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Manga Review

Book Cover

Volume 1


Author: Ai Yazawa
Artist: Ai Yazawa
Viz Media
RRP: £5.99, US $8.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 4215 0108 6
ISBN-10: 1 4215 0108 2
Available 03 March 2008

Nana Komatsu is looking for love in all the wrong places, usually in the beds of men she hardly knows, and her quest for affection sees her being sexually used by a string of older men. Nana Otaski appears to have it all as the lead singer of a successful band, but even she is staring rejection in the face as her boyfriend contemplates leaving. It seems that neither girl has control over theirs lives so maybe a move to Tokyo will change their fortunes...

Nana by Ai Yazawa is a Shojo Manga (a book for girls aged ten to eighteen) which was successful enough to produce not only a manga series by also a film and an anime series. The manga has sold over 22 million copies. The story originally appeared in a 2002 copy of Shojo Manga Cookie. Yazawa was born in 1967 and has a number of other successful titles under her belt, including Paradise Kiss and Neighbourhood Story.

The first thing you notice about the title is its overtly sexual content, not necessarily in the visuals, which remain tasteful throughout, but in the portrayal of the two Nana’s sex lives. This honest reflection of female sexuality gives the book an edge that you don’t find in other titles. A combination of romantic sensibility mixed with physical sexual desire.

In the first book the two girls have yet to meet, so what we have here is both an introduction and a back story prior to the point when they become unlikely roommates.  Komatsu is naïve in her search for love even getting involved with a married man, who provides her with only his cell phone number. Otaski appears more street wise, yet here too her vulnerability is her need for love.

It will be interesting to see how the series plays out. The danger here is that Yazawa will go for the easy option and produce little more than a series of romantic interludes which add up to nothing, but my feeling is that this is unlikely given the books massive commercial appeal.

As well as the two long stories the book also contains an amusing bonus story which depicts the author talking about the book to a group of fans. The book has a great cover and the art inside is both clean and sharp with good character design, so you shouldn’t get confused about who is who.

So a good start to the series, lets hope it doesn’t turn into mush.


Charles Packer

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