Almost Famous: Demon-King Takumi of Trapnest (NANA)

What does music mean to you? I ask the man before me.

“In a word, Reira.”

It’s not easy to get Takumi-san, the Guitarist and principal composer of Trapnest. In journalistic circles he is known to be more ruthless than the most bloodthirsty sharks in the Japanese entertainment press.

It’s a good thing I’m not a journalist, but it’s still quite challenging because I’m actually pretending to be one.

“Why am I talking to you again?”

nana takumi cigarette scarf

His girl stood him up. I met the woman earlier, who was quite pissed after waiting for a long time apparently. What happened next is something Takumi doesn’t have to know. Takumi was sitting by a table not too far from the bar, right next to mine. I struck him up for a conversation after he was getting visibly impatient. He welcomed the whiskey.

You need to be yourself for a change. To everyone you talk to, you’re obfuscating many parts of yourself.

“I can be fully myself with Reira.”

No. She knows much of you, but you actually have some restraint when you’re with her Unless, restraint is indeed the telling part of you.

“And how do you know this?”

I know too much of everyone, though I understand very little. Do not concern yourself with me.

“Well, you don’t seem like a journalist. What is your business really?”

I’m in the, um, maritime industry.

“A sailor?”

More like a shipwright.

“…”

So just talk, Takumi. I’m not Reira who wants you, or Hachi who needs you, or Yasu who judges you. I light a cigarette.

“Kill that. Smoke these.”

I kill my cigarette as I pull out one from Takumi’s pack of Gitanes.

gitanes

What the fuck are you dicking around with Hachi for?

“Asshole. You said you wouldn’t judge me!”

Like I said I’m not here to judge you, if only you’d be straight with yourself.

“You’re failing spectacularly at being non-judgmental, but I’ll tell you anyway — because I do need to straighten some things out with myself; inasmuch as I think you draw me far more crooked than I really am.”

I pause and take a slow drag. He’s baiting me, and I won’t make this a contest between trolls. I just smile at him through the cloud of exhaled smoke.

“Well it must vex you to understand that Hachi and I are happy together.”

nana-72-08-inside-hachi-and-takumis-marriage

I don’t respond. He is right, Hachi is quite happy with him; silly woman. However, I’m not vexed at all. I lie:

You got me. I’m ‘vexed,’ as you say. However, it’s more about you. Hachi’s happiness with you is founded on her fundamental character trait: her willfull and cheerful ignorance. But this isn’t about Hachi (another lie). Do you even know what you’re doing with your life?

“My life has only been about one thing, if you must know. It’s music. Everything else just feeds it. The success, the women, Hachi, they exist because of what they allow me to do for music.”

Heh, and music is Reira.

“Music is Reira.”

nana reira x takumi poster

I don’t want to prompt him for an explanation. Some awkward  seconds pass. I take a sip from my glass.

“Do you understand what ‘purity’ is? I don’t mean that Reira herself is pure, though there’s a naiveté to her greedy wantonness. I mean that when she sings, her voice… the music that comes out of her is the purest beauty I will ever know in this life…

It compels me, with all the power that I have. All my talent, intelligence, and effort must serve her singing.”

That’s all you want? For the world to listen to her song?

“That’s not all I want, but it is the most important thing to me.”

Tell me though, what’s so special about Trapnest anyway? Do you actually think this little band from Japan is really making any meaningful contribution to music?

“If you can’t hear it, if you can’t feel it, especially in person – then there’s nothing I can do for your soul. There’s music that doesn’t call that much attention to itself, but rewards those who would search for it and discover it’s beauty. Rei–“

Bullshit Takumi. Trapnest writes pop music, and plays the big-business pop band game.

I think I pissed him off. He kills his cigarette, swills down his whiskey. For a moment I thought he’d look me in the eye. Instead he looks down and lights another one.

This is the thing, Takumi. Do you actually think that Hachi will be okay with living off the scraps of your being that you leave for her?

“She’ll have to be, because that’s all I can give.”

And as much as I dislike what I’m hearing, I’m afraid of the truth behind what I think he’s about to say next.

nana hachi x takumi

“The scraps of Ichinose Takumi’s being is worth more than a hundred complete souls of men! Hachi will have a happy life because of me. Hate me if you must, but know that I am right. I’m done with this conversation.”

The tall young man rises abruptly yet smoothly, making his way with purposeful strides towards the exit, casually settling the bill with the bartender – who gave me a look that tells me that I will not have to pay for my drinks tonight. Oh Takumi I don’t hate you at all. But I do think you’re mistaken. While you may give Hachi no small measure of happiness like no other man. Her fulfillment in life also and truly hinges on a woman’s.

nana hachi x nana 707

Further Reading

While I expect only people who’ve read NANA will have an appreciation (yes I have ambition) of the work I put in above, I add the following annotated links for those who haven’t read the manga and may be interested in doing so.

