NANA was one of the first anime I ever watched, this was almost ten years ago. It made me realize that I wanted to watch more anime and see what other series and genres were out there for me to discover. With the recent release of the final issue of ROLA Fashion Magazine, in which the creator of NANA, Ai Yazawa, says she wants to finish the NANA manga which has been on hiatus since 2009, it was definitely time to write a review of the anime!
The anime was released in 2006 and was produced by Madhouse. They are also known for Death Note, High School of the Dead and One Punch Man, among others. The mangaka, behind the eponymous manga that NANA is based on, is also known for manga like Paradise Kiss and Gokinjo Monogatari.
NANA follows the daily lives of two girls, Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki, who both end up going to Tokyo each for their own reasons. Their fateful encounter on the train is only the start of their adventure together. They discover they have more in common than just the obvious and become friends, they even end up living together.
Nana Komatsu is a girl who came to Tokyo to follow her boyfriend, Shouji Endo. He moved there a year ago to go to Tokyo art college. Nana is hoping to find her true calling in Tokyo. She is a pretty naïve girl who lets her emotions guide her actions and very quickly becomes very dependent on the people close to her.
Her namesake, Nana Osaki, on the other hand is a proud and independent punk rock vocalist, who wants to become a professional singer. This was her reason to come to Tokyo, she even left her band BLAST for which she was the lead vocalist behind, to try to achieve her dream.
Their interaction is the main focus point of the anime. And it all starts with Nana Komatsu falling forward onto Nana Osaki’s lap, because the train suddenly stops. After this happens they end up talking to one another and once Nana Osaki gives her the green light to talk about herself, Nana Komatsu keeps going on and on about her boyfriend. While Nana Osaki can be mean to her at times, they clearly care for one another and quickly form a strong bond. They go through a lot together, growing closer and closer together.
The other characters in the series include future and past love interests of both girls. This makes for some interesting conflicts and drama. A lot of the characters have a pretty elaborate background story, as do both Nana’s.
When it comes to character design there was clearly a lot of effort put into this. Both Nana’s look very different from one another and their looks embody their personalities well. The other characters in the series are all clearly identifiable and have their own personal styles.
Drama, comedy, music, romance, shoujo and slice of Life are the genres of this anime. All of them together describe the anime pretty well. The anime mostly has a lot of drama and romance, which can sometimes move you to tears. Despite all this drama there is a good doses of comedy present in this anime as well.
The drawing style in this anime is pretty similar to that of the manga, which is a plus for people who liked the manga. Personally I appreciated how different the drawing style is compared to other anime. The animation is a bit lacking in some scenes, there are for instance a few slow motion moments where not much happens. These are meant to be dramatic, usually narrated, scenes. Whenever the view is zoomed out the details quickly vanish, which makes the characters look a bit ugly.
The music used in this anime fits the themes and storyline of it well. Both bands in the series have their own style, which are very recognizable. Nana Osaki’s band BLAST, or Black Stones, has songs by Anna Tsuchiya and Trapnest’s songs were made by Olivia Lufkin, also known as OLIVIA. This music is also used in the intros and outros of NANA. The lyrics and images of the intros and outros embody the genres and the storyline well.
NANA will always hold a place in my heart as it was one of the first anime I watched that I actually liked. Looking back now there were a few flaws; like the animation and drawing style being a bit inconsistent in quality at times. The storyline focusses on the drama aspect quite a bit, but that is one of the main genres. If you don’t like drama or any of the other genres, I wouldn’t recommend you watch NANA. The overall storyline is fun to watch and the backgrounds of all the characters are worked out well.
Since I re-watched the anime for the purpose of this review, my view might be different from when I first watched it almost ten years ago. For instance: the flaws in the animation stand out to me more now because I already know the story. It might not stand out to someone else.
If you can’t get enough of NANA after the anime then don’t worry! It was also adapted into two live action movies in 2006 and as I mentioned before: there’s also the manga.
Started airing: 5th of April 2006
Number of episodes: 47