During lockdown, I decided to finally read the beloved shojo manga “Nana” and watch its anime adaptation. 

It’s a fantastic and realistic story about rocker Nana Komatsu and naive Nana Osaki. The manga follows the friendships and relationships of these two polar opposites. However it’s been on hiatus since 2009 because of the artist’s health. 

In January 2021, a live-action Chinese drama adaptation was announced. 

I have a lot of worries.

Sex

Sex is a catalyst for many plot points in the story. There is cheating, pre-marital sex, extra-marital affairs, children out of wedlock, shady age-gap relationships and even minors in sex work. 

The question is whether sex will be mentioned at all. China is conservative on many social issues and is conscious of the media’s influence. 

These issues, especially the ones at the end of the list, will not fly. I’m not sure how the production will get a greenlight. 

The drama can mention it vaguely, but they’re serious issues that are integral to the story.

On the topic of having children out of wedlock, Chinese single mothers and illegitimate children face discrimination. This is just one of the things in “Nana” that is still a taboo and goes against traditional values.

Drugs

Myanimelist

The manga and anime are basically advertisements for cigarettes. One of the characters’ band, The Black Stones/BLAST, is named after a cigarette brand. Virtually all of the characters smoke. 

The brand of cigarettes also reveals something about the characters. For example, Nana and Ren both smoke Seven Stars. It shows how much Ren influences Nana and how they are tied together.

On-screen smoking has been on the decline because Chinese media do not want young people to smoke. The show might glamorize smoking and influence viewers.

Rock 'n' Roll

The show has big shoes to fill. It needs to release a song as iconic as “Rose.” 

Not only is this song the opening theme song of the anime, but Nana also sings it throughout the show. The music team needs to translate it and find someone with a raspy voice to sing it.

Besides “Rose,” the band also needs to record other Blackstone songs plus the Trapnest songs (the other band in the show).

The show has the perfect opportunity to showcase unknown female rock singers. I really hope they don’t drop the ball on the music because it’s an important aspect of the story.

I am skeptical of live-action adaptations in general. They’re not always faithful to the source material or how fans imagine it. 

However I am looking forward to this adaptation. It’ll fill the void while I wait for Ai Yazawa to finish the series. 

I can’t wait to see who gets casted! I also wonder if they will make up their own ending like “Game of Thrones.” Neither the anime nor the Japanese live-action movies went farther than the plot of the manga. If they do make up their own ending, I hope the two Nanas end up together.


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Vivien Cheng

Vivien Cheng is a student pursuing a B.A. in Mandarin and a minor in international relations. She hopes to aid in policy-making.
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