May 17, 2010

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Nana Volume 6

Written by Ai Yazawa
Illustrated by Ai Yazawa
Viz

The fates of the two Nanas are firmly linked to Nana O's band Blast and its rival Trapnest, as relationships amongst the members of the singing groups get ever more complicated. Can either set of musicians survive the pitfalls inherent in the secret meetings, one-night stands, lies, and cover stories? Will the friendship of the two Nanas be pushed to the breaking point?

This entire trade is a tangled web knitted carefully by Yazawa over the past few volumes. Things play out about as you might expect them to, though there definitely a few surprises along the way. I especially liked the way in which we finally learn how Shin survives, making him tragic and heartless all at the same time. His scenes are far less comical now, as he serves to show that sex does not necessarily equal love.

That's a lesson that pertains directly to our primary point of view character, Nana K. She can't decide whether she wants a relationship or just a way to keep the bed warm. Because of this, Nana K also can't get a read on what she should do, so she lies to her friends, probably lies to herself, and sees better things in Takumi than are actually there.

Though she's far more adult than she was when this series started, Nana K is headed for a fall--again. Nana O was there for her the first time, but with lies mixing in with personal and professional jealousy, will Nana K have anyone to help her after the inevitable crash? I'm not so sure, but I can't wait to see how Yazawa opts to handle things.

This volume feels like it's Nana K's exploration of herself, and the large amount of monologue she has in these pages drives that impression. But Yazawa makes sure we understand that none of the nine folks involved are coming away from any of these mixings cleanly. Nana O wanted to move on with her life, and here she is, following Ren just like she didn't want to. Yasu's feelings are still hidden, but it's clear he's not happy with how he cannot keep the two groups apart. Reira is making her own mistakes and I don't think Ren is respecting Nana O's need to be herself. Takumi risks the ire of the others over his actions, Shin is living a dangerous life, and of course, there's Nobu, the boy who can't wrack up the nerve to try and get the girl. (Shojo-reading men of the universe, admit it--that was you, too, wasn't it?)

With all this drama looming over the story, we almost collapse under the weight. If Yazawa isn't careful, these spinning plates of problems are going to crash and we'll be left with too much angst and wallowing in grief to have a good book. Based on everything I've read, however, I trust her judgment.

Nana is a very complicated ongoing manga, but if you read from the start, everything has been building to this point. I do think we're due for a relief of tension soon, however. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. If you've kept up this far in Nana, I think you'll be wanting to read more of this series, too.