The new anime season started off for me with NANA, which was also my personal most anticipated new series for spring ’06. This being the adaptation of one of my favourite shoujo manga, my expectations were extremely high.
The animation is being done be Studio MADHOUSE, who did a great job at Paradise Kiss, another adaptation of a Yazawa Ai manga, in the second half of last year.
And they did not disappoint me with NANA. Luckily, the first episode proved that the TV anime is not a pannel to frame adaptation but takes a bit of artistic freedom here and there by leaving things out, adding short scenes and showing scenes from a different angle than in the manga, so it doesn’t give the avid NANA manga reader the feeling they’ve “seen” it all before.
(Which is what happened to me with the NANA movie last year where some scenes seemed all too familiar, especially the scene on the train, the two Nanas’ first meeting, because it used the same angles as the manga and seemed to follow it pannel by pannel.)
The character design of the anime is good, but by no means as cute or beautiful as in the manga. Especially the profiles tend towards the ugly side of things, and a lot of times the full body proportions seem too stretched, even for a shoujo series.
The animation itself is quite decent, including the CG sequences which blend in rather well with the traditionally created scenes.
The music fits pretty well; the opening theme by Tsuchiya Anna and the ending theme by Olivia set the mood for the respective bands and these two vocalists symbolize the fact that NANA (like the original manga itself) is not about authentic (indie) rock or punk but just their mainstream versions (or how the mainstream perceives these genres).
What I’ve noticed after the first 5 minutes already, is that the TV adaptation relies heavily on comedy scenes, more than the manga. The background music (which sometimes reminded me of BGM to be heard during a circus show) emphasized that effect. There were more melancholic and quieter scenes but they definitely were fewer (and shorter) than those slapstick comedy scenes.
I am satisfied with the way they condensed the story, though Hachi/Nana doesn’t quite come off as the bad girl she really is as they left out a lot of her past (her affair with the married man etc.) but this was only the first episode and they might fit in bits of the background story at some later point.
The first episode aired late this past Wednesday so naturally, there aren’t any fansubs out yet. However, if your knowledge of (modern, everyday) Japanese is at a medium degree, you’ll be able to follow the dialogue pretty well. And if you’ve read the manga in Japanese (like me), you won’t face any difficulties at all because all the lines have been used in the manga and you won’t hear anything new.
Ah, I almost forgot: the voice acting! I love Oosaki Nana’s voice *_* Last year, I took really long to get used to Nakashima Mika’s voice who played Nana in the movie adaptation. Her voice sometimes seemed a bit too weak. Not with Paku Romi, the voice actress of the animated Nana :) She has this ultra deep, manly voice which is how I imagine it when reading the manga. And it’s when she speaks softlier that she sounds irresistibly sexy! So far, I really really like her. Hachi’s voice is alright and there’s nothing to be said about the rest of the cast because besides Shouji and Junko, no other main characters have appeared yet. Can’t wait for next week’s episode~
Here are some screencaps: