Gabe Finally Watches: Nana

Nana tells the story of two 20-year-olds named Nana that have a chance encounter on a train to Tokyo—probably the most American-style setup for a josei I’ve ever seen. And the Western influence doesn’t stop there. From the apartment the two end up sharing, to the burger/bar the girlier Nana frequents, nearly everything about the series makes a point of distancing itself as far from your typical Japanese dramas as possible.
nana gifThat said, if it weren’t for the fact that the series has been so well-received, I probably would have dropped it after the first three (incredibly misrepresentative) episodes.
Nana Komatsu (or “the girlier Nana”) is your textbook example of a bright eyed girl that romanticizes the city without thinking of any of the negative repercussions involved with moving there. And while it makes sense for the first few episodes to focus on her, considering the main demographic of readers are more than likely similar to her, she just makes for an overall pain to watch for anyone else watching. Her glass-half-full lifestyle and insistence that her problems are something to complain to her friends about, not to mention her boy-crazed inclinations are off-putting and obnoxious to say the least and made for a pretty awful first three episodes.

That’s not to say that Nana Osaki (or “rocker Nana”) isn’t as naïve. It’s just that her backstory is infinitely more engaging and her character has clearly been wrecked by the harshities of life that she gets a pass in her naivety. With her boyfriend abandoning her band to join another in Tokyo, rocker Nana travels to the big city not to win her old flame back, but to prove that she can make it on her own as a musician without the help of others.

It’s this clear “odd couple” mismatch of the Nanas that really makes the series. The mere sight of a crisply-dressed girl alongside a punked out girl shopping for furniture for their loft is as entertaining as it should be, and it’s a shame that not nearly enough of these scenes occur as you’d expect. Rather than balancing both Nanas’ stories, the series as a whole tends to focus solely on one Nana at a time, making for an especially rocky first episodes, since if you don’t like the Nana they first introduce you to, you may be tempted to quit watching before the second (*cough*far superior*cough) Nana even gets introduced. More often than not, the plot either focuses on girlie Nana’s boyfriend drama, or rocker Nana and her band’s drama, with any overlap between the two serving less as actual scenes, and more so as emotional baggage that better fleshes out the cast as a whole.

All faults considered though, it’s hard to deny that when the series is good, it’s good.

nana image

As the series progresses, you really begin to feel for the struggles both Nanas have to go through. Whether it be trying to make rent after being fired from a job, or getting enough hype from small-time gigs to attract record labels, you really empathize for both girls—getting bummed out when they fall, and cheering them on when they get back up.

Once each Nana begins to get a clear goal to aim for, however, it’s clear that reaching said goal means moving further apart from each other. To have the handful of moments with the two together and shooting the breeze in early episodes suddenly feels nostalgic in comparison to later episodes where the two are rarely even in the same scene. Actually taking a step back to see the progress of each girl is bittersweet, as you can see the number of “boats passing in the night” moments the two end up having. But hey… such is life.

For a series about making it big in the big city, Nana does an excellent job of properly pacing itself so that things don’t get too Hollywood too quickly. Even with their faults, both main girls are excellent in their own right, with an equally enticing supporting cast that not only better fleshes out to the drama, but adds on to it as well. Top tier josei material that I’m glad to have finally partaken in.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

2 Responses to Gabe Finally Watches: Nana

  1. Karandi says:

    Sounds like an interesting watch. I’ve seen the first episode but I didn’t stick with this one. Might be worth a revisit.

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