Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Nana

Title: Nana (2000)
Author(s): Yazawa Ai
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
Volumes: 21 (publishing/hiatus)

Nana Komatsu is a young woman who's endured an unending string of boyfriend problems. Moving to Tokyo, she's hoping to take control of her life and put all those messy misadventures behind her. She's looking for love and she's hoping to find it in the big city.

Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is cool, confident and focused. She swaggers into town and proceeds to kick down the doors to Tokyo's underground punk scene. She's got a dream and won't give up until she becomes Japan's No. 1 rock'n'roll superstar.

This is the story of two 20-year-old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends. The world of Nana is a world exploding with sex, music, fashion, gossip and all-night parties. (Source: VIZ Media)

When I was first venturing into manga more seriously, Nana was a series I've heard many girls talk about. Whether it was the movie, the music, the manga, or the anime series, I knew it was a popular franchise that nearly every girl was interested in and enjoyed. Naturally, I wanted to see what the hype was about, so I've added each medium to my various lists. Eventually, I would start somewhere and, at the moment, I've only covered the manga series with plans of watching the movies and anime. I was almost tempted not to do a review as the manga is still in limbo status. The mangaka Ai Yazawa was in the hospital ill for quite some time and in April 2010, she returned back to her home, revealing that she was unsure when she would be returning to the series. This lengthy hiatus has left a huge cliffhanger for fans and newcomers alike. I'm assuming the closest thing to closure on the series are the movies and anime. So, here we are with a review on an incomplete series that I'm, and many others, are hoping to have some sort of resolution in the near future.

Nana is a series driven by its characters. It can be a challenge to balance multiple subplots and characters as effortlessly as Ai Yazawa displays in this series. The story takes a typical premise of a small town girl moving to a big city and adapting to life in a new surrounding with a totally different set of people. The story simultaneously puts these two Nanas as our main characters while branching off with other characters dealing with their own individual struggles. Since the series currently has 21 volumes and [hopefully] still going, it has plenty of time to develop its characters and give the reader enough background to have a clear consensus. Honestly, it's impossible not to feel something for these characters, whether you like them or not. Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki have an admirable bond between each other. Their relationship with Nana Osaki's bandmates and even the "rival" band is entertaining, fun, and very well developed.

Since the series heavily depends on its characters, it's very easy to become attached to them, like 'em or hate 'em. There's plenty of ups and downs and the story doesn't drag on certain plot points for too long either. The story also doesn't forget its characters' past accomplishments or obstacles they had to face. The story really depends on the characters' growth as well as their relationships with each other. Because you get to spend so much time with these wonderful characters, it's almost depressing that the series on hiatus. Of course, there are a couple ways to cope until Ai Yazawa gets back into the studio which is to watch either or both the anime and movies. I know that's something I'll be doing eventually.

I know I didn't say too much about the art, but the visuals are good and flow well with the action, from live performances to traumatic or triumphant emotions. Nana is a very entertaining and heart tugging kind of story with amazing characters that help the reader experience the ups and downs along with them. No matter if you're male or female, I highly recommend this series, despite it being on a rather lengthy and unfortunate hiatus. I'm looking forward to joining these characters again in another medium and hopefully we don't have to wait too long for another installment of the manga.

Rating: 4.5/5

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