by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Talentless Nana ?
Good news! The mysterious glasses guy from the OP has finally joined the cast. Bad news! He's an Animorph and he knows all of NANA's darkest secrets. On the other hand, if you, like me, enjoy watching our titular pink poisoner get owned, then this development is good news on all fronts for Talentless Nana's future. It's another wild swerve, and the episode leaves a lot of questions and human lives hanging in the balance, but that's par for the course for this series. In the meantime, this week's installment provides plenty of mind games and megalomaniacal misdirection to enjoy.
To kick things off, the resolution to last week's cliffhanger turns out to be more exquisitely convoluted than anything my high expectations could have anticipated. NANA never had the incriminating cell phone on her body to begin with; she used a melting zombie finger to remotely send the text, like the world's most macabre Rube Goldberg machine. I live for this kind of ridiculous bullshit, and I'm a little disappointed the show immediately equivocates and has NANA detail the myriad parts of the plan that could have gone wrong. I'd much rather the writing just own its idiosyncrasies and lean into the ever-multiplying dimensions of the chess game NANA and Kyoya are playing with each other. Still, I suppose the point is that NANA grows increasingly desperate about throwing Kyoya off her sanguine-soaked scent, while Kyoya remains stubborn enough to not be dissuaded by even her most far-fetched gambits.
In fact, now that Kaori's murder is “settled,” both NANA and Kyoya find themselves in a refractory state. Because there's been a murder out in the open, the class is sure to be more wary than ever, so NANA too will have to be more cautious about how and whom she kills next. Likewise, Kyoya has to be on the defensive, because otherwise it will become too easy for NANA to drive a wedge between him and the rest of the class, rendering even his most damning evidence moot. Thus, it's a perfect moment for a third party to enter the fray and shake things up. And before the episode's big reveal, I was delighted by the prospect that this might be boxcutter-branding Michiru. I just think it would be neat for NANA to get a taste of her own medicine—disarmed by a cute and ditzy girl only to find out that she's a two-faced schemer. Maybe that would be a bit too on-the-nose. Regardless, it makes the middle segment of the episode both tense and borderline hilarious, with Michiru herself engaging in NANA's brand of galaxy-brain tomfoolery.
Sadly, Michiru was not hiding a Cooler Michiru inside of her all along. Cooler Michiru instead turns out to be our new character Jin Tachibana, a shape-shifter and the sole survivor of the previous class of Talented. First off, I'm glad the story so quickly digs into and unearths the mystery behind all of the bodies buried on the island. That's a thread the series could have stretched out in the background for many arcs to come, but Talentless Nana instead pulls it out all at once, and I think that ends up being a lot more provocative. Jin nonchalantly details the downward spiral of a crime of passion leading into an all-out battle royale between the students. It's a gruesome tale, and it resembles the overarching backstory about the Talented sewing war and chaos across the world, which is why it's also suspicious as hell. Jin himself floats the idea of government interference, but even if there wasn't an operative like NANA in that class, those kids were all still deliberately sequestered on a remote island and abandoned the moment things spun out of control. They were not the sole architects of their destruction. However, if there wasn't a secret agent manipulating and/or killing the students back then, why is NANA there now?
The answer likely lies in Jin himself, who is a total bastard and thus exactly the kind of person I want to see NANA get owned by. He reveals his machinations to her with the same self-satisfied relish that her inner monologues often adapt. Also, from a character design standpoint, the harsh angles of his glasses complement his face, and the incongruity of the striped suit jacket with his cave-dwelling lifestyle makes him appear both insufferably smarmy and appropriately uncanny. I love how much he enjoys telling her that he was the cat all along—the latest in Talentless Nana's string of absurd twists. It's good too that he's an Animorph as well as a human-morph. It's just a lot more interesting than limiting his skills to imitating people, and it makes him all the more dangerous an adversary for NANA. With the ability to also copy his subject's Talent, he seems way too overpowered, but if I had to guess, there's going to be some stipulation or liability to his transformations that NANA can exploit to wriggle herself out of this latest jam. That is, after all, what makes the show so much fun to watch.
Despite his impressive abilities, Jin isn't too concerned with saving the lives of NANA's classmates – he isn't a very good person. Neither is NANA, to be fair. However, he did notice the same thing I did about NANA rescuing the (real) cat on her way back from Shinji's (supposed) murder. Like me, he questions whether this is proof that NANA isn't the stone-hearted serial killer she aims to be. Unlike me, he's not actually concerned about her conscience and is instead using this moment to rattle her, but the point remains. I wonder, too, what would have happened had NANA been able to contact the Committee at the end of the episode. Would they have helped her? Would they have even answered? For now, all I'm sure of is that Jin is doing what he's supposed to do: shake up our preconceived notions about what Talentless Nana is about. Once more, I find myself without the faintest clue about where this series will go next. That's the way it should be.
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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