Anime Review of "Nana"

Ai Yazawa is also known for another manga series called "Paradise Kiss." The graphic style of Paradise Kiss is similar to Nana. Unlike Nana, Paradise Kiss is geared towards the fashion industry as Caroline is conflicted between pursuing higher education or taking the path of being a professional model. Paradise Kiss was adapted into an anime and then a live-action movie. The movie has contrasts from the manga and anime.

About Nana:

“Nana” is an anime series that aired in Japan from April 5, 2006 until March 27, 2007. There is a total of forty-seven episodes available. It was directed by Morio Asaka and produced by Madhouse Studios. When it came to the English voice dubbing, this project was sent to Vancouver, British Columbia – Canada.

The North American license currently belongs to Viz Media. If you live in the North America, you can catch episodes of Nana on Neon Alley. The Neon Alley application is available through the Playstation Network (PSN) for a monthly fee. Like many anime titles, Nana was adapted from an ongoing manga. The manga is written by Ai Yazawa and had its original run back in 2000; but, the manga has been on hiatus since 2009 due to health complications. Currently, it is unknown when Yazawa will continue on making more chapters to Nana.

Nana's anime storyline comes directly from the manga. Asides from being made into an anime series, Nana has been adapted into two live action movies “Nana” and “Nana 2.” The movies are related and follow the manga's storyline. If you read the manga and/or watched the anime, then you should be able to follow the movie.

This anime is a combination of drama, romance, music, comedy, and slice of life. If you enjoy stories driven by female characters along with the theme of rock 'n roll, then Nana is for you. By watching the anime, Nana is something that has the potential to be a live-action series in Japan or something similar in South Korea, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

Storyline:

Nana is an anime series that has a lot of mature storytelling to it. I mean mature, not in anything sexual or overly sexual, as in serious storytelling about things that apply to everyday life. The series does a good job of blending in different genres to tell one ongoing story.

The anime is actually two stories put together, with each one from the point of view of either Nana or Hachiko. It's a mixture of being both story and character-driven. Nana's goal is to become famous while Hachiko is out to seek true love.

The anime centers on two women who are the main protagonists: Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu. Both of their names are “Nana” thus the name of the anime series. It starts out in the winter season where Nana K. or “Hachiko” boards a train for Tokyo. Since there are no more seats, Hachiko or “Hachi” ends up finding the only spare seat which is occupied by Nana O's guitar. The two of them get acquainted on the train ride to Tokyo. It would seem that the two of them would part ways upon arriving at Tokyo; but, the two are fated as friends due to their same first names and other factors.

Through different real estate agents, the two Nanas meet again as they are after the same apartment which is numbered “707” which brings further significance to the anime as Nana means “7” in Japanese. The two of them end up renting the apartment together. This is an example of the motif of “Nana.”

For almost the first half of the anime series, there really isn't a plot line involved. This is pretty much a “slice of life” anime from watching almost the first half of the series. The two Nanas go to Tokyo for completely different reasons; eventually, their reasons converge as an actual singular storyline starts to form as more characters emerge from the woodwork. The story of Nana is story driven, character driven, and plot driven as both Nanas set out to seek what they want most. Eventually, it becomes a battle of the bands with BLAST (Black Stones) and Trapnest competing against each other. At first, it seems to be a story about nothing; but, as you get further into the series, a story forms and it becomes rather apparent.

If you are a lover of rock genre, you'll love the story of Nana whether or not it has a singular storyline. What makes it more interesting is that there are many sub-plots that tie the eventually formed storyline together. It's a feminine rock drama and an animated soap opera at the same time.

Nana
Nana
Hachi
Hachi
Nobu
Nobu
Shin
Shin
Yasu
Yasu
Ren
Ren
Reira
Reira
Takumi
Takumi

Characters:

While there are two main characters, there is a larger cast of major characters and support characters that bring importance to the story. Most of these characters are crucial to the storyline of Nana in one way or another. Through the characters, Nana has all sorts of interesting twists and turns.

Main Characters:

The two main characters are Nana O. and Nana K. respectively with the former being called “Nana” and the latter being called “Hachi.” The two of them go to Tokyo under different motivations.

Nana, the vocalist for BLAST, heads to Tokyo to start her music career. She has the look or someone who has embraced rock n' roll culture. So far, she can be cynical, dark, emotional, and so forth. At first, Nana was thinking about going to Tokyo to follow her boyfriend Ren who joined Trapnest; but, she didn't want to be a “rock star's girlfriend.” Instead, she heads to Tokyo to become a famous rock singer and focuses her time and energy in doing so. However, while determined, Nana can be insecure and fears losing the people that are closest to her. Unlike Hachi, Nana tends to think more with her brain than her “heart.”

Hachi is the polar opposite of Nana. While Nana had a harsh life, Hachi had a very happy life. She is one of the people that provides the comic relief to the series. In dressing up, Hachi wears usually normal clothes. As Nana thinks with her brains, Hachi tends to think with her emotions. Thus, she is called Hachi because she acts like an affectionate puppy. She is the type to fall in love easily. Originally, Hachi went to Tokyo because her boyfriend and her two friends moved their a year earlier. Early on, Hachi and her boyfriend break up after the latter cheats on her. Thus, Hachi's main goal is to find love.

As the story progresses, through character interactions, their two goals end up converging to create the singular storyline. One cannot forget the other characters that are crucial to Nana's storyline.

