I’ve returned home from a very productive trip to North Carolina. The auditions were exhausting, but i’ve got a day to recover at home before returning to work, which is nice. I downloaded the new iTunes last night, and now I’m listening to a “genius”-made playlist, which is surprisingly pretty good!
I never did find a local shop for manga in Charlotte, but as it turns out, there really wasn’t much time for anything like that, anyway. I did take a restaurant recommendation from a reader on the LiveJournal-mirror, who sent us to Macado’s in Concord for the macaroni and cheese, and I have to say it was delicious!
So, as I mentioned, I picked up the first three volumes of Nana for the trip. I’d like to talk a bit more about them now.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW:
For those who don’t know, Nana is the story of two young women, both named “Nana” who, through a series of coincidences, become roommates in Tokyo. The first Nana moved to Tokyo to follow her boyfriend, and the second, to follow her dream of being a professional musician. Nothing is as simple as it sounds, however, and what makes this story work so well is how real and complex both characters (and their circumstances) are. Even just three volumes in, I’ve already seen these characters grow, through happiness and hardship. The two girls come from very different backgrounds, and probably could not be more different from each other, but their growing friendship is incredibly compelling to watch.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most are the small moments of narration in which the first Nana is directly addressing the second, as though she’s telling this story from some point in the future. It is a really effective device, because it keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat, dying to get to that part of the story, to see where they both are in that future moment. Also, it provides us with the most poignant moments. At the end of volume three, when we’re watching this awful moment in which Nana’s boyfriend, Shoji, must finally choose between his girlfriend and the girl he’s been seeing behind her back, the page of narration that appears at the end of the volume just tore me to bits. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, to be honest, and I’m both anxious to get to the next volume, and nervous about the pain that awaits me there.
I feel like I’m talking really incoherently about this, and I’ll try to blame it on exhaustion from the trip, but I think the truth is, I’m still a bit wrapped up in that moment of the story, and I can’t quite get myself free of it enough to talk intelligently about any of it. Perhaps all I can say now is that Nana is compelling and unexpectedly complex, and I’m a bit horrified that it’s taken me so long to get around to reading it.
A brief note to Viz Media: I think you are doing this series a disservice by packaging it as you do. Thanks to Jason Thompson and Johanna Draper Carlson, I had this on my list to buy, but honestly, if I’d run across it for the first time in a store, I never would have picked it up. The Barbie-doll pink Shojo Beat branding all over the books really makes it look like a bubble-gum romance that would only appeal to early teen and pre-teen girls, and this story is so much more interesting than that. I’ve never been embarrassed reading manga in public, but for the first time ever I found myself trying to hide the back cover of a book from view as I read it on the plane. As a nearly 40-year-old woman, I felt like I might as well have been holding an issue of Tiger Beat, which would be, frankly, kind of creepy. Just my two cents, but I really think this series could have a much wider appeal with more dignified packaging.