Posted by psgels on 5 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews

Back when this series first aired, I remember dropping it after only one episode because “the premise didn’t look interesting”. Now, I really am not sure what I was thinking back then, having just failed to give one of the best romances of its entire decade a fair chance. Now that I finally watched it, I fully get the praise this series has been getting. This isn’t just a good romance, it blows away just about every other romance I’ve seen away.

This series has 47 episodes, right? Well, it puts just about all its time into its character-development. The main characters here are truly dynamic: they just keep changing and evolving and despite the huge focus on drama within the series, it remains realistic and believable. The side-characters in the meantime also receive their fair share of development throughout the series, with all of them being varied, interesting and portrayed far away from stereotypes.

With all the silly shounen romances out there, this really is one of those series that is a breath of fresh air with its mature outlook on romance. The characters here have quite a number of flaws, but it always manages to stay away from a cheesy shoujo drama because it really treats all of its characters like adults, and gives them enough time to really show why they’re worried, why they behave like they do, and why they make the decisions they make throughout the series. And seriously, this just goes on for forty-seven episodes and instead of keeping a slow pacing, it always manages to keep its plot flowing, and keep the balls into the air. Even the best romances have their moments in which they’re rather boring or tedious. Nana doesn’t.

If I had to mention a flaw, then I’d mention that the portrayal of rock and punk bands is a bit simplistic here, compared to the realism of the rest of the series: this series never really claims to give a good insight about the music industry, and instead it just uses what it needs for the sake of the characters. Also, the ending. It’s not like the series ends without a conclusion: it actually wrapped the story up pretty neatly, but it also ends with a “there’s going to be a second season so let’s make you as hungry for that as possible”-note. That’s nice and all if that second season actually came, but now I’m just hungry for something that was probably just a publicity stunt.

But seriously though, Nana really showed the power of josei-series. It really is one of the most well rounded romances I’ve ever seen. Whether it’s THE best, I’m not really sure yet (Maison Ikkoku also was extremely good and twice as long), but I do want to say that I have never seen a romance show that went on for more than 13 episodes, and had such a tight plot, and yet it never feels like it’s forced.

Storytelling: 9/10 – It can really get depressing, but the dialogue, pacing and atmosphere are all really excellent.
Characters: 10/10 – Just brilliant. The cast is dynamic and constantly evolving.
Production-Values: 9/10 – The style of this series is off the charts. A grand soundtrack, and Madhouse makes just about every scene look cool.
Setting: 9/10 – Its portrayal of the music industry is rather simplistic, but apart from that it is a very realistic series with characters who really feel part of this setting.

Maison Ikkoku
Asatte no Houkou
Macross Plus

36 Responses

  1. inachan says:

    I too really loved Nana, it is one of my absolute favorites animes and manga!

    I just wanted to add that the ending of the manga is exactely how things are written in the corresponding manga chapter, and I don’t think it means to really make you hungry.
    It was just a very good spot to end the anime because it gives you a sense of “wrapping things up” but this is in reality the first of many flashbacks that come in the manga and that just only begin to tie things togheter.

    If you go on reading the manga, the story continues flawlessly from the end of the anime without any breaks; I personally find it intelligent that they didn’t change a thing so they are ready if there ever is a sequel (if the manga will ever be finished) and didn’t betray the original work.

  2. inachan says:

    Of course I meant that the ending of the ANIME is exactely how things are written in the corresponding manga chapter… sorry about that

  3. Kyosei says:

    I remember back when this ended they said this series will continue once the manga has finished. However, unfortunately the manga atm is on hiatus/in limbo because the writer/artist is a bit stuck on how to finish it.

  4. Kim says:

    I liked Nana at first when it was more focused on the relationship between the two Nana’s but after awhile it became too much like a soap opera for me.

  5. kagura says:

    Yes, finally! I’m glad you liked Nana this much. It’s definetely one of the best series I’ve ever seen and there’s probably no other series that I’ve been so much emotionally involved in and that would break my heart in so many different ways (okay, maybe except for One Piece).

    I’m still hoping that the second season comes eventually, sooner or later, ’cause the manga is great and definetely deserves it like no other. The anime did the manga justice, in my opinion. That’s exactly the way Yazawa Ai’s mangas should be adapted, which can’t be said about Paradise Kiss – that one was a total disaster for me.

    By the way, are you planning on watching Gokinjo Monogatari? It’s another adaptation of Yazawa Ai’s manga which I find to be quite good. The anime was running since 1995 to 1996 and has 50 episodes overall. It’s not as good as Nana, but definetely has its charms and I highly recommend it :)

  6. blah says:

    Best part, Yasu’s conversation with Nana at the train station (so cool).