I pretty much discovered NANA from the ringing endorsement of this blog post: NANA Rocks – This is How You Do Drama over at East Anyhow. It’s completely spoiler free, but full of personality and enthusiasm. I was sold immediately.

For a more comprehensive view, do read Why You Should Read NANA over at there it is, plain as daylight. It has overviews on the story, the characters, and with strongly written opinion I can get behind.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in Dialogues, fanboy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Almost Famous: Demon-King Takumi of Trapnest (NANA)

  1. LBrevis says:

    This was a fun read. You did a good job getting at the essence of Takumi’s character and bringing out the inherent contradictions in his personality. Is he the “corporate exec” type who only cares about Trapnest’s popularity and how much money the band brings in or does he actually love music? Does he care about Hachi or is he just a womanizer? I think the answer is, yes all of the above. He’s a bastard but he’s not ALL bastard which makes him slightly harder to hate and all the more interesting for it.

    I think it’s his feelings towards Reira that actually intrigue and confuse me the most. “Music is Reira” is a good way of putting it… and poor Hachi can never compete with that. Good thing this story is primarily about the two Nanas and not about Takumi and Hachi otherwise it’d be terribly depressing. Well, you know, MORE depressing.

    On a totally random note this post caused me to research exactly what Gitanes are like. They’re Lupin III’s preferred brand too, apparently.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks a lot. I didn’t count on my regular readers to have read the NANA manga, and this post isn’t exactly a proper introduction to the wonderful subject.

      “Music is Reira” is first and foremost my homage to my favorite Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous when Willie Miller finally gets his interview with Dr. ManhattanRussel Hammond. Russel responded: “To begin with, everything.”

      I had to find a way to use this.

      nd poor Hachi can never compete with that. Good thing this story is primarily about the two Nanas and not about Takumi and Hachi otherwise it’d be terribly depressing. Well, you know, MORE depressing.

      I wonder at this. It’s like the story got away with even more melodramatic awfulness by making Hachi’s most important relationship become less about Takumi. Or, is this ‘true pairing’ between the two Nanas the hope that buoys us readers through the cold choppy waters of their individual lives.

      I will try to look for Gitanes at the local specialty cigarette stores. I’m positively intrigued.

  2. Digitalboy says:

    Very nice post and you definitely captured the essence of ‘that bastard’ Takumi. I haven’t read teh manga, but I watched 45 episodes of the anime which leads up to about when Hachi has come full circle to being happy with Takumi and is just having the kid and all that. I agree that Takumi is complex, but I also don’t think his complexity redeems him. Makes him mmore interesting, sure, but only more hateable for me. It’s like I hated him singlemindedly, and the more I learn about him, the more dimensions I’m able to hate him on.

    I probably won’t ever read the Nana manga. Partly because I hate shoujo art, bu the biggest reason is tha tI never want to experience something as depressing as Nana again, fucking hell. That shit was soul-rending. What made it the worst was that around episode 22 it was one of the most inspiring anime I’d ever seen and then it spent the next 23 FUCKING episodes being the most depressing thing known to man and temporarily shattering my faith in the world.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks man. Takumi doesn’t get ‘better’ given the impression you got of him. And yes, being interesting isn’t redeeming, it only means he’s a compelling character for me to read, and write about.

      It’s like whenever I see him on the page I want to throttle him and scream, “DO RIGHT BY HACHI!”

      Duuuuuude, the manga gets even more depressing, unbelievably awful things keep happening. Where it is right now is just a very dark place.

  3. Digitalboy says:

    Yeah, fuck that. I don’t need that. Nana is like suicide-level depressing.

  4. bluemist says:

    The good thing about this manga is I can ignore Takumi all I want, and it doesn’t detract from the other stories. For me he’s like the all-knowing control freak who handles situations so effectively it could be assumed as emotionless. Surely he cares and loves a lot of things but you really can’t see it in his face. I would commend him for what he’s doing lately but he still seems so ice cold. Sometimes I wonder if he really means what he does or is it just for the sake of his own personal wants and needs.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I wager that he’s selfish to the core, and perhaps the emerging conflict within him is that he’s seeing that he doesn’t have to be, or want to.

      That’s what offspring can do. I for one am very excited re how his story unfolds, for Hachi’s sake too.

  5. anonymous says:

    A friend summed up the Takumi-Hachi situation most succinctly when she said that Hachi is Takumi’s day to day reality, while Reira embodies his dreams and aspirations. Likewise, for Hachi, Takumi is her reality, but Nana O. is the one carrying her hopes and dreams.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Are you sure your friend isn’t some lanky bald guy who wears shades all the time and smokes Black Stone cigarettes?

      I really like what your friend said and thanks for sharing it here. I don’t have much to add because it feels so spot-on.

  6. Hachi says:

    I love Takumi! He is misunderstood that’s all.

