Kereesa's Reviews > Nana, Vol. 1

Nana, Vol. 1 by Ai Yazawa
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: manga-and-graphic-novels-class, manga, own, 2011, friendship, teenage-romance, young-adult, manga-shojo, manga-english, grrl-power, favorites, fangirling, own-softcovers, own-manga
Recommended for: Contemporary YAers/Shojo Fans
Read from November 13 to 20, 2011 — I own a copy

I'm not always a fan of contemporary YA or contemporary anything for that matter. Maybe it's my overexposure to chick-lit movies, bad harlequin novels and all the soap operas my mom and grandmother watched, but I've always been a bit skeptical of the genre.

Though that could be a result of my adoration of a certain fantastical genre, and my utter skepticism of anything labeled as romance.

I mean I have read and loved a lot of contemporary stuff, (Sarah Dessen has quite a bit of dedicated shelf space for instance), but it's not a genre I skulk around in at Chapters. (I'm that girl in the sci/fantasy section pulling multiple books off the shelves, and giggling to herself.)

But...Nana, even though it's so shojo it nearly gags you with it, I really, really enjoyed.

So the premise is basically about these two girls, both of whom are called Nana, who's respective lives in respective towns lead them to move to Tokyo and become roommates. (Which technically doesn't happen in the first volume, but the back of the book told me so surprise!) Because they haven't gotten to Tokyo yet, the first volume is about their lives leading up to this point, and the background, whatever, that's important as a context for the girls themselves, and in placing their personalities.

And boy do those personalities come ripping right off the freaking page.

So Nana K, the first Nana in this volume, is an utter and absolute flake. She falls in love quickly, obsesses about things constantly, does not understand the concept of responsibility, and overall is kind a weird valley girl. And I first I totally blew her off. But then I kept reading. And saw the crazy amount of depth to her character that Yazawa easily brought in. Her achingly relatable loneliness, her fears, her sensibilities, all of it was spectacularly done, and got to me so quickly. I could so easily relate to this girl that felt love, that felt hurt, and was in every way realistic and so utterly human even though superficially I laughed at her.

Nana O, on the other hand, had a more serious angle from the start as the girlfriend/lead singer of a band (that's falling apart) with a large amount of bad assery and independence, but at the same time a large amount of insecurity. And while, I have to admit, I really liked Nana O. quite a bit more than her counterpart, both really showed that realism, that humanity that I couldn't help but love and so easily relate to.

And I think that's where Nana really hit it hard for me, because it was so honest about love, relationships, and knowing/hating/loving ourselves. And even though Nana K. was pretty damn stupid, and Nana O. had her problems, the manga was honest about their flaws, and didn't hide them, or blame them on anything. They just were, and I liked that.

The art, for the most part, I wasn't sure what to think of. I really liked how the characters had diversity to them through their faces, hair, and clothing, and liked how there wasn't an overall prettiness to them that made them seem like they were all movie stars. The hands, however, *shivers* I somehow had a problem with. The very long, creepy, fingers especially. In general, though, the art is really well done, and has an obvious amount of effort put into it.

All in all, Nana was an interesting shojo for me, because it was contemporary, yet at the same time stood on it's own outside of the stereotypical stuff I expect from the genre. Bravo. I like being proven wrong. 4.5/5

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