Nana is a terrible name … but maybe a pretty good anime?
I’ve recently watched the entirety of this show over a long weekend. What can I say: I have no self control and Netflix is a cruel mistress. I was impressed enough with this show however that I felt a need to scribble down my feelings and observations, give myself an opportunity to examine them in detail and file this away under a good or bad experience. To be honest, I think it’s a little of both. I’ll try to explain without any spoilers, so bear with me.
I’ll start by saying this is not a happy-ever-after anime. You also won’t get all the loose ends tied up neatly at the end either. It’s not a walk in the park to watch but what it is … is truthful. It’s one of the most realistic animes I’ve seen when it comes to portraying real life and mistakes people make becoming an adult. It shows that real life is hard; Sometimes amazing things happen and you’re on top of the world, but there’s also times when there’s no right answers and you have to make impossible choices. This show lays it all on the table with no apologies, but also no judgment of it’s own – it’s all left up to the viewer. I think that’s why I have such mixed feelings about it; It’s very different than anything I’ve watched before, but that was a respite in some ways. I could have genuine feelings and reactions when things changed, rather than those colored by previous shows in a similar genera. It was exhilarating not knowing what to expect at every turn.
The two main characters are both named Nana, which is where the show get’s it’s name, obviously. After finishing it though, I also feel like there is a deeper meaning about how these girls broke apart and reassembled themselves with pieces from each other. I feel like it showcases how people are kind of like puzzles, and interactions with other people cause you to trade those pieces of yourself for pieces of them, over and over again, for better or worse. I don’t want to give too much way about them, but I will freely admit that Nana K was really difficult for me to like at first; she’s kind of an awful self centered, boy crazy nitwit in the first quarter of the show – but she’s 19, so I guess that’s forgivable. She kind of grows on you though because she comes across as genuine in her strengthens and faults. (She also reminded me a lot of my younger self, which – let me tell you – I did not appreciate.) Nana O. on the other hand comes across as cool and collected in the beginning, but I think it’s intentional by the creators. I think you’re suppose to like her in the beginning because she presents herself as tough and no nonsense.
The two main bands, Blast and Trapnest, are actually quite interesting. As I found out more and more about each of the band members the creators make it easy to see how everyone became who they are and how their circumstances and choices led them to where they are. I actual like most of the band mates better then the main characters over all, but I
found that my favorites changed as the characters grew and I got to know them better. The entertainment industry isn’t sugar coated at all, which is a nice change of pace. They definitely show the highs and the lows of being in the spotlight, but also what the demands are to get there and the deeply individual costs. Personal choices and cause and effect are major thematic elements throughout the story, which reinforces the realistic edge. Family and trust are also a major part of each person’s story, wither it’s to show how our origins color our perception of our world and people around us or how a support group – or lack there of – can make or break a future.
I know so far I’ve made this sound kind of dreary and maybe a tad depressing, but that’s not all it has to offer – I promise. It is serious at times, but there’s also love and friendship. The first quarter of the show is actually kind of sweet and maybe just a bit silly. Everyone has to grow up sometime though, and even though it doesn’t have a nice neat ending where everything is perfect, there is a fair amount of understanding; In real life things are rarely perfect, but the mess is what makes it okay.
Would I recommend it? I don’t know. It’s definitely not for everyone; There is one scene I can think of in particular towards the end of the show that is distressing in regards to consent, which could definitely be a trigger for some. I don’t know how I feel about that issue in regards to how it fits into the story, but I can say the rest of the story overall is engaging – it will absolutely make you laugh at times, but it will also make you hurt as well. Personally, it was worth it for me. I probably will watch it again at some point, but not for a few years. I need some distance and a little more introspection on my own life. I would say if you do watch it, watch the whole thing. All 47 episodes. Just like any real friend, they want you to know the whole story.