Talentless Nana ‒ Episode 6

2 weeks ago 16

The dead speak! Because as far as I'm concerned, there is only one important and unshakeable rule in Talentless Nana: circumstances must always conspire against her in the funniest way possible. Now that she's left a victim's corpse out in the open for the first time, the universe naturally conforms to deliver a gloomy necromancer who can expose Tsunekichi's cause of death. Nana might be a genius assassin, but even she is powerless in the face of Murphy's Law.

Before we get to that point, however, Nana deals with Michiru in the exact way I imagined last week. A bald-faced lie that would shatter under the slightest scrutiny is enough to placate the curly-haired healer, and Nana, smiling, pockets the incriminating photo and slides her further down on her kill list. Of course she's happy to avoid drawing even more suspicion from Kyoya for the time being, but I wonder if she's also not the tiniest bit relieved that Michiru can stick around a bit longer. After all, Michiru's supposed kill count is what planted a seed of doubt in Nana's mind about her mission, and that might still be there festering. On the other hand, Michiru hints that she might be able to bring the dead back to life, and that's cause for concern on a number of levels. It could certainly start justifying her offensive potential, but it's also worrying psychologically. There's a dark undercurrent of self-destructive behavior bubbling under her bubbly demeanor if she's willing to exchange her own life for that of someone she barely knows. It's a fine line between heroism and pathology.

Talentless Nana also continues to be more and more transparent in its disdain for adults. The leaders have left all of these kids out to dry. Nana gets no additional support from the government, and if she ends up being found out and/or killed, I'm sure they'll just send in their next child assassin to do their dirty work for them. She's totally expendable. Meanwhile, we've seen only a small handful of faculty on the island, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's all there is. Their teacher has already proven himself to be ineffectual and conflict-avoidant, and he's all too willing to buy Tsunekichi's untimely demise from illness despite the sus-as-hell circumstances. The Talented kids here have basically just been rounded up to be slaughtered so the rest of society doesn't have to worry about them. Although Nana is the one delivering that slaughter, there is nonetheless an as-yet unrecognized camaraderie in the fact that they've all been abandoned here. They're all puppets in the calloused hands of their cruel masters. That's a big part of what makes Nana sympathetic to me, and it hints at an endgame where she might one day ally with her current victims against the common enemy: grown-ups.

That's not the only reason I find Nana sympathetic, because let's not forget she also gets constantly owned in the funniest and most exquisitely-timed ways. Talentless Nana's alternately macabre and madcap sense of humor is definitely the secret sauce that helps distinguish its flavor from similar series that pride themselves in their joylessness or in their cruelty. There is, for example, a lot of unintentional humor in the over-the-top grimness of Death Note, but Nana instead wields comedy purposefully to endear itself and its characters to the audience. If I had just watched six episodes of Nana using her superior intellect to craft airtight murders that Kyoya could only barely perceive, I'd already be done with this show. Thankfully instead, we get Nana screaming “What the bloody hell?!” internally when a necromancer walks up out of nowhere and reanimates the corpse whose murder she was just trying to cover up. Nana is always on her back foot compensating for circumstances both out of her control and out of her perception, and that's what makes her a compelling protagonist, in spite of the blood-spattered situation. She's a pink menace one stumble away from utter disaster, and I love her.

I also love watching her get her due comeuppance, so her tussle with the necromancer this episode ends up pretty darn satisfying. I suppose this can be another reason I sympathize with Nana, because I too got totally blindsided by the big twist. Time and again, Nana discovers she is far from the only person on the island hiding dark secrets, and Yuka's macabre about-face is definitely the weirdest one yet. She pins Nana both judicially and physically under the might of her reanimated dead boyfriend's super strength, while Nana has to contend with both thinking her way out of this mess and reckoning with all the signs she overlooked. I like that Nana at least avoided game-over exposure in public by throwing Yuka's suspicions off with her cat rescue. Now, one could argue Nana only did this to secure an alibi and prod at any weaknesses Yuka's Talent might have, but we shouldn't forget that Nana isn't a moustache-twirling villain. She even held the stray cat with her while she set the explosive trap for Kyoya. Nana isn't a heartless lost cause, just like the Talented students aren't preordained to become monsters. They all have the opportunity to rise above the hopeless, zero-sum circumstances they've sentenced to.

However, that's a long-distance pipe dream of mine, while Nana's immediate concern is saving her rear-end from the grasp of the shrewd necromancer domineering over her. And I can't help but love the sheer moxie of Nana lifting her head, curling a grin, delivering the episode's cliffhanger line, “I may be a murderer, but at least I let the dead rest in peace.” This girl could get stuck by one of her own poison needles at any moment, and she chooses to crack a joke about implied necrophilia at Yuka's expense. I have to imagine this is part of her plan—riling up a person who clearly has a lot of unresolved psychological issues. It's pretty schlocky and not exactly sensitive to dissociative identity disorder as a real mental illness, but that's in line with the rest of Talentless Nana. While it may not be the most gracefully executed series of its ilk, it has a colorful, tongue-in-cheek spirit that so far hasn't failed to endear me to it.

...and that was where I was going to end this review, but a sentence just came to me. An awful sentence. It will be painful for me to write, and it will be painful for you to read. However, it will be exponentially more painful for me if I try to imprison it in my brain, and so I will let it roam free and suffer what consequences I must. So, without further ado:

Talentless Nana is the Heybot! of Death Note.

Rating:

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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