My Manga Blog

{July 20, 2010}   Tale of two Nana’s

Nana is one of those little comics that accidentally become insanely famous. Released in 2000, it is a shojo manga. Its story revolves around two girls, both named Nana. They come to Tokyo in search of Tokyo. They run into each other and end up sharing an apartment. The rest of the story focuses on their lives and the relationship between them.

On the one hand there is the Nana (Komatsu) who lacks any ambition in life and blames her back luck on a demon while on the other there is the other Nana (Osaki) who is a singer and punk rocker with a strong drive. We have the drive-less Nana talking about her deepest feelings to the new Nana.

As the story progresses, it managed to keep the reader curious and entertained. The story itself springs quite a few surprises. So popular has it been that there have been two films based on it already and countless songs inspired by it. Volume 19 of the series was the third highest selling manga book in 2008, which speaks volumes about its popularity. It already has 21 volumes and growing! It seems the fable of two Nana’s is going to continue for a while.


In this article, we focus once again on the huge difference between the American and Japanese cultures, and the trouble it results in for manga.

In Japan, manga creators enjoy plenty of freedom, especially when it comes to violent or sexual content. Americans are not so tolerant of such content. Anything that is even remotely adult in nature is frowned upon. So when manga comics make the shift from Japan to America, changes are inevitable.

One comic that had to be changed was Dragon Ball. Much of its popularity was attributed to humor due to sexual undertones. It wasn’t vulgar, by any means. But Americans still didn’t think much of it.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that strips like the one below:

Were changed to something like:

Sure, the change itself seems to be pretty minor. It doesn’t affect the story in any way. But it’s not just about the storyline. Manga relies a lot on subtle messages and humor. So ‘boobies’ and ‘peepies’ in the Dragon Ball comics were as much an integral part of the series as the story.

Hard-core manga fans revolted at the seemingly unnecessary censorship. Dragon Ball had changed forever.

For the owners of the comics, it was a tough decision. What makes manga so entertaining in the first place is that there are no restrictions on its content. When manga is made keeping a Japanese audience in mind, anything goes. American readers, unfortunately, are not so open-minded. They failed to see the importance of non-sexual nudity in manga comics. Yet, the decision had to be made keeping in mind the amount of money that was to be made off the American audience.

As they say – you win some, you lose some.

et cetera