What They Say:
As if Blast’s debut wasn’t causing enough stress, Takumi and Nana K.’s announcement sends everyone reeling, but none more than Nana O. and Reira. While Reira turns to Shin for comfort, Nana O. is drawn to Yasu and his calm understanding, leaving her questioning her relationship with Ren. Nana K. meanwhile is happily nesting in her new home, but her continued estrangement from Nana O. weighs heavily on her heart.
Contains episodes 35-47 plus episode 36.5.
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 thirteen episodes spread across three discs in a four/five/four layout. 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.
The final set brings the two Nana’s together with a good visual as we see them in outfits that personify them and their personalities. It’s a darker looking cover overall because of the purples used, and the somber-looking Nana eye-shot in the background which works pretty well in evoking a certain kind of mood. This isn’t a happy volume in general so this really reflects it well. 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 Riverside 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 the apartment through the purple filter which adds more of that somber feeling. 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 we’ve seen on all past releases. New to this one, and welcome, is a nearly two minute animated music video for the debut song of the Black Stones for “Lucy.”
It’s little surprise here at the end of the Nana anime series that there isn’t anything resembling a true conclusion. In a somewhat rushed form we get a mild look toward the future in the last episode, mashed up with elements in the present, but by and large this set finishes out watching characters flounder with their relationships so much that it impacts their work lives significantly, which in turn impacts a lot of other people. When you realize that up until the start of this set that only six months have passed, it really makes you understand how chaotic their lives must be for it to have gone this way.
The final set of episodes, which has one recap Junko’s Room episode in the middle of the first disc, has two distinct flows to it that coincide as time goes on. The primary function of the show is all about the relationships, relationships which have gotten a lot more complicated when new things were introduced recently with Yasu and Reira’s not-really relationship and the way that Ren believes that Nana still loves him but has a different and more important love for Yasu who has served as a protector. It’s become complicated yet not over time as everyone has a string tied to each other in some way it seems but practically nobody is willing to admit how they feel or what they really want. It’s almost frustrating watching it because you halfway believe that even they don’t know what they want and it becomes hard to root for any particular kind of relationship.
Surprisingly, the only one that seems even reasonably stable is the one between Hachi and Takumi. The two have moved in together and Takumi’s domineering ways are putting him in control of the relationship but Hachi is one who has her own way with things. She’s still uncertain of how everything has played out and the way Takumi runs his life is hard and difficult at times. He’s all about the end results and his methods are pretty obvious but it casts him in a difficult light. What’s interesting is that as time goes on, we do really get the idea that Hachi loves him very much, but it’s hard to tell if she’s settling or not. Or not necessarily settling but taking what’s in front of her and going with that for a number of reasons. Her love is there, but the why of the love is what’s in question.
There are a lot of relationships bouncing around here that fall under Hachi and Takumi’s shadow. Shin and Reira continue to get closer and closer and you really do root for them, though the age difference and the highly sexual nature is a little bothersome in a Western social context. Nobuo has had really crappy luck for awhile now and when he has two opportunities in front of him, neither look like choices that will lead him to a truly happy place, but you never know. The one that seems the most concerning is the one between Ren and Nana as the two have a lot of history together and their love is true, but time has changed both of them and they’re not who they were before. They love each other just as much, but it’s starting to look like they’re not getting all that they need from each other in the long run. It’s just a matter of whether it’s enough for them to build on, which is made more difficult by their positions and the need for secrecy.
That secrecy is what pushes the show in its other direction as there are those that want to expose it in the paparazzi. When they finally do catch Ren and Nana together and begin to expose the relationship, it puts everything in doubt for both groups as their futures are uncertain. For Trapnest, so much of the attention they get from girls is because the guys are hot and single. For the Black Stones, Nana doesn’t want her ascent to be based on her relationship with Ren but rather their own talent. And that talent is put into question through the manager that Gaia has for them as it seems like the company won’t actually debut them. But this exposure practically forces their hand as we see and watching the debut occur and seeing everyone riding the wave of attention is fun to watch, though it comes across pretty chaotically at times.
Everything slowly wraps together as the relationships become things that can cause everything to fall apart even more. There’s a two month period where everything feels like it’s all over the map in how they deal with it, a lot of it forced by the recording studios, and it’s just a mess. This show started out strongly about two women and just like the manga it lost me along the way when it separated them up for far too long and put them on uninteresting paths where they became so self-absorbed. Hachi is doing the best she can for her future family and because of her choices she lost friends she made just a few months before. For Nana, her career gets accelerated because of the paparazzi but she’s intent on doing everything the best she can so she can be the hero that Hachi views her as. And along the way everyone either acts cool or wears their hearts on their sleeves in regards to people that they can’t have. It’s incredibly frustrating.
The end of Nana is not much of a surprise, though there was a nice flash-forward tease a few times with the very last episode that showed Hachi’s young daughter and the gathering of a few friends. The series has been difficult to watch at times because much of it feels like the characters are being thrown at each other with overly complicated connections. This is a series that I felt started off with so much promise, such interesting characters and a solid concept but ended up going in bad directions that turned several of the characters unlikable. When that happens, and they’re lead characters, it just turns you away. There are things I like about the production overall but it became harder and harder to care for them as they go on. And as an ending, this one is terribly weak even if it is close to what real life would be like.
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 9th, 2010
Running Time: 285 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.