crap i have watched recently #18

SPOILERS!  Gomennasai!!


nanaNana (2005) and NANA 2 (2007):  This is a pair of films based on the adventures of two young women, both named Nana, who share a flat in Tokyo.  Both are twenty years old and both have come to Tokyo to start a new facet of their lives.  Aside from that, they are very different.   Nana Osaki is the tattooed and studded singer for Black Stones, an up and coming punk band that’s moving to Tokyo to see if they can hit the big time.  Nana Komatsu (who Nana Osaki eventually nicknames Hachi) is a shy girl with a streak of romanticism who is following her high school boyfriend to the city, where he attends an art school.  The two Nanas meet on the train and bond over their similar names and after a couple of coincidences they end up taking an apartment together.   Despite their differences they become friends and we learn about both of them a bit through flashbacks and the others in their lives.  Hachi’s boyfriend doesn’t appear all that happy to see her in Tokyo and puts her off when she wants to discuss living together; we eventually find that he’s met another woman at art school and doesn’t know how to tell Hachi about her.  Hachi is almost completely incapable of holding a job for any length of time but she is always enthusiastic and upbeat.  She is definitely the kawaii one of the pair.  Nana’s ex-boyfriend Ren is the guitarist in the extremely huge band TrapNest.  He had originally been with her in Black Stones but left the band when TrapNest offered him a gig.  Rather than follow him to Tokyo and end up becoming just a rock star’s girlfriend, Nana stayed behind to work on her own career.  She still has feelings for Ren (and we see why in flashbacks) and Hachi’s adoration of TrapNest and her insistence on decorating the apartment with posters of the band brings Nana’s feelings into painful focus.  She is, however, more stoic than Hachi and stays focused on her band and her three band mates who have come to Tokyo with her.

The first movie is actually pretty good.  The two lead actresses play off each other well and despite the two girls’ differences their friendship grows in a believable way.  Although both are the same age Hachi seems younger than her years and Nana seems older but as the story progresses each finds something to learn from in the other.  Nana’s relationship with Ren is also portrayed well.  Both of them are so young (she is 16 when she moves in with Ren) and seem so unaccustomed to tenderness that their scenes together are unexpectedly touching.   Nana holds onto her independence with impressive fierceness and their parting when Ren leaves for Tokyo is all the more bittersweet.  Hachi, on the other hand, is met at the train station by a boyfriend who has obviously moved on and who almost immediately tells her they can’t live together.  She’s oblivious though and spends much of the movie happily planning their future together.  By the time she discovers his betrayal, her time with Nana and the friendship they’ve formed makes her stronger than one would expect.  In a sense each of these two young women becomes a bit like the other.  Nana learns to allow herself to love from Hachi and Hachi learns how to trust her own strength from Nana.

The second movie suffers from a couple of things.  First the actors that played Hachi and Ren did not return for the sequel and neither of their replacements really fill the roles in the way their predecessors did.  The new Hachi fades into the background whenever anyone else is on the screen, even though the plot in this one is more about her.  The new Ren has little of the original actor’s sensitivity or vulnerability and this changes the nature of the character to the point where I really wondered what Nana saw in him.   The band members of Black Stones and Trapnest, who were more or less background characters in the first film, get more screen time in this one and Nana and Hachi spend less time together.  This brings us to the second issue with the sequel.  It is darker and more serious but it lacks the sense of heart that the first film has.  That film was about growing up; this one is about the consequences of growing up.  Nana discovers that her relationship with Ren has all sorts of complications, not only for the two of them but for Black Stones as well.  Hachi…well, Hachi gets pregnant in pretty much the same way she does everything, haphazardly.  At first it appears there might be some drama over the identity of the father and Hachi’s emotions but that dissipates quickly.  The two men involved are mature and responsible, Hachi makes the choice she has to make and everyone understands, the two girls go their separate ways, and the rest of the film is just sort of lackluster after that.  The best thing about the first film, the interaction between the two women is gone and my interest waned along with it.   There is extensive voice-over narration at the beginning and end of the film and that is usually not a good sign.  In this case the narration explains to the audience what is going on in Hachi’s head which is just as well, since since she’s pretty inexpressive.

So, the TL;DR version is watch the first one, take or leave the second one.

Score:  Meh.

~ by gun street girl on August 25, 2013.

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