When we had only seen a couple episodes of Talentless Nana near the beginning of the season, we were worried that it would fall into the all-too-common trap of trying to do a dark deconstruction of an anime genre without actually doing interesting with it. Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Neon Genesis Evangelion were brilliant, but shallow imitators are everywhere and pretty easy to spot. This anime seemed to be going in that direction with its setup as a dark parody of school superhero series like My Hero Academia, but it actually surprised us by turning into a surprisingly exciting thriller along the lines of The Promised Neverland or Death Note. Let’s take a deeper dive into why Talentless Nana is one of the best mystery anime of 2020!
Grimdark Without Being Horribly Cliché
A small percentage of the human population is born with superpowers known as Talents. They have the potential to help society, of course, but a few bad apples have wreaked havoc on the world and the talentless masses have decided that those with superpowers are too dangerous to be left alive. Teenagers are shipped off to private islands where they attend a special school to prepare them for their eventual battles against the enemies of humanity – enemies which, of course, don’t actually exist. Instead, a talentless teen is sent in as an undercover assassin to strategically kill each student one by one... and this time, it’s Nana.
Nana maintains a persona of cutesy innocence in front of her classmates, hiding her clever deductions and covert killings under the guise of being a mind reader. However, someone is on to her... Kyouya Onodera, an equally intelligent student with the power of invincibility, meaning that she can’t just murder him to get him off of her trail. This sort of plot has been done before in dark anime, but the cat-and-mouse game between Nana and Kyouya keeps it from being just a kill-fest with no consequences.
Genuinely Intriguing Mysteries
Another cool thing about this anime is that the assassinations aren’t as clear-cut as Nana would like them to be. She doesn’t know the full extent or limitations of the targeted students’ Talents, so characters like the necromancer/super-strength pair can catch her off-guard and derail her plans. Kyouya doesn’t have enough evidence to confront her directly, but he’s watching her every move, so she can’t afford to leave evidence behind after the first few killings. And even characters who are completely in the dark on Nana’s motives can be a danger to her, like the girl with dog-themed healing powers who just wants to help, but accidentally almost blows Nana’s cover multiple times. Plus, who knows if Nana is being manipulated by her employers and she isn’t carrying out Minority Report style justice after all? There are so many twists, turns, and mysteries yet to unfold...
We’re very excited to see where Talentless Nana goes, and we’re so glad that it didn’t turn out to be just another grimdark copycat. But what do you think about this anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!