Posted on 25 August 2009 with categories: Shoutbox Topics

One of the downsides of this site is that sometimes discussions erupt in the shoutbox that go way beyond its capacity. At the moment, I really don’t have a clear-cut solution for this. The cbox utility really is the best free type of shoutbox that I could find. I’m open for suggestions, though.

Anyway, the least thing I can do is create a proper post for it. I personally haven’t seen the Nana so I can’t exactly comment on it, but there have been plenty of readers with some interesting thoughts on the subject. Opio for example claims:

“Mhmm yea, I’d have to say NANA is the most realistic/engaging shoujo I’ve ever watched. I’ve watched the season like 3 times and following the manga currently. I just really felt the realtionships were so realistic and the way the characters acted were amazin”

On the contrary, Theowne wasn’t impressed:

“Didn’t get too far with NANA, just seemed like superficial characters having superficial relationships. I’ll pass.”

“Meh, it’s a matter of your attitude or personality. Me, I just didn’t care about any of the NANA characters. Complete opposite of Honey and Clover.”

Sappire adds:

“One of the Nanas is indeed superficial, but so are many people in real life. I think NANA does a realistic portrait of people’s feelings and fears, it’s definitely worth a watch.”

senerikfred also liked the realism in Nana:

“I’m with Opio-NNANA’s characters are engagingly realistic. Hachi ended up as one of my favorite characters all-time. She’s shallow for sure, but not an idiot or malicious.”

“Gack. I don’t usually watch stuff as predictable as NANA, but what I like about it is that there aren’t dramatic twists left and right, and it’s so meticuous in fleshing out the characters that more often than not, you know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s made clear exactly what everyone’s reasons are. And damn, DERP isn’t everything there is to like.”

But Theowne notes:

“I’m sure its realistic.=) It’s similar to why I don’t read “realistic” celebrity gossip. I just don’t care about these superficial soap-operas of such characters, and so it felt emotionally hollow. And remember, this is all just my own honest reaction, different people will interpret it their own way. I’m not saying I’m right and you’re wrong. =)”

I know I missed a number of posts, but this seems to be the gist of it. Now, go ahead with your discussion without those nasty limitations of that shoutbox. ;)

27 Responses

  1. AlexS says:

    Looks to me like there is a consensus about Nana being more realistic than the average shoujo.

    The discussion seems more to be whether the characters themselves are engaging or not, but that’s a very different question.

  2. Julian says:

    Nana And BECK are simply just superior to NaNa -_-, NaNa is just overly dark…which doesn’t suit many ppl.

  3. senerikfred says:

    . . .I should’ve mentioned that I wasn’t implying you should do this, but hey, this works too.

    First off, that NANA is realistic is something most of us already agreed on. Theowne is the only one to dispute liking it in the first place, and he stated that it was a matter of personal taste.
    Can’t exactly deny NANA’s similarity to celebrity gossip, because the story is EXACTLY the kind of ‘scandalous’ thing that would go down as a celebrity legend IRL, at least partly because it does center around two bands, one of whom is already extremely popular where the series starts.
    But I don’t think that it’s superficial. Even Hachi herself, I don’t find superficial, at least once she’s developed. As opposed to the typical shoujo heroine who starts a twit, gets thrown into an unbelievable situation, stays a twit, and lives happily ever after for her trouble, Hachi lives a normal life, pursues whims of romanticism, never learns to be self-sufficient, develops self-destructive habits, and by the time her stresses force her to be more self-conscious, she’s tangled up in issues that she’s much too weak a person to handle. Her feelings are genuine, and she understands that she’s headed in the wrong direction. As much as she hates herself, she’s very aware that she’s ill-equipped to fix anything, and is left constantly regretful. She’s a hell of an interesting character. Usually, such dependent girls are simply depicted as being the useless bitch on the side who ruins things for everyone for no reason. Every character is treated similarly-they try to do what they think is a good idea to do, but what they choose and what they believe to be ‘good’ in the first place varies widely, each with their own flaws. Even characters who get less than ten minutes of screentime are shown to have their own reasons. Like Julian said, the darkness of the whole thing just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

  4. kagura says:

    Every time I see a comment saying that characters in Nana are superficial, I start to wonder if we’ve really seen the same anime. For me, it’d be hard to find another series that had me so engaged in its characters and their problems as Nana did.