    • Heh, you’d say that would you little Hachiko ^_^

    • Lisa says:

      Agree.I’m still trying to understand the plot not only the characters.It seems to me that behind every word or action is something different than I can see.Who knows?I’m sure Takumi loves Hachi in his own way and that he is not a bad person.

  7. Chiic says:

    hiiii!!! me enamore de la serie de NANA y sobre todo me robo el corazon Takumi (^^) se que su apariencia es la de un hombre solitario pero nadie es perfecto aunque él si seria perfecto para mi. Lo único malo es que solo es virtual y no real. De todas formas lo tendre en mi memoria.

  8. Mariana says:

    Well I thing you did a really good job with takumis personality, congrats!

    But I don’t know about what anonymous friend said; I think Reira is the person who can acomplish his dream, or help and etc. But I don’t see that as something Hachi has to compete with, in the begining, sure it was like this, but now I see hachi as someone who needed Takumi, but MAYBE learned to not depend on him like in the begining, and now Takumi learned to need her as well. She is his day to day life, but I think, based on his childhood, this is also something he also wanted, like his dream with reira and trapnest, and needed. Like you said, maybe now he is learning that he doesen’t need to be that egoist or doesn’t want to, cause Hachi somehow, in the middle of all that drama, thought him that. Cause she is always taking care of him, like a wife does,she is showing him the normal life he never had.

    Hachi rocks, Takumi too!!! >.< (and although I love Takumi, I think hachi truelly loves Nobu, and takumi maybe knows that too)

    (I'm very sorry for my grammar and spelling erros, brazilian portuguese is my first language XD)

    I would like you to answer me x3

    • Thank you!

      The way things turned out does seem to point out a certain distance from the co-dependencies the characters had for each other:

      Hachi has become stronger, Takumi is managing well, and Reira is finding herself. However, Takumi without Reira and vice versa is a black hole. No music is happening, and without music, what’s left? The boy Ren will bring them together, while Hachi’s narrative brings her back to her Nana.

  9. thefreequeen says:

    I agree. It’s just that sometimes the Reirra takumi relationship gets on my nervs, I actually don’t deslike any character, Reira seem to want to stay forever a kid, that is what I deslike in her.
    It would be good if takumi actually said or even better narrated that he loves hachi (cause I love you is easy to say and hard to mean it), I would be happy *_* Although as I said before, I thing hachis pair is actually nobu.And I like them as a pair too.

    Well but all that mess is what makes Nana nana.

    About hachi narrative bringing her back to nana, I don’t think she ever left her. Their friendshio is tha base of the manga and is something beautiful, it’s a hard thing to find a manga or sometimes even a book that talks about friendship(what I think is the most important thing, even more than love partner) more than love.

    Oohh I can’t find a way to contact you by a more private way so I’m gonna ask you here, can I post a link to you post, this very on, in my very new blog!?

    Well thank you for answering me, I didn’t expect you to reply me, not that soon, I hope I didn’t botter you(cause i’m not a very good wirttter and I don’t think I’m expressing myself right).

    P.S.: You seem like a very nice person XD

    • Thank you, and by all means go ahead and link!

      I only meant that Hachi and Nana would physically be together. You’re very right in that Hachi never left Nana. It’s more like Nana ran away from her and everyone else.

      I’ll contact you soon via the email you used to comment here ^_^

  10. thefreequeen says:

    Btw I’m Mariana. The one above!

  11. tatyana says:

    loved it!

    and takumi more!!! he’s just so inaccessible…. to capture his heart. what a free spirit. can’t root it down!

  12. ker says:

    I enjoyed this post! Thanks for writing this. :) You managed to describe Takumi’s essence as a person into words. Although I believe that there’s actually more to him that we don’t know yet considering the time in between the current scenes where the manga left off and the future scenes. (More things to make him more confusing as a character! Haha!)

    Would it be a sad thing to say that I somewhat understand him because we are similar in some ways? Haha! (He’s adulterous and manipulative, but other than that, I think we are somewhat similar.) LOL.

    • Thank you! Obviously I myself am wholly taken by Takumi as a character in NANA.

      I don’t think it would be sad, even if you did share his ‘less desirable’ attributes. It only means that NANA achieved something that fiction sometimes attempts: to hold a mirror to the reader. If it led to a moment of self-discovery for you, then let us celebrate this good manga!

      I only wish Yazawa Ai recovers from whatever she’s going through so she can finish what she started.

      • ker says:

        Hm, interesting! I never thought of it that way. I guess this is art imitating life. Then I’d also have to thank Yazawa Ai for the self-discovery. Haha! :D I’m still keeping my hopes up and wishing she continues this wonderful series.

  13. Ontin says:

    No matter how evil Takumi is, I still love him forever ^.^ And I still believe Takumi is the best for Hachi :-P Thank you for your post!

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