The other day, I got an email from someone asking for manga recommendations. I get these kind of emails all of the time, but I don’t really have the time to ask questions to find out what kind of stories someone likes, and then tailor a recommendation to them. After all, reading manga is a really personal thing, just like reading other book!
What I can do, though, is recommend manga that I personally enjoy! Nothing is to everyone’s tastes, but I find that these are really well-written or entertaining manga that a lot of different people can enjoy! So for the next couple days, I’ll recommend a different manga every day that I’ve really enjoyed! Some are available in English, but not all of them.. (but hopefully they eventually will be!)
The first manga is Nana, by Yazawa Ai!
Nana is dramatic GOLD.Seriously, while at times this manga is really funny and silly, it is just overwhelming FULL OF DRAMA. It’s like a teen girl’s fantasy about dating her favorite singer and being a “part of things behind the music without actually doing anything,” combined with an edgy, crazy, at times romantic, look at the real people behind the music. Sex, drugs, infidelity, insecurity, and even tragedy fill the pages of this manga.
Yet, it’s aimed at young girls and women! Obviously at least teenagers, since there are scenes of sex and drug use, but they’re fairly tastefully done. And in true Yazawa style (the author of Paradise Kiss and Neighborhood Story), the art is different but gorgeous!
The story revolves around two girls with the same nama (Nana), who just happen to be the same age and happen to sit next to each other on a bullet train bound for Tokyo. There’s a blizzard that night, and they end up becoming friends while the train inches it’s way along. They’re both also moving to Tokyo, and despite having so many things in common, these two Nanas are about as different as night and day.
Nana Komatsu is a girly-girl whose whole life revolves around the boy that she’s currently dating. She likes dressing up, doing her hair and putting on makeup, cooking, and fangirling. She doesn’t have any direction in life other than to get a guy, do anything to keep him, and make him happy. It’s not bad, it’s just the way that she (and a lot of other Japanese girls) are.
In fact, that’s why Nana is moving to Tokyo: to be with her boyfriend Shouji, who is a student at an art school. She assumes that she’ll be his live-in girlfriend, and declares that she’s moving to Tokyo suddenly. When Shouji tells her that he can’t support her as a student, she’s suddenly worried that she will put too much pressure on him and that will lead to him breaking up with her. So, she suddenly is on the hunt for the cheapest apartment in Tokyo.
Nana Oosaki is Nana Komatsu’s complete opposite. She doesn’t like to talk, doesn’t like to follow or live in the shadow of others, and has a goal in life: to become the singer of a band more famous than Trapnest, the current hit. She’s talented, driven, and fiercely independent, and her past is full of secrets.
Secrets like her ex-boyfriend and the intensely passionate love of her life being one of the members of aforementioned band, and incredibly popular. Little does Nana Komatsu know, because even though she is Trapnest’s #1 fan (self-proclaimed), the one she has a celebrity crush on is the bad-boy bassist, Takumi.
That’s not even scratching the surface of the intense twists and turns that happen as the two Nanas end up becoming roommates in a quaint apartment with the door number 707 (“Nana” is Japanese for “7”)and their lives become more and more entwined. Nana’s band, Black Stones (Blast for short), and Trapnest become entwined in intimate ways, and Nana Komatsu’s life is changed by the indestructible friendship that develops between them.
It also has a subtle flavor of lesbianism, if you’re into that. (^-~)
Nana is so popular that it inspired a really long anime series, and 2 movies (I’m in the second one! See if you can find me!). And even though the manga has been on hiatus for 2 years in Japan (the author fell ill for a while, but that’s no reason not to read it!!), but it still is featured in the magazine that it ran in (Cookie). It basically sells the magazine, even though it’s not even being printed! That’s how good, and how popular it was!
Oh, and possibly the best thing? The whole series (manga AND anime AND movies) are available in English! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (and f you buy it from my links, I get a commission. Money is SO not why I wrote this, though!)
I honestly ADORE Nana to death! It’s my favorite Shoujo manga of all time!! If you’ve read it, let me know in the comments section below!