August 2, 2011

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Nana Volume 12

Written by Ai Yazawa
Illustrated by Ai Yazawa
Viz

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but after reading Nana off and on for the past few years, I think I may be done here after the 12th volume. I was a big fan of this series, as my reviews indicate, but it's slowed down so much since the announcement that Nana K is pregnant, it feels like her child should be headed to college by now.

I'm no stranger to slow moving stories, but I do require that the plot advance at least a little here and there to help keep the story going. I also like it when interesting things happen to the characters while they're sitting and spinning in place in an ongoing book.

Nana, unfortunately, is doing neither here. While we get a few tidbits of new story, I feel like I could have skipped this volume entirely and missed almost nothing. And that's the same way I left volumes 10 and 11 before them. I like these characters a lot, but at this point, it seems like they're just going to spend more time retreading the same ground: Takumi is a jerk, Ren and Nana O are destined for heartache, Yasu bears it all quietly, and so on. I get it! Let's see them do stupid things to each other again instead of just angsting about how inevitable it all is!

There are still a lot of cute interpersonal moments. Yazawa's ear for dialog and banter never fail her, and when she adds in her outrageous expressions into the mix, it makes for a fun read. I like how these characters all feel so real. I know people like them, and so do you.

The trouble is that we aren't interesting 24/7, and no one would want to read about us in this level of minutia. Yazawa is too trapped into her characters' lives here, and isn't shortcutting to the good parts. I don't need a play by play of everything. Give us the highlights and move from situation to situation. Too many potential big blow-ups are ending up as much ado about nothing. I was hoping for a huge PR thing when Ren and Nana O get on the air. I got nothing. I wanted Nana K and Nobu to meet and have an impassioned discussion. I got almost nothing.

It's entirely possible that Yazawa is waiting to uncork a whopper on the reader, and all this build-up will make sense. But right now, it just feels like filler to meet a deadline or unnecessary stringing out of the story in order to catch the reader off-guard. The problem right now is that I'm not off-guard; I'm bored.

I have the next 5 volumes of Nana sitting on my shelf, but after this one, I'm not all that inclined to read them. On the one hand, I've invested 2500 reading pages in this thing. On the other hand, that's another 1000 pages, and that's a lot of reading time (no matter how fast you are) for what could be more of the same. We'll see what happens. Right now, though, I'm downgrading this from a must-read to a "try it if you're so inclined."