an apartment together and become friends. The show starts out by explaining Nana Komatsu's (later nicknamed Hachiko, or Hachi for short) background and establishes that she's somewhat easy with guys and falls in love at first sight all the time. She moves to Tokyo to be with her boyfriend, Shouji. We also see Nana Osaki's past and we discover that she has never met her father before and that her mother abandoned her when she was four. She decides to move to Tokyo to achieve her dream of becoming a singer. She's much different with guys and has only had one love so far in her life. This is the basic story for the show. Simple, but interesting. The first few episodes present the story in a way that kept me engaged and anticipating the next episode. I liked how it seemed as if Hachiko's life and Nana's life were two completely different, parallel stories that just happened to collide. Hachiko has her friends and her boyfriend, while Nana has her band (called the Black Stones, or BLAST for short). Nana and Hachi's friendship is what ties these two world's together. Later in the show, their relationship isn't as strong. The story starts focusing on their love lives way more than their friendship. I mean I'm a girl, and I like romance like any other girl, but there's only so much I can take. It would be different if what was happening in their love lives was actually realisitc, but a lot of the situations they get in are really stupid and can be easily solved if they just talked it out. The story also starts focusing on the love lives of Nana's band members which I really didn't care about because they were just as annoying. The main flaw in the story is that there was too much romance and not enough friendship. I also don't understand why every summary of the show says that Hachi is looking for love and happiness while Nana is looking for fame and recognition. Nana's band doesn't even become famous until like 30 episodes into the show, and they don't even show her singing that much (which is supposed to be her "passion" in life). Most of the time she's just moping about her boyfriend who left her to join another band called Trapnest. When they do reconcile, their romance isn't very....romantic. All they do is have sex all the time. I realized that NANA started out with an interesting story that turned into nothing more than a bunch of people having sex and "falling in and out of love" with eachother.
Art (A-) - I liked the art in NANA because it went with the style of the story. The creators of the show really knew what they were doing when creating the atmosphere and tone of the show. Sometimes the facial expressions can look a little weird though, like when they're supposed to be angry it actually looks like they're smiling. I'm not sure if that was for comedic effect, but it just looked weird sometimes. Another thing I didn't like was how big everyone's foreheads were, but I guess that's just the style that the author of the manga wanted. The shading can also look a little bit awkward, but other than that I didn't have any problems with the animation.
Sound (A-) - Overall, the music in NANA went well with everything that was happening. The OPs and EDs were pretty catchy. A lot of the music used throughout the show is also featured as songs that BLAST or Trapnest sings during concerts. I thought that was pretty cool. The way the music was integrated into the show also helped create emotional moments and make moments that seemed pretty stupid and unbelievable work better. The music in the show was good, but ultimately another reason why the show is more style than substance.
Characters (C+) - The characters in NANA are a problem. Hachi and Nana are both likeable characters, and I liked them a lot, but I just didn't understand why they were so stupid sometimes! In the beginning they kind of reminded me of how people would act in real life.Those were the times when the show succeeded. Later they did things that were so lame that I started not to like them anymore.
Hachi - She's a very bubbly and friendly girl who's a little self absorbed and immature. She's always looking for someone she can fall in love with. I sympathized with her because I know how girls are, and I know that she really did just want to find someone who would love her and take care of her. I liked her in the beginning (even though her personality can be...irritating) because I know a lot of girls who act like her, and she seemed somewhat realistic. She sleeps with 3 guys during the course of the show, but at one point I realized something...why are so many guys even dating her? Before I watched the show I was expecting the characters to actually have lives, but I soon figured out that Hachi doesn't have a job, (besides temporary ones like working as a sales girl, and an assistant at an office) and she can barely take care of herself. She randomly went to art school even though she didn't have talent (is it possible to go to art school without talent?) and I'm guessing she dropped out? I don't really know, but all I know is that she isn't really good at anything except cooking. Later in the show there's a situation where she has to choose between two guys and for some reason she loves both of them even though one of them treats her like trash. In my mind I was thinking "this isn't really a tough decision here..." but of course everything had to be overdramatic and unrealisitc. She "loves" so many people that I just stopped caring.
Nana - At first I really liked Nana because she was independent, and a lot more mature than Hachi. She's cool and focused, and her style is kind of goth-punk. It seemed like Nana's goal in life was to become famous and she wasn't really focused on relationships that much. Then a few episodes later we find out that Nana was living with some guy that left her even though he still loves her and she still loves him. Whenever they're together they're either having sex or talking about how they love eachother and want to grow old together. She's always relying on her band members to be there for her, which I understood because of her situation with her mom. I liked her emotional depth, but it wasn't really explored that much. Instead there was too much time spent on the thing with her boyfriend. She would always talk about how singing was her life, but it didn't seem like it was her life to me. Nana also doesn't have a real job, and even though I liked her the best out of the two, I was really annoyed and tired of her by the end. She started losing that edge that made her cool in the beginning. She also didn't have any other hobbies besides playing with her band.
BLAST Members - All these characters started out as just supporting characters in Nana and Hachi's lives, but eventually they start taking over the show! There was lot of time spent on Shin's romantic life that I didn't care about. Nobu was ok I guess, but I didn't understand how he randomly started "loving" Hachi after a day. I liked Nana and Yasu's romantic tension, but that also didn't go anywhere. Everyone just started to get on my nerves. Trapnest Members - There's Ren, who's Nana's boyfriend, and is always whining about how he loves Nana but I never really got why they were sooo in love. He also didn't have a good childhood growing up so I guess that was something they bonded with, but his relationship with Nana just isn't developed enough. Reira's romance with Shin is tedious and exhausting when it doesn't have to be, and don't even get me started on Takumi and how annoying he was. The other guy in the band doesn't have too much screen time which is good because he wasn't that interesting.
Then there's Hachi's friends, Jun and Kyosuke, who aren't shown that much. At first I kinda liked them, but later on in the show they didn't really serve a purpose. Jun started out being the one with sense in the friendship between her and Hachi, but the things that she would say later in the show just didn't make any sense to me. If I knew someone was cheating on my friend I'm pretty sure I would tell them.
Enjoyment (C-) - NANA starts out being very enjoyable despite the fact that most, if not all of the characters have no idea what love is, or what it means to be in love. NANA is enjoyable in the same way that every other sappy teen show is enjoyable. Not because it's realistic but because it's drama. Annoying, over the top, mushy drama. Everything that happens is blown out of proportion so much, and simple things that happen are transformed into emotional moments. I gotta say, I was sucked in. But after awhile it really does start to get old. Without any real content to fall back on, NANA turns into a typical show about relationships. It's even more dissapointing because there was a lot to work with. Maybe if the author didn't have so much of this beating around the bush stuff. A lot of things could have been resolved if the characters weren't so annoying. I guess in some ways it is realistic because people do act like that sometimes, but NANA was a little too over the top. There were some genuine emotional moments that hit home, but overall, the only reason why this show would be worth watching is for the presentation. All the flaws are covered so well with the stylized scenes and dramatic speeches and narrations from the characters that it kept me wanting more...for awhile...until it started to become so tedious that I couldn't wait for it to end. I can understand why girls like this anime a lot, but it's probably because they couldn't see past the appearance and production of the show, which definitely was impressive.
