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Nana: Uncut Box Set, Vol. 3

VIZ // Unrated // February 2, 2010
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted February 12, 2010 | E-mail the Author
The Series:
The lives of both Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki get turned upside down in Nana Set Three from Viz.  Just as things start looking up for both of the young women everything comes crumbling down.  This is the most emotional and heartbreaking segment of this magnificent story, and it'll leave viewers yearning for the next collection's release date to arrive.
Series Background:
Nana Komatsu is a 20-year-old woman from an upper middle class background.  She's flighty, narcissistic, and doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life.  As the show begins, she's finally saved up the money to move to Tokyo to be with her boyfriend who's attending art school there.  On a crowded train bound for the big city, Nana finds the last free seat and sits next to an intimidating punk rocker, another 20-year-old who happens to be named Nana Osaki.
Though the two women are the same age and have the same name, they couldn't be more different.  Nana Osaki is driven and determined to make it as a singer on her own.  Instead of following her boyfriend Ren, she purposefully didn't go to Tokyo when he got the offer to play with an up and coming band.  Now Ren is lead guitar in Trapnest, one of the hottest groups in Japan, but Osaki is going to make it without calling in any favors from her ex.
After the train ride they go their own ways, but not for long.  When these two disparate girls both start looking for apartments they bump into each other at a reasonably priced two bedroom loft.  They both want it and start to argue until a realtor suggests that they share the place.  Living together turns out to be the best thing for both of them.  The needy Nana Komatsu quickly picks up the nick-name "Hachi" because she's friendly, obedient, but needs a lot of attention, just like a puppy.  The tough and independent Nana Osaki starts to rub off on Hachi though, and opens up a bit in the process too.  Pretty soon these two people who really have very little in common are the best of friends.
This collection:
Nana has been secretly hooking up with Takumi, the bassist and leader of Trapnest.  He's something of a playboy and will ignore Nana for weeks at a time, but the young girl is attracted to the musician's good looks and charm. 
Hachi has always been looking for someone to love her deeply, and when Nabu, a member of Nana's band Blast declares his undying love for the flighty young woman, she finally realizes that Takumi see's her as just an easy lay and doesn't really love her.  Though he's famous and wealthy, she breaks up with the rock star and throws herself into her relationship with Nabu.
Things are going well for the other Nana and their band Blast.  Their live shows have been attracting more and more people and even started to sell out.  A rep from one of the biggest record companies in Japan catches their act and likes what he sees.  He talks to the band after the show, and agrees to sign them to a contract!
From there however, things start going downhill.  They only sign a temporary contract until all the details about their debut album can be worked out, which means that Blast can't sign with anyone else though they can use the company's studios to practice for free.  Things look dicey however after Shinichi overhears the company rep talking to a producer who doesn't think Blast has a future and won't help with their album.
The big bombshell however has to do with Hachi.  [Spoiler Warning]  It turns out that she's pregnant and that Takumi is most likely the father.  Takumi figures it out for himself and tells Nabu and the other Nana, in a rather cold and calculating manner, but says that he'll support the child even if it isn't his.  But will Nana ever really be happy with Takumi? [End Spoilers]
This is the most dramatic and engrossing chapter of the saga so far.  Creator Ai Yazawa crafts the story magnificently, gently opening these characters lives to the viewers and making them seem like real people.  Just as you start to really cheer for the two girls, Yazawa pulls the rug out from under them making their lives come crashing down.  In a less skillful writers hands the story would turn to melodrama, but this story is not sappy or over the top.  More like a good movie than a soap opera, the ups and downs of the lives of these complex characters is great viewing.
The DVD:

This disc comes with the original Japanese audio and an English dub, both in stereo.  I mainly viewed the show with the Japanese track but I screened a couple of episodes with the dub track and that was fine.  The Englsih voice actors do a good job and don't overact of put on phony accents.  Both tracks sounded clean and clear and there were no defects worth mentioning.  I was a little disappointed that there wasn't at least an English 5.1 track, but I can live without it.  
The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) image looks very good.  The lines were tight and there was a lot of detail.  The blacks were solid and the colors were bright and strong too.  On the digital side there wasn't much to complain about either, the only flaw being a bit of aliasing.  This is a show that is very easy on the eyes.
The series is a little light on the extras.  There's a clean opening and closing and a series of VIZ previews.
Final Thoughts:
This is a great series that would appeal to people who don't normally watch anime.  It's a tender and heartfelt story that just happens to be animated instead of using real actors.  (There are two live-action movies based on the manga, but they don't hold a candle to this anime.)  Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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