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Nana Anime Review

Nana Anime Review: An Unforgettable Story of Dreams and the Unbreakable Bond of Two Nanas

In our Nana review, we break down what makes this story of friendship, dreams, and the unbreakable bond of two Nanas so unforgettable.

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I am a music lover, but Nana is one of those anime, along with Given and Beck, that made me appreciate it even more. More specifically, though, it made me appreciate a genre of music, punk, that I had yet to explore fully. It sent me down a rabbit hole, and I found familiarity in it because the music I love, as I would so naively learn, is heavily influenced by punk. On top of Nana’s singing, the walking bassline in Rose was stuck in my head constantly.

Hearing the music stripped down, and watching the members of the Black Stones create their songs in the hush of the night, made me realize that I didn’t appreciate punk music as much as I should. Nana introduced me to a whole new world of music, but it did something even more incredible, it made me finally pick up bass, which I had been thinking about for years. I didn’t have time, I thought.

But, if there’s one thing Nana taught me it’s that if you truly love or want to do something, you’ll dive into it completely without a second thought. So I finally did, after all these years. Watching these characters chase their dreams, inspired me as cheesy as that sounds. It inspired me to stop thinking about the things I wanted to do and start doing something about it. I finished those 50 episodes and a couple of weeks later I bought my first bass. Now, I can almost fully play Rose.

Nana, which is adapted from the manga by Ai Yazawa and animated by Madhouse, holds a special place in my heart and it is one of my all-time favorite anime. There are countless reasons why it stands out as one of the best series I’ve ever watched. But, I’ve highlighted some of the key elements that make it such an amazing anime below.

Nana has a relatable message about chasing your dreams

The reason I opened up with the story above is because Nana did something that few other anime have ever done: It motivated me and helped me discover a new passion. In reviews, people often talk about why they love an anime or why it’s good, but there’s something much more important to discuss: How they affected us. Anime won’t affect everyone the same, as it shouldn’t. It may not make you want to pick up the bass like it did for me, but it teaches us many lessons about life, and since every character in Nana is shooting for their dreams, it has a lot to offer in its message as well.

Whether this is a positive thing or not, nearly every character in Nana quits everything they are doing and goes after their dreams. While this might not be sound advice in the real world, I appreciate where the series is coming from and its message of aiming for your dreams, whether it’s leaving your hometown where you have a cushy job setup thanks to your family like Nobu or jumping on a train to move to Tokyo to pursue your music career like Nana Osaki or in Nana Komatsu’s case, love. There’s something we are all hoping for out of life, and Nana showcases this well. We all have different dreams.

Many times we don’t chase them, whether it be due to life factors or out of fear of the unknown, but Nana shows us all what can happen when we do. Now, this is anime, so it’s not entirely realistic to think that we can all make it. Of course, with any sort of dream comes sacrifices. And Nana showcases these sacrifices, and how sometimes, what we thought what we wanted, wasn’t what we wanted at all. Fame in particular is something that is explored within this series, especially through characters like Ren.

It shows how fame shapes and molds individuals, for the better or the worse in some characters’ cases. It displays the highs and lows of a rock n’ roll-type lifestyle, and how if you don’t watch out, it will catch up to you. While Nana does have a lot to say about regretting nothing and living your life to the fullest, it also highlights what happens when you live it too full.

Nana is mature and features complex, realistic relationships

Nana is listed as a shoujo everywhere you look, but to me, it’s more so a josei. It features an adult cast and has mature as well as realistic themes. Nana doesn’t just skim the surface with its adult cast and themes; it gives us a raw, unfiltered look at the messiness of adult relationships and personal growth. What makes Nana stand out most, though, is how it captures the reality of life and love. We’re not just bystanders to the characters’ daily lives; we’re invited into the heart of their most personal moments and you connect with their stories as a result.

The relationships in Nana aren’t your typical anime fare either—they’re complex, they’re painful, and, most of all, they’re real. It’s this authenticity as well as the characters, who are navigating the waters of adulthood, that impacted me most. The characters’ interactions and their emotional journeys add depth and authenticity, which allows Nana to resonate with an older audience.

Nana Anime Review

Nana has a strong cast of characters

Individually, the characters in Nana are stars, but it’s how they are together as a group that makes them so strong. Nana is ultimately a story about two Nanas. Their relationship together but also their friends and love interests. Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu are our two main characters.

