My curiosity was piqued when I saw many of the DVDs on sale at various shops recently, so was actually wondering what the movie's all about, until I chanced upon a copy (Special Edition too) at the Esplanade Library. In giving it a shot, I'm pleasantly surprised, at the story it told, as well as the eye-candy available of course.
It contains an extremely strong story of friendship, of love and the falling out of, adapted from a popular Japanese manga of the same name, by Ai Yazawa. You might liken it to Feel 100%, as it touches on life, romantic love, and friends. This is the story with a theme primarily centered on Fate, of how two strangers sharing the same name Nana, be the same age, come to meet one night on a train to Tokyo for their own personal reasons, and how they grow to be best friends. The two girls can be so different from each other, one being a kawaii (cute) bimbo, while the other is a rock chick (which I thought was in the mould of Garbage's Shirley Manson) with her own rock band called Black Stones.
While the narrative is forward moving for Nana Komatsu (Aoi Miyazaki), in following her objective to be in Tokyo with her boyfriend Shoji (Yuuta Hiraoka), Nana Osaki (Mika Nakashima, a real life singer) is in the city to try and achieve her big break for the band. However, flashbacks and the slow revelation of Osaki's backstory too revealed a romantic tangle she had with an ex-band member Ren Honjou (Ryuhei Matsuda), who now plays for a successful outfit called TRAPNEST.
It's an account of the two Nana's romantic relationships with the guys in their lives, and how they encourage and support each other through turbulent times during the relationships. While Nana Osaki may be kawaii, her clingy puppy dog attitude may put some guys off, who might prefer the more confident Nana Osaki. But pride too is an obstacle, as I know from personal experience how two very ambitious persons can stumble unwittingly, and perhaps reluctantly sacrifice love for personal career.
Before you dismiss this as a chick flick, I'd like to say I would think otherwise. It may look like one, but it's tremendously well made, with a well paced narrative. Perhaps having the manga serve as a source provided for richer characterization of the leads. The two actresses who play both Nanas too couldn't contrast each other perfectly, and all in all, it's a very pleasing, despite the down moments in the story, movie to watch.
By the way, the sequel has already been filmed, and is pending a year end release. I don't suppose we'll get the opportunity to see it in the theatres here, so will have to cross my fingers for a quick DVD release.
This Code 3 DVD Special Edition by Panorama Entertainment comes with 2 discs. The first contains the movie and a full length commentary by director Kentaro Otami as well as the two lead actresses Mika Nakashima and Aio Miyazaki. Listening to them during the commentary, they revealed which shots were kept close to the manga source, and which had to be changed for reasons ranging from aesthetics to form. No worries though, as the commentary comes with subtitles as well, in both English (though there were some grammar/tense issues with "shotted") and Chinese. Audio comes in a Dolby Digital 5.1, which allows for a truly rock-concert like atmosphere during scenes when the bands perform.
The second disc is the feature disc, consisting of
- Making of NANA,(33mins 25s), follows the production from the 15-16 Jan 05 when filming began, including the director and cast interviews, as well as deleted scenes (filmed but not used in the movie)
- Premiere Screening in Japan, 7 July (for obvious reasons) 2005 (3mins 10s), in Rippongi, with the director and major casts sharing their thoughts on the movie and of the characters they play.
- Stage Appearance in Japan, 3 Sep 2005, (3mins 55s) with the director and major casts sharing their thoughts of the movie again.
- Asia Premiere in Hong Kong, on 2 Oct 2005 (4mins), with a press conference attended by director Kentaro Otani, Mika Nakashima and Ryuhei Matsuda, and the attendance at the premiere screening complete with a cosplay contest.
- Four theatrical trailers, without subtitles (Runtimes of 1min 48s, 30s, 20s, 34s)
- Four TV Spots, without subtitles (Runtimes of 17s, 17s, 30s, 17s)