NANA is an anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name that was written and illustrated by Ai Yazawa. The show focuses on women who are both named Nana but are the complete opposites of each other. Nana Komatsu is a needy person who lacks confidence and is unlucky in love. Nana Osaki is an independent, ambitious and confident young woman with dreams of becoming a pop star.
Komatsu decides to relocate to Tokyo after a series of failed relationships and is hoping to reconcile with her boyfriend Shouji. Osaki is moving to Tokyo to further her career as a punk singer and they meet on the same train. The young women find out they live in the same room in the apartment and the story follow the lives and adventures of the two girls with the same name but vastly different personalities.
It is one of the longest anime I've watched, second to Golgo 13 as of now with about 47 episodes. The first five episodes were flashbacks on how the characters arrived at their current situation while episode 6 is just a recap and was totally unnecessary. The show can be pretty slow moving and scenes frequently tend to drag on.
The anime is mostly faithful to the original manga with some differences. Ren Honjou, Nana Osaki’s boyfriend was a heavy drug user in the manga, but in the anime, he is a smoker and an occasional drinker but he doesn’t use Heroin like he did in the manga. The anime also omits his death in an automobile accident.
The characters in the show are complicated to say the least. Nana Komatsu was by far one of the most annoying female leads I've seen. She is overly dramatic and can get upset at just about the slightest things. Her lack of confidence and dependency on others and inability to make her own decisions shows how unprepared she is for life. She's also a pushover who can’t take responsibility for her actions and almost always blames others when thing go awry. Her love interests range from narcissistic bad boys like Takumi to Shin a nice guy but too weak willed to really pursue a relationship with her.
Nana Osaki is a very calm, easy going, kind and introverted despite her punk look and attitude. She’s monogamous compared to Komatsu and is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend Ren. The relationship dynamics between Komatsu and Osaki was one of the biggest highlights of the show.
Very few characters in the show were not overly dramatic idiots. Yasushi Takagi
Is the leader of Ren’s band and is a very level headed, easy to talk to person who is focused on the band and keeping everyone on the same page. He also looks out for Nana Osaki.
Kyosuke Takakura is an art student and friend of Nana Osaki. He is calm and easy going and is a bit protective of Nana Komatsu. His girlfriend Junko however, is less sympathetic as she blames Komatsu for dating cheaters.
The comedy is a bit repetitive and much of it draws from either Komatsu’s overreactions every few seconds to Osaki’s overly possessive nature. The series is notable for its realistic approach to life and romance. It shows the unexpected pitfalls of life like unexpected financial issues, relationships drama and setback in achieving career goals. It is very easy for characters to break up but very hard for any reconciliation. Band member infighting, the pain of infidelity, relationships ebb and flow are all there in the series. It shows the fallout of real life issues.
The animation was bland and stiff but it did make up with the art and the stylish character designs. The environmental design did not mesh with the punkish feel of the series and it left a lot to be desired. The musical score was by far one of the best aspects of the show. Its heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols and its very emotionally driven and the opening and ending animation has some really good music to listen to. The voice acting was good for the most part. Some characters came across as hammy and over dramatic. In spite of that, the dialogue was really good. There were unresolved plot threads that is mainly due to the manga being on hiatus of creator Ai Yazawa’s illness.
The anime is overall a really good series.
It gets 4 out of 5 stars.
There is actually plans for a second and final season but Madhouse is currently on standby until the manga is finished. I am looking forward to the series resumption.