True Representation//No drama, no flash, no big deal- just some good representation from a large corporation. Balister spent his life training to defend the kingdom; Nimona is everything he stands against. Photo by AJ Anderson
Nimona: Genuine Representation
by AJ Anderson
Content Warning: This is an in-depth summary and review of Nimona (2023) that contains spoilers and mentions of suicide
Nimona is a graphic novel about a shapeshifter named Nimona and a knight, Balister, who has trained his whole life to take her out. That is, until he is framed for the murder of the queen and has no choice but to team up with the ‘monster’ to prove his innocence. The graphic novel can dive deeper into the characters, whereas the movie centers on recreating the plot. The writer, ND Stevenson, took a large part in influencing the movie. Alongside directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, the three brought the series to life beautifully.
As the story takes off, this movie does the job of subtly presenting the message behind it. The idea of Nimona is that she is not a human, girl, monster, or anything else the people have labeled her as. Shown by the phrase, “I am Nimona”. She will never be who people want her to be because she is Nimona. The very first scenes show the detail put into this movie by having their characters stand out from the beautiful sceneries using details and subtleties that draw the viewer in without most noticing the first time. Details are as fine as the shapes in characters’ eyes changing depending on who they are looking at. Nimona consistently has to define herself to Balister; He attempts to place her into a familiar box she won’t fit into.
Without touching on the main plot, the filmmakers used every chance to make people feel seen. Nimona is representing someone who does not align themselves with the gender norm. Balister asks her to be “girl you” when talking to her, and Nimona feigns ignorance to make Balister question what he knows as ‘normal.’ People watching have connected with Nimona through this narrative of feeling disconnected from a parent because you are not what they intended for you to be. However, as Nimona creates a stronger bond with Balister, the viewers gain a sense of hope that the people they care about could one day accept who they are.
There is no exaggeration around the LGBTQ+ representation that most people rave about. One of the main characters, Balister, has a boyfriend named Ambrosius. There is no exaggeration of their relationship, or political standpoint in any form; the story would not have been altered if it was a hetero couple. That’s what people are looking at, the normalization of it all.
This movie additionally touches on suicidal intentions and actions. The film gives a heart-wrenching quote from Nimona right after a big fight, “I don’t know what’s scarier, the fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart, or that sometimes, I just want to let them.”
She has struggled with being an outcast for as long as she has existed. Balister’s intervention with her attempt is a beautiful presentation to deal with suicidal intentions in friends and family. Not by making a big scene, but by talking to her and telling her what she needs to hear. On a platform as popular as Netflix, they needed to handle the topic properly.
There is, of course, representation in other places, but it is rarely discussed openly, showing the truth about how some days are genuinely better than others. Thousands of people took to the internet with opinions and connections to the movie, showing off the incredibly impactful film. People struggling through things like suicidal thoughts, gender identity crises, and depression need things they can connect to, things that show they are not alone.