The longer we live, the more weight we carry in our hearts.
A sentence that truly summarizes and embodies the manga of Nana. The tale follows the lives of two very different girls who share the same name of Nana, and not much else. After a fateful meeting on a train bound to Tokyo, they manage to become friends and their lives weave closely together from that moment forwards. Written most nostalgically by one of the Nana’s from sometime years in the future, the story is a remembrance of the friendship between two girls and all the people who surrounded them who all rushed into life with the vigor, innocence and optimism of youth; and returned so tragic, weary and worn by circumstance and choice.
While wrongly categorized as a Shoujo series, Nana is very much a Josei in its explicit content, realistic storytelling, and maturity, so it is far better to be read by an audience who can handle such things.
★ Story (9) – Like longing letters written to the past, Nana unfolds in remembrance and nostalgia from the point of view of one of the Nana’s many years into the future. A simple meeting between two girls of the same age and bearing the same name quickly evolves into a tangled web of many lives with romance and betrayal; long distance relationships and unhealthy romances; cheating scandals and underage prostitutes; unplanned pregnancies and family secrets; obsession and desire; sex and rock n’ roll…All of which is set against the backdrop of a very modern, very fashionable, very young Tokyo where debauchery and youth go hand in hand reigning supreme, and friendship deeper than anything remains the unbreakable link between people lost in the modern world, and in themselves.
Punctuated with ambience throughout, this series is littered with an aching yearning for the past, and a wish to relive life and avoid all the mistakes that brought the story to a vague, but seemingly unhappy future.
★ Art (9) - The artwork of Nana is incredibly distinctive, stylish and highly unique and in so is an absolutely acquired taste. Very artsy and drawn in high style, the characters of Nana are all skin and bones (almost disgustingly so) and always sporting the very latest in fashion. The photographic backgrounds add a touch of realism to the artwork, and yet another sense of style to this very stylish series. Everything is drawn painstakingly well, and in detail from strands of hair to eyelashes. While the style will not be liked by everyone, the art still remains a high scorer for the unique style and the high and consistent quality.
★ Character (10) – This is a series where I really dislike the majority of the cast. So why did I rank the characters so highly? Simple – they are so realistic. Every single character is a three dimensional person unto themselves, with very distinctive personalities and traits unique to them. Not one character can be boxed and labeled as a cliché or a stereotype and indeed, their characterizations are deconstructed time and time again in the course of the story. No matter what choices the character makes or does not make they are given insight and depth throughout. Complex and layered, these characters function and fumble along like real people, constantly shedding and growing new sides to them while remaining themselves in their entirety. While the characters are rather difficult to like on the whole, it is very easy to come to terms with them, and to reach out and understand them on a different level.
They are difficult and contradictory; prickly and sweet; unlikable and loveable – they are completely and utterly human, and in this humanness they are defined.
★ Enjoyment (9) – This is a series for people who want to read about the joy and pain of youth; of the good choices and terrible mistakes which haunt lives years afterward. This is a slice of life story of the most realistic and raw degree with all the twists and turns of life, and the bumps and bruises of stumbling through them.
★ Overall (9) – This beautiful, mature Josei series is a real page turner, and highly recommended for those mature enough to handle it.
This is a series that shows how even the most simple and mundane of choices in our day to day lives can have an effect on those same lives, and can spiral into something much larger in time. It shows us how youth can be the most precious key given in life, with the most painful doors and secrets to unlock.
It shows how life gives us such fond, wonderful memories – but also chokes and tears us apart with those same remembrances. And it shows how friendship is the most wonderful gift to have, and how it is also the heaviest burden to carry.
How very true it is then: that the longer we live, the more weight we carry in our hearts.