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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Story of Love and Friendship between Two Heroines

[From Novemberber Issue 2014]

201411-9-1

© 矢沢漫画制作所/集英社
NANA, Cover of issue 1.
Written by YAZAWA Ai. Published by Shueisha Inc.

NANA

Brought up in a normal family, KOMATSU Nana’s (nicknamed Hachi) sole aim in life is to fall in love. OSAKI Nana, however, has led a lonely existence since she was abandoned by her mother when she was young. This is the story of the friendship that develops between two girls named Nana who strive to live their lives to the fullest despite getting wounded in love.

Hachi first encounters Nana on the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo; Hachi is going to stay with her boyfriend, while Nana is hoping to make it big as a vocalist in a punk band. Since they are both 20 years old and have the same name, they hit it off and decide to share a flat together. Nana starts a band, but Hachi gets deeply hurt by the betrayal of her boyfriend. With Nana’s support Hachi recovers, and the bond between the two deepens.

The two main characters influence one other. Nana used to go out with Ren – who was in the same band and is now the star of a popular band. After they split up, they lost touch. Hachi who has been dependent on love and is spoiled by those around her, begins to stand on her own two feet after meeting Nana. Nana meets Ren again with the help of Hachi. They reaffirm their continuing affection for one another.

Supported by Hachi, Nana channels her passion into her band’s live performances. As the lovers get back together, collaboration between the two bands begins. For Hachi, who was originally a fan of Ren’s band, it feels like a dream.

Nana is narrated with the present day drama being carried out alongside flash-forwards into the future and flashbacks of the past. Nana portrays its protagonists as real life women with weaknesses and a selfish side. In the story, just when each of them finds happiness, ironically a crisis is visited on their friendship. The people around them get caught up in this, leading to an unexpected development.

Serialization of this manga began in 2000 in the magazine Cookie; subsequently 21 volumes were published. In 2005 the live-action adaptation was a big hit with more than three million people going to see the movie. Since translated versions were released in the United States, Germany, France, and other countries, it has gained ardent fans in many countries. Its broad appeal seems to be in its universal themes of strong friendship and disappointment in love that surpass differences of language and culture.

Serialization was halted by the sudden illness of the author in 2009, so the story has not yet concluded. This May, a short comic based on the original story was published. This has raised hopes among fans that this will provide the impetus for the story to be resumed.

Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko


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