Nana Review

nana tv season 1 black stones

Animation ProductionMadhouse Studios

Director Morio Asaka

Perfect mix of music, romance and drama.

The Japanese television animated series Nana is adapted from the popular manga by Ai Yazawa and is produced by Madhouse Studios. Morio Asaka known for his strong portrayal of female characters excels with the source material and does the best directorial work of his career so far. Nana is an intertwining story of two girls named Nana in the world of music in Japan.

Out of all the shojo/josei Anime that I have watched (i.e. Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover, Paradise Kiss) this is my favourite. The music, character design, art direction, and writing are all excellently put together. The standout is the music starring Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia which are a step above in quality of anything else in Anime. The deep punk voice of Anna Tsuchiya fits Nana well and the opening theme “rose” is my favourite in Anime of all time. The iconic punk culture of Japan is well represented in the character design and clothing.

A strong aspect of this Anime are the relationships explored between all of the character. The essence of friendships and romance has been allowed to develop and progress throughout the 47 episodes. The most emotional developments involve Nana the lead singer of the Black Stones as she deals with problems of vulnerability, loneliness and dependence on others. The problems that arise in a group of people in a band who are always together are highlighted. The other Nana, also called Hachi, has her own problems surrounding her relationship (as an outsider) with the band members as well as in her love relationships. The changing relationship between the Nana’s is ultimately what drives the show.

There is no excuse for not watching this. If you have to watch one shojo Anime this is the one;  if you already are a shojo fan then my strong recommendation should come as no surprise.

Rating – A+

Genre – Music, Romance, Drama Length – 47 Episode series Year – 2006-07

Adaptation of  the first 12 volumes. Second season is expected to happen once the manga has been completed (currently on volume 21). Available on DVD and iTunes. Two live action movies have be released and cover roughly the same volumes (surprisingly well done and worth watching).

Nodame Cantabile: Paris Review

nodame cantabile paris opening

Animation ProductionGENCO, JC Staff

Director Chiaki Kon

Nodame Cantabile still continues to be as charming and uplifting as the first season

The second anime TV series of this popular property moves on from Japan to France where our two main characters Chiaki and Nodame begin to make their mark on the international stage. Chiaki continues to pursue his conducting career and Nodame studies at the Conservatoire de Paris. Chiaki Kon takes over from season 1 director Kenichi Kasai.

Expanding on the strengths of the first season we see the growth of the relationship and musical talent of both our leads in entirely charming and enthralling ways. Along with this the sense of humour has been retained with the eccentricities of Nodame as the source of the comedy. The new location also introduces a whole new cast of characters and provide a different view of aspiring musicians of different nationalities.

While watching this second season the reason for my admiration for the show became clear. Each episode ends on a completely upbeat and uplifting note. The creators have been able to weave the world of classical music, which is not very popular among younger generations, to a modern audience and keep them captivated. The music has always been good but in particular the ending theme stands out, it is sang in French by a Japanese.

It is a short season but the 3rd season coming out this year (fall 2009) which will be a direct continuation. This is a highly recommended series for any person remotely interested in music.

Rating – A

Genre – Music, Comedy, Romance Length – 11 Episode series Year – 2008

Currently not licensed in the US, Adapted from manga


Detroit Metal City Review

 

DMC

Animation Production – Studio 4C

Director – Hiroshi Nagahama

This a show that is based on the Detroit Metal City manga which is fairly popular in Japan and has been licenced by Viz. It is about an indie death metal band led by Krauser II. Director Hiroshi Nagahama most notably directed Mushishi, a show everyone should watch. Studio 4C known for their distinctive art style and techniques does the animation production.

The draw of the show is the crazy depiction of a metal band rising from indie obscurity to the top in Japan. Soichi Negichi is the legendary Krauser II despite his opposite musical tastes (Negishi is into swedish pop). The other members of the band are just as bizarre. In the screen cap above Krauser is the one in the middle, the drummer on the left and the other guitarist on the right. 

As you would expect the comedy is the crude vulgar kind. It is however a short series that involves twelve 14 minute episodes. This benefits this show as the comedy doesn’t have time to get old. The animation style is interesting with distinctive character designs and the changes in aspect ratios (wide, 4:3). 

Rating – B +

Genre – Music, Comedy Episodes – 12 (14 minutes each) Year – 2008

Currently not licensed in the US  

Adapted from manga

Nodame Cantabile Review

Nodame Cantabile Screenshot

Animation ProductionJ.C. Staff

Director Kenichi Kasai

Nodame Cantabile is a show that has become quite popular in Japan. It’s popularity have merited a second season in 2008 and 3rd season to be aired in 2009. Honey and Clover director Kenichi Kasai explores the world of classical music through the students of a Japanese music academy.

The beauty of this anime is in the music. Despite your musical tastes you will learn to appreciate classical music more by watching this. It explores a world that is foreign to most of us in a way that is entertaining and interesting. I found myself seeking more about the music and composers of classical music.

Most people will also comment on the strength of the characters in this series. The interaction between the leads Nodame and Chiaki are hilarious and are not the typical romantic comedy troupes. However it is a series more about music than romance. The side characters in the show may be stereotypical but do provide a different dimension to the comedy.

Rating – A

Genre – Music, School, Comedy, Romance Length – 23 Episode series Year – 2007

Currently not licensed in the US, Adapted from manga