This entire post is basically one huge spoiler, so please be cautious when reading, especially if you haven’t read volume 21 yet.
Although volume 21 of Nana brought the series to what could have been a dramatic finale, the series is actually on hiatus because Ai Yazawa was being hospitalized for an unknown illness. The manga tells two stories: one of the present day alongside brief glimpses into the future. However, with the series unfinished, there is a gap left between the present day and the future, so many questions have been left unanswered. When did Nana Osaki leave all of her friends behind to go to England, and why? What happened to Black Stones and Trapnest after Ren Honjo’s death? And what happened between Hachi and Nobu? But the biggest question I think many fans want answered is who are the parents of Ren and Satsuki? I have a few thoughts about this subject, but please be aware that my opinion is pure speculation and that there is no right answer as long as the series remains unfinished.
I’ll start with Ren, the boy we see with Takumi in England in volume twenty. This may get confusing because there are two Rens: Ren Honjo, Nana Osaki’s boyfriend who dies at the end of volume twenty, and Ren the child, so from now on I’ll be talking about the latter unless I use Ren Honjo’s full name. Even though Ren calls Takumi ‘daddy’ and Hachi asks where he is during a phone call with Takumi, many fans do not believe that Ren is the child of Hachi Komatsu and Takumi Ichinose. When Hachi got pregnant, she had just broken things off between her and Takumi and began dating Nobu. However, when she realized she was pregnant, she and Takumi got engaged even though she loved Nobu because she believed there was a greater chance that the baby was Takumi’s (since he didn’t use protection). The fact that Ren has light hair has led many fans to believe that Ren is actually Nobu’s son with Hachi. As for my personal opinion of this theory, while I do think it would make for great storytelling that Hachi dumped Nobu because she thought she was having another man’s baby, just for that baby to turn out to be his, I really don’t believe that Ren is Hachi and Nobu’s child. Just because Ren has light hair doesn’t automatically mean he can’t be Takumi’s son, especially since Hachi has light hair as well. At the beginning of volume 20, Ren is very cold to Takumi, which reminds me of Takumi’s coldness toward most people. Naoki even comments that Ren has Takumi’s “evil eyes,” and thus for these reasons I believe that Ren really is the son of Takumi and Hachi. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were wrong though – after all, this is Ai Yazawa we’re talking about.
Now, before I move on to talking about Satsuki, I feel I should mention that there is a significant group of people who believe that Ren is the child of Takumi and Reira. At the end of volume 19, Takumi sleeps with Reira despite the fact that he and Hachi are already married. Takumi frankly asks Reira if she would really settle for being his mistress, but it’s obvious Reira is unhappy with what happened between them because she’s always loved Takumi. This development, along with the fact that the very first time we see Ren is with Reira in volume 16, is probably why so many fans believe he is the child of their affair. Now while pretty much any theory is fair game, I feel that this one is pretty unlikely. While we don’t know much information about either child yet, I suspect that Ren is the older one between him and Satsuki. He seems to be more independent than her (he’s described as someone who wanders off by himself, whereas Satsuki is always with Hachi or some other adult), and in volume 19, Hachi asks Satsuki if the person she wants to buy chocolate for on Valentine’s Day is her “big brother.” But considering the fact that Hachi is pregnant during the present storyline, presuming Ren was Reira’s child, this would mean that Ren would have to be younger than Satsuki. And when we first see Ren and Reira together in volume 16, he calls her by her name, which doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that he calls Takumi ‘daddy.’ Thus, I feel that at the very least, it’s highly probable that Hachi is Ren’s mother.
Next, I’ll be moving onto Satsuki Ichinose. Unlike Ren, most fans are pretty much in agreement about who could possibly be Satsuki’s parents. Satsuki’s debut appearance is in volume twelve, which is the very first time the manga ‘flash-forwards’ to the future. She calls Hachi ‘mommy’ and Takumi ‘daddy,’ and she and Takumi definitely have a strong bond (he clearly misses her when he’s in England). She also has jet-black hair just like Takumi, and thus many fans believe that she is Hachi and Takumi’s daughter. However, I am not most fans. I believe that Satsuki isn’t the child of either Hachi or Takumi – instead, I believe that she is the child of Nana Osaki and Ren Honjo. I am well aware that I am in the minority on this topic, but it all stems from one line: “Because I have a kid.” Hachi says this in the opening narration of volume 19, and it’s struck a chord with me ever since. She says this to justify to herself why she hasn’t gone looking for the disappeared Nana Osaki, but the use of the singular term ‘kid’ speaks volumes to me because it suggests that she can’t biologically be the mother of both children. It may be a mistranslation, it may mean nothing at all, but for whatever reason as soon as I read that line I connected it with the very first thought I had when I first saw Satsuki in volume 12: she looks like Ren Honjo when he was younger. Aside from this, in volume 21 Hachi mentions that the guitar is like a lullaby to Satsuki, which is interesting considering the fact that Ren H. played guitar in Black Stones. And Satsuki is extremely close to Yasu, just like Nana is.
But there are other reasons why I feel as though Satsuki is Ren Honjo and Nana Osaki’s child. Throughout the series, one thing that always bothered Nana was that she knew Ren wanted kids even though she didn’t. Nana also mentions right before she finds out about Ren’s death that she kept forgetting to take her birth control pill during the month after they argued and she went on tour, and that her stomach was burning. So if Nana found out she was pregnant after Ren H. had died, how would she handle it? Would she run away from her responsiblity and her baby – just like her mother ran away from her? And it would make sense that Takumi and Hachi would raise Satsuki as their own, considering the fact that Nana and Hachi are best friends and Takumi was Ren Honjo’s band mate. But, this is just my opinion, and there is no right answer – and we may never get one, unfortunately. There are so many mysteries left in Nana, so many more relationships to develop, and characters that could be further fleshed out. But I love every bit of Nana that’s come out so far, and I think Ai Yazawa is amazing to be able to create such a multilayered story that literally can go anywhere. They just don’t make ’em like Nana.