Overall (C+) - If you're a fan of any kind of teen drama/romance show out there then you'll LOVE this show. Trust me. It's not that I didn't like it. As I already said, I enjoyed a lot of it (mostly in the beginning) and there was a nice blend of comedy, drama, and romance, but there was definitely too much emphasis on the relationships...and sex. The good parts about the show, Nana and Hachi's contrasting personalities, their friendships, their backgrounds, were really good but there just wasn't enough of that. Even if we forget the fact that everyone in this show falls in love after a day, there still would be too many shortcomings in the story to give it a high recommendation. NANA is definitely rated too high on this site, and although I enjoyed this show I only enjoyed it for what it is - which is a superficial, relationship-heavy, melodramatic, teen soap opera.
NANA is a Shoujo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama about the joys, the pain and the struggles that come with the endeavour known as love and romance. If you enjoy your shoujo or romance then NANA is a must see.
The story itself focuses on two young ladies named Nana and how they came to know each other and connected through the similar experiences they share in life. The first couple episodes introduces the main characters involved and spends an equal amount of time giving us some background on each Nana, then showing how they became acquainted. Then the main story kicks in, which actually feels
more like 2 separate stories connected only through the strong bond of friendship between the both of them. Nana Komatsu’s (Hachi) story is about her living her life to attain true love, whereas Nana Osaki’s story is more about her dream to become a professional vocalist in a band. Even with all the heavy drama and real life dilemmas, there’s still plenty of light humour to take your mind of things. Yet with this being a shoujo romance, it may be hard to determine whether this will have a happy ending or not.
This series is full of some very appealing characters that pretty much orbit around the two Nanas. Nana Komatsu (Hachiko) is an energetic, love struck young lady who’s at the receiving end of many jokes and also many romantic hardships. Nana Osaki is more of a mysteriously dark and serious young lady who tries her best to support her friends through their hardships whilst dealing with her own. They each have their own circle of friends that do well as supporting characters, but still have some perplexing issues of their own and what makes it more interesting is seeing how these diverse people interact with each other, be it friends, lovers or rivals.
The animation for this series is near-perfect and that is thanks to the expertise of Madhouse, as the art style matches Ai Yazawa’s vision perfectly. The character designs are elegant and very attractive (both guys & girls), with stylish outfits to suit their varying personalities. Shame there was a fair bit of scene recycling going on.
If I had to choose my least favourite aspect of this series then it would have to be the music but that may have been because I had high expectations of it. Personally I found the BGM to be pretty bland, which was compiled of a bunch of uninspiring melodies. The main redeeming factor came in the form of the invoking OP and ED themes, which were also used as insert songs throughout.
Overall NANA is an incredible shoujo anime series that I will always remember for its realistic portrayal of different forms of romance and the emotional baggage that comes with it. The music subplot was incorporated well, as it gave me some insight into how things go on however it would have been better if it had more songs by Olivia. Surprisingly this series constantly gave the urge to see the next episode, due to all the major developments and cliff-hanger endings and it’s a shame things had to come to an end, but at least I was left feeling satisfied.
Shoujo is probably the last word I would use to describe this anime.
NANA is possibly one of the most complicated romances I have ever come across; this complexity is what makes it so amazing, outstanding and fascinating. It is because NANA is not a typical shoujo which makes it suitable for a wider audience; it's far from your average school-life-love-triangle romance. This anime will make anyone laugh, cry and feel a connection with the protagonists by the end of 47 episodes.
Story - 10/10
Can anyone have any more drama in their life than the characters from NANA? In my opinion, the summary above
doesn't really do the anime justice. What’s so special about this anime is that it makes you think deeply. You come to realise how small the world really is, two girls roughly the same age, with the same name, heading towards the same place but both aiming for different goals. Initially, it may seem like the anime focuses on the two Nanas’ lives running parallel with one another, day to day life just like that, but further into the anime, it makes people realise that even though the two Nanas have a lot in common and almost become as close as sisters, they are still extremely different to each other in person and opinions, thus creating conflicting situations. The anime revolves around how these situations are resolved for the better good of someone close to them, selflessness and selfishness. Drama is primarily dominant in this anime, as it continuously escalates, I can assure you that not one single episode is a disappointment.
Art - 9/10
The art style in NANA is very unique; it differs from the conventional anime art style you may see in other anime. The characters are drawn very stylishly, each with their own unique appearance, the landscape is drawn almost as well as the characters and everything is very distinguishable and pleasant to look at. If you’ve seen Ai Yazawa’s previous work of Paradise Kiss, it is very similar to that. Only complaint I would have is that there is the occasional blurriness, but seeing as this is a 2006/2007 anime, it’s forgivable.
Sound - 9/10
The voice actors were perfect in their roles, I saw nothing weird or out of place with how the voice actors matched with the character’s personality of which they were voicing. I really enjoyed the OST of NANA, the OPs and EDs were fitting in every way, I found myself looking forward to the next OP/ED each time. Anna Tsuchiya’s vocals really brought out the punk-like character of Nana Osaki and Olivia Lufkin managed to convey the gentleness of Reira. An excellent OST as expected from a music based anime.
Characters - 9/10
The characters were very unique, whether it be a significant past story or an underlying secret, each character had a special trait that separated them from each other. The characters were generally very likable throughout, they were all characters that perhaps people may find them easy to relate to since NANA has quite a realistic element to it. As the story progressed there was noticeable change in the characters’ attitudes and personalities, each one developing in their own way through influences of the people around them. In my opinion, Ai Yazawa’s characters are always well thought out and interesting which makes them so hard to hate.
Enjoyment & Overall - 10/10
I gave this anime a 10 without hesitation. Overall, I really and thoroughly enjoyed this anime; each episode has something waiting for you and will never leave you disappointed. I watched this anime twice over and I ended up loving it even more by the second time. It is definitely the best romance anime I have seen by far and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a not-too-long but not-too-short romance that will leave you content and thinking about whether events in everyday life are merely a coincidence or down to fate itself.
While the anime adds a definite charm that you cannot get just from the manga, it also adds so many flaws that I had to stop watching it.
The most utterly incomprehensible flaw is that Blast turns out to be the least punk music possible. Nana's vocals sound like a Japanese, girlier version of that mid-90s Creed movement, and nothing in the instrumentals is slightly punky. This was a lot better when I could imagine them being something like a modern, trying too hard to be trendy, Japanese Sex Pistols in the manga.
