Girl From Nowhere – A Review

In recent years, we’ve seen a surge of interest in Korean dramas and, to a certain extent, Japanese dramas. A genre that remains relatively unexplored is Thai drama. Look, I’m aware that the mention of Thai drama conjures up an image of overly fetishized and overly sexualized BL. For the uninitiated, those are basically shows involving MLM (multi-level marketing, no I’m kidding, it’s obviously Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, nope again, it’s Men Loving Men) relationships. A massive chunk of Thai drama is just a terrible and overexaggerated portrayal of gay relationships. However, even among this sea of “yaoi” (as the Twitter teens say), there are a few notable dramas. One of them happens to be the  mystery thriller anthology “Girl from Nowhere.”

Very mild spoilers ahead, as any recommendation article would have. If you’re looking for horror but without the overplayed jumpscares and infrasound scores, look no further. I often doubt the existence of karma. I have witnessed atrocious people who have committed vile acts, be happy and live a fulfilling life. I have also seen kind and hardworking folks be downtrodden and live oppressed lives. Indeed, karma is real and will come their way one day or the other, right? Now, what if an incarnation of karma lived among the people? Walked with us, ran with us, laughed with us, cried with us, and even went to school with us. And that, exactly, is Nanno, the “Girl from Nowhere”. Beware, though, Nanno mets out karma and not revenge. Do not get on her bad side, lest she brings upon the worst day you could ever imagine. With her iconic schoolgirl bob and her crooked smile, Nanno infiltrates a new school from time to time. Under the facade of an innocent new girl, Nanno dons the hat of the harbinger of justice and karma. Nanno isn’t some sort of God, neither is she an angel, a messiah, a prophet or anything of that sort. She is an immortal entity who judges everyone equally and feels no remorse for doing so. Once in a while, however, she lends a helping hand to those who are not inherently wrong but are lost or trying to do better for themselves. As for who Nanno truly is and where she originates from, we will never know – hence the name “Girl from Nowhere.”

The anthology currently has two seasons, with a third currently in the works, which the fans cannot get enough of (me, basically). Season 1 has some fascinating episodes, all with their unique plot twists. From exposing a sexual predator who happened to be a Physical Education teacher at the “Purest School of the Year” to infiltrating the reunion of high school students who brutally bullied Nanno back in the day and making sure they don’t get a happy ending, Season 1 has its highs and lows. A personal favourite is Episode 8 – Lost and Found. Nanno finds a boy, TK, who, due to his circumstances, resolves to steal, eventually turning into a kleptomaniac. Nanno bonds with TK and helps him face his hardships and eventually overcome them. This episode is perhaps the only one where Nanno portrays her true emotions. She falls in love with him, and when it’s time to part, despite her feelings, she turns away from him, a lone tear running down her distraught face. She is karma, after all, she cannot be tied down to a person, neither can she tie them down to her. The end of every episode – when her victims get their punishment – is characterized by Nanno’s iconic crooked smile and her almost demonic laugh. The only episode where she doesn’t do this is Episode 8. She allows herself to be vulnerable, to feel for TK, but alas, she must carry on with her duty on Earth. 

We move on to Season 2, where we are introduced to a human-turned-entity, Yuri (as opposed to Yaoi, but anyway). Mysterious circumstances lead to a girl, Yuri, being transformed into an entity of revenge, similar but yet so different to Nanno. The main message of Season 2 seems to be portraying the start difference between Nanno and Yuri – karma and revenge. Yuri has a complicated relationship with Nanno. She is strangely obsessed with Nanno, even going so far as to call her her “mother”, but also hates her and tries to harm her and get in her way as much as possible. Her main motive appears to be to prove to Nanno that the ways of “revenge” are quicker and more satisfying than “karma”. Although she seems victorious in a few episodes, looking at the bigger picture, we realise that Nanno has been the puppeteer all along. Season 2, along with meting out punishment to victims, also contrasts the stark difference in the way Nanno and Yuri deal with people. While Nanno is clever, calculative, slow but steady, Yuri is rash, ruthless and cunning. Yuri does try to join forces with Nanno but to no avail. Nanno simply does not agree with the path of revenge. 

Season 2 consists of 8 thrilling episodes, with my personal favourite being Episode 6 – Liberation. Nanno becomes the newbie at a highly restrictive school, where students are expected to follow all rules without questioning any of them. To no one’s surprise, Nanno relishes breaking each and every one of them. (Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any names or characters, businesses or places, events or incidents are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. 🙂 ) The cinematography and the use of colours (or lack thereof) in this episode are truly phenomenal. The entire episode appears in black and white, with bright colours appearing whenever Nanno breaks a rule.  A few instances include Nanno showing up with bright purple hair and red lips, resisting the rules that forbid makeup and dyeing of hair. You might ask, oh, but aren’t those rules pretty standard for a school? Don’t worry dear reader; feel free to skip to S2:E6 to discover just how bad it gets. And yes, the episodes aren’t particularly related to each other, so if your curiosity gets the better of you, you could always start at episode 6 and work your way up!

What’s interesting about this show is that Nanno is an extremely morally grey character. In fact, I would go so far as to say she leans towards being morally black. Yet, throughout the show, you’ll find yourself rooting for her. She isn’t a good character or a “hero” of any sort. The actress who plays Nanno, Kitty Chicha, even says that Nanno is almost like the “Devil’s Daughter.” She is the protagonist of her life and the antagonist of everyone else’s. She’s an intricately crafted character, even drawing inspiration from Junji Ito’s Tomie Kawakami. She’s the perfect blend of good and bad, of yin and yang. She isn’t relatable in any way, yet she is loved by anyone who watches the show. She has her unique quirks and mannerisms that make her stand out from other messiah-type, run-of-the-mill protagonists. Her introduction in each episode remains the same – “Sawadee kha, Nanno na kha. Fakto-re-naha-ru-khun” or “Hello, I am Nanno. Please take care of me, everyone.” Yet, her signature greeting gets more and more sinister as the show progresses. We start off with a cold and emotionless Nanno, yet towards the end of Season 2, we see her being more empathetic, almost trying to understand human beings. She’s a devious one, this Nanno, an infuriating anti-hero who drives even the nicest people into morphing into the worst version of themselves. She tests just how evil a “good” person can be and poses questions that the audience struggles to answer. Do “good” people realize the consequences of their miniscule wrongdoings? How evil does a person have to be to be considered “evil”? How do emotions like insecurity and envy make even the “good” people commit heinous deeds? 

The last dialogue of the last episode is Nanno’s inner monologue which says, “People get more bonded when they have something common to hate.” If you notice, nearly all the “crimes” committed throughout the show are the outcomes of someone’s hatred towards someone or something. There is never a clear answer as to what Nanno really is and why she does what she does. The messages behind each episode are ambiguous and are open to interpretation. To discover the enigmatic Nanno and her shenanigans yourself, watch the dark and gritty masterpiece that is “Girl from Nowhere”, available on Netflix, GMMTV (and of course, ahoy matey, skull and bones!). Again, the regular warnings for a thriller – violence, gore, language, substance use and sexual violence.

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The official media house of NIT Trichy.

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