I’ve been away from MangaKast for a little while because I fell into all 21 volumes of Nana, a rock and roll romantic tragedy about two women with the same name.
Yeah, it’s been over a week and I’m only just now coming up for air.
Wow, what a ride. I went into it happy to have found another mild slice-of-life story, and by the end I was like, “Wā! Such a soap opera! It can’t end like this!!!”
Of course, when I started Nana, I thought it was complete at 21 volumes, (this will teach me to do my research after picking up a series; I should have learned after Kill la Kill!) Instead, the story skids–almost literally–to an end. According to Wikipedia, Nana went on an ‘indefinite hiatus’ due to Yazawa-sensei’s illness. Wikipedia seems to imply that the story could continue, but there’s been nothing since 2009.
Which is a shame, because I ended up really enjoying this one… despite myself.
I wouldn’t have thought a sappy romance story about a Japanese rock band would be for me, but, what can I say? I’ve been such a sucker for this kind of thing lately.
The meet-cute for Nana is based on the title: two women with the same name, who meet, by accident (or is it fate?) on the train to Tokyo. Both of them are headed out to start a new life in the big city. Nana “Hachi” Komatsu, our main character, is following after a boyfriend… something she does a lot. Nana Osaki is striking off to start a career in music…sort of also following a boy, but also not.
I shouldn’t like either of these women. Both of them are really fairly dependent on their men/the men in their lives, but I ended up really liking their friendship… and the resulting emo/drama.
Nana Komatsu gets her nickname from Hachiko–the famously loyal dog. In the end, she earns that nickname in a powerful way, but initially Hachi is more like the yappy annoying dog that follows Nana around. Which is weird, since Hachi is the main character. We start the story with her and her love-at-first-sight problems, and she remains the narrator throughout, even when the action is more focused on the rock star drama.
And, OMG, the rock star drama.
Nana Osaki is a troubled woman. Her boyfriend Ren was the bass player in the band she started in high school, “Black Stones” (“Blast,” for short). She and Ren are very much modeled on the punk rock icons, Sid and Nancy, complete with drug addiction. Except in this, Ren leaves Nana’s band to become the bassist for a more successful group that already has a record label, “Trapnest.” Determined to beat “Trapnest” on the charts, Nana moves to Tokyo and reforms “Blast” without Ren.
Hachi’s part in all this is to be an early fan, a supporter through tough times. That is, until she randomly sleeps with the guitar player from Ren’s band, a guy called Takumi… and gets pregnant. Even though, she was kind of seeing someone in Nana’s band, a kid called Nobu.
You see the soap opera drama?
Yeah, and like I said, I totally got addicted to each twist and turn. I can see how this series became a best-selling shoujo title, even though the main character is stuck in kind of an awful situation, since she ends up marrying Takumi, despite him being a womanizer and a cold-fish and Hachi still mostly loving Nobu best. I say “mostly,” because this is josei, so Hachi kind of loves the one she’s with, even though that’s not at all a satisfying story. (This is why josei drives me crazy.)
There’s this huge push-pull between Ren and Nana that’s never resolved. Speaking of things I hate about ‘josei,’ a random car accident happens and a major character dies and then people disappear and no one is happy, THE END.
To be fair to Yazawa-sensei, she didn’t necessarily intend to leave it where she did. You could see, however, from the flash-forwards she started giving us several chapters before the hiatus, that she’d planned for the tragedy and its aftermath. So, it’s safe to say that this josei ended much like the other one that famously burned me, Kids on the Slope.
Yet, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the ride in both instances. So, would I recommend it? Yep. Just be prepared to get to the end and have this reaction:
I literally spent this morning while doing the dishes (a time I usually watch anime), starting out the window with an expression much like the usually unflappable Takumi (the guy with the dark, long hair). Internally, I had Kobu’s expression, because what happens in this manga is legitimately traumatizing.
Good story, though. Really not my usual, but it was very good none-the-less.
If you prefer to watch rather than read, you have two choices. There was a live-action movie made as well as an anime. (The Hulu link said it was unavailable for me and I didn’t try out the KissAnime link, so I can’t vouch for the quality/availability of either of them.)