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Nana Review

August 3, 2007

story 7.5/10

Nana screenshot

Ai Yazawa’s work is so distinctive that no one could mistake Nana as being written by anyone else. While the series isn’t perfect, it can be considered to be one of the frontrunners of modern shoujo romance.

I emphasize modern because of how backward and traditional other romance anime seems when compared to Yazawa’s work. While other shoujo series are still mucking about with idealistic conceptions of the One True Love, the feelings of Nana’s characters are much more complex, layered, and believable. Nana is amazing not only for convincing us that its characters love each other, but for convincing us that we know why they love each other.

Yazawa’s writing also reflects a fascinating social awareness that speaks of Japan’s changing society. In the radically different protagonists of Komatsu Nana and Osaki Nana, there is an undercurrent of conflict between the Japanese woman’s traditional dependence and burgeoning independence. While Komatsu seems determined, even destined, to become a housewife, Osaki struggles to forge her own path, even at the expense of love and friendship. Surprisingly, the series does not take sides, but is content to show the inherent limitations of both approaches.

Unfortunately, as great as Nana’s story is, two factors prevent me from recommending this to everyone.

For one, the storyline tends to lean heavily on melodrama, which will no doubt annoy a large portion of potential fans. While a healthy dose of (excellent) comedy prevents the show from ever becoming unbearably angsty, some may have trouble digesting the particularly manipulative plot twists.

More damaging is the fact that Nana is currently missing a true ending. Since the Yazawa’s manga is not yet finished, the final episode essentially stops midway through the story. While the producers seem open to a second season (see the “Nana’s House” at the end of episode 47), there is a distinct possibility that there will never be an ending to Nana in anime form. Moreover, even if this series is eventually concluded, fans may have to wait several years for this to actually happen.

Still, even with these potential problems, I can’t deny what Nana has managed to achieve: an intelligent, socially aware, and consistently entertaining shoujo romance.

animation 7.5/10

The visuals here are much less experimental than they were in Paradise Kiss, but the result is still excellent. Yazawa’s character designs are as great as always, the coloring is nice, and character movement feels natural and smooth. There’s also a fair amount of visual humor, which tends to be hilarious.

sound 7/10

OH BABY HELP ME FROM FROZEN PAIN

Say what you will about the Engrish, but Nana’s numerous JRock songs have a certain kick to them that makes them surprisingly listenable, in spite of the pop sensibilities and asinine lyrics. A lot of the time, the show uses a guitar riff of an OP/ED to underscore the more dramatic moments, which works amazingly well at setting a dramatic and somber mood. The rest of the soundtrack is more traditional (it’s mainly simple BGM synth music), but works almost as well. An apt comparison can be drawn to Full Moon wo Sagashite’s music, which managed to use a limited vocal soundtrack to a surprisingly powerful effect.

characters 9.5/10

The characters of Nana had to be nearly perfect for the show to work, and for the most part, they are. As mentioned earlier, Aizawa writes her characters wonderfully and insightfully, and manages to inject more depth into them than perhaps any other show released this year. Most series are considered good if they can develop one or two characters well; Nana successfully juggles more than seven, and the results are suitably fantastic.

That said, there are many that will take issue with Komatsu Nana’s ditzy, impulsive personality. The script essentially requires her to make all the wrong choices at exactly the worst times possible, which will most likely frustrate those that expect anime characters to act rationally. However, Komatsu is nonetheless consistently written throughout the show, and is for the most immensely likeable, in spite of her numerous flaws.

overall 7.5/10

As a whole, Nana is a great work. The only thing that prevents me from scoring this as a “must-see” is the aforementioned lack of a real ending. As hopeful as I am that Nana eventually ends well, experience tells me that a certain amount of pessimism is healthy in these situations.

Whatever the case, Nana is a great choice for shoujo fans, even if episode 47 turns out to be the final episode. The soundtrack is great, the storyline is intelligent and riveting, and the character development is easily the best of the year.

Anime Info

Nana Komatsu is on her way to Tokyo; now she can finally be with her boyfriend after a year of dating long-distance! On the train there, Nana Komatsu meets Nana Osaki – a girl who shares her name but seems to be everything Nana Komatsu is not; cool, street-wise, and a punk rocker. The two hit it off and spend the entire journey getting to know each other, but when they get to Tokyo, circumstance separates them seemingly forever. However, fate is not finished with these two. Whilst hunting for a place to live the two Nanas again cross paths. They decide to share a flat and become best friends in no time. Nana K. must learn to be independent and mature, while Nana O. works on becoming famous with her band; but together, they will learn about love and loss, and the growth that comes with it.

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comments

IchiRukiloove1 avatar IchiRukiloove1
Feb 13, 2014

This anime is not a shoujo. It's a josei! 

Lokoloko avatar Lokoloko
Sep 1, 2013

I know the anime doesn't have a real ending but it still a must watch for me though .. And also you can always just go for the manga for the continuation although the manga is also on a hiatus .. But there's a big thing that happen in one of the characters so please also read the manga haha :P

Doremi avatar Doremi
Aug 3, 2013

I really understand your conclusion, If I had written a review I would probably write the same. 

But I would really recommend it, espescially if someone are looking for a heartattaching anime. Nana was like the second anime I watched ever, and it'll always stay in my heart. I sometimes rewatch it because I actually miss the characthers so much that I feel I could cry.. Well Personally I think that the best animes, are the ones whom waver your heart and stays in it ..

LegendOfZelda avatar LegendOfZelda
Nov 12, 2012

I thought this show was pretty good. I thought most of the males characters were most likeable though. Throughout most of the show I enjoyed Komatsu and Nana, but then sorta gave up on Komatsu and Nana took my favorite and some of her tendencies resulted in me mostly just enjoying Nobu, Shin, Yasu, and Ren.

default avatar JJR1971
Apr 15, 2012

I really love this series very, very much.  It's so gritty and realistic and unsentimental.  I also like that it deals with sex frankly and in a matter-of-fact manner...I sometimes refer to it as the Japanese Sex and the City. 

I am on the final disc so I haven't seen the last 4 or so episodes, but I like all the characters, flaws and all.  And try as I might to simply hate Takumi, I find my intellectual honesty prevents me from doing so.  He's a very complex character that defies an easy moustache-twirling villian archetype.  Sure, he's a bit of a cocky jerk, but so are a lot of the guys, and much to their surprise he does step up and try to do the right thing, over and over.  He actually has some good points, he does continue to treat Nana K. with decency and even a tender affection, in his own awkward way.  I keep wanting to hate him but find I just can't.  I don't particularly like him, wouldn't consider him a friend, but I do have to hold out a kind of grudging respect for him.  Even at his worst, when he forces himself on Nana K. in her shared apartment and the noise from the bedroom drives the other Nana temporarily crazy...I still understand where his jealous rage and possessiveness are coming from to motivate him for that scene.  I may not agree with his actions (probably crosses the line into rape) but I can't say I don't understand.

Still, part of me wishes Nana O. had taken the time to educate Nana K. a bit more about the pill, etc.  Nana O. is a lot more careful about letting Ren back into her life, etc.  I also like that Reira (Layla) seems to be beginning to take Shin seriously and not treat him like a "boy toy" anymore.

Very much looking forward to finishing this Anime.  I realize I can't make fun of people who like daytime Soap Operas anymore because I realize the appeal of those shows are the same as the appeal that Slice of Life shows, especially this one, have for me.

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