Viz Media // 2006 // 270 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // October 29th, 2009
I'm just a singer in a rock 'n roll band.
Two girls with the same first name meet on a train en route to Tokyo. Marooned in a snowstorm, they get to know one another over a few beers, before arriving at the station and going their separate ways. Nana Osaki wants nothing more than to succeed with her music, while Nana Komatsu has followed her boyfriend like a loyal puppy. One of the girls is quiet, self assured, and talented. The other is emotionally unstable, rejected by every arts college in Tokyo, and talks a mile a minute. It was a given that both would meet again, and wind up sharing an apartment.
Nana is not at all what I would typically expect from anime. Sure, some of the conventions are there -- particularly when Nana K gets her mouth going -- but the narrative is surprisingly grounded and pretty well realized. The show takes its time unfolding, and really gives you what you need to become emotionally invested in the lives of the two titular leads.
The first episode sets the scene, before flashing back for the next handful of episodes, giving us a look at the last 12 months of each girl's life before their respective moves to Tokyo -- from Nana K's relationship misfortunes and meeting her latest boyfriend, to Nana O's rock 'n roll experiences with her bass player other half. After that, the series settles into its groove, as the Nanas learn about each other and how to live together, each aspiring to further their own lives. The supporting cast is solid and, while they don't get the attention the Nanas do, they're a well written bunch that bucks the typical anime trend.
Outside of the cultural influences that come with the Japanese setting and the anime medium, Nana could easily pass for your average weekly teen drama. Beyond that, the writing somehow feels more real than the typical American TV drivel. The characters seem less glamorized and more real, as though they were written by someone who's lived the lives of one or both of the Nana characters. There's no attempt at shoehorning pop culture or mainstream appeal to compromise the narrative.
The show comes with a "Suggested for Mature Audiences" tag, but the content is more subjective than explicit. Sure the subject matter is mature, but the content not so much.
Viz has done a bang up job with this set. Nana's unique character designs translate well, and the animation provided by Studio Mad House (Ninja Scroll) is top notch for series animation. Viz's transfer is perfect, with no visual issues whatsoever. The English and Japanese audio tracks, presented in 2.0 surround, also sound great, adding some "oomph" to the show's great music.
Extras are sparse, but substantial. The interview with Director Morio Asaka runs about 10 minutes, and there's a slide show to peruse. Outside of that you get the usual textless opening and closing. I also appreciate the guitar pick that was tucked into the package. Very fitting.
Nana and all involved are acquitted and free to go.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Viz Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 270 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Art Gallery
* Textless Open/Close
* Guitar Pick