Rummanah Aasi
   Since I couldn't get my hands on the latest volumes of Afterschool Charisma or Black Butler from the library, I opted to try out another manga series. I had already read from the mystery, paranormal, historical fiction, and sci fi genres, but I haven't ventured out to contemporary fiction yet. I've seen Nana, which is hugely popular in Japan, on many bloggers and reader's favorite lists. I thought I would give the series a shot, since all volumes are published and for the most part readily available.

 Description (from back of the book): Nana Komatsu is a young woman who's endured an unending string of boyfriend problems. Moving to Tokyo, she's hoping to take control of her life and put all those messy misadventures behind her. She's looking for love and she's hoping to find it in the big city. Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is cool, confident and focused. She swaggers into town and proceeds to kick down the doors to Tokyo's underground punk scene. She's got a dream and won't give up until she becomes Japan's No. 1 rock'n'roll superstar.

 Review:  Nana is not only a departure from the genres, but also written differently from my current manga series. This series is based on the lives of two 20-something year old women, who happen to share the same name. These women come from two entirely different backgrounds and ways of thinking, but their similarities draw them together and they end up being best friends. What makes the Nana storyline unique is that the story is told through flashbacks that are interwoven in the present day. In the first volume of Nana, we are introduced to our main leads and how they both managed to move from their own towns to Tokyo.
   Nana K. is a carefree girl, who is completely boy crazy. She is in love with the idea of being in love and looking for it in all the wrong places. We aren't really surprised to learn that she had a passionate, affair with an older married man that left her cold and unwanted. She tries to start a new life by applying to an art college with her friend Jun. Of course upon entering class, she is instantly smitten by Shoji Endo, a friendly guy who knows Jun from Junior High. In order to save her friend from heartbreak once again, Jun advises that Nana should start things slowly and work her way up from friendship with Shoji, allowing the relationship to actually grow and evolve naturally. Thankfully, Nana takes the advice and vows not to jump head first into any relationships. This puts a cramp in Shoji's plans, however, who hopes to become something more right away. Things become even more complicated as this group of friends become close, especially after everyone but Nana is accepted into Tokyo's art school. Nana is determined to work hard join her friends later at Tokyo.

  Nana Osaki is the polar opposite of Nana K. Real and gritty, Nana lives with her boyfriend and band mate Ren Honjo. Being the lead singer of her punk band and working with the love of her life has filled the void Nana had felt since childhood. She grew up apart from her parents, alone and unwanted. Nana's comfort zone is suddenly shaken when Ren reveals he has been offered to join a popular, successful group by joining another band as their bassist in Toyko, and he decides to take it without speaking to her about it. Nana decides to wait until she is better prepared to follow Ren, but in the end she packs her bags and heads off to Tokyo and leaves her remaining bandmates to question about the future of Blast, their band.

 Out of the two Nanas, I was instantly drawn to the no nonsense attitude of Nana Osaki. She is definitely the more independent one of the two. While it I rolled my eyes quite a lot while reading Nana K.'s section, I found her naivety, optimism, and romantic viewpoint of the world charming. While the characters don't meet in this volume, I can see how they complement each other and why they would become best friends.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: This manga is a Josei, targeted to older women (ages 18 to 30). It is rated for older teens and contains smoking, drinking, nudity, and small sex scenes. Recommended for older mature teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Nana Vol 2 by Ai Yazawa
8 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    This does sound like an interesting new manga - did you ever find yourself confused as to which Nana you were dealing with? Or was it pretty easy to tell them apart when you got into it? I think I would be drawn to independent Nana O. more as well:)

  2. @Jenny: No, they were both drawn very differently. Nana K. was girlie and had cute clothes. Nana O. had a grunge look with combat boots and several piercings. So yeah...very different in the looks department.

  3. I didn't even think this was a manga with the cover. This one really sounds like an interesting read. The 2 characters really seem to work off of each other. Very different personalities and yet bring something together. Like that.

  4. Bleuette Says:

    I've never gotten around to reading Nana because it seemed a little to dark toned for me but perhaps I should give it a try soon as you said, it definitely seems like something different.

    My Manga Monday Post

  5. If the two Nanas weren't so dissimilar, I'd probably get confused as to who was who. If I read this, I'd probably be wondering how the two of them met and became best friends the entire time so it's a little weird that that's not addressed.

  6. This actually sounds like a really interesting story. How many books are in this series or is it still going? It really sounds like a story I could follow. Great review of it!


  7. @Melissa: I do too. I'd never had guessed these two would be friends, best friends at that, but I'm curious to see how their friendship grows.

    @Maria: There are dark moments in the book and I'm sure later in the series, but I'm curious about contemporary Japan.

    @Z: We learn how they met in Volume 2 which I will review next week. Stay tuned!

    @Heather: The series is complete. There are 21 volumes all together plus there is an anime, which I hear is awesome but I won't watch it until I finish the books. :)

  8. Does this feel realistic? From the summary and your review, it sounds like a pretty realistic series. I'm always up for reading those. I like the more realistic kind like Skip Beat, but sometimes it gets too silly. I like reading truly realistic series.

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