NANA 5 by Ai Yazawa: A

From the back cover:
Nana K. is going homeā€”for an awesome Trapnest concert! She drags Nana O. along, convinced that somehow Ren will sense his ex-flame in the audience. But life is never that easy, and Nana O. isn’t sure if she even wants Ren back. As for Nana K., is she prepared for Trapnest to come down off the stage and into her life, or will her fangirl attitude land her in a heap of trouble?

It’s rather hard to review this series without giving away all the plot developments, and they’re really too good to spoil. The volume picks up where the last left off, with the girls in the front row at the concert, Nana O. seeing Ren for the first time in years. I really like how things turn out with the two of them.

The latter half of the volume is Nana K.’s turn (I think I’m just going to start calling her Hachi, because everyone in the story does). She’s lost and making bad decisions, drawn to Nana’s glittering life because her own is such a mess. She’s mature enough to know that ultimately, her actions will lead her to feel pain, but she’s trying to live for the moment and put thoughts of tomorrow out of her head. I love how Yazawa is able to portray that she’s changed since we first met her, but do it in a subtle manner. She’s still got lots of issues and things to work out, but she’s not quite as naive as she sometimes pretends to be.

I continue to be madly in love with the technique of interposing real life images into the panels. My favorite is the use of some real office furniture at Hachi’s workplace. Simply seeing a real chair at her workstation makes it seem like there really could be a young woman like her out there someplace. I haven’t experienced anything like that with any other manga.

NANA manages to be entertaining, moving, realistic, and funny all while boasting some damned great art. This is not one to miss.

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