NANA: Complete Collection Part 2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The ups and downs continue as Hachi realizes what kind of position she's in but unable to change herself just yet.

What They Say
Careers, friendship, love - can two bright young women named Nana manage to have it all?

Nana K.'s Tokyo experiment is in jeopardy when she finds herself strapped for cash and her relationship with Shoji on uncertain ground. Nana O.'s love life takes an unexpected turn when she's reunited with her old flame, Ren from Trapnest. With such a close connection to her favorite band, will Nana K. get to meet the man of her dreams - Takumi? Sometimes dreams do come true...

The Review!
Audio:
NANA gets a pretty basic stereo mix for both its language tracks, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show makes good use of music but it doesn’t exactly overpower or overwhelm you, though the mix itself is decent and the encoding conveys it well. It’s a good forward soundstage presentation that has some solid placement when multiple characters are on screen and sometimes a bit of depth as well, but it’s mostly a dialogue piece that’s well done. Unfortunately, the second ending song, which I believe kicks in around episode nineteen, isn’t present here, largely presumably because of licensing issues. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t a separate sign/song subtitle track for English language fans. The language tracks are in good shape though with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2006 and into 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release has its twelve episodes spread across three discs, four episodes to a disc. Each disc has plenty of space to work with and the transfer looks really good overall, with only some noticeable film like grain at times that is probably intentional for that particular scene to give it more atmosphere. There are some visible areas of noise in some of the backgrounds at times, but overall Madhouse has created a really good looking show and the transfer captures that very well across the board. Colors look very good, pop when needed to, and dark areas hold up equally as well. With no cross coloration and only a mild hint or two of line noise during a panning sequence, NANA should make more fans happy. It is worth noting that the ending sequences, like most Viz Media releases, have the same credit scroll for all the episodes, even if certain actors aren’t in that episode.

Packaging:
The pink of the first set is replaced by a lot of grays with this set as it’s a bit darker with the change of focus in the characters. The front of the slipcover has a great image where it has Hachi in the background with just her face while the foreground has Nana and Ren together in their usual attire, but they look so distinctive with the character designs and the angles used for it. They provide a number of logos and info on the front, including episode numbers, but also mentioning that it’s uncut, which can be argued that it is untrue because of the music alteration alone. The back of the slipcover features more gray with some shots of the city and of the apartment while also slipping in a couple of full color pictures from the show as well. The summary is very brief but hints at what’s to come while a lot of this is given over to production and technical information, which is pretty minimal in the grid. Interestingly, this release is being rated 18+/Mature, which to most people would classify it in the hentai category instead of a proper 17+ range rating. Inside the slipcover we get a very basic digipak whose front and back cover is mostly black with some soft purple/pink mixed into it that opens up to a two panel piece to hold the discs. Behind the discs is the image of the city streets with a very cold and dull look to them which reflects part of the front cover and the origins of Nana and Ren. It’s not the best looking digipak by any stretch and it’s surprising to see so little artwork used on the interior packaging like this.

Menu:
The menus for NANA are very simple but they’ve been given the right kind of style to make them work effectively. Each menu is different, a rarity these days for a collection of any stripe, with a different piece of character artwork and background that’s done with scratches through the video to give it an old time feel. The navigation is kept minimal as the extras are all on the third disc, so it’s just setting up the disc or checking out the scenes beyond hitting the play button itself. Submenus do load quickly and everything moves relatively quickly, though there are unskippable segments on the disc, and the language submenu doesn’t read our players’ language presets which didn’t surprise us as Viz often doesn’t seem to take viewer habits into consideration.

Extras:
The extras are all on the third disc and are a bit less than the last volume. The new inclusion is of a music scene selection which is fairly brief as it brings in one of the music moments from this set. A clean version of the opening and closing sequence is included and there’s another line art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Nana plunges forward with another batch of episodes, the series really pushes that up and down nature of life for the twenty-something set when it comes to love, life and work. It's obviously exaggerated at times and the time compression of events makes you roll your eyes as so much is thrown at Hachi, but overall there's a lot of familiarity to be found here with what happens in life for many people at this stage.

