While My Hero Academia and Junji Ito are rarely, if ever, mentioned in the same breath, elements of both are mixed together with exquisite touch in the psychological thriller anime Talentless Nana that fans of both should check out. Looseboy and Iori Furuya’s Talentless Nana centers around teenagers studying at an elite school on a secluded island. The students have been identified as “talented” or having special superhuman abilities, much like Quirks in My Hero Academia, but their lives quickly take a horror turn.

The students in Talentless Nana have been sent to the island to learn how to master their abilities to eventually help humanity fight the monsters that have infiltrated society to destroy it from within. The problem is that some people in the government have deemed the talented as the real threat to humanity and inserted a normal “untalented” agent into the student body to kill every last one of them. It’s a dangerous job for a person without any special abilities working alone among some of the planet’s most powerful heroes-in-training, but Nanao’s murderous skills make up for her lack of powers.

Talentless Nana Offers a Potent Mix of Styles

Nana sneaking up behind a superhero student.

Fans of My Hero Academia will immediately notice the similarities between the two stories, especially in their setting and environment. Both depict a high school setting with average teenagers, in terms of maturity, personalities, and behaviors, who must deal with the added issue of being super-powered. Nanao Nakajima has many similarities to MHA‘s Deku, as she also stands out for her lack of powers. Moreover, the person who bullies Nanao possesses fire powers, oddly similar to MHA‘s Katsuki Bakugo. These choices by the creators seem to be done on purpose and to poke fun at the more popular battle manga.

Despite their many similarities, Talentless Nana isn’t a complete copy of My Hero Academia. This is largely due to its psychological horror elements. In fact, it raises the fear factor to another level by following the internal dialogue of a killer. The genius of Junji Ito’s horror is that while it includes the normal elements of classic horror such as suspense, tension, and fear generation, Ito’s addition of visual detail and unique psychological themes makes the horror more intense. It’s those aspects of Ito’s horror that Talentless Nana uses to expand the story beyond its larger teen superheroes save the world theme.

Who Are the Real Monsters in Talentless Nana?

Zombies plague Nana in Talentless Nana

Talentless Nana does an amazing job of integrating horror with heroes, creating an entertaining and engaging story. Even though readers are given the information they need to solve the mystery, the creators offer a range of alternative explanations that makes readers wonder if what they believe as fact is actually speculation. There are also comedic aspects that set up tension for whatever horrific event will take place next.

Ultimately, each work should be judged on its own merits. While Talentless Nana does make use of aspects of MHA‘s teen superhero vibe and Ito’s horror, it’s done in a creative manner that produces a wholly original work that is well worth the time of both My Hero Academia and Junji Ito fans alike.

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