    Does anyone have the latest update about the manga. Did the mangaka quit? I thought thats what I read.

  7. senerikfred says:

    Last I heard, Yazawa was sick, and had some surgery, but may not go back to writing manga. I don’t believe it was specified as to whether or not she had the capability to do so.

  8. karry says:

    “This isn’t just a good romance, it blows away just about every other romance I’ve seen away. ”

    Several stupid sluts and their antics…yes, it is very romantic. I suppose you also love “Sex in the city” and paint your little pekinese pink ?

  9. Puran says:

    It was interesting for a while, but after that, yeah it turned into a bad soap opera, where superficial people have superficial problems about superficial situations.

  10. kagura says:

    If I remember correctly, we’ve already had this discussion here some time ago, whether or not Nana is superficial, and all. But as they say, haters gonna hate, so there’s nothing you can do about it if someone refuses to listen to your reasons…

  11. Puran says:

    And fanboys are gonna…. Fanboy….? :P

  12. Chris says:

    The characters were superficial on the outside but on the inside they fought with themselves to make the best decision but they just fell to their own faults most of the time. And that’s why I loved the show. The characters were like people. They try hard to be good but they are far from perfect.

    Despite being male I could really relate to what the characters went through. This show is also one of the few that handles sex scenes well. Intense, passionate, dirty.

  13. kagura says:

    My thoughts exactly. The main reason why I love Nana so much is because the characters are real, flesh-and-bone people and not some perfect beings without any faults and problems.

    Yes, I believe that the verb “to fanboy/fangirl” already exists in use :P
    And I don’t think that excessive fanboying/fangirling just for the sake of it is good either… although I think it’s still better for your health than hating :P

  14. Jeis says:

    I agree with Kagura completely,I think the main reason this is one of the few anime series I re-watch and still love is because the characters are soo real.

  15. 3mapletrees says:

    The music was also really awesome! I bought the album on itunes.

  16. Meep says:

    I loved this anime~ Very memorable, and I’ve always wanted a second season. x3 I was watching this when hardly any subs were out for the last few episodes though. D; Waiting was le painful~

  17. c160 says:

    Love this series,one of the most realistic portrayal of real people I’ve ever seen in anime.For me though,the main attraction is the friendship of both Nana.The way that both values the other above all else is really touching and beautifully portrayed.

    But yeah,that 2nd season won’t be coming any time soon,seems the mangaka is drained of both ideas and physical strength to do so X(

  18. Pachael says:

    Liked the manga as I read it though it bordered at times on whingy soap opera stuff. Hope Yazawa gets better and give us a kick arse ending :(

  19. Pax says:

    I noticed you’ve reviewed Nana and my impression after seeing the score and reading what you wrote was: really? Is psg getting more and more mainstream?

    While I don’t think I have watched more than half this series I concluded at that time that the only thing I liked about this series was the ost, the shoujo vibes were way to evident for me, way to silly at times, not nearly as realistic as you make it sound, basically, no reason for me to give it more chances.
    btw I would say that I am even more demanding when it comes to romance anime than you are.

  20. psgels psgels says:

    Pax: I wasn’t bothered by those shoujo vibes, but I can understand how the huge amounts of (melo)drama turned people off. But the line I’m rather puzzled by is: “Is psg getting more and more mainstream?”

    What exactly do you mean by that?

  21. LifeCarrier says:

    Glad you liked Nana, I also love good romances series like this one…have you tried Honey & Clover yet?, that’s another Josei which I really liked…

    Have you gotten around watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes yet? I feel like it’s gonna blow your mind and can’t wait till the day you watch it and review it…

  22. Pax says:

    psgels: that was just the 1st thought that crossed my mind when I saw you give such a high score to Nana, a series that is quite popular. Also, compared to a few years back I would say that you’ve started to enjoy some of the more mainstream anime compared to …let’s say Bateszi, another one of my favorite blogs, whose tastes in anime have pretty much remained unchanged during the years I follow his blog. Of course, there are still the occasional gems that I find thanks to your reviews and that is why I started visiting this blog in the 1st place. Maybe I exaggerated a bit with that remark, compared to other blogs you still review many other anime that are overlooked by most anime fans.

  23. inachan says:

    Why should something that is popular be necessarely bad? Shows many times earn and deserve popularity.
    A person should be free to like or dislike a show without worring about it being mainstream or not ; evolution of personality and tastes is the most natural thing.

  24. Reltair says:

    Glad to hear you liked Nana. I stopped 2/3rds through a while back, but I’ll eventually finish it. This series had some of the most dynamic main characters I have ever seen.

