Talentless Nana
Episode 11

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Talentless Nana ?

Nana didn't put years of hard work into getting her murder degree from murder college for someone else to just swoop in and start killing her quarry behind her back. That's extremely rude, and she's going to get to the bottom of this. Probably. There are a lot of complicating factors competing for Nana's attention at the moment, and the result is a pretty unfocused episode, to be frank. Between the new cadaver, Kyoya's machinations, Michiru's suspicious behavior, and Jin's constant trolling, this arc of Talentless Nana is its busiest yet. While it aids the sense of escalation, especially as we approach the end of the season, I don't find the narrative immediately benefiting much from the broader focus. There's still some very strong material in this episode, but it's diluted by the weaker stuff.

The main issue I have is that the current murder mystery is not all that compelling in and of itself. We didn't know the victim, we get only surface-level details about the suspects, and most importantly, the killing has nothing to do with Nana. For better or worse, Nana is the audience's anchor point for this series. The prior murders were interesting because she was intimately involved in their execution, and we got to know Nana as a character through how she dealt with each one and its inevitable complications. They're the show's bread and butter. However, this one turns into a simple whodunit, with Kyoya taking the reins of the investigation. Nana's just a passive participant, busy formulating her own theories but noticeably less engaged than if she were covering up one of her own messes.

This isn't terrible, but it does mean that the bulk of the episode spent gathering clues and testimony feels kind of hollow. Yes, I could probably be collating this information and pinpointing the method and culprit myself, but I also don't particularly care. This isn't an adventure game, and Talentless Nana is much more adept at formulating Nana's own absurd murder schemes than coming up with a layperson's more pedestrian plot. However, I still enjoy Nana's combatively collaborative dynamic with Kyoya, who still obviously doesn't trust her as far as he can throw her—which is probably pretty far, now that I think about it, considering how tiny she is. I love the smug way he rubs a contact lens poison reference in her face. Even if Nana has an alibi for this killing, he's not going to let her off the hook for anything else. Conversely, it's also funny that his no-nonsense demeanor continues to prevent him from forming any other meaningful relationships with the rest of the student body. He may be (correctly) convinced that Nana is a serial killer, but she's also the closest thing he has to a constant companion. Even Michiru feels too intimidated to confide anything in him.

The Michiru material is where this episode shines. Nana's backstory and development carry through to this week, in ways that are simultaneously cute and tragic. Viewed from a distance, Michiru's odd behavior is, of course, completely normal. Her closest friend just told her that she blames herself for both of her parents' deaths. How could she not feel troubled by that? She hesitates, she tries to find the right things to say, and she royally screws it up. Meanwhile, Nana is such an emotionally-stunted edgelord that she can only process Michiru's awkwardness through the most paranoid and misanthropic lens possible. It would be adorable if it weren't so sad. They're both bad at communicating (for vastly different reasons), but this episode makes it clear that they both care about each other a whole lot. While Nana only realizes it herself by going behind Michiru's back and reading her unfiltered thoughts, this is still a huge moment for her. It's probably the first time since childhood that she's remembered she can love and be loved. It got me choked up, I'll admit, and that's a tribute to the sincere character work Talentless Nana has done in tandem with its pulpier aspects. I might be a sap, but I have some standards.

Naturally, Talentless Nana follows up this heartfelt emotional sea change within Nana with a cliffhanger starring a presumably dead Michiru. Wonderful! To be fair, it's not like Talentless Nana has been shy about draping death flags all around Michiru, but there's certainly a very big and very schmaltzy part of me that wants to see her come out of this okay. I could see the narrative going either way, and if I try to be more objective, I think both paths could be equally interesting for Nana. In either case, Michiru is absolutely instrumental positive influence on Nana's development (and/or redemption). Jin, on the other hand, is still a cryptic weirdo who seems intent on pulling Nana in the opposite direction. Whereas Michiru's interest in her is sincere, Jin is apparently only interested in seeing what makes her tick. I don't know if he'd go as far as killing Michiru in order to see how Nana responds, but I'm certain he'll be fascinated with the response regardless.

I suppose it says something that even a weaker episode of Talentless Nana can leave me rapt with anticipation for the next installment. At the moment, I don't care much whether Fuko did or did not kill her sometimes-miniature boyfriend, but I need to know if Michiru is okay. It would break my heart if their last interaction was a fight they had over being mutually misunderstood misfits, and that would probably break Nana's heart too. In that respect, this is an exciting fork in the road for Talentless Nana. How much salvation is it going to allow Nana? How depressing does it want to get? Will Jin ever find someone who wants to eat lunch with him? These questions and more are riding on next week's resolution, and I can't wait.

Rating:

Talentless Nana is currently streaming on Funimation. Save on Anime Streaming Subscriptions with Funimation.

Steve is, most unfortunately, still in vtuber hell over on Twitter. We're all praying for his salvation.


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