Six "Cute" Shoujo & Josei Manga With Incredibly Dark Plots, Part 3: 'Nana' (2 of 3)

(Please click here for 'Part 1' of this three part series on Ai Yazawa's award-winning and bestselling series, 'Nana'!)


When we last left off some five months ago, I introduced you to the first of two young women named 'Nana', Nana Osaki:

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Vocally gifted, hard-rocking, beautiful, and fiercely independent, Nana O. serves as the frontwoman of her chart-topping band, Black Stones, often shortened to BLAST:

  The members of BLAST from left to right: Shin (bassist), Nana O. (vocalist), Yasu (dummer/founder), and Nobu (guitarist)

The members of BLAST from left to right: Shin (bassist), Nana O. (vocalist), Yasu (dummer/founder), and Nobu (guitarist)

Preceding the first break up of Blast was the band's co-founder/original bassist and Nana's boyfriend of two years, Ren Honjo, being scouted as a guitarist by Blast's world-famous rival band, Trapnest. Ren moves to Tokyo, which leads to the reluctant end of his relationship with Nana. Two years later, Nana O. sets  moves to Tokyo to follow her own dreams and start life anew.

And it's while traveling aboard the train to Tokyo that fateful snowy night that Nana O. meets:

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Nana Komatsu—a friendly, bubbly, and dreamy young woman who is moving to Tokyo to follow her boyfriend, Shoji, and their two mutual best friends, Junko and Kyosuke.

**(Note: To clear up any confusion, from this point on, I’ll be referring to Nana Komatsu as “Hachi”—the same nickname she’s given by Nana O. (and is later referred to by everyone in the series), to separate the two Nanas. 'Nana' means 'Seven' and 'Hachi' means “Eight”, and is also a shortened version of the name 'Hachiko'; the same name of the real-life legendary dog that spent years waiting faithfully for his master’s return. Something to keep in mind.)**

Very much unlike Nana Osaki, Hachi came from a very warm and loving home and grew up spoiled with anything and everything she could have ever wished for. As such, she is incredibly immature, childish, and naive, with no sense of independence or knowledge of how the world actually works. Despite her shortcoming, she is a loyal, faithful, and devoted friend with dreams of making it big in the city.

And she deeply believes that true happiness can only be found between the arms of true love.

Hachi isn’t without her own troubles, however—from an early age, she’s (inexplicably) starved for love; and to call her “boy”-crazy is a gross understatement. This leads her through a string of crushes, rejections, and eventually, lands her in the arms of a married man while she’s still in high school.

They continue their affair right up until he has to transfer to Tokyo for work, leaving Hachi devastated. She later graduates high school and finds herself at an art school with her best friend, Junko, where they both meet their own respective boyfriends, Shoji and Kyosuke.

(Coincidentally, Junko and Kyosuke are the most stable couple/human beings in the series. I wonder if that has anything to do with them being the mature token "Black" characters--

  I'm on the fence about whether or not this is appropriation or appreciation, but I love these two and Junko's  Black-ass hair  and it's  various styles .)

I'm on the fence about whether or not this is appropriation or appreciation, but I love these two and Junko's Black-ass hair and it's various styles.)

When Shoji, Kyosuke, and Junko all move to Tokyo for art university, Hachi (having failed her entrance exam) impulsively follows them a year later, and meets Nana Osaki on the train ride there.

  Nana "Hachi" Komatsu (Left), Nana Osaki (Right)

Nana "Hachi" Komatsu (Left), Nana Osaki (Right)

The two strike up something of a friendship upon learning they both share the same name and age. After the train gets stranded for several hours, they share a couple of beers and pass the time getting to know one another better, with much of the conversation being on chatty Hachi's side.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, the two Nana’s go their own separate ways—only to reunite by chance when Hachi and her realtor happen to walk into a two-bedroom apartment (#707) at the same time Nana O. and her realtor are there.

The two women decide to live together, and from there on out, become closer, eventually leading to the twosome to become wholly dependent on one another emotionally and mentally. 

As the series progresses, the story begins to take a heavier and darker tone with a series of abrupt and dark turns:

Hachi finds out that her boyfriend, Shoji, is cheating on her with a co-worker, thus bringing a devastating end to their relationship, and leaving Nana O. to support the borderline suicidal Hachi as her sole source of emotional/mental comfort.

Shortly after their breakup, Hachi receives her preordered front-row tickets to see Trapnest in concert, having been a hardcore fan of the band for years—particularly the band’s bassist and founder, Takumi Ichinose:

  The members of Trapnest (Left to right) Takumi (bassist), Ren (guitarist), Naoki (dummer), Layla (vocalist)

The members of Trapnest (Left to right) Takumi (bassist), Ren (guitarist), Naoki (dummer), Layla (vocalist)

Upon learning about the past relationship between Nana Osaki and Ren from Nana O's bandmates, and wanting nothing but happiness for her best friend, Hachi begs Nana O. to go with her to the concert and resolve things with Ren.

It’s only after Yasu—of whom is Nana O’s. primary source of emotional comfort (and is very much in love with her)—persuades Nana O. to go by reminding Nana that she still has the key to Ren’s lock, and if she has no intention of getting back together with him, it’s only fair to set him free.

At the concert, Nana O. lays eyes on Ren for the first time in two years. They reunite, begin dating once more, and even make plans to retire back home at their beloved warehouse once they're old and gray. Their love is so intense, that Nana and Ren both agree to take the other with them when they die—a continuously reoccurring theme in the series.

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As a “thank you” present for reuniting her and Ren, Nana O. decides to introduce the fangirling Hachi to Takumi:

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—A decision Nana O. immediately comes to regret once she realizes Takumi is nothing more than a selfish, womanizing bastard who is clearly in denial over his (possessive) love for his childhood friend and Trapnest’s co-founder and vocalist—the beautiful, half-American Layla "Reira" Serizawa, who has been desperately in (unrequited) love for Takumi since childhood:

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As teenagers, Layla dated Yasu as an attempt to get over her feelings for Takumi, broke up with Yasu, and years later, would later hook up with Blast’s new bassist, the Sweden-born, male prostitute Shin Okazaki---who also idolizes and models his playing style after Reira's bandmate and guitarist, Ren.

  This would be adorable   if   Shin wasn't  sixteen,  and Layla wasn't  twenty-three.

This would be adorable if Shin wasn't sixteen, and Layla wasn't twenty-three.

By now, Hachi is sick and tired of being led around by Takumi who only uses her for sex, and decides to stop seeing him. 

In the meantime, Hachi begins to grow close and extremely fond of Blast's guitarist, Nobu---something that sits perfectly fine with Nana O, as Nana knows Nobu is a far better match for Hachi.

For a time, Hachi and Nobu share a beautiful, loving relationship and everything is coming up roses:

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Riiiiight up until Hachi finds out she’s pregnant and has no idea who the father is.

And its all downhill from there. For everyone.
 

(Tune in Thursday for the exciting conclusion!)