'Nana 2' needed Aoi Miyazaki


Watched NANA 2 during my flight home from Perth last week. I liked the first NANA a lot, the 2005 Japanese box-office champ was consistently entertaining and featured a powerhouse performance from Nakashima Mika (til this day, I tell everyone that I prophesized her superstardom when I first heard her 'HELPLESS RAIN' in 2001) as the gothic punk rocker Nana. And there was good chemistry between her and 'the other Nana' (Hachi) played by Miyazaki Aoi, so despite the film seemingly not resolving anything much (it was obviously leaving lots of room for a sequel) and I could never really buy into Nana's romance with Ren (Ren's too bland and boring for Nana), the first Nana film still managed to make me feel satisfied.

Satisfied enough to not ask for a sequel because it had a good enough open-ended ending.

I should have treated Nana 2 as some straight-to-DVD Disney sequels and disregard its existence, because, with the overhaul of cast members (three major characters are played by new cast members... including Hachi), I figured that the cast change thing will feel more like SPEED 2 and not DARK KNIGHT. Miyazaki Aoi had made Hachi her role, infusing the characer with such (sickeningly irresistible?) cuteness that replacing Miyazaki Aoi with Yui Ichikawa is like replacing Keanu Reeves with Jason Patric, it's not going to make the fans cheer like replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal in the upcoming Batman film!

Despite knowing that the film's been both a commercial and critical disappointment, curiosity got the better of me, and I chose to watch the film.



It's not so horrible that it would make me want to commit harakiri like HIDDEN SUMMER IN MY HEART did. Just that the film is a really underwhelming experience, the MATRIX-type sequels that make you wish that they never had existed so that at least you have an untainted memory of the original, where the fates of the characters can be left up to your own imagination.

NANA 2 destroys your perception of some characters, especially by turning Hachi into the pseudo-villainess of the film. Pretty much every bad things in the film occurred because of Hachi's stupidity and selfishness. The most unbelievable thing is to see Nakashima Mika's Nana being relegated to a secondary role, where she becomes more like a 'supportive best friend' character instead of a lead. WTF were they thinking? How did the cooler Nana become Robin instead of Batman when almost everyone's more interested in watching her?

Both characters share equal spotlight in the first NANA film, but the best parts came when Nana starts to involve herself in Hachi's affairs, the part where she confronts Hachi's spineless, unfaithful boyfriend was one of NANA's highlights. Yet in NANA 2, we don't see moments like this, the gulf between Nana and Hachi has widen, and Nana's grief is only shown at some expository cafe scenes with Yasu and some occasional voiceovers. What was once a colourful ensemble piece had become a soap opera-like film that focuses on Hachi's angst, it's daring to experiment and defy audience expectations, but it's similar to my problems with the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels, where the focus has to be on the boring Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann when Jack Sparrow's infinitely more interesting.

If you have seen NANA and you are interested in watching NANA 2 as well, I suggest you don't, not because it's a technically a horrible film, but because it ain't worth it. Better to retain whatever goodwill you have towards the first film and move on instead of having all that blown away by the second film.

THE ACTUAL SPOILER-FREE REVIEW OF NANA 2 ENDS HERE!!!!!!



... Now, if you have seen the film (or don't mind spoilers), then you can check out the following MSN conversation I had with Johan about NANA 2.




I said:
Saw Nana 2?
He said:
Yup. I have.
I said:
Watcha think? Disappointing huh?
He said:
Hmm.
He said:
I dunno.
I said:
can't believe they spent so much time on Nana Komatsu (Hachi)
He said:
Yeah.
I said:
Sheesh, everyone should know by now that it's Gothic punk rocker Nana Osaki we all love:

Nakashima Mika's Nana is the one I love
Nakashima Mika's Gothic punk rocker Nana is the one I love


He said:
I do prefer the 1st one. As for the 2nd film, disappointing as it wuz, wuzn't 2 bad.
He said:
Yeah.
He said:
It's the whole love triangle shit that they focused 2 much on.
He said:
I kinda like Takumi's role in NANA 2 though.
He said:
The asshole everyone would hate.
I said:
Yeah
I said:
It's surprising that he would actually be serious in taking responsibility and marrying her, haha
He said:
Hehehe. Yeah.
He said:
I like da part when he took the mobile and called Nobu to tell him that d other Nana wuz pregnant.
He said:
How much more evil can he get.
I said:
Actually, I interpreted that as a noble thing though
I said:
Nana hachi was so freaking pathetic
I said:
that she's affecting everyone negatively with her stupidity
I said:
so he bloody took matters in his own hands
He said:
True.
He said:
It's her own fault anyways 4 getting 2 involved wit Takumi.
I said:
So, ironically, it was THAT scene that made me went 'oh... takumi's an ok bloke"
He said:
Hehehe. Yeah.
I said:
Too little Olivia Lufkin though


