Movie Review: NANA


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I, much like everyone else, totally love the manga series NANA. Honestly: How could you not love it? It’s beautiful girls, pretty boys, life, love and rock ‘n’ roll. I bought the first volume, read it, promptly bought the next two, and continued along that path until I caught up. Now, I am doomed to the fate of waiting for each new volume out every two months from Viz.

Movie adaptations of comics are usually uneven, no matter what the comic is. While they may have things in common, they are still two different mediums of storytelling. Still, I wanted to see the adaptation of NANA.

It did not disappoint.

I don’t know how they did it, but the casting is nearly perfect. Mika Nakashima brings a sweet toughness to Nana O. and Aoi Miyazaki is perpetually cheerful as Nana K. They are the characters from the comic. Hiroki Narimiya is a little bit more of a goof than the Nobu in the manga, but Tomoki Maruyama inhabits the ultra-cool Yasu in an almost impossible way.

The details that went into this adaptation are also amazing — the 707 apartment and stairwell are pulled straight from the manga and the awesomely cool wardrobe is dead-on to the the often preposteous clothes the characters wear in the comic.

So the movie gets all of those things right. But how it is?

I liked it quite a bit.

Both the lead actresses capture this vulnerability of being a young twentysomething. They are women who are just figuring out who they are. While boys come and go in their lives, it’s most definitely about our two Nanas finding themselves and growing in their friendship with each other. Nana O. is aloof and Nana K. is constantly sunny. They find what the other lacks in each other.

The music is also delightful. Nana O.’s band, the Black Stones, plays a poppy form of rock. It’s catchy and definitely something I can understand people falling in love with. Rival band Trapnest is halfway between speed metal and J-pop, which is pretty much how I imagined they sounded from reading the manga. I’m glad the music works well since this is a story about music. It may not be something I want to listen to all the time, but in the context of the movie, it works well.

The movie seems to go through about midway of volume 5 (at least in the Viz releases) but it’s a good place to end this story. I know there’s a second movie, but I liked where it left these characters, even though I know there’s heartbreak to come.

This is probably one of the better movie adaptations of a comic I’ve ever seen. It managed to touch the same emotions the manga does. I think it would work on its own, without knowledge of the comic itself.

(I know that Viz is planning on releasing the anime of NANA this year, and I can’t wait. I really can’t get enough of it.)

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