    As for the main character of the story, I just can’t see Hachi as superficial. Sure, I agree she is a flawed character, somewhat naive, or even shallow at times, but that’s what makes her real to me. I couldn’t help but cheer her on throughout the whole series, want the best for her, cry at her failures… even though I knew she herself was the reason of all her problems, since most of the choices she made were totally wrong and she was just the type to bring disasters on herself… but to say she was superficial? Hell no. I’m sure it would be impossible for me to get so worked up over some superficial characters.

    Nana is definetely one of the best and most engaging anime series I’ve ever seen, even though emotionally it left me feeling as if run over by a truck or something (I’ve cried a lot of tears while watching it, which was strange even for me). And oh, while Paradise Kiss was a total disaster for me, Nana, on the contrary, is the best example of how Yazawa Ai’s manga should be adapted into anime.

    And somehow I don’t really see much sense in comparing Nana to Honey & Clover. While both those series deal with young people trying to find their place in the world, they’re just too different from each other, and not comparable, at least in my book. H&C had similarily strong impact on me, but the feelings it left me with were totally different.

    Sorry, if the comment was more emotional on my part than constructive, but Nana left too big of an impression on me to be able to just talk about it calmly.

    And it was a great idea to actually make a topic of this on the blog. I couldn’t have expressed all that I wanted to in the shoutbox :)

  5. c160 says:

    First of all,Nana,for me,is as realistic as far as manga and anime goes.But of course people may answer differently to it,though for me,the two Nanas hits especially close to home cause I know people who thinks almost on the same line as them.From Hachi/Nana Komatsu’s fickle,shallow self,whom never seem to learn from her mistakes and Nana Osaki trust problems.

    I went into the series because it promises not the usual shoujo formula of girl meets boy,they fall in love,show their hardships as they try to reach their happy end which usually comes in the form of marriage.I’m bored,tired and a bit sick with that formula already.Its just not realistic,that happy-ever-after-marriage ending.Life is not all about trying to reach that happy end which comes in the form of marriage which most shoujo stories ends up showing you know.Instead,NANA is about a story of two girls,and the challenges they face and how they become each other’s most important person.And it’s shown in a very realistic way too.The problems they face,loneliness,trust problems,famliy problems,money problems,and all sort of other real problems that real people face.Not just the usual “do you love her or do you love me” question.

    Of course,for complete character development,we’ll need to see a 2nd season..And it’s better be animated in all Mouryo no Hako quality or higher too :)

  6. Theowne says:

    Well, look, I’ll declare easily that my opinion is a very personal one. I won’t make objective statements on the quality of the writing or development, just give an opinion from one kind of anime fan.

    You guys keep misunderstanding my use of “superficial”. I’m not saying the anime itself is thin in its portrayals or that it isn’t well done, I’m saying that I find the characters themselves, as people, to be superficial people and thus I didn’t care about them or their relationships. I’m not saying it isn’t realistic, I know that there’s plenty of people like this in reality, and this anime is an honest portrayal of them. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of people like me who like earnest love stories that seem meaningful. The romance in NANA just doesn’t seem that way to me with its soap-opera-ish patterns. I stand by my comparison with celebrity gossip.

    I compare it to Honey and Clover because IMO that show has a similar kind of genre to NANA (young adults finding themselves), but the characters in that one are the kind of people I can actually grow to care about – intelligent, mature, thoughtful. And so their relationships feel so much more significant to me, I became more invested than I ever did with the soap opera of Hachi’s life.

    Would you consider any of the relationships portrayed in this anime as being meaningful when it comes to “love”? I guess that’s what it comes down to for me. I’m just a tad too optimistic, I suppose…..

  7. AlexS says:

    Hey, not all fiction works which deal with the absurdity of life are shallow. Also, it’s not because you don’t find meaning in their relationships, that it’s implausible that they themselves would feel otherwise(whereas in really bad works there’s no way the events can be credible).

    But really, if the characters irritate you, that you don’t identify yourself or are engaged by their problems and emotions, then it’s normal that it does not work for you.

    It’s a bit like the story of an alcoholic. You can be irritated by his incapacity to wean himself from the bottle, his constant relapses and the downwards spiral hes going through, because it’s just too foreign to your way of acting or away from your tastes, but it does not mean that the behavior of the alcoholic is meaningless. On the contrary, it is very logic, has a lot of meaning (in the sense that there are solid reasons that explain it).

    Anyway, if you’re not engaged by it, you’ll find it unwatchable, no matter the merits of the work (I think this was often the case when people viewed Wellcomme to the NHK!).