On the love side of life, Hachi is going through the ups and downs pretty fierce. She's concerned about Shoji and the mysterious virtual Sachiko she's created in her mind without realizing that there is a real Sachiko. At this point, almost everyone else seems to know what's going on but Hachi and there are feelings of concern for both of them, as most understand how difficult Hachi can be but also that Shoji really needs to make things clear and figure it out himself. It's really a difficult situation but a lot of the problem really came when Shoji went and moved to Tokyo without Hachi and that time apart provided for several changes for Shoji, enough so that his feelings didn't necessarily lessen but that they changed. And now that Hachi is back in his life, what he feels isn't the same and it's not what he's looking for. But for Hachi, she's pined and worked hard to get back to him only to find that he's keeping her at a distance without saying why, mostly because he doesn't truly know himself.

When it all comes crashing down as you know it will, the fallout is pretty decent but still fairly controlled. Shoji finds himself forced into a choice through simply events and it's easy to tell where his heart is drawn. It was easy since the time the two of them reconnected at the start of the show. You feel a little bad for Sachiko getting mixed up in all of this, but she did it knowingly and that does mean she has to realize that Shoji could do the same to her some day. For Hachi, the walls come up pretty quick and she does have difficulty in going to several places around the area afterward since she could run into Sachiko or she finds herself with all sorts of memories flashing back. But in the end, she struggles through things and tries to move forward.

What's most amusing is watching her personality through the recovery. Her job issues continue to make things a problem for her, but Hachi is completely the kind of person who seems to only feel worthwhile and alive when she's in a relationship. Or as we learned with her and Shoji, just he belief that she's in a relationship gives her what she needs. Over the course of most of this set, we see her scoping out all manner of men and thinking of them in this way, from Yasu to Nobu and even her usual dream of Takumi from Trapnest. That she gets to meet Takumi only makes it far worse and with Takumi being a ladies man, well, it's destined for disaster with the way things could go here.

Nana's side of the story for this batch of episodes is definitely different but no less intense. Blast continues to grow and they manage to snag a fill-in gig which gets them jazzed for what they're doing and all the more certain that they're on the right path. The gang is really coming together in bonding, though there's concern about Shin who appears to be sleeping his way around the city since he doesn't stay in any one place. As the group gets things together, Hachi starts spending more time with Nana because of her own issues and she learns from others about Nana's past with Ren. Being as empathic as she is, Hachi really feels for what she's aware of and sets into motion a plan to try and reunite the two lovers back together. It helps that she's just gotten a pair of Trapnest tickets for the music hall back in her hometown and through it she ends up getting dead center front row seats that practically guarantees that Ren would see her.

Nana and Ren's relationship has so much going on below the surface that has been pushed down there for so long that when there finally is a crack in all of it, it's intense and passionate. Nana is so uncertain and apprehensive about going into this again, putting herself out there, that when events start to move she tries to fight against the current but is ultimately unable to. The history that the two of them have together comes back out and though they're in very different situations than before, and both have changed as well through the time apart, the core of their relationship is still there and watching them rediscover each other is really quite beautiful. They both know what they want and watching them continue to admit that after everything and to be as certain as they are is an amazing contrast to how Hachi's relationships are going.

In Summary:
This particular set feels a little better than the first one in that there is only one recap episode here with Junko doing her recap of Hachi and Shoji's relationship. Beyond that, the series has a lot of really good material that runs the gamut of the characters. The coming together of the band is a lot of fun to watch, especially as they're becoming better friends. There's a great moment with Nobuo and Hachi that could almost go somewhere but falls apart much as life does sometimes and it leads to a really great encounter later. Add in the hilraity of Hachi checking out Yasu as a potential boyfriend and there's a whole lot to like about this set. This series really goes by fast as the situations are fluid and moving, either with the loves of these characters, their work or the music. The first set got us introduced to all of them and began to change them and this set moves things forward in some really interesting ways that could certainly upset fans of particular characters. And I've always liked shows and writers that will play with their characters like that.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Music Scene Selection, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Art Gallery

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 59.90
Running time: 268
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: NANA