Nana is written by Ai Yazawa, who is known as the most popular Shojo writer in Japan with the first 5 volumes selling over 22 million copies. This is her second title to be published in English after Paradise Kiss.
Nana, is the story of two girls who both share the same name as the manga. The first volume acts as a prelude to the story showing both of the girls lives before they meet each other. The first chapter shows the story of Nana Komatsu a girl who could be described as emotionally damaged when it comes to relationships. The chapter begins by showing how her most serious relationship ended when the man that she loved left her area to move to Tokyo. This man though was married and was never really seriously committed to her. However, this is not a one off for Nana, who has previously fancied numerous men based more on their physical appearance rather than for who they are. Her mistakes are clearly shown in this chapter and she is portrayed as someone who is desperate to be loved for who she is. Her life begin to change for the better when she begins college and meets her best friend Junko's male friends. However, instead of trying to make one them her boyfriend she takes the bold move or trying to make friends with them.
On the other hand, Nana Osaki has lived an entirely different life with her being orphaned at an early age and brought up by her Grandmother. She is a high school drop out and has instead followed her ambitions to become a lead singer of a rock band. Her dreams appear to be coming true as her band Blast is very popular and has the potential to be signed. This is until her boyfriend Ren, who is the bassist, decides to leave in order to take an opportunity to join an already signed band, Trapnest. Nana makes a brave decision to split up in order to pursue her own dreams. However, you can tell that deep in her heart she wishes to achieve both love and a career.
Nana, in my opinion is quite different from any other Shojo that I have read. Why, you ask? One of the main reasons is that the two main characters are aged twenty instead of the usual 10 - 16 age range. As they are these ages, there's a much more adult tone to the story which deals with issues such as sex and abusive relationships with men. This is why the manga has an older teen recommendation on the back of the book.
The artwork of Nana could be described as unique as it seems to be a blend of comic styling and manga drawing. Although the art style is not to my own personal taste, I cannot help but be impressed by the detail drawn in each panel of the manga particularly in the expressions of each character. The only criticisms that could be made towards the art is that all the characters are all drawn like models; extremely beautiful and thin. It would of been nice to have a wider range of character from all ends of the spectrum.
Overall, the manga is a great introduction
to the two main characters of this story. I believe that this manga would
be a great example to use for any of your non-anime / manga loving friends who
believe that this media is only suitable for the under 12s. The best part
of this manga is, as it only a prelude, you want to grab the next volume in
order to find out how these very two different people who share the same name
meet and get on!