    As for myself, I also did not manage to hold on to Nana, but I can’t blame the work itself. It’s just not my taste of issues, or patterns of behaviors. I disliked Hachi, and the kind of problems she found herself in. And that’s all there is to it.

  8. Immelman says:

    Unless you’re really familiar with the music business world or the celebrity world, you can’t possibly judge if Nana is realistic or not. “Realistic” in this case just means “in accordance with what you imagine”. Hence it’s normal that some people find it realistic and some other don’t, because everyone thinks different.

    Concerning the love relations, they are indeed very complex and deeply rooted in the celebrity world. As for me, they are not realistic, but credible, and above all, very enjoyable.

    Moreover, it’s not often that we see manga heroes with drug addictions problems, prostitution problems, and early pregnancy. The characters are very well developped, and are not superficial by any means. Nana is really one of the best shoujou manga, and shoujou animes out there; I can’t think of more than 2 or 3 other shoujou animes that can rival with Nana.

  9. windy says:

    Nana is for me an outstanding series that stands out among many other classical shoujo series . The characters are depicted with a lot of realism, that’s what my first impression was. It also perfectly deals with problems of everyday life and the way everyone handles them, the characters ( especially the two protagonists) are so different and at the same time, they do need each other and are “soulmates” if I could put it that way, who were destined to meet on the train, by chance or coincidance or fate, whatever it is.

  10. Solaris says:

    Hi, can’t say much about Honey and Clover , nana and such shows cause they’re not my cup of tea. I was quite interested in your use of the term “realism”. I happen to notice that much people are inclined to associate realism with the depth of a story or its chars, that is not quite correct. So what do you think realism truly refers to?

  11. AlexS says:

    @10

    Maybe the word you’re looking for is credibility? i.e. the inner coherence of the story, that the characters behave in logic and credible ways according to their own universe (and not always to your own experience of the real world)

  12. Theowne says:

    AlexS makes some good points above that I agree with.

    @10

    This is why I’m trying to back away from the use of the word “realism”. It’s more about a basic sense of likability or sympathy with the characters. It’s very important to me, and plenty of others I’d assume, to like the characters as people, that’s what keeps me watching the anime, hoping for them to achieve what they desire.

    Realism is a more complicated concept, and I’ll say that yes, NANA realistically portrays certain kinds of relationships and people. They’re just not the kind I care about. And I would say that anyone looking for any deeper kind of love will not find it in NANA.

  13. Theowne says:

    P.S. With my celebrity gossip analogy, I also got the feeling that this was the kind of show that would be enjoyed most by the sort of audience that likes watching those American teen dramas like the O.C. or Degrassi. Do you guys disagree?

  14. Chris says:

    NANA shows superficial individuals who grow to understand that their personalities are flawed and try to change themselves, and just like real people they make mistakes and fall back into the world they try to escape, but the heartwarming growth in relationship is what really makes the show.

    I much preferred Paradise Kiss though. shorter and more realistic and extremely touching, made by the same team.

  15. Sapphire says:

    @Theowne
    “And I would say that anyone looking for any deeper kind of love will not find it in NANA.”

    Even though a “deeper kind of love” is somewhat of a relative concept, I have to disagree with you.
    *SPOILER ALERT* (for those who haven’t watched the anime)
    Wouldn’t you say Nana and Ren love each other? Years passed after their separation (which was truly heartbreaking) and they still longed for each other, time didn’t cool off their feelings at all.
    How about Nobu? I have no doubt that he was in love with Hachi, so much in love that he lost her without a fight because he believed she would be happier living with Takumi. He always put her happiness over his.
    And Yasu? He has always loved Nana, but never made his move because of his friendship with Ren. However he has always been there for her, always putting his true feelings aside.

    Hachi’s case is different though, because I don’t think she’ll ever be capable of loving someone before learning to love herself.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure anyone can find love in NANA, as well as many different ways of dealing with it.

  16. senerikfred says:

    @Theowne, 13: I disagree, because my sister watches that kind of thing enough that I’ve seen bits, and it’s pretty bad.

    And I actually agree that it’s hardly my favorite show as a romance, but as a drama I love it. The characters are too mired in their flaws to pull off romantic love in its peaks. The relationships that interested me the most were more often those less than romantic and/or of no relation to the romance aspect, and the most interesting aspect of the romances was more often how they fell apart and what that meant for characters individually.

