One of the things I love to read and haven’t actually reviewed much here is manga/graphic novels.
And for me Nana is a classic that I have slowly been buying to complete my collection. I am using the Wikipedia summary rather than the one from GoodReads just because this is a bundle of volumes being reviewed rather than just one.
Nana Volumes 1-5 by Ai Yazawa
Nana Komatsu has a habit of falling in love at first sight all the time, and depending on other people to help her. When her friends, and then her boyfriend, leave for Tokyo, she decides to join them a year later after having saved enough money at the age of twenty.
Nana Osaki, the other Nana, is the punk-styled lead vocalist of a band called Black Stones (BLAST for short). She had lived with her boyfriend, bassist Ren Honjo since she was 16, but when Ren is offered a chance to debut in Tokyo as a replacement member of a popular band called Trapnest, Nana chooses to continue on with BLAST and to cultivate her own career instead of following Ren, as she has too much ambition to be relegated to a rockstar’s girlfriend. She eventually leaves for Tokyo at the age of twenty to start her musical career.
The two Nanas meet on a train by chance, both on their way to Tokyo. After a string of coincidences, they come to share an apartment. Despite having contrasting personalities and ideals, the Nanas respect each other and become close friends. While BLAST begins to gain popularity at live gigs, the two Nanas face many other issues together, especially in the areas of friendship and romance. The story of Nana revolves heavily around the romance and relationships of the two characters as one seeks fame and recognition while the other seeks love and happiness.
This is a manga that has been close to my heart since I first fell for it (as a teenager, quite a few years back when I had to wait until the next translated chapter came out to keep up with the story).
I hate to admit that I used to identify (and in some ways still do) with Nana Komatsu “Hachiko”. And I did use to have a lot of crushes but nothing serious. Yet, the way this manga explores not only the way relationships work and how one becomes an “adult”, it also ponders what success means. The first five volumes introduce you to most of the main characters that will be seen all throughout the story and it is being narrated by Nana Komatsu, so it has some of her thoughts, and sometimes you can see she is looking back and thinking “why did I do that?”.
The artwork has always been inspiring for me. The fashion and details Ai Yazawa has on it are wonderful and I have loved the close relationship that happens between two strangers that want to rent the same flat and have the same name.
Definitely reading Nana. Another good one is Paradise Kiss (also by Ai Yazawa) which focuses more in fashion than music, but it is still a wonderful story. Both the manga and anime. And also I recommend the anime for Nana.