The art is definitely another terrible translation. In the manga, nothing is especially fantastic,
but nothing is ever glaringly wrong. The anime has one glaring anime that makes it impossible for me to actually attentively watch the series, which is that characters haphazardly gain a white, vertical stripe on their face. It is supposed to be a lazy attempt at depth/shadowing, but it just makes every character look like clowns for large durations of time.
The animation is smooth sometimes, and some of its quirks are nice, but it ends up usually being clumsy if anything. I understand it is probably a stylistic choice, but it is not a good one. It especially goes poorly with their attempts at gag art.
Finally, for having a lot of big shot voice actors, they actually mesh really, really poorly. The voice acting really often sounds flat and tepid. I was surprised since I like so many of them.
The story loses little, and the translation from manga to anime does not especially hurt the characters, but with the other flaws screaming at me, it was just something I could not get through. Judging by the relentlessly breathless and positive reviews, no one else finds these flaws as noteworthy though.
Gotta say, this is one of the most disappointing series to show up in the MAL top list. On the one hand, I found most of the characters really boring. Especially "Hachiko" who I couldn't sympathize with at all, and found I felt no pity for her at all in her fate. The other Nana was somewhat better, but overall, all of the female characters come across as being incredibly weak people who have nothing else in life to live for but to succumb to their men. Jun strikes me as the only one with any inner strength but alas she's a side character we
never really get to know well.
As an anime, it's important to also consider the artwork, and in this area the series fails even harder. Obviously anime allows a great deal of freedom in styles, but in all cases it has to "look right". It's not successful art if I'm distracted from the story because the drawings look wrong. There are several angles where the artist clearly cannot draw heads and they look bloated and misshapen. The men are all strange giants with spidery appendages that look like they would break if they bumped into anything. In several scenes, I noted the ratios were ridiculously wrong and it appeared that arms came out of a person's mid-section rather than the shoulder. Again, if I'm noticing these things instead of the nuances of the story, there's a problem in the delivery here. Another point I'd like to mention is that characters that frequently are supposed to look angry appear to be smiling. It looks stupid and completely destroys any semblance of intended drama in the scene.
It's certainly not the worst show I've seen (I can think of plenty of harem series that are worse, for example), but I'd steer clear of this one.
I went into this series with no idea of what to expect. I read the synopsis, and it sounded okay, but it does not do justice to the show at all.
I wouldn't say that Nana is shoujo. It has more sophistication and more intricate plot lines than the average shoujo. It treats the characters as people by acknowledging their feelings, their backgrounds, their motives, and that allowed for you to not only get attached to the characters, but to understand them. The characters developed a lot throughout the show, and your perception of them changed as information was revealed to you.
I would definitely
describe the show as beautiful, but it's also a little harrowing. It made me laugh, it made me choke up and almost cry (okay maybe just "cry"), it made me throw the phone that I was watching the show on across the room, but most importantly, it made me marathon all the episodes.
The art style was kind of unique, but I grew to really like it. The animation was beautiful. The sound was great (with the exception of a song or two that didn't quite fit my tastes) and the sound played a huge part in the story. It added so much to my enjoyment to the point that I don't think you could enjoy the story as much in manga form because of it.
Really, I could go on talking about all of my favorite plot points, details, songs, characters, etc. But all you really need to know is that I have nothing but praise for this show. It's one of the best and most satisfying anime I have seen in a while, and I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to see a brilliant show about love and life.
The story is about 2 Nanas who meet accidentally and they become really good friends.
Its really good anime which depicts the life of celebrities the difficulties they face and the past which lingers.
Its is also a story about how the small steps we take in life might change our whole life. Its also makes you think about future and the present situations and analyse properly so that our lives may turn out to be better without hurting our friends and families much.
Its not a homosexual movie which i thought after reading other reviews and was not interested to watch but it is not that sort
you would fall in love with both Nanas at first and rest it different for different people.one Nana is cheerful,funny and fickle while the other is serious and ambitious, its really good combination to make the story cool.
Soundtrack, openings and endings are really awesome and the songs that come in between the story are also good. Even though it is a musical anime it is typically not much a musical you could never get bored listening to songs played in the anime as main focus is on story unlike the movies where you get bored as they play songs now and then often.
At first I thought does a slice of life need 47 episode? but this one definitely doesn't make you regret watching them all..It doesn't bore you much, the part where you feel irritated is at episode 22 and early 30 th episodes where it seems as if you were given a tasty food when you are really hungry but it is snatch from you thats the feeling you get there but if you continue in next episodes, the feeling is compensated as it gets interesting.
Overall: the ending was pretty cool, I didn't expect it I mean the last episode made me feel that way, did it make me depressed? I don't know :P , the feeling is really different. But in the end it was worth a watch and its a slice of life, dont expect a ending in it...:)
Love triumphs the human soul in ways we can’t really fathom, and how we can contain it also remains unexplained. Whether it is love in a romantic or friendly fashion, it has always been one of the most sought out themes in stories in every medium imaginable. We are used to the idealistic form of love with numerous tropes and literary devices, but now we’ve grown to appreciate the “realistic” forms of romance. Romance that tries to portray the reality we live in rather than what we hope reality will be. Nana can speak for itself as one anime to be an achievement of perfecting
that level of story.
Nana starts out as your typical best friend story with opposite personalities; the bubbly, kind of dumb, girly girl and the no nonsense rocker girl that meet each other by coincidence. What’s oddly alluring about how these two play off their relationship is the fact that it doesn’t seem forced at all. They don’t just start out as best friends. They’re mere acquaintances that learn about how each other live out their lives through their work and family. It becomes a hilarious tirade between both characters in typical Josei fashion that we grow to enjoy. Not just between the two Nana’s, but also with the other characters and their unique personalities. It’s that break that makes you wish that the show was longer, so we could have more moments like them, even with its 50 episode running time.
But with comedy comes heartbreak, and Nana comes into it with full throttle. There is the tragic relationship between Nana Osaki, the rocker, and Ren, that will admittedly cause some tears to form. The reason for this being how well it pulls in the sentimental aura through narration and expository dialogue, which pulls you into how they were once a happy couple. Then there’s Nana Komatsu, the childish one, and the problems of how she guides her life with being the girlfriend of Takumi and Nobu. While there are some aspects to the drama that were a bit rushed, it serves a positive purpose on how Nana matures from a ditzy woman into a responsible one to taking care of the people she loves, especially Nana Osaki. It develops Nana Komatsu quite nicely, and also Nana Osaki and how their relationship develops through whatever twist and turn it makes you go through.
