Friday, October 2, 2009


Overall Rating: A+

Summary: A romance/drama/music shōjo series created by Ai Yazawa, and focuses on the lives of young women who are both named Nana. To top it off, they meet on a train when they are both moving to Tokyo and they're the same age (20)! That's where the similarities end. Nana Osaki is a singer in a punk band called Black Stones (or Blast) and is moving to Tokyo to become a star. Nana Komatsu is from a small town and is following her friends and boyfriend to Tokyo, but doesn't know what she wants to do with her life.

As the story progresses, we learn more about each Nana's past, and then their stories merge again when they both want to rent the same apartment and decide to move in together. Nana Osaki gives Nana Komatsu the nickname "Hachi" (after Hachikō), because her behavior is similar to a dog's, and it helps tell them apart (thanks!). Hachi also becomes good friends with the members of Nana's band, Nobuo, Yasu and the very young, and very promiscuous, Shin.

As the series progresses, Blast gains more and more popularity, but the romantic entanglements become more and more complicated. Nana O's ex-boyfriend (who left her to join the band Trapnest in Tokyo) returns, and the two bands become intertwined. Hachi's inclination to fall in love at first site gets her in trouble, and all the other characters have relationships that progress throughout the series.

I absolutely adore Nana. The anime is based on the manga and so far it has been completely faithful to the original series. The addition of the music really adds to the story, since in the manga you have to imagine it. Although it is typically categorized as shōjo, Nana has josei themes. For example, the relationships in Nana are not idealized (a common feature in shōjo), but are instead very realistic, which is one of the reasons I love the series. It's very easy to relate to all of the characters and get drawn in (though that can also be frustrating since they can make dumb decisions!). That said, it retains a lot of the comedy of shōjo-style manga, which helps offset the heavy emphasis on romance and drama. In short, it's one of my all-time favorite series, and I can't recommend the manga and anime enough. Be forewarned, there is minor nudity in the manga series (I haven't seen any in the anime yet), but nothing serious.