  25. kettobase says:

    Finally! :P

  26. bunnyl0ve says:

    I’m so glad you chose to review this. It is quite a mature and intricate story that evokes so much emotion from the viewer. The manga is no exception either. But I don’t think I can re-watch it… I cried too much the first time (^_^;)

  27. Alec says:

    OMG!!!…. its been like FOREVER since the mangaka published a chapter…

    This anime is good, but its obvious flaws will make people drop this…

  28. It was interesting for a while, but after that, yeah it turned into a bad soap opera, where superficial people have superficial problems about superficial situations.

  29. whoops forgot to finish my comment but yeah what that guy said I completely agree with. It just seemed like so much unnecessary drama, just because people like having sex, whoop de fucking do. I dont hang out with people who cause drama over something as silly as who-put-whos-equipment-in-whos-compartment. it just got to a point where it was like ok, why do you guys ALL have a big Orgy and stop being so damn emo over it i look at the comments at people saying oh this is just how real people act. . . NO IT ISN’T? Real people aren’t that damn retarded! and really that skinny kid who got dumped by nana for the rockstar and was being an emo whiny bitch over it totally made me stop watching the show, why should a woman have to put up with that for her *friends* bunch of weak losers, Go out and get a real job for fucks sake.

  30. Jenna says:

    Ok now that we are in august a year later… Anyone know when chapter 85 for nana will be out? Or has anyone heard if she has officially started up again?

  31. Vanilla says:

    @Jenna: The last I heard, she was close to a full recovery but wasn’t sure if she could finish or not. (Which makes me extremely sad! At the same time, I really do hope she gets better first, completely.)

    But, yeah, I highly doubt she’s going to continue. She claimed that she’d run out of ideas and didn’t feel up to it.

  32. Rhi says:

    People are being rather illogical with their judgements, if you ask me. I don’t know in what world there is any law that states “if it’s mainstream, it sucks and you’re a weeaboo for liking it/have lost your sense of good show.”
    I can, however, see how it’s “soap opera” reminiscent drama might be a bit of a deal breaker for some people, but personally, I always found it nice when, halfway through the story, you find yourself really wishing the characters could just go back in time and be happy. Nana really had that effect on me. I felt very attached to the characters.

    “Several stupid sluts and their antics…yes, it is very romantic. I suppose you also love “Sex in the city” and paint your little pekinese pink ?”
    Now this just makes me angry. I’m sorry it does, but if you really can’t find any depth in this series what so ever other than “several stupid sluts and your antics,” you’re either blind, rather shallow, or a steriotypical stupid man with YOUR antics.

    So everyone who has boy problems is a slut. Yes, right. I know several woman from whom you would earn a good slap from. >_>

    As for if you’re a female, I’m glad you found THE ONE on your first try, and avoided any drama. I’m sure everything’s just rainbows and unicorns-… oh? Isn’t it? You must be a slut, then.

  33. Lexxy says:

    I remember watching Nana series few years ago and recently I started watching it again. I find the story still interesting as ever,I love the twists in the story. Then again, it’s quite depressing that the manga series is still on hiatus.. :(

  34. David says:

    Are you a girl Miss Blogger , cause I thinking you highly rate shoujo Animes ….

  35. ComatoseBunny says:

    This anime really just hit me hard.
    Right now I’m 16 years old, and I read the manga and watched the anime when I was 12 years old. Four years, and this is still my favourite anime of all time.
    In regards to whether it’s superficial or not; it is but it’s not. I think what Ai Yazawa (author) wanted to point out, was how frail we are as humans and how we tend to cover up our insecurities with the superficial aspects of life. It’s ‘silly’, but that’s to add to the whole picture and the message she tries to convey.
    Sigh. I think it’s one of those animes in which if you understand it, you do. But if you don’t, it seems pretty retarded.
    As for the ending, it pretty much sums up what will happen…however, the manga itself never ended. The author fell ill and has never picked up her pen to write the rest of it. I hope one day she might finish the story, but for now, I reckon that this unfinished ending is the ending it was supposed to have.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 04:24 PM)
    @Bam, Nope. Never seen Xavier.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 03:25 AM)
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 10:22 PM)
    @Aidan: it does seem like you’ve actually seen Xavier, in which case I’m impressed. Didn’t think you had it in you.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 09:35 PM)
    Speaking of errors, can anybody else open Evil Genius Scanlations page? I keep getting a gateway error. I know there should be a new Berserk on there but some force is keeping it from me. This is messed up.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:38 PM)
    @Bam, Easy. 404 not found
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.

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