the Little Red Reviewer

Nana, volumes 1 & 2, by Ai Yazawa

Posted on: November 2, 2010

Welcome to Graphic Novel November! A month of graphic novels, manga, and other illustrated fun! Check the main Graphic Novels / Manga page for the full list of reviews and other fun stuff.

One of the best selling shojo titles, Ai Yazawa’s Nana follows two friends along their path to their dreams. Sometimes the path to your dream takes the long way around, and as Yazawa loves to remind us, sometimes what you thought you wanted isn’t want you really wanted at all. Full of friendship, partying, fashion and drama, you can’t help but fall in love with Nana and Nana. I usually say “I don’t like any of that girly crap”, and then I read some Ai Yazawa, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff.

We spend the first half of Nana Vol 1 getting to know Nana Komastu, a 19 year old love hungry teenager. After spending all of high school falling in love with any guy who would give her a second glance, Nana wants to start fresh. She attends a technical art school (in western terms, this would be a community college or vo-tech school) with her best friend Junko, and instantly falls for the handsome Shoji. But Nana is self centered, clueless, disorganized, and a horrible student. For Nana, “school” is all about drinking and partying, so it comes as no surprise to anyone but her when she doesn’t get into any Tokyo art universities. As her relationship with Shoji starts to fall apart, and Junko prepares to leave for art school in Tokyo, Nana is afraid to be left behind in their home town. Her and Shoji try to make the long distance relationship thing work, and when the time is right, she’ll do her best and move to Tokyo!

Meanwhile, Nana Osaki is the polar opposite of Nana Komatsu. Proud, brash, and a high school drop out, Nana O sings with her band the Black Stones (also known as Blast), lives with her bass playing boyfriend Ren, and dreams of making it big in Tokyo. Blast is rounded out by Nobu on guitar, and law student Yasu on drums. Everything with Blast is going great, but the band needs direction. When Ren is recruited by rival band Trapnest, he moves to Tokyo to join up and get signed with the record company. But Nana is too proud to follow him. She wants to go to Tokyo for her own reasons, not just to follow some guy. She’ll go when the time is right, but not because she’s following him.

Volume 2 – one year later. Shoji has been in Tokyo for a year and finally gotten into Art School. Nana buys a one way train ticket that night to go be with him. On the train she sits next to a beautiful dark haired punk, a woman whose also named Nana. But Shoji picks her up at the train station in Tokyo, and she forgets about the beautiful punk on the train. By the next morning, things are already awkward with Shoji. Nana just can’t seem to relax, she’s not sure if she wants to be a housewife or an independent woman, and Shoji wasn’t planning on having her crash with him for more than a few days. The two of them just can’t figure out where this relationship is going. Nana sets out to find a job and an apartment, and is shown a beautiful, 7th floor two bedroom. There’s someone else looking at the same apartment, and it’s Nana, the punk from the train! On a lark, they decide to become roommates. Nana O finds Nana K’s childish antics hilarious, and Nana K has finally found someone to look up to, someone she’s in no danger of falling in love with.

Too many Nana’s, you think? Nana O thinks so too, and starts calling her roommate Hachi, and the name sticks. (in Japanese, “nana” means seven, and “hachi” means eight. Hachi was also the name a loyal dog in a tv show, a little like Lassie. The Nana manga is full of puns, some of which are explained, others not so much)

Nana O swears there’s nothing between her and her friend Yasu, the drum playing sunglasses and suit wearing skinhead (he looks like a Yakuza!), but there isn’t anything he won’t do for her, including co-signing her lease. While they’re furnishing the apartment, Hachi puts a huge Trapnest poster up in her bedroom. It seems like no matter where Nana goes, she just can’t escape Ren.

For the first time in her life, everything is going wonderful for Nana K – she’s found a great apartment, a job, she has cool friends, a cooler roommate and a totally hot boyfriend. Everything is perfect.

Or is it? The first few volumes of Nana might be saccharine sweet, but when the  drama and heartbreak ramps up, boy does it ramp up! Stay tuned for more Nana, later this week, or next week!

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2 Responses to "Nana, volumes 1 & 2, by Ai Yazawa"

That sounds like a great series – I’m definitely going to find the series to read! Thanks for the review. :)

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be careful. . if you read Nana, everything else you pick up will seem like crap.

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