Original Run: October 4, 2020 - December 27, 2020 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Supernatural, Thriller Based on the Series Created By: Looseboy and Iori Furuya
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Talentless Nana. Reader discretion is advised.***
On an island in the middle of the ocean, the future saviors of the world are trained. At a school filled with Talents, supernatural abilities are nurtured and developed. It is hoped that these pupils will go on to fight the so-called enemies of humanity.
Among these students is the quiet Nanao Nakajima (voiced by Hiro Shimono). He tries to keep a low profile in a class filled with egos. One day, transfer students Nana Hiiragi and Kyouya Onodera (voiced respectively by Rumi Ookubo and Yuuichi Nakamura) arrive. Of these two, Nana, a mind-reader, is happy and energetic and quickly befriends the more reserved Nanao.
The two quickly form a bond. But little does Nanao know, it is all a lie.
Peppy little Nana is not a Talent and possesses no powers. Instead, she is on a mission to murder every single student on the island. To her, they are the real enemies of humanity.
Talentless Nana piqued my interest because, at a glance, it suggested a show akin to Mirai Niki or Happy Sugar Life – a dark, twisted thriller with a cutesy polish. Sure enough, this series went down that road. In fact, it went further and was more in line with something like Gakkou Gurashi, a horror-based slice-of-life.
On the one hand, no, Talentless Nana did not measure up to any of those shows. On the other hand, though, I cannot deny how this series had my full attention. In short, this was a good watch, despite its faults.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, we cannot fail to acknowledge Talentless Nana’s most phenomenal quality. This was a logic-based mystery story that had magic. Granted, I use the term “magic” in a grand sense. Instead of spells and incantations, there were superhuman abilities: time manipulation, healing powers, necromancy, etc. Regardless of how you want to call it, this series had elements that could and – in other shows – have led to easy outs.
Mysteries, who-do-its, and other deduction-centered stories are at their most fun when they are solvable. If well-placed clues, sound reasoning, and concrete evidence can be brought together, it creates a more intense atmosphere. But if someone can snap their fingers and suddenly be in two places at once or can create impossible locked-door scenarios, why bother having a mystery at all?
Although Talentless Nana had characters capable of performing supernatural abilities, there were still definite rules that determined what someone could and could not do. This allowed the rivalry between the titular Nana Hiiragi and the other transfer student, Kyouya Onodera, to be as entertaining as it was because it meant they actually had to outsmart and outplay one another.
Whenever Nana or Kyouya got the upper hand, it was well-earned; they had to fight for it. With an island filled with superpowered individuals, most of whom possessing an overinflated ego, it was nice to have two more humble characters. This is also a reason why Nana could be quite frightening.
She might not have been a Talented, but Nana did have a unique ability. Her intelligence, combined with her remarkable cunning, made her a believable mind-reader. You would think this would be the easiest thing in the world to test. However, Nana was so convincing in her portrayal that even the handful of people who suspected she was lying couldn’t prove it outright.
The scene where Nana and Kyouya first went toe to toe was incredibly well-done because it proved how dangerous both parties would be to each other. Given their goals, Nana was the only person who could defeat Kyouya, and Kyouya was the only person who could defeat Nana. And even to achieve a slight advantage, the lengths they needed to go to were insane, not to mention risky.
That was another thing. Talentless Nana could still make even the more farfetched scenarios seem plausible because the series was willing to acknowledge the risks. There was an instance where Nana could not pull off a foolproof deception; she had to take a gamble. We only found out after the fact how much of a chance it was, but merely knowing she was bluffing made the whole situation tenser that it otherwise would have been. Plus, this was Nana’s way of acknowledging there was someone who she could not take lightly, particularly since Kyouya correctly pieced together the plan she nearly went with.
The constant chess match between Nana and Kyouya was what made Talentless Nana worth watching. This is also why this series can hold its head high alongside Mirai Nikki, Happy Sugar Life, and Gakkou Gurashi, despite having nowhere near the same intensity level as they had.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Although Nana was this series’ protagonist, she was not its hero. She was a cold and brutal murderer who had little to no sympathy or remorse. Thus, she was not the kind of character most people would root for. This would have been fine provided her victims were the ones to fill that void.
The problem was, they didn’t.
At the beginning of this show, there was no indication that Nana’s mission was remotely justified. The idea that all the students at the academy were ticking time bombs of evil didn’t hold much water. With nothing to suggest otherwise, Nana was a delusional monster. Be that as it may, it was hard to care about everyone else’s safety. It was more interesting to see how Nana would pull off a kill than it was to wonder how someone might stop her.
It wasn’t until Nana faced off against the necromancer did the notion of a threat-to-humanity seem plausible. Before this, Nana’s other real opponent, the future-seeing photographer, was more of a complete dick than he was a potential bringer of the apocalypse, so I think my point still stands.
Again, this would have been fine had Talentless Nana played into its more brutal nature – a quality that was teased at the end of the first episode. Instead, this series tried to maintain a lighthearted and silly façade. And while I believe humor and intensity can work together, they didn’t here.
There were times when Nana, who I saw as this dangerous badass, would give the same type of reactions as a typical slice-of-life comedy heroine would. Doing this undermined this show’s more sinister reality.
Fortunately, Talentless Nana did manage to recover from this mixed messaging when we learned more about Nana’s past and why she was so willing to kill. Sadly, most of this series had this unbalance, which took away whatever bite there could have been.
Going back to the three shows I mentioned, Mirai Nikki, Happy Sugar Life, and Gakkou Gurashi, I can point to at least one scene that made me feel uneasy. I never got that out of Talentless Nana. A tragic missed opportunity if you ask me.
When you get down to it, this show could have done more, and all the elements to be more were present.
That notwithstanding, what was here wasn’t bad. At the very least, this series did not fail to deliver. After all, it was a ton of fun, as well as an excellent battle-of-the-minds type of story; this show knew what makes for a worthwhile mystery narrative. Thus, I can’t say I was ever bored while watching.
Talentless Nana has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Talentless Nana? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.