The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Nana

Title: Nana
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Company: Madhouse Studios/NANA Production Team/NTV/Shueisha/VAP
Format: 47 Episodes
Dates: 5 Apr 2006 – 28 Mar 2007

Synopsis: In order to chase after her boyfriend, Komatsu Nana decides to move to Tokyo. During a train trip to the city, she sits next to an enigmatic but beautiful woman carrying a guitar bag. Following a bit of small talk the two realize that they share the same given name, “Nana”. This chance encounter begins a cascade of events that intertwines these two people’s futures and hearts.

The Highlights
Characters: Oh so believable.
Comedy: Hits the mark with resounding force.
Drama: Genuinely heartfelt and powerful – albeit melodramatic at times.
Seiyuu: Simply astounding.

I’m about to say something that many of you will relate to but will never candidly admit: I live vicariously through anime characters. Yes, I know these characters are fictional and their tribulations are merely illusions created by a bunch of sweaty animators in cubicles (and, yes, I am seeking professional help). However, I can’t help but relate with some characters on a personal level. Fictional or not, there are some emotions that resonate on a universal level. As I watch a show, I sometimes get caught in the moment and think: “Hey, I‘ve felt those emotions before! I understand what they are going through!” While such feelings are rare, when I experience them I know that I’m watching something great.

Nana is a soap opera-esque series about two individuals with the same name but with two different directions in life. However, don’t expect the usual trite fanfare about love, friendship and triumph. While the show initially starts out as a mellow, often comedic slice of life anime, things quickly go awry as relationships break up and bonds fade. Life slaps hard, and the warmth from a friendly hand cannot dull the bitter sting. While it takes the show nearly half its run to build this delicate house of cards, the second half becomes a heartfelt tour de force. I’ve used the phrase “down to earth” to a point where I’m sure it has lost any meaning. I’ll tell you now that this show has some of the most believable characters since the likes of Honey and Clover, Planetes and Beck. It’s true that not everyone becomes rock stars, but I can seriously imagine some of these characters being my real life next door neighbors.

Madhouse Studios returns with its usual high quality animation, and the music is simply amazing, but it’s the seiyuu performance that takes the aesthetic cake. No matter how eloquently a script is written, lackluster voicing can kill the emotional impact behind the words. The voice actors for Nana fit the bill and then they take it to the next level. The exceptionally strong script is brought to life by these talented individuals in a way that sends chills down my spine. For me, it’s no surprise that the incredibly talented Hirano Aya (Suzumiya Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya(1,2)) lost out to Paku Romi (Osaki Nana) in the first Seiyuu Awards. Paku is able to manipulate even the most subtle vocal inflections resulting in a performance that feels like a real live person speaking from the bottom of her heart.

I firmly believe that Madhouse Studios makes some of the best manga-to-anime conversions in the industry and that Nana is no exception. The ending leaves the door wide open for a second season, but I am more than satisfied at the ride I’ve had. While not everyone will enjoy the amount of melodrama present, I say give Nana a try and see if it can sway your heart in the way it has done mine.

The Rating: 10
10/10

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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