In all the hectic preparation for my trans-Pacific move back to the United States, I missed out on some important news-- Yazawa Ai, creator of the mega-popular Nana manga series, left the hospital in April after a 10-month fight against an unspecified illness. Whether or not she'll return to Nana's glamorous and tragic world for new stories remains uncertain. Obviously, her health is of prime concern and here's hoping this represents a major step towards Ms. Yazawa's full recovery.
For lack of a better word, it really sucks when illness silences a vibrant voice like Ms. Yazawa's. Dirk Deppey of Journalista! fame called her the "Japanese Gilbert Hernandez" in a thread on the Onion A/V Club, and I believe that to be an apt comparison. Both deal with large casts of compelling characters, both create fascinating worlds of both light and darkness and both really know how to torture their casts in a way that literally addicts a reader. When I first got into Nana, finishing a book led to marked withdrawal symptoms. It's rare enough for a comic to inspire me to daydream at work or actively consider the characters and worry about what will happen to them in the future, but for a comic book to make me feel antsy, nervous and trembly between issues?
This is an accomplishment shared by only two titles in the past decade: Love and Rockets and Nana.
But I will gladly give up Nana if doing so guarantees a fit and healthy Ai Yazawa!