NANA Movie Review

Title:  NANA

Starring:  Mika Nakashima, Aoi Miyazaki, Ryuhei Matsuda, Tomomi Maruyama,  Tetsuji Tamayama

Publisher:  Viz Pictures

ISBN:  1934244112

May Contain Spoilers 

This film adaptation of Ai Yawaza’s manga series, NANA, was spot on, and I was delighted to watch some of my favorite scenes from the comic played out on my 42″ LCD. I am huge fan of the manga series, and I was little apprehensive that the movie would leave me disappointed.  While I do have a few minor complaints, overall I found the movie a great way to spend 114 minutes.

My only quibble with the casting was  Hiroki Narimiya as Nobu.  He just didn’t fit the image of Nobu that I had in my head.  He was really kind of minor character in this film, as the Hachi/Nobu romantic mess doesn’t get touched  on here.  Maybe he’ll grow on me if I see NANA 2.  Mika Nakashima was convincingly stand-offish as Nana Osaki, an aspiring singer who meets the talkative Nana (Hachi) Komatsu on a train bound for Tokyo.  Aoi Miyazaki, as Hachi, didn’t really convey her character’s impulsive, flighty nature, but her endless string of crushes weren’t really paraded through the movie, either.  Most of the run-away train episodes of ther personal life were skipped.  Hachi is self-centered and impetuous, always flinging herself headlong into a new endeavor, be it a job or a new love, but her interest soon wanes and turns in another direction.  That aspect of her character wasn’t explored much at all.

The differences between the two Nanas was captured, and their personalities were like day and night.  Hachi is gregarious and passionate about everything, while Nana is reserved, confining her emotions within herself.  She’s so stubborn that she’s willing to let pride stand in the way of her love for Ren, the guitarist for the rival band, Trapnest.  When he tells her he’s quitting their band and moving to Tokyo, she doesn’t let him see her inner turmoil, nor does she ask him to stay.  When he asks her to go with him, her own ambitions won’t allow her to remain with the man she loves.  Though I’d love to tell her to get over herself, I can understand her fear of losing her independence, and her inability to give up her own dreams of singing in her own band.

Painted with melancholy strokes, the story of two strangers becoming close friends is not always a smooth journey.  Nana doesn’t want to get sucked into Hachi’s life – she’s content to remain a loner, distancing herself from her past as she tries to live her dreams.  However, as hard as she tries to put it behind her, she’s unable to move forward.  By not making a clean break from Ren, all she’s done for both of them is leave a painful wound that refuses to heal.  Now Hachi, with her open, gregarious personality, is slowly drawing Nana out of her shell.  Whether the two emerge from their friendship stronger and better for the relationship is yet to be seen, but for now, Nana’s rough edges as slowly being eased away.

The soundtrack was the element of the movie that I felt the most trepidation about.  Could the music ever live up to what I imagined  while reading the manga?  The answer is yes, it can and it did.  The concert scenes were well done, bathing the screen in a wash of flickering lights and jamming guitars.  The soundtrack was catchy, and I especially liked the somber Trapnest song, “Endless Story.”

If you’re a fan of the manga, you’ll be satisfied with this movie version of the NANA.  If you have been avoiding reading the manga, sit down with this movie, and I bet you’ll give in and start flying through those graphic novels.

Grade: A

Not Rated

Review copy provided by Viz