  17. Frost says:

    NANA is easily the most realistic romance anime out there and thus also the best… it manages to avoid most of the ecchi harem crap, and the way it presents sexual situations is great

    Thats what made me like it the most and what I usually criticize alot about romance animes, they just dont take it seriously, as if it were made for kids

    A good example is Clannad.. While Clannad is a nice series for other reasons, I find it pathetic that the main characters have a kid and we dont even see them kiss once in the whole anime… What the hell is that? It just takes away so much from the realism, it makes me feel like its a fake relationship

    Other than that, while one of the nanas is indeed superficial, thats how most people are i n the real world, so theres nothing wrong with that… and it made me hate her, which means it worked

  18. kagura says:

    @theowne

    I understand that you prefer characters from Honey & Clover and care about them more. As you said, they’re mature, itelligent and all that, so it’s actually hard not to like them. But real people aren’t always like that. And here’s where NANA comes in, portraying people that are less perfect. For me, that imperfection only makes them more human, and it definetely doesn’t make their problems any less meaningful or their love any less earnest.

    Actually, the plot of NANA revolves mostly around Hachi desperately wanting to love and be loved earnestly. Somehow, despite her flaws and failures, I sympathize with her more than, for example, with Hagu, who (SPOILERS for Honey and Clover ahead) has the perfect guy right next to her; a guy who truly loves her from the first to the last episode, whose love is as honest and pure as can be, but she doesn’t choose him, because she likes another guy, whom she doesn’t choose either, because she decides to stay with some other guy, whom she does love, only not romantically, but to whom she is grateful for all that he’d done for her (okay, I know that I’m probably oversimplifying things a little bit).

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Honey & Clover and I love how it ended. If I were to write down my personal anime ranking, I’m pretty sure H&C would be higher than NANA, because I’m also a sucker for optimistic, heart-warming stories with lovable characters. But it still doesn’t mean I can’t get totally absorbed in a more dark and depressing story, where people have some real problems and not only “he/she doesn’t love me, because he/she loves someone else” like seen in H&C (yeah I know, I’m oversimplifying again).

    Other than that, I agree with everything that Sapphire said in comment #15

    And, to answer your question, no, I don’t watch American teen dramas, nor do I read celebrity gossip magazines (or even care for any of those) :P

  19. Theowne says:

    There are plenty of love-related anime that aren’t ecchi or harem related (and far better than NANA, in my opinion). And while I’ve never seen Clannad, characters don’t need to be physical all the time in order to portray a convincing love story.

  20. c160 says:

    @Saphhire,15: The examples you give are all nice and true.but don’t you think that the love between the two Nana is the deepest kind of love?Just pointing it out :)

    @Theowne,18: This is sort of SPOILER for the people who haven’t read the manga and have only watch the anime but since you obviously won’t read it,I’m gonna say it to you anyway.After the point where the 1st seaason ends,in the manga,the two Nanas sort of switch places where Nana becomes much more dependent on Hachi and becoming more and more of a trainwreck while Hachi stabilizes her life and become a stronger figure.Eventhough Hachi can’t really do anything to help the messy situations her friends and loved ones got into,tried her best not to make herself the main character of situations.Instead she tries her best to be there for friends(especially Nana) although sometimes she just can’t do it due to her other priorities(like her husband and child.And in the future scenes,her job and her children).But she still has her moments of course where we see her fickle heart takes center stage again (chapter 82-83 to be exact..) but she’s trying her best still.And to be fair,the series’ main selling point was never really the romance that the two Nana experiences but rather the relationship between the two of them..

  21. Sasa says:

    I’m waiting for maya (http://myillusion.net/itsumo/) to discover this posting, I’m sure she’ll have lots to say and I rarely see someone who gave so many insights on this manga as she did.

    So, for me, Nana is the manga that I have compared to my life for about 7 volumes or so, spanning about 3 years of my life. I have heard “Nana is totally like your life” many many times. Ever since, the characters in Nana have moved from “normal people” with financial issues to celebrities dealing with celebrity problems – that is true. But the core of what love is, I think that still remain very realistic compared to certain people’s lives; and for me it definitely is.

    Also, who says that real life is not superficial anyways, it’s not like all our relationships are so much deeper or more complicated than depicted in manga really. Sometimes relationships and people can be really simple and it’s be presumptious of us to pretend we’re more than that.

  22. Theowne says:

    I don’t think it’s presumptuous at all.

