What They Say:
Love can mend your life – but will it tear the Nanas apart? Nana K. is happily involved with Takumi from Trapnest, though she doesn’t fully trust him. Nana O. graciously stays away from the apartment for a while, and both Nanas feel the loneliness of their separation. Then in the midst of Blast preparing to sign their first record deal, Nobu makes a surprise confession to Nana K. Now she must make a difficult choice, and someone’s heart is bound to be broken.
NANA gets a pretty basic stereo mix for both its language tracks, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show makes good use of music but it doesn’t exactly overpower or overwhelm you, though the mix itself is decent and the encoding conveys it well. It’s a good forward soundstage presentation that has some solid placement when multiple characters are on screen and sometimes a bit of depth as well, but it’s mostly a dialogue piece that’s well done. Unfortunately, the second ending song, which I believe kicks in around episode nineteen, isn’t present here, largely presumably because of licensing issues. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t a separate sign/song subtitle track for English language fans. The language tracks are in good shape though with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 2006 and into 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release has its twelve episodes spread across three discs, four episodes to a disc. Each disc has plenty of space to work with and the transfer looks really good overall, with only some noticeable film like grain at times that is probably intentional for that particular scene to give it more atmosphere. There are some visible areas of noise in some of the backgrounds at times, but overall Madhouse has created a really good looking show and the transfer captures that very well across the board. Colors look very good, pop when needed to, and dark areas hold up equally as well. With no cross coloration and only a mild hint or two of line noise during a panning sequence, NANA should make more fans happy. It is worth noting that the ending sequences, like most Viz Media releases, have the same credit scroll for all the episodes, even if certain actors aren’t in that episode.
With the focus on Hachi, the cover takes on a lighter feel as it uses a peach shade of pink that lets it feel more inviting and peaceful. The front of the slipcover has another great image where it puts Hachi and Nobu together where there’a hand in hand and looking at each other with great smiles filled with promise. There’s a great look to the two of them that’s contrasted by Hachi’s face in the background with her eyes closed that could be read either as happiness or sadness. They provide a number of logos and info on the front, including episode numbers, but also mentioning that it’s uncut, which can be argued that it is untrue because of the music alteration alone. The back of the slipcover features more shades of peach with some shots of the city and of the apartment while also slipping in a couple of full color pictures from the show as well. The summary is very brief but hints at what’s to come while a lot of this is given over to production and technical information, which is pretty minimal in the grid. Interestingly, this release is being rated 18+/Mature, which to most people would classify it in the hentai category instead of a proper 17+ range rating. Inside the slipcover we get a very basic digipak whose front and back cover is mostly black with some soft purple/pink mixed into it that opens up to a two panel piece to hold the discs. Behind the discs is the image of giant debut poster for the Black Stones for the day when they do make it big. It’s not the best looking digipak by any stretch and it’s surprising to see so little artwork used on the interior packaging like this.
The menus for NANA are very simple but they’ve been given the right kind of style to make them work effectively. Each menu is different, a rarity these days for a collection of any stripe, with a different piece of character artwork and background that’s done with scratches through the video to give it an old time feel. The navigation is kept minimal as the extras are all on the third disc, so it’s just setting up the disc or checking out the scenes beyond hitting the play button itself. Submenus do load quickly and everything moves relatively quickly, though there are unskippable segments on the disc, and the language submenu doesn’t read our players’ language presets which didn’t surprise us as Viz often doesn’t seem to take viewer habits into consideration.
The extras are all on the third disc and are a bit less than the last volume. A clean version of the opening and closing sequence is included and there’s another line art gallery which is what makes up this volume.
With the third set of the series, Nana rolls through a batch of twelve episodes that takes us up through number thirty-four. Unfortunately, it’s at this stage of the series that the manga lost me and I never went back to it. Much of what I had enjoyed about the show was the relationship between the two Nana’s, the lives they were building and how they were exploring their youth and the way the world was wide open for them. The hardships have been regular, more for Nana from an earlier age but Hachi has been experiencing a lot of them since coming to Tokyo and it was helping to mature her.
