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Fifty Ways

Talentless Nana, volume 1

By Looseboy & Iori Furuya 

13 Jan, 2021



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Looseboy’s Talentless Nana (Japanese: 無能なナナ, Hepburn: Munō na Nana) is a superhuman manga series. It is illustrated by Iori Furuya. Talentless Nana has been serialized in Square Enix’s shōnen manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangansince May 2016. Volume One covers the first four chapters. 

Plagued by the monstrous Enemies of Humanity, humanity elects to send children with special Talents — telekinesis, pyrokinesis, time travel, and more — to an elite teaching facility on an isolated island to prepare them for their role in humanity’s future. Alas, not all of the students are inherently heroic. Some of them are downright bullies, gleeful at the licence granted by their superhuman powers.

[spoilers abound]

For timid Nanao Nakajima, the school is hell. Incessantly bullied, he is too shy to admit the nature of his power. Nevertheless, he has a secret dream: he’ll be a leader. His friend Nana Hiiragi is determined to help Nanao reach his proper potential.

Nana is one of the facility’s newest enrollees; her Talent is mind reading. She is endlessly energetic and determined to befriend as many of her fellow students as she can. Social pariah Nanao soon catches her eye as someone who could use her unique skills. 

In fact, while Nanao’s power is not an offensive one, it’s powerful. He can nullify the Talents of other Talented people. A carelessly flung fireball provides Nanao with the chance to demonstrate his Talent, as he saves a crowd of students by dissipating the flames before they can burn anyone. 

Adulation follows Nanao’s act of selfless heroism. In short order, his fellow students select him as the class leader. Confident now that her assessment of Nanao was correct, Nana propels the reluctant young man towards his true destiny! Which is to say, having confirmed the boy is indeed a danger to powerless humanity, Nana pushes him off a cliff towards the rocks far below.

Nana has not a jot of Talent. Her supposed mind reading is nothing more than observational skills and deduction. What she does have is cunning, an impressive array of homicidal skills, and a burning determination to protect humanity from the Enemies of Humanity. Which is to say, the superpowered freaks on the island. 

Nanao is merely her first victim. More will follow. 


You might ask having collected the Talented in one place, why does the government not simply nuke the school?” The answer seems to be that they’re worried — quite rightly, as it turns out — that they cannot be sure all of the students would die. WMDs might simply winnow down the Talented to those whose gifts make them invulnerable to humanity’s most powerful weapons, while handing those survivors a very good reason to turn on humanity. Thus, Nana’s subtle homicide campaign. Try not to think about the consequences if her fellow students ever catch on to what’s happening, as indeed they might. 

One might also wonder why those in power don’t try to steer the Talented into socially productive roles. True, the school claims to be doing that, but in practice, the students are left to their own devices. This is because at least some authority figures see the mere existence of Talented people as a threat. The Talented are, they feel, a natural aristocracy and to tolerate them is to submit to eventual Talented rule.

The author plays reasonably fair with the plot; thus far, Nana’s schemes are working because nobody is aware she’s murdering her way through the student body. Even so, there are signs her observational skills have limits, that at least one of the students can shrug off the worst she has to offer, and that it is only a matter of time before her brighter schoolmates connect the dots supplied by a string of curious disappearances. 

This was something short of a feel-good manga. It’s a lot closer to Battle Royaleor Shin Sekai Yori than it is to, oh, Dainana Joshikai Houkou. It’s part of that grand tradition of novels about teenagers being horribly abused by authority figures in the name of the Greater Good. 

Talentless Nana is available on Crunchyroll.