Anime Review - Nana Complete Collection

Nana is a rather girly anime series which is based on a rather girly, smash hit manga series by Ai Yazawa. So what is it about this series that had me, a somewhat manly geek so enthralled?

"Two girls with the same name leave their old lives behind and come to Tokyo to start fresh. What adventures await these two hopeful young women under the bright lights of the big city? Nana Osaki wants nothing more than to make it big as the singer of a rock 'n' roll band, while Nana Komatsu wants to put her life in motion and get her new relationship off to a good start. When the two Nanas fall in love with the same apartment, they become roommates and then best friends, and the party has just begun!"

Everyone has known a girl like Nana Komatsu in their life, an incredibly sweet girl who consistently picks the wrong guy. It made me so uncomfortable watching Nana Komatsu put herself into romantic situations that had absolutely no hope of ending well. It was utterly squirm-worthy and equally engrossing. She is so incredibly innocent and optimistic, the complete opposite of Nana Osaki who is hardened and cynical, well so it seems at first. The character development in Nana is without a doubt the greatest part of the series. The series runs for a total of 47 episodes and at times feels rather slow, but in turn what we get is a relationship with a cast of characters that are extremely faithful to the source material.

The anime series is not very old, screening in Japan between 2006 and 2007 although it doesn't seem to have aged very well. It is not to the same sort of sharpness and vibrancy that you can normally expect from animation producers Madhouse. That said, it is much more aligned to what you would expect after reading Yazawa's manga. The colour palette used differs a great deal depending upon the situations that the characters find themselves in. Instead of settling for a generic hue for the entire series, Madhouse have doused Nana Komatsu in pastels while Osaki and her cohorts are dark and brooding. This all changes when the band hits the stage, then a beautiful light show takes off.

Musically, Nana shines. There were a number of CD's released based upon the manga series, anime series and live action films, all of which sold like hotcakes. Although the song list isn't quite as up tempo as you would expect from bands Trapnest and Black Stones but it is certainly a product of the times. This style of soft rock/pop was all over the Japanese single charts, so it comes as no surprise that series creators reflected this fact in Nana. For a series that is partially based upon the exploits of a girl in a rock band, music doesn't invade every single scene. Although this may seem like a small matter, it shows the skill that you would expect from such a successful director as Morio Asaka (Gunslinger Girl, Chobits). Instead of making music a focal point, he uses it as a tool to highlight character development than anything else.

Nana is a very girly series, without a doubt, and also a very mature series. There is a reasonable amount of sexual activity, all of which is handled in a tasteful manner as well as coarse language and some rather adult themes although nothing that you wouldn't find in the pages of Twilight. Regardless of how girly it may be, it is a beautiful piece of work with some of the best and most in depth character development that you will ever find in an anime series. The animated incarnation of Nana is every bit as deep and heart wrenching as it's manga namesake.  

Nana Complete Collection is available in an 8 disc DVD fat pack from Madman.

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