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Nana – 1/2 [Prologue: Nana K. and Nana O./Love Friendship Nana K. and Shoji] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome all, to the new season of Throwback Thursday! For the next few months we have Nana, the 2006 romance from Studio Madhouse! This is our first week so we have a lot to talk about, a lot of characters to meet, so lets dive right into it.

Starting off, lets talk visuals. To say Nana looks dated would be an understatement. I don’t know what it is with y’all but you keep picking series produced during that awkward age of animation between Cel and Digital, and they all suffer from that same visual fuzz that comes from upscaling for Blu-Ray. That’s not Nana’s fault, I actually think it looks pretty good so far. Different, the character designs are nice but very thin, and while I enjoy the wide range of emotions the characters have sometimes their faces almost look like Ascii emotes. Overall though, I like how they generally emote with their entire body, not just an awkward sweat drop or cartoonishly exaggerated face. I would say the most striking thing about Nana so far though are the outfits. They change every scene, always matching the characters personality, and it’s pretty cool.

Diving into the actual show, first up is episode 1, “Prologue: Nana K. and Nana O.”. Right off the bat, Nana and Nana. I get it, it’s the name of the show, really playing into the initial idea of Fate both in their meeting and their names being the same. Really clever! Absolute hell when trying to right about them. For the sake of my sanity I’m going to refer to Prim Nana as just Nana and Punk Nana as Ozaki. Sound good? Great. Speaking of Ozaki, she’s a lot more personable than I was expecting from her design. I thought she’d be a bit ruder, a bit brasher, a more stereotypical punk-like character. Instead she’s pretty chill, gladly engaging Nana in conversation, joking with her, even putting up with her stories for 5 bloody hours. It was a solid first impression I think.

In a similar vein, I also thought Shoji would be an absolute tool. Knowing this was a Lesbian romance, I assumed that the initial boyfriend would be a piece of shit. That he would be what made Nana want to stay away from men and start figuring out how she felt about women. Much to my, pleasant, surprise though, he’s actually a very mature, understanding guy. He isn’t controlling at all, instead actively pushing Nana to not devote herself to him, to go out and discover her own dream, her own goal to become her own person. I never expected this much support from him, he seems like a great guy and a legitimately good influence on Nana if she can just stop defining herself by her relationship. I hope he stays that would, I’d love a romance where none of the characters were “villains” so to speak.

Getting back to Nana, I’m curious what Nana plans to do with her. Right now she’s aimless, with no idea what she wants to do or where she wants to go. She defines herself by her relationships, following and looking to them for purpose and meaning in her life. She even went to art school, probably, because that’s where her friend Jun went. She doesn’t make any decisions of her own. If I had to guess, I’d wager that Shoji will figure this out about her, break up to try and kick her a kick in the butt, and that the first decision Nana will truly make for herself will be pursuing Ozaki. Or something along those lines. There’s a lot of promise here, Nana is kind of a blank slate in this regard since she doesn’t have many wants or desires of her own.

And as if in the first steps of that, Nana is already contriving ways to get Nana and Ozaki together. I say contrive, it’s really not that bad. Sure it’s convenient that they wind up looking at the same apartment at the same time, and also that there just so happens to be a really cheap apartment in a nice brick building overlooking the river that just so happens to have split rooms. Is this a big deal? No, not really, this is a pretty standard sitcom setup. I still have no idea how the Big Bang crew got the apartment they did either. But it’s worth acknowledging that Nana has had a lot fall in her lap so far, so if Nana wants to make her growth worth watching, it’s going to have to start making her work for things instead of just giving them to her. Solid start though.

This brings us to episode 2, “Love Friendship Nana K. and Shoji”. This was a flashback episode, which I can’t say I expected this early on in the series. I wasn’t huge on it at first to be honest, part of what drew me towards Nana as a show was that it was about adults making their way in the world rather than highschoolers. So to be kicked back a few years, even for the purpose of fleshing out our lead, really rubbed me the wrong way. Luckily for both me and Nana though, it moved on from highschool rather fast, and never concerned itself with highschool drama or bullshit. Rather it’s about Nana and how she got to be how she is, and she just so happened to be in highschool for a very traumatic moment of her life. That’s much better in my book!

As for what actually happened to Nana, this was interesting. It’s no exaggeration to say that Nana is easy, easier than an auto playing YouTube playlist if I’m being honest. And I said before that she seems to define herself by her relationships, fully committing herself to Shoji. Here though we get to see not only how easily she latches onto people, even her pizza delivery guy for goodness sake, but also how that can be taken advantage of by guys like Asano. And again, maybe this just shows how wrong my expectations were, in a good way, I wasn’t expecting Nana to go this route, to get this serious this fast. Nana get picked up by a guy almost twice her age and used, then thrown away like she was nothing. This is some traumatic shit.

It makes sense why she’s so clingy to Shoji now, afraid to be thrown away and left alone again. She wants to see useful, to give him everything she can, under this idea that she didn’t give enough to Asano. Combine that hurt with the loneliness she seems to feel when not in a relationship, and it makes sense why she would latch on so hard. She still hasn’t gotten over Asano, and is instead using Shoji to fill that void. So it’s really inevitably that they will break up, because I’d wager she doesn’t actually like him she just likes being with someone, and he’s the best bet/one she has. Maybe I’m reaching there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Shoji, in his shocking maturity, understands all of this and says as much when they inevitably break up.

So yeah, all in all these were two surprising, but solid, episodes of Nana. I think they did a good job of introducing us to our cast and letting us get to know our lead. I wish we had more time with Ozaki, since she’s the other half of the titular Nana, but since this is told mostly from Nana’s point-of-view I guess that will come later down the line. It’s not like the show doesn’t have time, 47 episodes is a lot, the longest we’ve watched since Twelve Kingdoms. My hope is that we’ll get the full story in that time. For now though, I’m interested. Nana is compelling, Shoji is chill, Jun is always right, Kyosuke is a chad, and Ozaki is hot. That’s a pretty good lineup for two episodes in I feel. It’s definitely a lot more than 90% of the current seasonals accomplished at least.

The post Nana – 1/2 [Prologue: Nana K. and Nana O./Love Friendship Nana K. and Shoji] – Throwback Thursday appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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