Here’s everything about Ai Yazawa continuing the manga Nana:
In the summer of 2022, Yazawa announced her desire to resume work on Nana.
At the same time, she made it clear that she will not be working according to a traditional release schedule, and there is no committed timeframe for the release of new content.
This gave fans hope, but they still remain in limbo.
So if you want to learn all about Ai Yazawa resuming her most popular work, the manga Nana, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get right into it!
Who Is Ai Yazawa?
Let’s start this conversation in a logical place.
Who is Ai Yazawa?
For those who are not already familiar with her, she is a famous manga author in Japan.
I’ll explain more about her manga a little later.
First, let’s talk about the person.
She was born in Japan in 1967, making her current age 55.
She got her first manga published when she was only 18.
That manga, Ano Natsu, helped launch a career that would span more than 30 years (so far) and include 14 different manga series.
After high school, she actually attended a professional fashion school while working on manga, but when her first series was picked up for publication, she dropped out of fashion school, and her career took off.
She’s one of the more prolific manga authors of her generation, and her crowning achievement, Nana, is the most popular of all of her works.
As a manga artist, Yazawa has also produced many drawings and illustrations.
Some of her more notable recent work includes a special commission for JUJU’s single Liwake and a special illustration for Space Channel 5 VR (which was done in 2020).
In short, Yazawa is a celebrated manga creator and author, and those who know her work tend to hold it in very high esteem.
What Is Nana?
As I mentioned, the most popular manga produced by Yazawa is definitely Nana.
It ran from 2000 to 2009 and spanned 21 volumes.
Frustratingly for fans, Nana went on hiatus in 2009 and still has not resumed.
Despite that, the manga remains perpetually unfinished; the publisher has not ever formally concluded or scrapped the series.
But, I’ll get into the hiatus and everything around it in a moment.
To understand why people are so enamored with Nana (and why I’m even writing this article), we should talk a little more about the manga itself.
It’s a story of two female characters, both named Nana, who serendipitously cross paths when they move to Tokyo.
They are both 20 years old when they meet, but despite their similar names, they are remarkably different characters.
Through that fateful meeting, the two become friends and even incidentally move into the same apartment.
Over time, their friendship faces many tests and challenges.
The story takes many turns along the way, and the final chapter ends with many loose threads unresolved.
The story itself is clearly still in the middle.
What Is a Manga?
In the next section, I’ll explain the hiatus, and then we can talk about whether or not the manga is ever coming back.
First, I want to take a moment for anyone who isn’t already familiar with manga.
If some of what you have been reading so far looks a little Greek, manga is a popular form of art and storytelling in Japan.
To put it succinctly, you could think of manga series as the Japanese analog to comic books in the West.
That’s a good entry point, but it doesn’t really do the topic justice.
Manga really took off as a storytelling medium in Japan in the 1950s.
Today, there are more series than I could hope to count, and the market is valued at around 600 billion yen (roughly $4.2 billion USD).
While manga is traditionally expressed in a graphic novel type of format, there are a few distinctions worth noting.
First, manga is traditionally in black ink with no color.
That leads to a distinct art style that makes it noticeable at a glance.
Second, manga has an entirely unique set of tropes, cliches, and expectations when compared to other media.
If you have ever watched a Japanese anime (which is an animated show produced in Japan), you might have noticed some of the differences in storytelling.
Characters feel different; the stories focus on different elements, and often the anime world has its own set of weird rules.
This is because the vast majority of anime series are adapted from manga series.
In other words, manga is one of the world’s leading sources of unique fictional stories.
There are many different manga genres that range from superheroes to detectives to battling robots and more.
Nana fits into a genre often called “slice of life.”
That is to say, the characters and events in Nana are largely relegated to the ordinary stuff.
The circumstances might be uncommon, but there’s nothing in the story that feels fundamentally impossible in the real world (as opposed to alien invasions or ninja armies that appear in many other genres).
You’re just watching characters go about their lives without any type of fantastic elements.
It’s similar to a Western drama in that respect, even if the story itself is original.
Why Did the Manga Nana Stop?
With all of that background covered, we can really get into the thick of this conversation.
I already told you that Nana went on hiatus in 2009, despite being a very popular series.
Well, in June of 2009, Yazawa was suddenly hospitalized.
The reason for her hospitalization was never made public, but she remained in the hospital until April 2010, nearly a year later.
During her hospitalization, she was, understandably, unable to continue work on Nana, and that is how the hiatus began.
Since that time, she has continued to struggle with her health (again, the specifics have never been publicly disclosed), and as such, she has not returned to production on Nana.
Will the Manga Nana Come Back? (2 Things)
You might think that after so many years everyone would give up and just call it a dead manga, but that’s not the case.
Fans still regularly check for updates to see if the manga will resume.
The original publication that distributed Nana continues to label the manga as an ongoing series.
It seems like no one has given up at all.
And, in the past year, there have been two things in particular that have reignited fan fervor and led to a lot of speculation that the manga will be back soon.
#1 The Art Exhibit
This story really takes shape when we look at a discussion about an art exhibit.
Fans of Nana wanted to put together an art exhibit to celebrate the series, and ultimately, they were able to get in touch with Yazawa.
That led to an interesting exchange where Yazawa ended up contributing brand-new art for the exhibit.
Technically speaking, that constituted the first new Nana content in over a decade, and as you might imagine, fans were thoroughly excited by it.
That excitement led to speculation, and somehow, fans came to the conclusion that Yazawa’s health has improved considerably since her hospitalization.
That consensus ended up proving true as official statements confirmed that while she still has health challenges, her general health is much better compared to when she was originally hospitalized.
Continued speculation led fans to start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the manga could return.
#2 The Tweet
That sets the stage rather nicely.
As a result of all of this back and forth, Yazawa ended up doing a short interview.
A part of that interview was clipped and put in a tweet that has now circled the globe several times.
The original tweet was sent in July of 2022, and I’ll post an official English translation below.
This is a direct quote from Yazawa’s interview:
This exhibition is dedicated to everybody who supports me and keeps reading my work. I am terribly sorry for making everyone worry since I have taken a long hiatus from NANA. I feel like my body has been recovering little by little while preparing for this event as well. Not only that, but I would love to keep working on my manga while taking care of my health from now on. Please look forward to when that time comes.
That settles it.
The manga is back on, right?
Well, not exactly.
The tweet makes it clear that Yazawa is not returning to a traditional manga production schedule.
For those who don’t know, producing manga actually requires very long hours from week to week.
The schedules can be so grueling that it’s not uncommon for popular creators and artists to work themselves into poor health, literally.
Two prominent examples of this include the author of Hunter x Hunter — who has taken several long hiatuses on account of health issues — and the author of Berserk, who tragically died from health issues related to an extreme work schedule.
The point here is that Yazawa won’t be able to work at a weekly release pace any time soon, if ever.
Still, she committed to working on the manga, and that leaves fans in a bit of a weird place.
Most likely, she’s going to work at her own pace, and when enough material is built up, the magazine will resume publishing.
That means you can assume that it will be months (or more likely years) before the next chapter is released.