Olivia Lufkin, whose sister Caroline's concert I attended few months ago


He said:
Wuz Olivia Lufkin in da show? I don't think so.
I said:
Oh, wait
I said:
who was that hottie in Trapnest?
He said:
Yuna Ito.
I said:
It was her in part 1?
He said:
Yup. Same chick.

Yuni Ito
Nana 2 needed more of Yuna Ito


I said:
I lust her
He said:
I've been lusting for her since early last yr.
He said:
It's like she wuz da main reason I watched NANA regardless of how short her scenes were.
I said:
No wonder. Was looking at Wikipedia
I said:
Olivia had always been only in the Anime, doing Reika's voice.
I said:
NOT the live-action films
I said:
I got confused.
He said:
Yup.
He said:
I thought the ending for NANA 2 was crappy.
I said:
Yeah. Nothing was solved. Nana Hachi remains an idiot
He said:
Yeah.
He said:
I still prefer Aoi Miyazaki over Yui Ichikawa.

Aoi Miyazaki
Miyazaki Aoi... the original Hachi

I said:
Definitely! Yui Ichikawa's pretty...

Yui Ichikawa
Yui Ichikawa replaced Miyazaki Aoi as 'Hachi' in Nana 2


I said:
but she ain't cute enough
I said:
Yui was serviceable in the serious scenes
I said:
but the Nana Hachi character is just too pathetic
He said:
Yeah.
He said:
too weepy.
I said:
And yeah, Yui was jarring and artificial when she acted cute. Aoi was just right in part 1.
He said:
Aoi was naturally cute.
He said:
Yui tried too hard.
I said:
She was the villainess in the film, for me
He said:
Agreed, I feel that way as well.
I said:
Yeah. I was really more interested in Black Stones' rise, or maybe their rivalry with Trapnest, and how Nana and Ren's relationship would strain the inter-band relationships
I said:
NOT Nana Hachi's soap opera-ish bullshit misadventures, aaargh
He said:
Yeah. I wuz interested in that as well.
He said:
I was hoping they would elevate the rivalry between the 2 bands.
I said:
yeah, this film felt more like a spin-off than an actual sequel, shit
He said:
Yeah.
The sad part is, there isn't gonna be anymore NANA movie after this.
He said:
Not 2 my knowledge.
I said:
Yeah, cos Nana 2 flopped badly in the Japanese box-office last year
I said:
got crushed by Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima
He said:
Yeah.
He said:
I'd rather watch Iwo Jima than NANA 2 honestly.
He said:
But yeah, like I said, 1 of d only reasons I would watch da NANA movies wuz just 2 c Yuna Ito.
I said:
Well, Iwo Jima's a Best Picture nominee for this year's Oscars, WTF was Nana 2??
He said:
Indeed.
I said:
I myself, as a Nakashima Mika fan, wasn't satisfied with Nana 2 at all. It's stupid to see her being relegated to supporting status
He said:
Yeah.
He said:
She didn't do much at all.
He said:
It seemed like Yui Ichikawa was the main star, which was sadly the case.
He said:
Heck I was hoping for Ren to do sumthin' as well.
He said:
Not 2 mention da kid who wuz Shin. So heavily hyped, yet didn't haf much of a role in da show.
I said:
Oh yeah, Hongo Kanata. He was the main guy in the Prince of Tennis live-action film Can't really get the Prince of Tennis kid to replace Death Note's L, man.
He said:
Yup. Although his stock rose after NANA 2.
I said:
Hmm, the Nobu actor, Hiroki Narimiya, was fabulous in the Ima Ai Ni Yukimasu series, and he played a FATHER in that one! But I don't really like his over-exaggerated performance here, though. Too generic.


Nana 2 trailer


Hitoiri (Nana starring Nakashima Mika... which basically means that Nakashima Mika's singing it as Nana) music video


Truth (Reira starring Yuna Ito... I want to marry her)


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