Monday, September 3, 2007

Two girls called Nana

Valentina recommended this manga series in her comments to my review of xxxHOLIC #9 a few weeks ago, and I thought I'd check it out. When I read in the end notes of the book that Nana is "the all-time best-selling shojo title from Japanese publishing giant Shueisha," I was curious to see what all the fuss was about

I think I will need to read a few more in the series to get a real feel for this one. This book is divided into two sections, each about a girl named Nana. The first Nana, Nana Komatsu, is just graduating from high school. She is the sort of girl who falls in love with anyone with a handsome face, no matter how unrealistic the idea of a relationship might be: the video store guy, the pizza delivery guy, a teacher at school, a kind but married man. She hilariously blames her bad luck at love to being cursed by "the Demon King."

The disastrous ending to her last relationship has made her determined to try actually becoming friends with a boy before entering into a romantic partnership with him. So, although she thinks Shoji is a total hottie, she is determined to keep him at a distance - even though it quickly becomes clear that they are crazy about each other. But can their relationship withstand Nana's determination to be just friends? I particularly liked Nana's relationship with her best friend, Junko, whose wisdom and caustic wit help keep Nana on the right track. This story was an interesting look at the way girls, especially (but unfortunately not limited to) teens, tend to define themselves according to the boy they are with. I appreciated Nana's attempts to break away from this mentality.

The second Nana story follows Nana Osaki, singer in a popular band in her town. She is romantically involved with sexy fellow band member Ren, and they appear to have a strong, positive relationship. The problem is that Ren has been asked to join a band in Tokyo that has just signed on with a record label, but there is no need for a singer, so Nana is going to stay behind, still hoping for her big break. What kind of future, if any, can she hope to have with Ren? Again, it was interesting to watch this Nana struggle with those decisions that many women must face about which dreams they want to follow.

My reading tastes tend to run to the fantastical and otherworldly (and manga series like XXXholic and Cardcaptor Sakura), but I do occasionally enjoy something a bit more realistic (like Mars by Fuyumi Soriyo). Nana has an interesting depth of theme and characterization that have piqued my interest and made me want to read about the further adventures of Nana and Nana.

Nana, Vol. 1 by Ai Yazawa (Viz Media. 1999)

4 comments:

  1. I can't believe you actually went and read it!cool:)
    You know,when I started reading Nana I wasn't blown away. I collected few issues then read them all in one go and that's when I really got the feeling of the story.The characters grew on me and I started to love the atmosphere that the girls and their friends create in their flat. I think I'm a bit in love with dark Nana, while Hachi is a bit annoying at times but always very cute. I've stopped buying it because I don't live in Italy and anytime I go back I can't find the back issues cause they sold out so fast! I always go "Hey, do you do back issues of your comics?" "Ah yeah, what do you want?" "Nana" "ah no, none left" :(

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  2. Oh, that's too bad - I hate when I can't get my fix of a series I'm into! I'll keep my eye open for any donations at my library - if we can't use them in the collection, I'll buy them from our used book sale and send them to you. Thanks for recommending the series!

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  3. hello,
    well personlly I found the series idiotice but, simply hilurious watching Nana honestly, she acts like shes 4.
    oh, she really has a dark side I,d love to see that oh, but I like Nana,s roomate shes so cool.
    oh, and I love the intro its ausome,
    though what iv,e seen its just a story about countless relationships with freinds boyfreinds and girlfreinds yah if I wanted to see that, i,d called up my friends. no iam auctully looking for something a bit more complex then that.
    like stated before its very hard to interest me.any suggestines for a series or book.
    oh also you do realize its also a telivised series, can be found on imeem,youtube or, veoh and if they don,t have it, just type it up on any search engine, try google.

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  4. No, I didn't know it was a TV series, too - I don't watch much television! My library only has the first two volumes so far, so I have to wait to see how it goes.

    As far as suggestions go, did you mean other manga or traditional books, too? One of my favorites is Charles de Lint (not manga, though). He does lots of short story collections - you could try one of those to see how you like it.

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