What makes this series more complicated than it should be in some ways is the depth of the relationships that are brought out. There’s enough complexity in the present with the core characters, but as the series goes on we see that there are deeper ties. The past has been mined when it came to Ren and Nana as well as how Hachi and Shuuji were back in the day, but we’re starting to see more of how things were with Nobu who had known Nana before she met Ren and it’s a very cute story of how Nobu won over Nana to talking with him. The added complications are coming in now that we’re seeing more of those from Trapnest, such as how Yasu and Reira were close when they were in school which in turn shows us how Takumi was back then with the way he was an older brother of sorts. Which frustrated Reira since she was into him but he never looked at her that way.
These other relationships influence the two core ones in a number of ways. The one that drives much of the change in the series is Hachi and she’s continuing her wild ride. Her relationship with Takumi has been awkward at best with the way he’s off for a length of time and they don’t really communicate at all. She treats him in a way that other women don’t which has him drawn to her, but there’s still the way he’s been for so long that keeps him with other women as well. Hachi’s starting to realize that she won’t find what she wants here, which is a kind of happy married life where she dotes on her man and he does the same with her. This all flirts around the edges of her mind as she goes through her days when he’s not there but it’s making more and more of an impact.
What forces a new change into everything is that Nobu finally finds himself pushed enough, mostly by Shin, to admit his feelings to Hachi before things get any more serious between her and Takumi. He’s very young in how he approaches this with her, almost like he’s still in high school at best, but it’s very cute and utterly charming. Which is why it throws off Hachi completely and she falls pretty hard for him. So much so that she turns on a dime with Takumi, understandably because of how the two of them have interacted, and throws herself hard at Nobu. It’s a bit disconcerting for Nobu at first but Hachi has this kind of honesty about her in a way that makes you look past certain things like that. Their relationship blooms quickly and intensely that it’s fun to watch but it also has that edge of uncertainty to it as to whether it’s… real.
From the outside, others react differently to the situation but mostly people are happy with it. Nana is glad that her friend for so long has found someone, crazy as she may be, but someone she knows that’s looking for a lot of what Nobu is looking for. If anyone is unhappy about it, it’s Takumi when he finally learns what’s really happened after the way he was “sort of” dumped by Hachi. Takumi’s not exactly possessive, but when circumstances change he dives right in and puts a decisive feeling to the events that are moving faster than Hachi can manage. In a way, you want to really hate Takumi for what he’s doing as Hachi’s life is about to turn upside down, but you can’t help but be thankful he does what he does by bringing Nobu into it and explaining the situation to him. Rather than dragging a story element out, a story element I really do despise, it’s faced head on in a way that’s really required by reality.
At this stage of the series, Hachi is about twenty years old and while her situation isn’t unique, it’s a curve to the show that I was never comfortable with. Having her going out with an idol worship figure was cute and fun but it was also Dangerous with a capital D as Nana has viewed it. Though Hachi tried to hide her relationship with him, it was plainly obvious what was going on to most and that put a huge wedge between the two women that only gets worse and worse. And with Hachi now in a very different and difficult situation, one where her mind races in so many different ways, she’s no longer really thinking clearly and in fact has let others take over for her in making the decisions. And for a strong woman like Nana, seeing this happen with someone she cares about from someone she actively despises, well, she embodied my feelings about a lot of this arc.
The third set for Nana has some good material to it that really plays to the depth of the characters and the diversity of the relationships. Shin’s material is minor but it really plays him well as his father is dealt with and his relationship with Reira is handled very well. Yasu continues to be one of the most intriguing characters in the series and the one you really want to peel his mind open so you can understand what’s really driving him. With the core characters, this is a difficult set to watch as it moves into the second half as it drastically alters the dynamic of, well, everyone, and it leaves you feeling very uncertain and almost like it’s a different show. I never liked this when it was brought into the manga nor the live action movies and I’m certainly not caring for it here. It’s just not what I wanted out of this kind of story and I can’t help but feel that it sends it off the rails.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: November 24th, 2009
Running Time: 268 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.