I very much liked the first Nana movie, so I imperiously ordered Netflix to send me the second. And I wasn’t disappointed; Nana 2 is, if anything, better than Nana 1. Again, the cuts here are smart and done with a sensitivity to the manga. The Shin-Reira relationship is axed, and Shin’s whole unwanted-child-turned-gigolo backstory is axed, which is kind of sad, but definitely necessary if the movie wasn’t to be kept under 4 hours or so. We also lose Hachi’s emotional confrontation with her friend Junko probably my single favorite scene in the entire series. That definitely hurts…but, again, it’s certainly a reasonable choice given the time constraints.

In any case, the acting and casting remain excellent. Hachi is played by a different actor, Yui Ichikawa, but she’s every bit as good as her predecessor. An especial stand-out is Takumi, played by the extremely attractive Tetsuji Tamayama. Takumi was only glimpsed in the first film, but here he plays a central role. ????? captures him perfectly. Just as in the manga, he’s an insensitive control freak with surprising flashes of thoughtfulness, who loves Hachi in his way — a stupid, callous way,, maybe, but decidedly different from not loving her. Nobu (Hiroki Narimiya) gets to do more as well, and he is also wonderful; the actor has an extremely mobile face, which records every nuance of Nobu’s torment as he tries to tell Hachi he loves her. The gradual revelation of Nana’s intense attachment to Hachi is nicely done as well; and the painful central twist, which breaks everyone’s heart, hurts almost as much here as in the manga. Indeed, I was almost ready to rate this equally with the manga at a couple of points…but the ending sort of wanders off down a blind alley or two, dissipating the tension and starting to feel slightly exploitive in its assiduous tear-jerking. Still, this is absolutely top-notch slice-of-life melodrama. Unfortunately, it bombed at the box office apparently, so I’m not sure there will be a third.