For the supporting roles that pop up in Nana, it’s a mixed bag, so to speak. In that there are really great ones, but others are just not as strong. This all comes into perspective based on the fact that some are given more development than the ones that seem to not be bothered. Some are even given a bigger presence to previous episodes, but barely get any more screen-time for us to be fully invested in the entire cast. But what does make up for this is how every single one of the characters legitimately feel like real human beings. Not just from how relatable they are in terms of their problems and personalities, but also by the lack of cliches they could’ve easily used to lessen the impact of the cast.
If you’ve watched, or read for that matter, any shoujo anime, Nana’s art should be familiar territory for you. They do very well with the various comedic expressions on the characters’ faces that are always charming to watch. It does seem jarring at first to see characters as really tall and skinny human beings, but that does give every character a nice physical uniqueness to them. Even though there are instances of animation not being that fluid, especially with the dreadful concert scenes where it repeats animations over and over, the art style will still spark some charm to anyone with an open mind.
With a show centered around music, it’s all about music, right? Oh yeah, there was. In all seriousness, the music aspect of the show narrative-wise is not too shabby, both in how it sounds and how it fits seamlessly with the romantic story. The songs are your typical post-punk rock music with some nice guitar chords and drum fills that may sound more like your generic J-Rock song. Singing is where high praise is needed for the music and how Olivia Lufkin’s voice resonates perfectly to the somber, heartbreaking tone of the show.
Music can levitate us into a better state of mind when we have been through a difficult life. That’s the main theme that’s the focal point to Nana. Nana and her band members reasoning for wanting to form a band in the first place was to express themselves in a way that was outside of the cultural norm. Ai Yazawa definitely has a knack for showcasing the passion of the characters for what they do, and trying to meet the end goal of being a successful band. But what makes it brilliant is how there is no bullshit to how she writes the outcome. There’s no fantastic end to it all, it’s just a realistic scenario that we are most likely to meet when we try to reach our hopes and dreams. Not that there is some hopeless end to Nana, but it’s a nice middle ground between success and failure that feels hopeless, but hopeful at the same time.
What manifests out of it all is a wonderful amalgamation of romantic comedy, music, and slice of life that sums up Nana in a great nutshell. Funny, sad, inspiring, and empathetic to its core, Nana has more going for it than your generic shoujo anime. It’s one where there is so much to be had in it than just typical romance that you’d find elsewhere. Even if you can’t relate to people in love, being in a band, or experiencing break ups, Nana knows how people connect with one another individually through friendships. And that is something we can all relate to.
Yes, I was initially drawn to NANA by Paradise Kiss. After having watched all of ParaKiss in about a day, I was left craving more of that special flavor of drama and the striking art style. However, I was not prepared for the treat I was in for when watching NANA.
What really struck me about the story was how the two parts of the story are weaved together. The two main characters' lives and personalities are so strikingly different that when they meld, it is truly something beautiful. The span of the story really helps one feel like they go somewhere, accomplish something, while watching
this show. Once they intertwine and effect each other, that's when the story becomes something special. The drama, at times, feels like it is just taking soap opera cliches from the book, but for a change, I don't mind. The way it is written gives the show a feeling of reality, and the trials they face are compelling and moving.
I love this art style. It isn't anything you would see normally, and it never gives you the feeling that they had a low budget or were ever lazy. The detail and color is enough not to be too distracting, but enough eye candy to hold you to it. All of the characters are visually appealing, and even though some may say its hard to get used to, I love it, and had no problems at all.
Its a show about music, right? So the audio must be pretty impressive, and it doesn't disappoint. Anna Tsuchiya and her gritty voice sang perfectly as NANA Osaki. I always enjoyed listening to the opening and ending themes. My personal favorite was "Kuroi Namida," more of a melancholy song, but the gritty love song, "Rose," was another one of my favorites. OLIVIA was a nice contrast to ANNA. Her voice was a bit more smooth and feminine, soft, but still strong. The first ending song, "A Little Pain," was my personal favorite of hers, because of its beauty and the sadness it bares. I always looked forward to it at the end, hearing the opening riff within the last couple lines of dialogue.
I also really enjoyed the voice acting. I never at one point thought that the voices were annoying or wrong for the characters. The darker characters, like Nana Osaki and Ren, had voices that could carry that impression, while the cuter sweeter characters, like Hachiko, also had appropriate voices.
This is where the show really shines. Without so many understandable and meaningful characters, this show wouldn't be nearly as good. The story itself is meant to contrast the two women, and it does that amazingly. The growth of these individuals is clearly evident, and does the 47 episode length justice. At times, the choices they made made me angry, but it is then that you realize how nicely human flaws are present here. Everyone makes mistakes, and this slice of life should be no different.
All in all, this is a really enjoyable show. I tore right through it, and despite the length, was left wanting more. With rumors of a season two, I can't wait to see where this show may take us next. With such personable characters, emotional music, nontraditional and beautiful animation, and the evolving story, I could definitely watch this one a next time around, and am dying to know where these characters go.
Such a beautiful and unique show among the Shoujo genre. We've all have fallen in love at some point in our lives, maybe it didn't turn out for the best or you couldn't stay in love for long because of other circumstances. Ai Yazawa makes a identifiable world that a lot of girls have been in, the feeling of, "Does he love me?" or "Am I worthy enough for him?" She makes it as realistic as possible and does this in a very subtle way not a lot of Shoujo anime pull off quit as well. It can also be watched by guys as well,
it's not just limited to just girls. It's also not a cheesy romantic drama only girls can watch, there are plenty of male characters that men can relate to as well. They have personalities and desires just like the female characters do, so you won't be complaining that they have no personality. Another thing this anime does right is the drama. It hurts when you see the characters have to suffer. It doesn't just point to a character crying and saying, "Feel something." It's like getting to be good friends with someone and watch them cry. It's more effective and less hair-pulling that way. Ai Yazawa shows you the character's personalities, then their back story in the first few episodes, and then shows their dreams and desires. That's how you actually feel something for the characters, you show them their inner and outer shell instead of an empty shell with nothing inside to show your emotions to. Now, shall we jump into the beautiful and tragic world of Nana?
Story 9/10 (Great)
First of all, the romance in this show was handled in a way that you'll never expect. The main female, Hachi (Nana), is looking for love throughout the show. You'd think she'd end up with the first guy that pops up into the show, but that doesn't happen. It goes into a more original direction then most shows of its genre. I won't spoil it for you, but you wouldn't expect it in the first half at all.
Also, the story almost never got rushed at all. It was always well paced and put together. You might think they'll forget about a character or part of the story, but as soon as you think that, it comes back and shocks you of how much it remembers itself. It has a nice balance to it that not a lot of shows do a lot.
