Nana Komatsu is a helpless, naïve twenty-year-old who easily falls in love and becomes dependent and clingy to those around her. Even though she nurses ambitious dreams of removing herself from her provincial roots and finding her true calling, she ends up traveling to Tokyo with the humble reason of chasing her current boyfriend Shouji Endo.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is a proud, enigmatic punk rock vocalist from a similarly rural background, who nurtures the desire to become a professional singer. Putting her career with a fairly popular band (and her passionate romance with one of its former members) firmly behind her, she boards the same train to Tokyo as Nana Komatsu.
Through a fateful encounter in their journey toward the metropolis, the young women with the same given name are brought together, sparking a chain of events which eventually result in them sharing an apartment. As their friendship deepens, the two attempt to support each other through thick and thin, their deeply intertwined lives filled with romance, music, challenges, and heartbreaks that will ultimately test their seemingly unbreakable bond.
Nana was also adapted into two successful live action films in 2006, starring Mika Nakashima and Aoi Miyazaki. The manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shoujo and it sold more than 40 million copies to this date.
The anime was broadcast in Italy on MTV Italy and Rai 4.
#1: "A Little Pain" by Olivia inspi' Reira ~Trapnest~ (eps 01-08, 10-18, 41 (for TV broadcast)) #2: "Rose" by Anna inspi' Nana ~Black Stones~ (ep 9 (for TV broadcast and DVD)) #3: "Starless Night" by Olivia inspi' Reira ~Trapnest~ (eps 19-29, 42 (for TV broadcast), DVD: eps 01-08, 10-29, 41-42) #4: "Kuroi Namida" by Anna inspi' Nana ~Black Stones~ (eps 30-40, 47 (for TV broadcast and DVD)) #5: "Winter Sleep" by Olivia inspi' Reira ~Trapnest~ (eps 43-44 (for TV broadcast and DVD)) #6: "Stand By Me" by Tsuchiya, Anna inspi' Nana ~Black Stones~ (eps 45-46 (for TV broadcast and DVD))
"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 ;)read more
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! read more
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.read more
“I always thought that life was about standing your ground, no matter how strong the current was. But going with the flow isn't so bad after all. As long as it takes you forward.”
The flow of life is a capricious one, precariously soaring high and plummeting low, and as such, we may find ourselves chained to these cherished memories we grasp onto so dearly, finding solace in our past, perhaps comforted by its consistency while the world darts to and fro around us. Helpless longing, unrequited love, the bittersweet corollaries of growth - all of these things may constantly invade our lives, yet what can one do? Maybe all we can do is cherish and endure, and perhaps wear a fictitious facade, ideals perfectly encapsulated by this review's opening quote, and by extension, this series.
Nana hits the ground running, as our two protagonists meet right from the get-go: Konatsu Nana encounters Osaki Nana on a train headed to Tokyo, forming a rather friendly bond relative to the short pan of their trip. As luck would have it however, the two end up as flat mates in Tokyo, and the two go on about, carving out their diverging paths. Osaki Nana, as part of an indie rock band, Blast, itches for a breakthrough in the music scene, whereas Konatsu Nana is simply along for the ride, her pure naiveté gradually distorting into a murky gray. Without a doubt, the cast is where Nana shines brightest, expertly explored and authentically developed; delving into the sea of their minds felt so personal and so intricate that few characters are left as strangers by the end of this show's 47 episode run. Our two protagonists, to no surprise, are at the forefront of progression, as we bear witness to their appreciably subtle changes and growth through the tumultuous events shaping their lives. However, by no means is development neglected for the rest of this decently sized cast; supporting characters are almost equally layered - impressively so - and as reality would testify, are never funneled into strict caricatures and summed up by meager stereotypes. There are no sinister villains or noble heroes, and the show never attempts to tilt the scales towards either end of the dichotomy; these characters themselves seem rather uncertain of the directions they're headed towards, and they often oscillate between being irksome at one moment to respectable the next as we are treated to various elucidating perspectives.
Of course, Nana's categorization under "drama" likely connotes a fair share of perpetual make-ups and break-ups. There's a definite soap opera vibe, and thrilling occurrences are tossed at the viewer at a frantic pace, but never did this show teeter onto the side of the melodramatic; and although our protagonists' journeys are chaotic to be sure, every little occurrence, every intertwining thread, felt meaningful. Character feelings and relationships emanate a strong sense of reflection, and their emotions are rendered evocatively through a mix of sharply written dialogue and eloquent, poetic monologues.
Madhouse studios delivers on high standards in the visuals category, even considering their impressive résumé. Our characters' facial expressions are detailed, and their movements are fluid; environments are also drawn meticulously. The colour palette is dark and almost somber, and the lighting fluctuates between luminous and blooming to dim and ominous, apt for the various masks in tone which this show seamlessly glides between. However, the character designs, with their seemingly elongated, often lanky body structures, are certainly an acquired taste. The soundtrack, however, is thoroughly enjoyable, and many songs used throughout are "performed" by the two bands centered on within the series, a subtle detail which contributes greatly to immersion; as a result, these musicians feel larger than life, as if breaking out of the show's contextual barriers.
Very few complaints came to mind as I was watching this series; however, that also rendered the few hitches I did find all the more prominent. The introductory episode propels at a rapid pace, but the show then spends the next few episodes diving into our main characters' histories; it later resumes with an episode which is mostly a repeat of the first, making for an awkward, albeit minor, hitch in pacing. Also, as the manga was left incomplete and on hiatus, we are provided with an inconclusive ending, showing the outcome of things with a time leap, but leaving many questions unanswered in between.
But oh, what a journey it was. With its outstanding cast and vivid drama, Nana is often beautiful, yet poignant; heartrending, yet gratifying; in other words, it's akin to our lives, true to both our ephemeral moments of joy and our incessant difficulties - and we know oh-so-well what a ride that could be.
Note: This is a heavily edited version of a previous review (which was written very long ago).read more