  23. AlexS says:

    @19 Theowne: Would you care to give a list of what you consider the best (realistic) love themed anime? It would be of interest for me. I guess you’ll cite stuff like “bokura ga ita”, or even “nodame cantabile” (ok, not very realistic) but what else?

  24. Solaris says:

    @11 AlexS.
    That’s right. What you wrote down is called suspension of disbelief and it helps keeping a story self coherent within its own universe.
    That’s the first rule for a well written story, but that applies to both fantastic, realistic and non realistic stories.
    Realistic stories have a basic set of rules that resembles those of the real world.
    So there’s no need to have fairly complex chars or deep plots. It’s enough that chars behave like real life chars and the plot avoid any completely fantastic event.
    Anyhow i also see how Nana’s fanboyism is taking over the thread :P I’m afraid it’d be useless to try gain some serius talk here

  25. Theowne says:

    AlexS:

    Well again, I don’t want to involve the term “realism” because it’s causing too much confusion. I think I’ve been crossing wires with people in this discussion because since the beginning I’ve just been giving my own perspective on the actual content of NANA, while others are interpreting it as an objective attack on the credibility (‘realism’) of the content. I think your alcoholic analogy has merit…

    But for love stories with characters (and therefore relationships) that I actually cared about: Maison Ikkoku and Honey and Clover are two examples. I liked Nodame Cantabile much more than NANA, though I’m also a classical music nut. For young-love type stories, Whisper of the Heart and Kare Kano are quite good. Oh, and Only Yesterday, another Ghibli film with an older cast.

    Are these characters “more realistic”? Doesn’t really matter because what’s more important is just that they’re different kind of people from those in NANA, the kind that I find more “worthwhile”, if that makes sense. So I find their love stories a lot more meaningful as a result. That’s all there is to it, from my perspective.

  26. lisa says:

    I’m going to go against the grain and side with Theowne here. I also did not feel engaged by or feel connected to the characters in Nana, though I did feel they had depth and felt like real people. As a point of comparison, Karekano is my favorite romance (though I generally dislike romances), mostly because I felt more of a connection to the main characters; years after high school and a few degrees later, their romantic interactions, working to balance their relationship and work/academics, and personal growth into more rounded people felt far more real to me than the heartache and drama in Nana.

    For the record, I actively hate a number of shoujo romantic dramas like Hana Yori Dango and can pretty much only tolerate romance if it’s comedy, or if it’s a smaller part of a bigger story. I do think Nana is at the peak of its genre, but it’s not my cuppa. I’d rather be watching, say, Saiunkoku Monogatari. \o/ Realistic? Um, no. But I identified with Shuurei and her problems much more than with anyone in Nana.

  27. c160 says:

    So at the end of the day,everyone agrees that Nana is realistic and it’s just a matter of connecting with the characters?

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  • Raggers
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 12:33 PM)
    Oh, and just to say:
    There’s only one thing better than an awesome show, and that’s an awesome show with equally awesome OP and EDs to frame each episode.
  • Raggers
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 12:19 PM)
    @Nyangoro: wow, never thought of it like that but that is right on the money.
    Is Isshuukan Friends reminding people of Natsuyuki Rendezvous? The colour pallete, music and style of storytelling make them feel very similar.
  • Juno
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 08:28 AM)
    I just decided to watch through all the Kagerou Project videos again. I’ve yet to get to the anime. Has anyone here watched the first two episodes? What did they think so far?
  • Nyangoro
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 08:25 AM)
    Isshuukan Friends 3: I love Shogo so fucking much. He really balances out the cast.
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:23 AM)
    about both artists*
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:23 AM)
    I guess for one I just don’t find the subject matter that interesting. Most of their stuff centers around white males doing typically white male things without much in the way of sub-text or social commentary that I really find engaging. I could say that about artists. I respect them for their craft but I don’t enjoy their work.
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:21 AM)
    I’m just not a fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s just not for me. Fincher is a pretty good director but I mostly feel the same way about his movies.
  • Deadlight
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:20 AM)
    Night y’all
  • Deadlight
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:20 AM)
    @Emma: Thanks for sharing, haha. Yeah, best if you see the Fargo series first. Who knows, you might find some of the liberties they took to be engaging. Anyway, I’m really dozing off here. Worked too hard all day and barely got any sleep XD
  • Emma
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:10 AM)
    From dusk till dawn I noticed also got a tv show as a remake.

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Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

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Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

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Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

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Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]

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Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]