Another positive is the themes of heart break, loneliness, and fake love that are prominent throughout the show. It's something not a lot of Shoujo do and when they do, they don't really turn out to be the best written things out there, but it really makes a lot of sense here. Why? Because we get to learn these characters desires, personalities, and sometimes they don't even want to do it to certain characters. It does feel like they put effort into making these characters feel human and it really does show.
There's only one con that prevents it from getting a ten though, this mostly has to deal with what genre this show is in rather then the story itself, the comedy can really get on some people's nerves. There are some moments that'll have you rolling on the floor laughing, but for the most part, it uses those usual anime expressions for comedic effect. If you're not a fan of that style of comedy, this show isn't going to change your mind about that.
Art and Animation 10/10 (Fantastic!)
It's nice to see that there's a Shoujo that doesn't use gigantic eyes on their female characters. Ai Yazawa has a unique way of drawing her characters. Instead of the ordinary big eyed characters, she has a nice balance of realism vs anime/manga. The facial features are exaggerated but not too exaggerated to the point where their hands are as big as their eyes and mouths too small and noses as well. All of the characters have their own design that stood out among the rest. Like Nana's black hair and purple mascara, Hachi's innocent face, etc. It fit every character's personality and attitude. Everything had a nice evenness to it and it all adds up to memorable character designs.
The studio who animated this was Studio Madhouse back in 2006, they're responsible for such masterfully animated shows like Death Note and Black Lagoon. So you would expect some great animation from this studio, because Death Note came around the time that Nana was still airing. Let's talk about the openings, They were wonderful and awesome for 2006 and even almost 9 years later. What's fascinating is that they used CG for the parts where Nana was on stage singing. It was very effective and what's good about this is that they don't use CG for the whole openings. It's a nice balance of CG and the animated parts of them. Overall, Madhouse did a great job on the animation. Never any shortcuts and it looks like they spent a lot of time for this.
The character designs might not appeal to everyone. It'll be hard to get used to them in the first few episodes, but when the show starts going along, you won't be that distracted by them as much as you did in the beginning.
Sound 10/10 (Wonderful!)
There hasn't been any soundtracks out there that were as impactful, catchy, and beautiful as Nana's was. To name some tracks, there was Winter Sleep, Shadow of Love, Stand by Me, and Zero. The soundtrack is either one of those things you could listen to after a stressful day or before a party with friends. It's not limited to tracks that are just depressing and that's it, just like many things about the show, it's equivalent. It all adds up to one of the best soundtracks that you'll ever hear.
The openings were constructive and enduring. Always catching your ears the first time you hear them. They're something you'll be humming all day long. The first one titled "Rose" was memorable, tear jerking, and of course, catchy. Something you'll listen to when you want to listen to something elegant. The second one, titled "Wish" Is beautiful, impactful, and fit the show so well. It shows the pain and struggles that were going on around that time of the show. Great to listen to if you want to listen to a calming song. Finally, the one titled "Lucy" Is the most catchy out of all the other openings. If you want an up-beat song, this is something you should listen to.
Characters 9/10 (Near perfect)
Every single character has perfect development, interactions, and personalities. You can look at one character and can name at least three personality traits from them. When you watch these characters, you'll feel like you're watching somebody's life in an anime. I won't be able to cover every character, so let's talk about the main females.
Nana is an idependant, strong willed, and a laid-back person. When she gets to be roommates with Hachi (Nana) she also turns to have a huge heart for the people she cares about and is devoted to them. When Hachi is in a pickle, she is always there to run to her side and help her. If you even try to hurt one of her friends, she'll beat you up. She knows what it's like to be alone with no one to run to. Her mother left her and her grandmother watched over her then died when she was sixteen.
It's kind of weird how her and Hachi get along so well. It might be because she needs a friend that can spice up her world. It's one of the reasons why they get along so well. To her, Hachi is like a little sister to her and she's the older and more mature one. She gets Hachi out of crazy situations because it's really hard to go through them on her own.
She has the perfect personality and a very humane one at that. She just feels like a best friend to you as you watch it. Her number one priority in life is to find happiness and is something a lot of us can relate to. You get attached to her dilemmas and when she gets emotional about something, you can just feel it just by looking at her. This character is one of the strongest female characters through personality you'll ever see.
Hachi is a person who is naive, a peacemaker, and a person who cares about others more then herself. Love is a huge part of her life and tries to find her "prince charming." So she tries to flirt with all these guys to find the one because without love, she wouldn't be able to live. Some people in real life call her a slut but the way the anime portrays it, she's a young girl looking for someone she can live with for the rest of her life. Loneliness is something she can't live with and that's why she's a social butterfly.
When she becomes roommates with Nana, she instantly gets attached to her. She is almost always a fun, caring, and a devoted person towards Nana and to others. She has a hard time getting mad at others, it just takes a lot away from her soul. She hides her inner feelings in order to keep the peace between her friends. She's such a caring and beautiful character both inside and outside. Thanks to her caring nature, she gives Nana an extra push to reach her dreams. Hachi an example of a beautiful person both inside and outside, although, there's only one problem with her character.
Hachi's indecisiveness will most likely bug you, sometimes you'll be yelling at her like, "Don't do that you idiot!" She has a very hard time making decisions so she relies on other characters to help her make the right decision. It's what prevents the characters from getting a ten.
Unexpected romance, Well paced story, Beautiful themes, Unique character designs, Fluid animation, Inpactful soundtrack, Catchy openings, and Well developed characters.
Sometimes irritating comedy, Kind of hard art to get used to, and Hachi's indecisiveness.
Overall 9/10 (Great Show!)
Overall, Nana is worth watching for Shoujo fans and for people who love romantic dramas. You'll get attached to the characters in a heartbeat and almost everything else. Get to it as soon as possible, Nana is 100% worth your time watching!
NANA is a regrettably incomplete work. It takes viewers on a journey with an intriguing destination, aggravates them with rocky bumps along the way, and then unceremoniously abandons them on the roadside in the middle of nowhere. The story unfolds in reasonably entertaining ways but is too frequently hamstrung by inadequate build and progression with regard to many core characters, and when combined with the abrupt conclusion to the series, bewildered viewers at the very end may be asking themselves, "Huh? That's it?", as they lament over NANA's wasted potential and wonder what could have been.
From the opening narration, NANA teases a mysterious endgame that
immediately hooks viewers. The titular characters, Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu, and their respective origins are then introduced with a delightful blend of comedy and drama in the handful of episodes that follow, and viewers become increasingly eager to see them begin their new lives together in Tokyo. As more people enter their lives throughout the course of the series, the two Nanas progressively encounter more problems, and incidentally, the show itself does, as well.
