Years ago, when I heard the word anime my mind jumped to things like Naruto and Dragon Ball. It was boring boy stuff that I didn't have time for since I as a lover of drama and romance couldn't bring myself to watch an action movie, so an anime where boys with headbands kicked each other was ultimately out of the question.
But then one day, casually scrolling through Netflix, something caught my eye. It was an anime by the name of Ouran High School Host Club, and it changed everything. Here was an anime that wasn't about boys kicking each other and running around really fast, but about love, drama, comedy and good old fashioned gay anime relationships. I was hooked, and have been hooked ever since.
It may come as a surprise to many people that anime is not just about girls in underwear with big swords, and wizards, and really poorly executed dirty jokes. Like with American television and film anime has different genres that offer different things. There is funny anime, dramatic anime, romantic anime, and of course, sci-fi fantasy, boys kicking other boys anime.
Today I'm going to review one of my all time favorite anime that may be of interest to some readers. Its called Nana, and it will change your life, and hopefully your opinion on anime.
Nana is about two girls, one named Nana Osaki and one named Nana Komatsu. They meet on a train and later find themselves as roommates, despite appearing to be total opposites. Nana O. is a hardcore punk rocker with short black hair and an angry, take-no-crap, balls-of-steel attitude. She plays in a band as their lead singer. Nana K. is sweet, feminine and girly, and naïve and innocent to the ways of the world. She has a tendency to cry and love the wrong men, and she follows Nana O. around like a little dog.
The series follows the two girl's lives, the theme of true and everlasting friendship being at the core of the story. Nana O. and Nana K. truly care for one another, and viewers watch their relationship blossom from a timid friendship into a strong and unwavering bond. There are plenty of side stories too, ones that focus on relationships coming together and falling apart, and if you aren't crying, or clutching your heart in love-struck agony, you'll be laughing since the series is also pretty funny.
The reason I love Nana so much is because I really like movies and TV shows that are sad, but also end on a happy note. In fact my favorite movie of all time is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which is about exactly what the title implies and I cry every time and that's why I love it so much. There is something pure and holy about crying at a film. I always feel new and refreshed after sobbing over a fictional character, and Nana does this for me. Nana O. and Nana K. are just so good and genuine, and you're rooting for them and their odd friendship throughout the entire series. Anytime an issue comes up you feel it with your whole being. When either Nana cries, you cry with her, because the pain they're feeling seems so real, and it all hits so close to home. Often times TV characters seem very removed from real life to the point where its hard to relate to them. But in Nana, all of the characters feel and experience real human things that draw the audience in and create a connection.
Nobuo, one of the other main characters of the story, is also one of my top five anime crushes of all time. He's sweet, funny, and loves with his whole self. And even though he's a tad childish and not too bright, he has a big heart and will be exactly the person you need. His conflicts in the story (which I won't spoil because they're just so emotional and you have to experience them for yourself) are what really got me going. I had to pause the episode to cry about it.
So for the lovers of drama and romance, try out Nana. Its different from other anime because while it is funny and it does have the comedic elements of other anime, it also takes itself very seriously. I know some people are turned off by the style of some anime, with the wild facial expressions and the almost constant screaming in Japanese, so you'll be happy to know that most episodes of Nana are not filled with these things, and sometimes if you squint and believe really, really hard, its like watching an episode of Gossip Girl, or 90210.
As a final note, this series is not on Netflix. There are plenty of popular anime streaming sites online where you can watch anime for free, with ads of course, and sometimes if you're lucky you can find series on YouTube. Just be sure that when you do get around to watching it, watch it in Japanese. Even if you don't like subtitles, the experience will be infinitely better. Trust me.
Check in every Monday and Friday for new content and follow us on our Pinterest and Twitter! Happy viewing!
Follow for poems, stories and essays.