10 November 2006

Nana (ナナ, Episode 3)

Episode 3

奈々と章司、恋の行方 Nana & Shoji, Love’s Whereabouts

This episode continues the first chapter of the manga with Nana Komatsu (she hasn’t acquired the Hachi nickname yet as the two Nanas have not yet met) determined not to fall in love with Shouji. The group of four friends (Junko & Kyosuke, Nana-chan/Hachi & Shoji) go on a holiday to the sea together and Shoji can barely keep his frustration under wraps. Rather than just tell Nana-chan that he fancies her, he berates her with lectures about her naivety about men. Any enjoyment Nana-chan was having on the trip is cut short when she finds out that all her friends are planning to move to Tokyo to continue studying art. When Shoji suggests that Nana-chan apply to colleges in Tokyo as well, she hits the books with a determination to get herself to Tokyo no matter what. It is difficult to sympathize with her because she has no passion for the study of art, she concerns herself only with keeping her circle of friends intact. Nana-chan and Shoji’s state of denial about their lust for each other comes to a boiling point when the friends are in Tokyo checking out schools and places to live.

Shoji walks off in a huff in what looks like the Ginza area, leaving the clueless Nana-chan to find her way back to the hotel on her own. Nana-chan runs into her former lover Asano and he takes her out to dinner to a restaurant with an amazing view of Tokyo at night. This turns out to be a positive experience for Nana-chan because she finally realizes that she is ready to put their relationship behind her and move on. Nana-chan parts ways with Asano and he points her in the direction of her hotel. While this is going on Junko and Shoji have an argument in which Junko reprimands Shoji for abandoning Nana-chan and points out the obvious to him: that Nana has fallen for him. As the two rush out Kyosuke notices that they have both left their keitei phones behind. He calls Nana on her keitei and tells her about Junko and Shoji’s fight. The episode ends with Nana realizing her affection for Shoji and running off in search of him.

In this episode, the theme of fashion starts to become foregrounded a bit more as the location moves to Tokyo. As Nana-chan is running about Ginza, for example, close-ups draw attention to her fabulous platform shoes with a funky flower design (taken directly from the manga). Nana Komatsu’s style, even though it originates in a manga that came out a few years back, is very common here in Tokyo: girly but with funky touches. The fashion theme really revs up a notch when Nana Osaki and the two bands make it to Tokyo as well so I’ll write more on that in a later review.

The transitions between scenes in this anime are beautifully rendered and are what make it such riveting viewing. When Kyosuke tells Shoji about his and Junko’s plans to move to Tokyo, the two young men are sitting on the beach facing away from the camera and between them in the background we see Junko and Hachi frolicking delightedly in the water. The animators then cut to an extreme close-up of Hachi balling and we know without being told that the news has now been broken to our over-emotional leading lady.

Perhaps the best transition in this episode comes when Hachi is dedicatedly studying for entrance exams to the Tokyo colleges. As the camera pulls away from her back as she sits at the desk, the screen goes dark except for a spotlight on Hachi. Sitting at her square desk in the triangle of the spotlight the scene resembles an onigiri (rice balls eaten for lunch or a snack in Japan). Against the black seasonal yellow ginko leaves begin to fall and then are replaced by the gently falling snowflakes that are a motif in this series. They seem to symbolize nostalgia and sentimentality. Another major motif is the iconic Tokyo tower, which is used to remind us about the location. Music is also used as a motif and also for transitions, but I will write more about that in a later review.

In closing I will say that this episode still does not completely endear me to Nana/Hachi. Her neediness is still annoying but fortunately it is offset by Junko’s sarcasm and Kyosuke’s dry wit. Although Shoji is cute and clearly cares about Hachi, his weakness in not being able to tell Hachi that he’s interested in her does not bode well. Hachi shows some potential for growing into a really lovable character as she does show some spunk when parting with Asano. Rather than cry (as she does all too often!) she jabs him in the chest with her finger and warns him not to cheat on his wife anymore. I will be watching episodes 4 & 5 next week as they are both concern Nana Osaki’s backstory.

Nana / Animation

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2006