NANA spreads itself too thin in juggling its multitude of characters. Consequently, many key players in the show are insufficiently characterized, and their relationships are woefully underdeveloped. This manifests in various problematic ways throughout the entire run of the series. For starters, certain characters seemingly change on a whim, ever malleable to the demands of the story. Romantic relationships between certain characters, too, blossom and wither at the drop of a hat. Similarly, the degree of closeness of certain friendships, particularly that of the titular characters, comes across as highly implausible.
All of that can be traced back to one fundamental issue: viewers are expected to take too much on faith alone. When new and important facets of certain characters are revealed with no natural progression or even minimal foreshadowing, viewers must instantly believe that the most recent iteration of a character is the truest one, despite the dearth of any supporting evidence up to that point. When certain characters effortlessly fall in and out of love with no meaningful build-up, viewers are often simply told but rarely actually shown of how that love came to be and why it crumbled. When the titular characters implicitly and explicitly swear their eternal friendship, viewers are encouraged not to question that friendship because when viewers take into consideration only what they have seen--the occasional meals together, the band practice hangouts, a live concert outing, and a pair of strawberry drinking glasses--they realize that there is hardly anything of substance that would suggest that the two Nanas are inseparable soulmates. Friendly roommates? Sure. Good friends? Believable. Life partners? Unlikely. Whatever intense bond that they purportedly forged over the course of a mere six months must have certainly occurred off-screen, and like with everything else, viewers must accept it on faith.
Moreover, NANA's failure to tell a self-contained story in 47 episodes is inexcusable. NANA effectively ends in the middle of a story arc, making the ending a quintessential "go-read-the-manga" ending at its absolute worst. Considering that the publication of the source material was still ongoing at the time of the show's airing, the absence of a decisive conclusion to the entire story is, of course, understandable. However, what is not understandable is the total omission of a finale that is at least narratively logical with respect to only the 47-episode run. Not all loose ends need to be tied up, but enough loose ends certainly do in order to ensure a rewarding viewing experience. As it is, unsatisfied viewers must consult the source material, at least to a limited degree (note: the manga is on hiatus at the time of writing and has been since 2009), to obtain some sense of closure and to validate their time and emotions invested in the show.
Much as the titular characters ponder where things went wrong for them throughout the series, viewers are ultimately left to mull over the same about the series itself. Perhaps a tighter focus placed on a smaller cast of characters could have saved it. Perhaps a greater importance placed on organic character development could have helped. Perhaps a note-perfect conclusion could have mitigated the impact of all other flaws. In any case, the show that started off with such a remarkable bang provides no worthwhile payoff and finishes with a disappointing whimper, leaving unfulfilled viewers with many of the same questions in the end as they had in the beginning.
Nana for me was never a recommendation nor was it and anime I saw discussed on every forum, it was litarilly an anime/manga I stumbled upon one night whilst looking for a cute romantic series. I think that was a really lucky night.
Nana is honestly and anime I love a lot. Its one of the most real series I've seen. I had kinda had enough of the typical high school harems that were all the same. Whist watching Nana I found something completely new and different. It still had the romantic feel I was looking for, but portrayed in a more adult way.
And how can I forget the music in the series. When I intitally saw that this was a music series, I was kinda put off, because I did not see my self becoming very into the music of the series, however my percption had completely been changed in the first 5 mins. The opening song of the series "Rose" Is the best opening I've seen ever heard, and there are several opening I like, but this was a completely different feel and gave a sneak peek into what I was in for, for the next 47 episodes.
The two main Nana's of the series are complete opposites, which is why the series works soo well. We have cute, girly Nana AKA Hachi and The tomboy, rock chick edgy, Nana Osaki. They come together to make a great balance to the series.
Overall I think this series is one that is often overlooked and is really great if given the chance. I personally have now seen the series 3 times and have finsihed off the manga. which quite rare for me, but it's the type of series that deserves the effort. It takes you on a rollacosta of emotions, with its light hearted comedy and it's touching romance. This is definatly a more mature approche to an otherwise teenage catagory in anime and manga, and why I appreciate it soo much.
"I need your love, I'm a broken rose." - lyrics from the first opening.
The anime shows aired during 2007 - 2010 were usually the most phenomenal in my point of view. Shows today were lacking the deep sense of plot, enjoyment, drama and the whimsical world of comedy. These days it is hard to look for an anime that will make you re-watch when you have time and remember for a lifetime. Nana is one of those shows that is heart-wrenching, cheerful and life - changing.
Plot: Nana's story would actually be like soap operas in TV but better. You can see how the storyline
was put in deep thought and everything was strategically planned. More drama and comedy also more romance.
To tell you the truth, I suspected that this is going to be a music themed anime wherein everything revolves around the world of music, soundtracks, bands and yeah. more music. I thought the two girls coincidentally met in a competition. They looked different so I thought the gothic Nana would sing some alternative rock and other punk style songs (I wasn't wrong about that) and the other who looks like a fragile and cheery girl would venture in pop, love songs, or maybe japanese cultured stuff. Soon, they end up being rivals. On the other hand, that isn't the case. Osaki Nana, one of the main characters explored in Tokyo and met this girl named Komatsu Nana. They both have dreams, Nana wanted to become a successful singer, the other would like to find a job and be independent at the same time, meet her boyfriend who has a long-distance relationship with her. They soon meet again and it led to a deep and happy friendship. Although, it was a bumpy road for the both of them, things did sort out in the end (or so I thought). Heavy and consecutive circumstances will arise like betrayal, abandonment and despicable fate. Moreover, there will also be happy events which you will never get enough. The drama behind the story can happen in reality. We can relate to some of the stories of the characters and we will dive in to their emotions like we feel them, or like we are actually in the story. Honestly, there will always be cliche acts in this show but the point is, they clearly caught my attention. Life will not always be a bed of roses so, there will be various tragic moments along the way. Above all, I give it 9 points.
Art, 6.5: One of the weak points but, it is understandable. The characters, background and other effects really did belonged to Madhouse. The eyes, body structure and dark aura reminded me of Death Note. The color of the hair reminded me of Bokura ga Ita as well as the expression of the characters. Kudos to the background, they somehow paid attention to the detail considering how hard it is to make an anime. They have to make everything from scratch. Developing 47 episodes can be a handful plus it was flashed last 2007 so yeah, I can see why I couldn't appreciate the art that much.
Sound 8/10: Some where phenomenal, some where blowing my brains out, and some where just distracting. I really like songs by the fictional band, BLAST (bias aside) because they were more convincing and new to hear. I'm not a big fan of punk rock or punk bands but it's nice to give it a try. Sound effects were quite repetitive while it adds mood to the dramatic and joyous scenes.
We'll start with the people I know too well and my favorites:
Osaki Nana's seiyu (Romi Park): Suitable, cool and awesome. She has the whole package. From the lowness of the pitch to the (sometimes) out of pitch voice she makes when she is mad or complaining. She's definitely one great voice actress. As expected to the Best Voice Actress during the First Seiyu Awards.
