Nana Komatsu is intent on moving to Tokyo to finally reunite with her boyfriend who moved there one year ago. While she's got a bad history with men (falling for any guy who gives her attention), she's going to try to make it work this time.
Nana Osaki is moving to Tokyo to start up a band and make a name for herself as a singer. A year ago her boyfriend left her to join a successful band named Trapnest. Nana O. chose her pride as a musician over her happiness as a woman and did not follow him. Now she's intent on making it on her own.
Two women with the same name were brought together by chance, but will form a lasting friendship. Even though they only lived together for a summer, neither of them would have made it without the other.
Simply put, Nana is one of the best dramas anime has to offer. Nana could just as well be a live action series (two movies have been made so far), but the anime does a much better job at capturing the witty humor of the manga. For an anime which is thick in drama, Nana has a well paced story from start to finish. I find it hard to believe a movie could really capture the feel of the series with such short time constraints.
The two contrasting characters of the Nanas may seem like a gimmick, but they work so well because they are believable people. Their views, outlook and approach differ, but this doesn't mean that they are a total mystery to one another. They at least try to understand one another, and support each other in their friendship. Being vibrant and believable is something that cascades through the entire cast. Even the least developed of them are quite solid. The secondary characters are by no means peripherals, and nearly everyone introduced plays an important role in the story. Some of the best demonstrations of friendship shown in this title don't even come from the Nanas. The characters in Nana are as good as they come.
This anime never drops the ball with lack of gripping content from start to finish. Around episode 30 there is a key development that drives everyone apart and changes nearly everything. Both of the Nanas want to talk to each other, but don't know how. As the ending drew near it didn't seem like anything was going to be resolved in a way I'd find satisfactory. In the last two episodes, Nana K. has a chance encounter that seems out of place, but summerizes her downward spiral in a brilliant way. The Nana manga isn't finished yet, and it's unclear if it will continue, however as things are wrapped up here, no one is left to a bitter end and everything is mostly fine. The series doesn't end on a bad note, nor does it feel particularly open ended. It's implied that everyone is going in a better direction.
The music is supposed to be punk, but is really more pop/rock. I'm really impressed with the music overall, and how much attention was paid to the soundtrack. Not just because the music is good (and it is), but how it integrates into the show. The Black Stones (Blast) music is performed by Anna Tsuchiya who does a great job with the more edgy feel to the music. Likewise the music of Trapnest is performed by Olivia. The Trapnest songs are supposed to be composed in a way that is accessible, and draws out the voice of the vocalist - and they really sound that way too. While both are rock bands, you can tell the difference between them musically by listening to them. The lead singers, Nana and Reira; actually feel like the soul of their respective bands. The story is the main draw for the show, so this is something which could have been easily glossed over, but I'm in awe that the song composition is so focused and consistent with the band image. This show truly excels with its music.
As a drama, Nana doesn't have particularly strong animation as it's not required. I found the character designs to be attractive after becoming accustomed to the lanky character style. It does pull off a nice visual from time to time, so it's not without a little eye candy. The DVD is offered as "uncut" but I can't seem to find any info on what exactly was cut. It's pretty obvious it was sex related so I don't suppose knowing details matters. There's no explicit sex, but people are in bed together a lot (do the math). As an anime with a mature focus, this isn't exactly a surprise.
In summary I liked Nana a lot. Sure it's essentially an anime soap opera, but I'll be damned if they didn't do a bang up job with it! The characters, their friendships, the well told story and LOTS of great drama all add up to an exceptional title. Looking back, I also like how it managed to end on a good note. There are some really good life lessons in Nana, but it doesn't go out of the way to preach either. One of the best anime titles out there, that's worth checking out.
Nana K ends up with the nickname "Hachiko". Having two girls together with the same name is confusing, but Nana O. decides that Nana K.'s love of attention is similar to that of a dog. Hachiko was a famous dog in Japan, who used to wait at the train station each day for his master. The man passed away, but Hachiko faithfully waited each day at the train station for many years. After Hachiko's death, a statue was erected in Tokyo which became a popular meeting spot for dates. Coincidentally "nana" is how seven is pronounced in Japanese, while "hachi" is how eight is pronounced, so these names are also a play off numbers.
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