Important Importables Review: Nana Volume 1 by Ai Yazawa

June 26, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Nana Volume 1 by Ai Yazawa

Section: Reviews, Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Gear, Comics-and-Graphic-Novels

Hot Japanese Imports logo

Nana Vol 1 Ai Yazawa

Title: Nana Volume 1
Author: Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Release Date: December 6, 2005
Price: $8.99
Rating: Two thumbs up, 95/100, A, * * * * 1/2 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful art, realistic story and dialogue, interesting characters, both funny and dramatic moments, relationships between characters draw readers in.
Cons: Quite a bit of exposition, which may frustrate people who started with the anime or movie adaptation and want to just get into the story.
Note: The manga is rated “T+” for Older Teen readers and up, due to adult situations.

Nana didn’t start out as a worldwide phenomenon. It began simply, as a series running in the manga magazine Cookie. But there was something about the series, which focuses on the friendship between two girls with the same name and what happens when they meet in Tokyo chasing their dreams, that resonated with readers. The characters, the relationships, the interactions and the art connected with people and become something special.

Getting to know the two women named Nana.

The first volume of Nana is really divided into two segments. The first segment looks at Nana Komatsu, a middle child in a happy family who has had a number of failed romances. The most recent of said romances was with a married man, and ends just before her high school graduation. She’s obsessed with the idea of a fantastical demon lord that brings bad luck and punishment, just starting art school and not looking for love. Instead, she wants to recover from her former ways and make her first male friends instead.

In another town, further away, is a young woman named Nana Osaki. She’s the lead singer of a band named the Black Stones (BLAST), and performs with her boyfriend Ren and friends Yasu and Nobu. She comes from a broken home, was raised by her grandmother and all in all, had a pretty rough start to her life. Then, her friend Nobu introduced her to Ren. Their band is doing well and she’s happily living with the love of her life. But Ren has gotten the opportunity to join Trapnest, a band that’s going big, and is heading to Tokyo. So now she has to decide what course her life should follow.

All roads lead to Tokyo.

From reading the first volume of Nana, you’d never get any idea that the two heroines’ stories would intertwine. There’s a slight hint of foreshadowing at the end of each tale, but it’s very subtle and doesn’t even suggest that the two would meet and become friends. While that may sound dismaying, it’s actually quite a clever way of presenting things. This way, you spend volume 1 focusing on Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki’s separate origins without focusing on their forthcoming friendship. Instead, you get a sneak peek at two girls from totally different backgrounds, with different interests, and see how the two react to relationship changes.

While the writing is quite good, and Viz’s translation well done, what really draws you initially is Ai Yazawa’s art. Nana isn’t created in the typical, shojo manga style. Its presented in a more artistic and realistic manner, with a strong emphasis on style. The characters are fashionable, wearing cutting edge clothing. You could almost it a story, but also a snapshot of popular culture at the time the manga was written.

The first volume of Nana also lets readers know immediately that this is a story about relationships between the characters. It looks closely at friendship, like that between Nana Komatsu and Junko or the members of the Black Stones. It also takes a close at love, new and old, failed and successful. Yazawa uses Nana as a means to explore interactions, and see what people mean to one another.

An extended prologue that provides helpful background information.

The first volume of Ai Yazawa’s Nana is more an extended prologue, by the end of which the heroines and supporting characters feel like old friends. Though the magic of the story really starts to take effect in the second and third volumes, the first does an admirable job of setting the stage for all future events. It’s easy to see, even from this initial introduction, why Yazawa’s Nana has become one of the best known shojo mangas around the world, inspiring an anime, two live action movies, tribute soundtracks and three video games.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports talks about the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Two weeks ago Hot Japanese Imports reviewed the volume one of Alice in the Country of Hearts, the manga adaptation of the otome Heart no Kuni no Alice. Last week there was no I.I.

Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

Popularity: 1% [?]

Leave a Reply

Your Ad Here
Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wordpress themes