I finally got around to watching the 2005 movie adaptation of Ai Yazawa's enormously popular shojo manga series Nana over the weekend:
Yazawa's story follows the adventures of two young women, both named Nana. Nana Osaki is a punk singer who dreams of making it big in the music industry (and surpassing the success of her ex-boyfriend, Ren), and Nana Komatsu is a simple-minded, sweet-tempered girl with bad luck in love. The two Nanas meet on a train to Tokyo, end up sharing an apartment, and, despite their very different personalities, become devoted friends.
Die-hard fans of the manga are almost certain to enjoy this film, seeing as it mimics its source material with remarkable accuracy. Locations, plot twists, and characters—piercings, wrist cuffs, emo hairstyles and all—are faithfully copied from the manga. The actors have undeniable chemistry, and they're instantly recognizable matches for their manga counterparts. (Mika Nakashima, who plays Nana O., and Ryuhei Matsuda, who plays Ren, are particularly well cast—they look exactly Yazawa's visions of their characters.)
Nana is very much a soap opera, and viewers unfamiliar with the story would be well-advised to adjust their expectations accordingly before watching the movie. The film feels like a very long, big-budget episode of an ongoing story—which is basically what it is. (The film script only covers a small portion of Yazawa's storyline.) The characters spend most of their time brooding about their problems, and very few of those problems are resolved by the movie's end*. Rent this movie if you're already a fan of the original manga (or you just like watching pretty, melancholy people in Sid and Nancy-style outfits sit around and play guitars), but skip it if you're a newbie looking for a complete and satisfying storyline.
*They haven't been resolved in the manga, either, and it's twenty volumes long (and still ongoing).