by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Talentless Nana ?
Do not piss off Nana. We've seen her at her coldest and most calculating. We've seen her flustered and panicked. But Yuka, unwittingly or not, draws out an icily angry side of Nana that we haven't seen before, and she is frightening.
This week's episode of Talentless Nana turns into a battle of wits and wights as our resident pink menace fights for survival against necromancer Yuka and her own personal army of darkness. It's impressive foremost that Nana manages to survive past the first minute, considering she begins weaponless and pinned to the ground by the reanimated corpse of a supernatural strongman. However, like I've said previously, she does her best work on her back foot, and that's what propels her through the zombie-laden twists and turns of these twenty-odd minutes. This is also the weirdest, wildest, and most misanthropic episode of Talentless Nana yet. I don't yet know whether this is a departure or a portent of things to come, but whatever it is, it's one hell of a ride.
Despite this week's undead complications, some fundamental truths about Talentless Nana remain immutable. For instance, the best part of the show remains Nana herself. I just have to admire the guts it takes to spit multiple wisecracks about necrophilia while your target could at any point order her minion to grind your bones into dust. But all Nana has in this situation are her words, and even though Yuka turns out to have as brick-filled a head as most of her classmates, it's still fun and thrilling to watch her talk herself off the razor's edge. Her internal motormouth is also cranked up to maximum horsepower this week—enough so that we get another quick metatextual jab at her sense of priorities. The writing is aware enough to sense when it's being indulgent, but it still doesn't stop itself from fully languishing in its absurdly wordy climax, as Nana breathlessly explains every minute detail of the plan that finally ensnared her pursuer. Both the show and the character are a little too pleased with themselves at this moment—none of Nana's machinations are particularly complicated, nor were they that difficult to deduce. Still, this cockiness is part of Nana's charm. She just walks out the door and rubs it in her captor's face. That's good stuff.
Yuka, meanwhile, turns out to be the most fun adversary Nana has had yet, largely because she's ridiculous in ways that complement the show's goofily macabre tone. This is a girl who swoons dreamily to the words “I should just kill Nana,” while her split-personality zombie boyfriend stands stalwart next to her. She's a braggart, knows more than she lets on, taunts with deliberately misleading information, and revels in getting the jump on her pink-haired prey. Nana still outclasses her in the precocious predator department, but Yuka's willingness to play dirty turns their battle into an adequately thrilling one. That said, I'm glad Kyoya remains our long-term antagonist. He's a good foil for Nana, and his coolheaded clear thinking helps bring balance to the series' more absurd contrivances. Yuka, on the other hand, just dials up the camp whenever she dominates a scene. While it works for this episode, that's a difficult energy to sustain without exhausting the audience.
And speaking of exhaustion, I'm of two minds about the climax. With Yuka's life in her grasp, Nana turns vindictive to a degree we haven't seen yet. Part Bond villain, part Sherlock Holmes, and with a dash of Columbo, she breaks down every part of her own plan and pokes holes through every part of Yuka's deception with excruciating detail. Yuka brought this onto herself (come at the murder island queen, you best not miss), but she's rendered utterly pathetic here in a way distinct from Nana's other victims. She unravels in the most misanthropic display I've seen out of Talentless Nana yet, and that, ironically, makes me pity her all the more. It's a mean-spirited scene of the ilk I had previously praised this show for avoiding despite its grisly subject matter. That isn't to say Talentless Nana isn't allowed to explore other tones, and I fully expect the story to become more serious as its characters have to reckon with both survival and their sense of purpose. But berating Yuka until she confesses to stalking and murdering Shinji just feels grim for grimness' sake.
However, the silver-lining to this scene is its conclusion: Nana briefly muses whether she would have spared Yuka if she had turned out to be innocent. It almost seems like a careless aside, but this is essential to understanding Nana's interiority and actions here. She gave Yuka the opportunity to prove her wrong. She probably wanted Yuka to prove her wrong. Nana's convictions have only wavered with increasing frequency the longer she's been on this island. The volume of dead bodies buried on the island further weakened her resolve. How many Talented students have been killed by her predecessors? How many of her predecessors have been killed themselves? What is she doing all of this for? Is she just an expendable cog in an endless, futile struggle? Although she doesn't voice all of these questions, her actions at the end speak for her. She's looking for evidence that what she's doing is wrong, and she might just eventually find it.
Overall, I have to concur with my Twitter mentions: Talentless Nana has defied expectations and become one of the shows I most look forward to watching every week. Don't get me wrong—I picked this show for review because I really enjoyed what it did with its premiere. However, by this point, it has proven itself to have staying power beyond its first fake-out, and it's become quite adept at pulling me from cliffhanger to cliffhanger. Even though I don't think this week's minor departure ended up playing to all of the series' strengths, I'm still eager and riveted to see what Nana has to contend with next.
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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