Nobuo's Seiyuu (Seki Tomokazu): Also Kyo Sohma's voice. It's nice to hear a kinder version of him and also his subtleness and everything. For me, he has one of the distinguishable voice of all and he doesn't have a mediocre voice. On top of that, I really like his acting, he could be goofy and seemingly upset at some parts of the anime.
Kyosuke's VA (Suwabe Junichi): Great and very A-okay. The huskiness of his voice suited the character very well. He has the ideal old guy kind of gesture and voice.
Layla's voice actress (Hirano Aya): Exceptional work as always. She can depict a dramatic and a cheerful voice for the character. She also won an award but I don't remember what it was. On the other hand, I hope she had more screen time because I have always adored her voice.
People I don't really know that well.
Komatsu Nana's, Ren's, Takumi's, and Shin's seiyus were diverse too. Although I'm not a big fan of them, I enjoyed hearing their voices. They were good in catching my attention when I get hooked up in every scene.
The rest, they did okay.
Splendid Characterization but I can only give a few words to some of the characters:
Komatsu Nana: The flirty, selfish but cute girl that always get admired by many people. She can be dependable but she can do things professionally if she gives her heart and soul to perfect it. She is a fan of BLAST and TRAPNEST. She receives too many heartaches in the story but she always get to switch to many guys. She is a bright version of foolish chicks around the world. Naive, a boy lover and can flirt with any guy they like. But I love this woman, seriously.
Osaki Nana: The cool version of a naive chick. She is somewhat a gothic girl. An introvert, independent, and incredible woman. A beautiful singer who will always cherish her fans. She isn't a boy lover but ever since she got to be friends with Nobu, she never had a single female friend (setting Misato aside). She has some problems like promoting her pride and having separation anxiety (because of her terrible past). I love her so much and I like her calm and consistent attitude.
Junko: An awesome friend to Komatsu Nana. She is straightforward and most of the time she can say things that would literally wake a person up and decide in a mature manner. She's definitely not one of those whores who would give second-rate advices and comfort their friends like a whim.
Kyosuke: First Most loyal guy in the show.
Ren: A bassist/guitarist in the band. Almost the loyal guy in the show. He is in love with Nana. He has some issues like being guilty on fulfilling his dream. He will do everything for Nana in a heartbeat.
Nobuo: Short but the sweetest guy ever. He isn't reluctant to give help to troubled girls. He can be a natural when it comes to fascinating conversations with men and even with women.
Shouji: MAN WHORE.
Takumi: THE REAL WHORE
Shinichi: cute and visibly insensitive. He is probably the most chilled-out person in the series. He doesn't react that much plus he's handsome.
Yasu: Caring, Loving, and Dependable. He is like the Batman of this series.
Reira/Layla: Adorable, sensitive and a good singer too.
In the end, there were really hateable characters. I can never get enough of NANA unless they remove all these characters because they are the highlight and the powerhouse of this story.
Enjoyment 8: It was one hell of a ride. I'm lost with words. I shed a tear in many parts of the anime. Everything was unbelievably what I've wanted. Sure, there are some unwanted sex scenes, ecchi, and a lot of matured content but I am no pretentious slut plus I'm already a young adult so yeah I can carry it. The tragedy could be somehow heartbreaking but I eventually got over it soon. It's fine for me since it is has a realistic synopsis. The thought that at some point, they are all "I think I wanna die" but the next thing you know, "Let's be fucking happy you bitches!" It wasn't a total waste of time. We can really see the saying "Forgive and forget" in this anime. I also noticed how knocked up the characters were, they were sacrificing everything for music. Example, leaving your only love to complete your goal, giving up your chance to have good money and taking over a family agenda to be a guitarist, prioritizing your band instead of just studying for your lawyer licenship, and etc.
Giving it an 8 would mean I'm satisfied. I can continue on living and get inspired by this masterpiece.
Overall 8: I think I said enough. Nana's story, music, and characters brighten up my days. Considering how I finished all episodes within 3 days (too long isn't it), I definitely didn't regret watching this show. I learned that life won't always be the way you plan it to be. I might as well just let things hit for me and accept them but I will definitely do better.
TRAGEDY and HAPPINESS always go together in life. It is inevitable.
Nana isn't just another love story, but a moment of truth, friendship, hard work and so on.
If you love romance, drama and realistic characters and plot, check out NANA!
"Epic" - a word used describe the grand and the majestic... not a word you generally associate with romance.
But if there ever was an anime in which the romantic element can be justifiably described as "epic", then "Nana" would be it. Achingly beautiful and searing in its emotional insights, "Nana" takes the romance genre to dizzying heights while still maintaining a strong sense of realism and empathy with the viewer in spite of all its glamour and polish.
"Nana" is a tale of two Nanas, Komatsu Nana (aka Hachi) and Osaki Nana (aka, uh, Nana). (I can't be bothered with their full names, so I'll just
refer to them as Hachi and Nana, which is what most of the characters in the anime do anyway.) A chance meeting between Hachi and Nana on a train to Tokyo marks the beginning of a special friendship. Hachi is on her way to join up with her boyfriend who is studying in Tokyo, while Nana is heading for the big city in order to take her career as a musician to the next level. The lives of the two Nanas soon entwine, and the story gets complicated, juggling friendship, romance, career aspirations and many other things simultaneously.
I had high expectations for "Nana" before I started it, but I have to admit that I didn't get into it straight off the bat. There is one big reason for this - Hachi. Hachi is a fickle, self centred airhead whose number of past boyfriends probably rivals other girls in terms of the number of pairs of shoes they own. While she's not annoying in an excessive and unrealistic way a la Asuka from "Neon Genesis Evangelion" or Menma from AnoHana, I really didn't feel interested in a story centred on this kind of character. In fact I stalled for several months after watching episode 3, where the show laid bare the worst of her clinggy character.
Thankfully, the series' attention shifted away from Hachi onto Nana soon after that, and, with two stunning episodes 4 and 5, showed me just what it is capable of. Nana is an intruiging character: controversial, pretentious and fiercely proud, her compelling portrayal gave me the motivation I needed to continue with the show.
While "Nana" does eventually meet my lofty expectations, it doesn't truly take off till about a third of the way through. After those two terrific episodes early on, the show went back to focusing mostly on Hachi. In spite of this, I didn't find them as hard to get through as the first few episodes. This is partly because Nana is now also in the picture to provide some relief, and partly because Hachi isn't quite as annoying once you get to know her a bit more. Though the first third of the show is far from being the series' best, they do throw up some spine tinglingly great moments. It could have been a lot more, however, if it wasn't for the excessive use of comedy. I feel that some of material dealing with emotional turmoil should have been given a more serious treatment, especially seeing how well "Nana" does that kind of thing. Instead, the series' often opted for a more comic portrayal, which undermined the mood at times.
