by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Talentless Nana ?
Backstory week arrives for Talentless Nana, and it's finally time to discover what makes that big brain of hers so good at murdering adolescents. Notably, the season is almost over by this point, and Nana's character development has been slow going so far. This is also an uncharacteristically slow and (relatively) quiet episode for the series, more concerned with interiority than with dangling its protagonist off yet another cliff. However, I'm pleased with this change of pace, and with the direction the series is heading in. It's good to see that Talentless Nana is willing to explore other modes and tones—and that it's able to do so successfully.
Jin remains the biggest thorn in Nana's side (and the biggest fireball to her back). Like his feline avatar, he seems content to play with Nana for now, with the knowledge that he can overpower and compel her to do anything he wants for the time being. His motives aren't super airtight, or even explained all that well, beyond the obvious factor that this arrangement is much better for the longevity of the series. Contrivance is king in Talentless Nana, after all. Still, this puts Nana on her back foot yet again, and that is where she does her best work. Even Jin can't help but admire the way she tries to pry a weakness out of him while she lies prone and smoldering from his fire blast. That tenacity is what makes her such a compelling protagonist to follow. The mystery surrounding the exact nature of Jin's talent also helps make him a more interesting adversary, even if he's still pretty one-note. He obviously has limitations—he can't control his copied powers with the same finesse as the originals—so there is hope for Nana yet if she can keep stringing him along.
Luckily for Nana's immediate survival, Jin is genuinely interested in what makes her tick. Nana, meanwhile, seems surprisingly eager to unload her baggage, although the extent to which she does is more the result of Michiru's concern than of Jin's obstinate curiosity. Given her actions, motives, and demeanor in the series so far, I was all ready to hear a tale of woe about the awful things the Talented did to her family, and how much she wants them to pay. And make no mistake, there is plenty of that. The sight of tiny tear-stricken Nana running through a crowded station holding her father's severed head is macabre and maudlin to the point of near-parody, but it's certainly striking! I also had to laugh at the bald-faced (yet totally believable) incompetence of a cop “accidentally” telling a ten-year-old to her face that she's responsible for her parents' deaths. These absurdities aside, however, Nana's core motivation is a much sadder one than revenge: it's self-hatred.
Importantly, Talentless Nana has never shied away from showing glimpses of its titular pink murderer's more sympathetic, sentimental side. These small moments add up, and they build a foundation that makes an episode like this one actually work. Sure, the show might be more broadly entertaining if Nana were a brazen and broken avatar of misguided vengeance, but I like this slightly softer alternative. Nana feels responsible, and she's emotionally intelligent enough to recognize her guilt. Thus, her decision to take on such a dangerous mission all by herself makes a lot of sense now.
This also explains why she feels some comradeship with the similarly self-sacrificial Michiru, whose earnestness draws out the heart of this episode. It's cute to see her try in vain to hide her concern for her friend, and it's even cuter to see Nana let her guard down and second-guess herself once again about whether Michiru is really her enemy. Nana might be aware of her guilt and regrets, but Michiru still gives her a place to share them and lessen that burden, however slightly, and that's a huge thing. It's sweet, and it makes me all the more worried about their budding friendship being nipped by the whole “Nana is deceiving and murdering her classmates” thing. After all, if Nana grows comfortable enough to let her guard down around Michiru, it becomes all the more likely that Michiru learns the truth. Unfortunately for them, that seems like far too awful a powder keg for Talentless Nana to leave unignited.
Past and impending tragedy aside, Nana's backstory provides another opportunity for the show to exhibit its goofier side. Nana, for instance, was a precocious tabletop gamer whom nobody wanted to play with, and that explains at least 95% of her character. It's also a neat way to further cement the video gamer Kyoya as her foil. I went deep into the chess metaphor a few weeks ago, so I won't recapitulate that here, but now we know for sure where her tactical thinking comes from (I am curious what her opening of choice is, however). She's going to need that brain plasticity for this next arc, because it looks like someone decided to fulfill Jin's prediction about additional killers coming out of the woodwork.
We all know Nana can pull off a murder (and how!), but can she solve one? On the surface this seems good for her—here's a homicide she didn't do, and she has an alibi for it, so it should take some of Kyoya's heat off her. However, this creates a more chaotic and more dangerous situation for everyone on the island, including Nana. It also furthers my suspicion that this is the kind of endgame the Committee is purposefully engineering, considering that it's happened before under very similar circumstances (if Jin is to be trusted). Whatever the situation, it's going to fun to see Nana try to clear her name by pursuing the truth instead of lying her pigtails off like usual.
Talentless Nana is currently streaming on Funimation.
Steve is, most unfortunately, still in vtuber hell over on Twitter. We're all praying for his salvation.
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