Nana O. is the lead singer of the punk band the Black Stones, or Blast for short. Blast gained a strong fan base locally, but they have larger dreams of making it big in Tokyo. Because of the way she dresses, she is often misunderstood. That is until she meets Nobuo Terashima, who invites her to meet his band. And the rest is history. Nana O. is like a rose. She may have thorns, but she’s a beautiful and gentle soul.

After their bassist and Nana’s love interest, Ren, moves to Tokyo to pursue his music career in another band named Trapnest, Nana decides to jump on a train and pursue her dreams of being a singer as well.

If Nana O. is a rose, Nana Komatsu, nicknamed Hachi, is a sunflower. She may be a bit naive in the way she thinks about the world and love, but she’s bright, cheerful, and caring. She tends to jump into things fast, especially relationships, but ultimately she means well and wants to be loved. While Nana O. jumped on a train to pursue her music career, Nana K. jumped on a train to pursue her relationship with Shoji, who moved to Tokyo to go to college.

On that very train, these two meet each other and have a conversation. They later end up touring the same apartment and Nana K.’s realtor suggests the two sublets to save money. This is where these two seemingly completely different Nanas first meet and it’s in this apartment that they become friends. Their worlds may be drastically different, but it’s for this reason that they work so well together.

Through Nana O., Nana K. is introduced to the world of music, where she meets the members of the Black Stones, Nobu, Yasu, Shin, and their friends. Nana K. has a group of friends as well consisting of Shoji, her love interest, Junko, her best friend since forever, and Junko’s boyfriend, Kyousuke, who is also friends with Shoji. Later on, the members of Trapnest, Reira, Ren, Takumi, and Naoki come into the picture. Given that these two bands and some of their members have pasts together, this adds a lot to the story. It’s how these groups interact, but also shine individually that make Nana such an amazing watch.

The group dynamics in Nana are amongst the best I’ve seen in anime. Shin, Reira, and Ren, in particular, are complex characters, and these three, along with Nobu and Yasu, who are reliable and bring a lot of light to this story, are some of the best characters in Nana.

The original music in Nana is amazing and it has a lot to say about the music industry

With the two different bands, one that’s already made it and another that’s trying to make it, taking center stage in this story, it shows the struggles that come with each. On one hand, the Black Stones are trying to become successful, which comes with growing pains.

On the other hand, Trapnest is experiencing the struggles that come with being famous, whether it be constantly being followed by paparazzi or struggling with the feeling of being known by anyone and everyone, and how while that might seem great, it can be, for some, incredibly lonely. It highlights the music industry, but also everything else that comes with being in a band from the beginning to making it, and how it affects our characters differently.

I also can’t talk enough about how amazing the original songs in this anime are, whether it be the music that was created for Trapnest or the Black Stones. Reira’s vocals, which are performed by Olivia Lufkin, are ethereal and tinged with emotion. Nana O.’s vocals, which are performed by Anna Tsuchiya, are raw and powerful. Their vocal styles couldn’t be more different, but they are equally beautiful.

The band performances in Nana are nothing short of spectacular as well. As I watched them perform, I was completely drawn in. So much so, that I believed that the Black Stones and Trapnest are actual bands that I am a fan of, itching to get in line to see their shows. This is a testament to just how incredible the original songs in this series are. On top of that, the voice acting is top-notch. The cast breathes life into their characters and they make sure that each moment is full of emotion.

Final Thoughts

Nana is one of those anime series that connected with me deeply. From its exploration of dreams and the sacrifices they entail to the authentic and complex relationships it portrays, Nana stands out as one of anime’s best. Its mature themes, paired with a cast of characters that are as real as they are unique, make Nana an emotional and unforgettable story that not only captures human emotion beautifully but also the intricacies of life.

The music, which is an important part of the series, is amazing. But perhaps the best thing about Nana is its ability to inspire and connect. It encourages us to chase our dreams, embrace our passions, and dive into the unknown with fervor and conviction. But it’s also its fearlessness in how it highlights the tougher moments of life that make it a true standout. If you have yet to do so, I hope you will check it out!

Where to Watch Nana

If you are looking to watch Nana, the series is available to stream on HIDIVE. There is a Blu-ray complete collection, released by Sentai Filmworks that you can check out as well.

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