December 19, 2006


NANA 2 premiere

Last night, New York-Tokyo held a screening of NANA 2 over at the IFC Center with stars Mika Nakashima and Yui Ichikawa present, as well as about 20 people from TBS covering the event, and an enormous crowd of Mika Nakashima suicide bomber-intensity level fans who were there with one mission: love Mika. There was a Q&A after the screening which was pretty uninteresting (Q: Which Ren did you like working with more? A: I liked working on both movies.), leavened only by a few Mika fans who would get so worked up that they couldn't ask their question and would have to sit back down again, with their friends furiously fanning their flushed faces.

And what about the movie? Well, have you ever had a really good friend who you enjoyed, and then you hear that something bad has happened to them? You figure, it can't be so bad. I mean, how bad could it be, right? Then you see the friend and they're dead. But they've come back to life as a reanimated corpse. They limp along slowly, moaning underneath their breath, a shambling, lifeless, bloodless, stiff zombie.

That's NANA 2.

At 130 minutes this was one of the most painful viewing experiences of my adult life. The original NANA started slowly and took a while to warm up, but once it wove its wooly spell I was hooked. It ambled along at the lurching, uneven rhythm of a friendship and with truly charismatic acting jobs by its two Nanas: Aoi Miyazaki as frilly, friendly Nana and Mika Nakashima as the rock n'roll rebel Nana. This time out the director is still Kentaro Otani but several cast members have been replaced: Yui Ichikawa has replaced Aoi Miyazaki, Nobuo Kyou has replaced Ryuhei Matsuda as Ren (the object of Nana Dark's affections) and Hongo Kanata has become Shinichi Okazaki (the youngest member of Nana Dark's band, the Black Stones) kicking Ken'ichi Matsuyama to the curb.

The casting changes weren't a good idea. The only actors who come out of this mess alive are Mika Nakashima, and Takumi and Nobuo (the character not the actor playing Ren) and they were all veterans from the original film. Yui Ichikawa does the best she can with her role as Nana Light, and she looks the part, but her acting is largely over-acting and she boils her performance down to two gestures she repeats incessantly: lowering her head in shame and beatifically clutching her womb and glowing. Next to the new Ren, however, she looks like Brando. Looking like Ryuhei Matsuda if he'd taken to the bottle and was now living on the street, Nobuo Kyou has a bloated, dissolute face, little to do in the movie, and in the one scene where he takes his shirt off you wish he'd put it back on again ASAP.

Sucked of all life, moving at the pace of a glacier, edited poorly and overall just completely stillborn in every way, NANA 2 actually has the most interesting psychology of the series, with the two Nanas falling out and moving on as Nana Light embraces her own hollowness, and Nana Dark actually starts to perk up and become successful. The movie ends at the same point that the current manga series ends, which is an unsatisfying point to reach since the manga series isn't even over yet. It's as if the STAR WARS movies ended with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. You got the feeling lots of subplots had been sliced out of the movie, but at 130 minutes you have to wonder how painfully long the rough cut was. For a flick about "the kids" and Tokyo and rock and roll this movie was DOA.

NANA 2 premiere

December 19, 2006 at 08:24 AM in Film Reviews | Permalink


Hmm i'm still gonna give this a chance........it shouldn't ruin the great experience i had with the first............right?

Posted by: Raku | Dec 19, 2006 8:51:04 AM

It definitely won't ruin the first movie for you, but it is a big disappointment. You should check it out, though. I'm curious to see if other people dislike it as much as i did.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Dec 19, 2006 9:42:10 AM

That's too bad. I genuinely enjoyed the first one. Is there another catchy Black Stones track like Glamorous Sky in the sequel, at least?

Posted by: kazuki | Dec 19, 2006 12:03:48 PM

I was also really looking forward to Nana 2...but I was worried that this would happen when they recast Nana (Hachi) because Aoi Miyazaki did such a solid job. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed. No offense, but I'm hoping that you misjudged. :p Or that my standards are so abysmally low that I don't notice...lol

Posted by: Brandon | Dec 20, 2006 6:56:09 AM

Well, you can actually read an exact opposite review from mine over here:


I loved the first NANA a lot, but this one was just so sloppily made that it squandered all my good feelings.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Dec 20, 2006 8:15:53 AM

I was at the international premiere. I thought "Nana 2" was overall an enjoyable and entertaining movie experience! Yes, the ending was deeply dissatisfying. However, for the "Nana" fans out there, its a welcome addition to the "Nana" film series. My best friend had never seen the first film and had never read the comics, but she thoroughly enjoyed "Nana 2" and is anxious to find out more. I loved it and can't wait to see it again!

Posted by: Maria | Dec 21, 2006 2:18:46 PM

lol. Okay, I still haven't seen Nana 1, but I think I'll give both a go.

Posted by: Chris | Dec 22, 2006 2:15:17 PM

Damn. My friend & I went there, even though we didn't get any reserved seats, it was nice seeing the buch of NANA and Mika fans waiting to get in...oh yeah, why did it take the IFCstaff so long to actually let you guys into the theatre. The movie was supposed to start at 7:30PM, right? We realy wanted to get in, but we had no other chose but to leave and go home unhappy...later on we found out that there was someone (with no reserved seat) who was let in after the lines were cleared.... ::sighs:: ;-(

Posted by: Elise | Dec 25, 2006 3:47:45 PM

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