BLAST -

BLAST or “Black Stones” play important major and support characters to Nana and eventually help build up Hachi as a character. This is the band that Nana is apart of. Members of BLAST aren't introduced until several episodes into the first half of the series. Asides from Nana, the members of BLAST consist of: Nobuo “Nobu” Terashima, Shinichi “Shin” Okazaki, and Yasushi “Yasu” Takagi.

Nobu is the guitarist of Blast and the first person to make friends with Nana when she was in high school. It was due to Nobu that Nana was able to appreciate rock music. If it wasn't for Nobu, the Nana wouldn't have had the goal to become a famous singer. Thus, Nobu is one of the important linchpins of the story. Unlike Nana, who had a hard life, Nobu comes from a rich family as they own an inn. This puts him at odds with Nana as the former has the inn to fall back on and the latter has nothing to fall back on.

Shin is the bass player for BLAST in which the previous position belonged to Nana's boyfriend Ren. He becomes an important support character to Hachi and the members of Trapnest. To Hachi, Shin is like the child she always wanted. Despite his very young age, Shin is one of the most controversial members of the series. While young, Shin has an understanding of how the world works. He has the guts to do things other people are hesitant to do. One of the ways he is controversial is that he moonlights as a male prostitute.

Yasu, the percussionist, serves as the band's leader. His is usually cool, collected, and businesslike. Without Yasu, the band wouldn't be able to get anywhere in the anime. Thus, Yasu is the linchpin to the members of BLAST. While Shin is controversial, Yasu is one of the most conflicted characters of the series because he has feelings for Nana; but, he values Ren's friendship and Nana views him as a big brother. In the story, he's training to be a lawyer.

Trapnest -

Trapnest is the band that is rivals to BLAST. This band plays a very important role to establishing the back histories of Nana and the members of BLAST. Due to the various character relations, the members of BLAST and Trapnest are fated to be joined together as business rivals and close friends. Trapnest consists of Ren Honjo, Reira Serizawa, Takumi Ichinose, and Naoki Fujieda.

Ren is the former bassist to BLAST and the current guitarist to Trapnest. He is the boyfriend of Nana. When Ren moved to Tokyo, he broke it off with Nana due to the problem of a long-distance relationship; but, he still harbored feelings for Nana and vice versa. He is pretty much the one character that has the least amount of drama. The drama comes from Ren wanting to get back together with Nana.

Reira is the lead singer of Trapnest. She is the most important member of Trapnest as all the songs revolve around her singing. Without Reira, Trapnest wouldn't exist. At first, she seems all innocent and drama-free; but, as the series progress, she too ends up in controversy due to being with Shin. While having feelings for Shin, she has feelings for Takuki.

Takumi is the bassist and leader of Trapnest. So far, his role is the same as Yasu in the series. However, he and Yasu are complete opposites but think alike in a business manner. In a sense, Takumi can come off as the “villain” later on in the series. He can come off as a controlling and manipulative playboy. But, he's the type that understands the music industry and knows that he has to play his cards right to ensure Trapnest maintains its success.

Naoki does not play any significance other than the person who is clueless about everything. He is one of the comic relief characters in the series.

Other Characters -

The final three characters are Junko Saotome, Kyosuke Takakura, and Shoji Endo.

Junko is the best friend to Hachi. In the anime, with the omake episodes, she is known to break the 4th wall. Like Nana, Junko is a person who is no-nonsense. As a true best friend, Junko is not above scolding Hachi. She can be hard on Hachi because she cares for her. In the series, Junko is studying to be an artist.

Kyosuke is Junko's boyfriend as he shares an apartment with her. Like Yasu, Kyosuke is laid back and perceptive; but, he can be seem as a slacker that babies Hachi too much. Like Junko, Kyosuke is also studying to be an artist.

Shoji is Hachi's eventual ex-boyfriend. He's an art student and waiter. While in Tokyo, Shoji's feelings for Hachi started to fade and found love with his co-worker Sachiko. He doesn't appear much in the anime after the affair is revealed.

Music:

As Nana is a rock n' roll themed drama, the music plays a crucial role in the story. The opening and ending songs are performed by Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia Lufkin. These same songs are also performed throughout the anime. When Nana sings in the anime, the vocals are performed by Anna Tsuchiya; when Reira sings in the anime, the vocals are performed by Olivia Lufkin.

There are three opening things and six ending themes:

OP 1: “Rose” by Anna Tsuchiya

OP 2: “Wish” by Olivia Lufkin

OP 3: “Lucy by Anna Tsuchiya

ED 1: “A Little Pain” by Olivia Lufkin

ED 2: “Rose” by Anna Tsuchiya, for only Episode 9

ED 3: “Starless Night” by Olivia Lufkin

ED 4: “Kuroi Namida” by Anna Tsuchiya

ED 5: “Winter Sleep” by Olivia Lufkin

ED 6: “Stand By Me” by Anna Tsuchiya

There are two Nana soundtracks available with one soundtrack called “ANNA inspi' NANA ~Black Stones~” in which Tsuchiya performs the vocals and the other called “OLIVIA inspi' REIRA ~Trapnest~” in which Lufkin performs the vocals.

Overall Review:

Nana is one of the best anime series out there. If you enjoy mature storytelling in animated form, this is something to get. This anime series appeals to those who have a love of rock 'n roll culture, anime in general, female character driven stories, and so forth, definitely pick up this series. It has a storyline and a cast in which many people can relate to.

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