First Look: Talentless Nana

Alternative title(s): Munou na Nana
Manga Adaptation by Bridge
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

On an island in the middle of nowhere, a school has been setup to nurture students who possess incredible ‘talents’. The hope is that they’ll use them to fight the Enemies of Humanity, a rather aptly named group of monsters, but there are concerns that they may have already infiltrated the island.

Euri’s verdict: Pink is sus

If you’re on the fence about watching this show, you might just want to go ahead and do that before reading this. That’s not an endorsement of this show either, but there are some things that happen that you might just want to see for yourself rather than have me spoil it for you. Good? Good.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, this show was doing literally nothing for me. It had a similar vibe to Assassination Classroom but without any likeable characters, with some super powers thrown in for good measure. Nanao, our protagonist and talentless guy in question, is your standard bland guy without magic powers in the magic school. He’s bullied, a loner, and if you guessed that his power ends up being the ability to negate other powers, you’re a winner! Formulaic is an understatement.

He’s accompanied by a new transfer student, Nana, who very much isn’t talentless – she has the power to read minds. She notices pretty quickly that Nanao’s being bullied and decides to be friends with him, sticking by him for the majority of the episode. We also get some early conflict between Nanao and Nana when it comes to her mind-reading powers – she wants to help, he doesn’t want her poking through his head, she feels lonely again because this always happens. Again, standard fare for these shows.

Towards the end of the episode, Nana has helped Nanao to become accepted by the class (by way of using his negation powers to stop a bunch of other students from getting caught up in a fight-gone-wrong) and they have a nice little heart-to-heart on a cliff edge. She then promptly grabs his arm and throws him off the cliff, giving him a ‘you’re the real monsters and no I don’t actually have powers’ speech as he falls to his apparent death.

This is, truthfully, my kind of twist. I love when the protagonist ends up being someone we didn’t expect, or when shows jump into different genres unexpectedly. However, while I’m fairly on-board with the twist itself, the rest of this episode was so darn boring. Admittedly we’re not going to know how the tone of the next episode will change, but there’s nothing about the characters that I liked. If the opening animation is to be trusted, even Nana herself is going to end up with a pretty typical backstory. Also, the next episode is called Time Traveller, so Nanao might not even be dead, either.

The twist does make this infinitely more interesting than what we were initially being pitched, but honestly I’m not holding out hope for this actually being good. Talentless Nana seems to be doing the whole “but who is the real enemy of humanity?” thing, and right now at least I can tell you with absolute certainty that I don’t care. That said, I will give episode two a go to see how the reaction to Nanao’s apparent death changes things up.

Zigg’s verdict: Nana’s Got Talent

As Euri has already done a good job explaining, this episode lives and dies by your reaction to that dramatic ending twist. I must admit I was completely taken in, although a good part of that was the assumption that this was just another awful ‘worst but actually best’ genre show featuring Shit Protag (© colons) ultimately proving why he’s better than his classmates. And to be fair, that’s exactly what 90% of this episode is, though how much of that is deliberate obfuscation depends on how much credit you want to give the writers.

I will say though that even before the ending I was feeling Nana had something going for it, and that was due to some surprisingly sincere and sharp character writing. Sure, Nanao’s issues with his jerk Dad are hardly original territory for anime to go into, but the way Nana opens him up about his inferiority and self-doubt shows an insight and level of care about the character that’s fairly unusual in these bargain-basement shonen shows. The scene in the cafeteria is a smart, quickfire way to sketch out the basics of the pair, and of course it’s yet more effective misdirection about Nana’s true status. I was a little concerned about how DARK and BLOODY the mood that OP seems to be going for is, but this has earned a second episode for curiosity if nothing else.

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