Luckily, that criticism is only valid for that first part of the series. Everything changes once the members of Trapnest comes into the story. This is when "Nana" started producing episode after episode of drama of the highest caliber. These episodes are not only remarkable in their quality, but also in their consistency to stay at that remarkable level. At the heart its whirlwind drama, the show exposes, dissects, and examines in minute detail the emotions of the characters. The sensation of being dazzled by someone shining more brightly than yourself, the tug of war between pride and love, the feeling of not only needing someone, but more paradoxically, of needing to BE needed by someone... virtually everything explored in "Nana" feels startlingly real and relevant.
For all its romantic elements, the centrepiece of "Nana" is the relationship between the two Nanas themselves. Despite the two of them being so different in personality, they share a bond that seems to transcend normal friendship, and yet at the same time is as fragile as a glass figurine, and just as beautiful. The mutual envy and emotional support, the honesty and the dishonesty, the similarity and contrast between the personalities all contribute towards a fascinating and contradicting relationship.
Initially, the story is narrated from Hachi's point of view. You get to experience the full range of her whimsical nature and her helpless, almost piteous attraction towards the glamourous, bright star in her life that is Nana. Hachi was never gonna be my favourite character, but she did grow on me quite a bit. Nana is still the more intriguing character though, so when the narration, after an astonishingly long run of excellent episodes, switched to her point of view at around the 30 episode mark, I was hopeful that the show would get even better.
These expectation does get filled to a certain capacity. The change allowed a deeper insight into Nana's complex character, insight that threw up some quite shocking revelations and served to make some things a lot clearer. Even though the show had already strongly hinted at Nana's fragility and pretentiousness, the extent of these traits only starts to surface at this point. I still wasn't completely sold by her feelings with regards to Hachi though... perhaps an narrative that interlaced the two perspectives all the way through would have made it more convincing than being dumped into the revelation all at once.
But anyway, the switch in perspective unexpectedly marks the point where the series starts to go down hill. Not by much, mind you. The problem isn't to do with the actual switch itself; it's to do with the romantic plots and subplots. You can only juggle so many relationships for so long a time before things start to feel ridiculous. When the monstrous webs of love triangles ends up involving nearly all the significant members of the cast, the show starts to buckle under the weight of their sheer number and complexity. While this isn't quite a show stopper for "Nana", especially considering its great execution, it's the worst kind of problem for this kind of series to pick up - it makes it feel too much like a soap opera. This causes the drama aspect of "Nana" seem a little too sensationalist, a little less believable. I find the characterisation of Takumi from Trapnest to be particularly problematic - while I liked the professionalism in his character, his constant changes in attitude sometimes makes him feel more like a plot device than a believable rock star, and in fact the whole of Trapnest feels altogether too down to earth.
"Nana" more than made up for this slight lapse in quality eventually though, finishing the series with another strong run of episodes that are at least as good as any of the ones previously. While it remained a little over-convoluted, it's hard to take too much notice when the blossoming romances and the intensifying drama is so sublimely good. "Nana" ends on a hanging, bittersweet note that just begs for a continuation. Continuation seems unlikely though. This first season ended as the makers wanted to avoid fillers, and the intention is that a second season will be made once the manga is finished. Though this decision to avoid fillers should be applauded, the manga has stalled and the anime can no longer be considered as a recent one. With interest in the show cooling, that second season seems increasingly unlikely.
It would be a crime to review "Nana" without mentioning the music in it. In addition to the romance and relationships, "Nana" is about two bands, BLAST (Nana's own band) and Trapnest (band of Nana's lover Ren). A couple of Japanese artists, Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia Lufkin, were drafted in to perform the songs by the fictional bands. The songs are used heavily throughout the series, and in fact all the opening and ending themes are made up of them. There are several noteworthy things about these songs. The first is how they're impressively written to suit the story and the characteristics of the bands that perform them. Trapnest, a band that's hit mainstream popularity in "Nana", has songs with quite mainstream melodies. In contrast, BLAST have an edgier, more punk influenced sound, but one that isn't completely devoid of mainstream appeal, as one of the characters once commented. Anna Tsuchiya, who provides the singing voice of Nana, has a rasping voice that's so similar in quality to the Nana's talking voice that for a while I wondered whether it was the same person.
Most of all though, I *loved* Olivia as the singing voice of Reira, the lead singer of Trapnest. The pure, ethereal beauty of her soaring vocals is exactly how I would imagine Reira's vocals to be. No wonder Ai Yazawa (author of the "Nana" manga), upon coming across her songs while helping to select the right singer for Reira, apparently exclaimed "It can only be her!" (A bit of trivia: Olivia, like Reira, is also half American!)
It's not just about the songs though, it's about the atmosphere too. The scene where Hachi being overwhelmed by the experience of going to her first concert has such a dense, authentic atmosphere that it reminded me of my own first time at a concert. The background music is also very good for setting the mood, but I think it could have done with more variety. A lot of tracks are just variations on the same melodies and themes. I also thought some of the elegant, classical instrumental tracks doesn't quite fit in with the style of "Nana", especially considering the nature of the bands the show feature, with their often heavy instrumentals and rebellious punk influences.
I don't normally mention the voice actors, but the ones in "Nana" deserves a special mention for having so many stars in their midst. Even ignoring Romi Park (Ed from "Full Metal Alchemist; Teresa from "Claymore") as Nana, there's a host of heavyweights such as Aya Hirano (Misa from "Death Note"; Haruhi from "The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi") and Tomokazu Seki (Sousuke from "Full Metal Panic!"; Chiaki from "Nodame Cantabile") to be found in support... it's like the "Ocean's Eleven" of anime. The big surprise though, is that amongst this glittery line up, Hachi is voiced by a relative unknown KAORI (don't ask me why her name's all in capitals, I'm just writing it how I've seen it elsewhere). But what's perhaps more surprising is that, despite her lack of star credentials, her near flawless portrayal of the whimsical Hachi is one of, if not THE most ear catching performance of the series; even short phrases such as the often used "hey, Nana" line are injected full of nostalgic feelings. It's to her and the show's greatest credit that Hachi eventually went from a character I disliked to a character I could not only tolerate, but like and even respect to a degree.
It's interesting to compare this to "Beck", a show that overlaps on many of the same themes of music, romance and life, but is a far more humble take on them. The difference is like the bands they feature - "Nana" is like the chart topping band while "Beck" is the indie band that's looking to make it big. And while the production power and glitzy glamour of "Nana" does help make it the better show (in my opinion), the two are ultimately very different, each with its own unique charms. It's just a shame that while "Nana" often transcends the romance genre with its powerful introspective insights on love and life, it ultimately doesn't completely break free of its trappings.