chomiji: A chibi cartoon of Hotaru from the manga Samurai Deeper Kyo, with a book. Caption: Manga Joy (Manga joy!)
[personal profile] chomiji

This series came highly recommended. It's visually appealing, and every once in a while it hits a note of emotional intensity that strikes a chord in me - but mostly, I think this is not my sort of thing.

Two 20-year-old women, space cadet Nana Komatsu and aspiring rock musician Nana Osaki, end up sharing an apartment in Tokyo - and soap opera ensues. It's fairly tasty soap opera, but I don't identify with either character. It's me, Nana - not you. (There's bit more to it than that - if you're interested, I go into it in more detail below the cut.)

I'm slightly tempted to give it a try for another volume or so. Many manga series seem to have less-than-inspiring or even downright rocky starts: Samurai Deeper Kyo, Saiyuki, and Fruits Basket all underwhelmed me at first. And in fact, rachelmanija warned me that I'd probably have this kind of problem with this series. So have I given it a fair try with three volumes - or not?

Nana, vols. 1-3 - and Chomiji's taste in books etc.

I think the root of the problem is that because I can't lose myself in the story by identifying with one of the characters, I started fretting. I want to reach into the story and straighten them out (especially Nana O). And because I can't, I want to stop reading. This is also why I generally don't watch TV - either it's brainless, or if it's involving, it's full of people whose problems I can't help fix. I have the same issue with most mainstream novels, for that matter. It's like nurse Jenny Blaine in Peter Dickinson's mystery One Foot in the Grave, who reads mostly sword-and-sorcery or thrillers: "Tolkien aside, she despised most of what she read, but reading what she called 'proper books' only made her miserable" (quote is from memory and may not be exact).

The funny thing is, if someone asked me to list the 10 books that are most important to me, the top three would likely be To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), National Velvet (Enid Bagnold), and China Court (Rumer Godden) - three mainstream novels that celebrate the details of everyday life, among other things, and contain characters with their share (and sometimes more than their share) of problems. But each contains characters with whom I can identify, and each contains at least one mentoring character who helps ease the problems - in fact, Mockingbird has two. With Atticus and Miss Maudie, Mrs. Brown, and old Mrs. Quinn on the scene, I can let the other characters' problems go: they don't need my help.

But I have a feeling that for the intended audience, the idea that the young women will muddle through this essentially on their own is part of the attraction ... .

ETA: Eeek, I got the Nanas' names mixed up! (And no one told me ...   :-(    ) I have fixed them now in the review, but I can't do much about the comments (which already have comments attached to them in turn). So please note that they're still mixed up in my answers (below) ... .

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