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Talentless Nana

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (2020). Original title Munō na Nana. Based on the Manga by Looseboy and Iori Furuya. Bridge. Directed by Shinji Ishihira. Written by Fumihiko Shimo. Voice cast includes Mai Nakahara, Yuichi Nakamura, Rumi Ookubo, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitaka Yamaya and Kouji Yusa. Thirteen 24-minute episodes. Colour.

Fifty years ago the appearance of the Enemies of Humanity – Monsters who can disguise themselves as people – led to the founding of an island academy to train teenagers with "talents" (see Superpowers) to fight them. Now two new pupils arrive: the aloof, indestructible Kyoya Onodera (Nakamura) and the cute Nana Hiiragi (Ookubo), who explains she is a mind reader (see Telepathy). We get several examples of her talent, leaving the viewer bemused by the series' title – said bemusement increasing when, at the end of episode one, the seemingly likeable Nana pushes a fellow pupil, Nanao Nakajima (Shimono), off a cliff.

In fact, the authorities consider the Enemies of Humanity to be those with talents. After a War, which humanity won, academies were set up for the new generations of superpowered youngsters, to surreptitiously kill them. Nana, who has no superpowers but uses deductive ability (see Sherlock Holmes) to create the illusion of mind-reading, has been tasked with killing the academy's pupils, one by one. Nanao's talent was negating superpowers; other pupils who die at Nana's hands use Time Travel (backwards only, up to 24 hours), Precognition, necromancy (including the creation of Zombies) and Teleportation.

When Kyoya begins to suspect Nana is a serial killer, a duel of wits results – but, though intelligent, he's hamstrung by his belief in both Nana's talent and the propaganda about the Enemies. The waters are muddied when another student, Rentarou Tsurumigawa (Yamaya), who can astrally project, begins a series of sadistic murders. Also on the island is Jin Tachibana (Yusa), a Shapeshifter who had survived student infighting five years ago, when egotism and Paranoia led to their killing each other.

Meanwhile, the sweet but naive healer Michiru Inukai (Nakahara) develops a crush on Nana – who, very reluctantly, reciprocates, despite believing she will eventually have to kill her. Nana's parents were allegedly murdered by Enemies, the authorities then manipulating her into feeling responsible. Her resulting lack of self-worth means that, though fretting that some of her victims are good people, she believes it is not for her to question her orders. The first season ends with Nana's boss about to arrive on the island and Tsurumigawa attempting to stab Michiru – whereupon Nana shields her, taking the blows. Michiru revives Nana, but the effort kills her.

The opening episode presents a Cliché Anime plot – superpowered teenagers are trained to save humanity from an evil monsters – with Nanao set up as the typical underappreciated, bullied protagonist ... until he is murdered by an apparent secondary character seemingly tagged as a potential love interest. From this twist the show develops into an exciting story where the viewer is unsure of whom they should be rooting for – it is clear that the students, being callow teens, are bad at handling their powers; but, save for Tsurumigawa, none seem to be evil. That quality appears to reside in the authorities that founded the academy; yet we are told the talented have been responsible for considerable death and destruction. This is a strong, engaging series that, despite the disparate threads, does not feel cluttered: the unanswered questions and cliff-hanger ending presumably means further seasons are intended. [SP]


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