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I think the thing that I enjoy most about slice-of-life comedies is that, well, there is no rush to be anywhere. In her video on Azumanga Daioh, YouTuber hazel discusses how, despite the lack of any overarching plot, the series still makes you care about its characters. Whether it be one of the main girls, or even one of the side characters three tiers removed, each of them comes into their own in some way. Ultimately, hazel describes the series as perfect, at least to her.
While I cannot say have anywhere near the same attachment to a series like Komi Can’t Communicate, it certainly does have its charms. The series stars its namesake character Komi as she begins her high school life. However, given her extreme social anxiety, she cannot talk to anyone, and yet everyone in her school treats her like a god. With the help of fellow classmate Tadano, Komi hopes to make many friends.
I Mean, What’s There to Say, Really?
The problem with talking about a series like Komi Can’t Communicate is that, well, there is not actually that much to dissect. A lot of what makes the series work is whether or not 1) one buys into its core premise, and 2) finds it funny enough to stick with for a whole 12 episodes. Otherwise, the show just kind of fails.
Ok, maybe that is a little harsh. After all, it does work for me. Part of that, I think, is the character of Komi herself. While I have never known anyone to be socially anxious to the point of literally being speechless, as an exaggerated metaphor for how it can be to go through high school without strong social skills, it works. I know I was definitely not one to make friends easily, and it was only after joining my high school newspaper that I made any significant friends and gained my confidence.
However, for people lacking those same experiences, the comedy might not hit in the same way. A large part of comedy is the subjective experiences that inform them, to begin with. In that respect, I think Komi covers just enough bases that even those outside its target audience will find something worth enjoying, assuming they stick around.
So, Does She Actually Not Communicate?
Tadano, being the one who agrees to help her find friends, ends up being the other main character. The show itself describes him as agreeable, but ultimately dull and average. Now, as much as I can appreciate the self-insult, it does not change the fact that he is actually pretty uninteresting.
A lot of the jokes in the series are made at his expense but rarely do they ever lead to any significant changes in his character. In fact, most of the development he does go through in the series happens as a result of helping Komi make friends. Again, none of this is to say that having no overarching story is bad, far from it, but whereas Azumanga Daioh’s ending makes one feel connected to its cast, Tadano hardly inspires that same satisfaction.
The one exception to this is the burgeoning romance between him and Komi, and of course, by burgeoning I mean not at all and that Tadano is so slow in recognizing Komi is into him that they literally introduced a whole new character in the last three episodes of the first season to tell him how dumb he is. Honestly, now that I write that all out, it is really funny. Gotta hand it to the writers on that one.
The Side Characters
Despite Tadano being relatively uninteresting as the main character, there are others who pick up his slack. Najimi, Tadano’s childhood best friend and one of the first to befriend Komi, acts as a big chaotic neutral, mostly doing whatever seems fun at the moment and rarely thinks about the consequences.
Some of the best moments in the series actually come from a recurring bit with Najimi and Komi. Usually, this involves Najimi jokingly asking Komi to go get her something as a way of boosting her social skills, often giving her a complicated order, and Komi agreeing. Komi never actually comes back with the right thing of course, and the process itself often scares her half to death. However, it highlights both how carefree Najimi is and how hard Komi is working to communicate with other people.
Yamai is another character who is, well, also not funny. Her introductory episode involves her abducting Tadano for over a day, locking him in her room, and inviting Komi over to hang out. While I can certainly appreciate a good Yandere in specific contexts, comedy is not really one of them, as the joke usually just boils down to “tehe, I’m crazy.”
The Last Five Minutes
While the last episode was, on the whole, nothing to write home about, the final bit was really thoughtful. It starts with the main characters singing Kareoke together to the show’s ending theme. Afterward, it cuts from credits back to a scene of Komi, alone in her room appreciating all of her classmates by writing down their names, with Tadano’s name placed squarely at the top of the list.
We then get a sequence of class 1-1 filming the outro sequence to the show, with Komi finally being able to say “Yoroshiku, Onegaishimasu,” which is a way of saying “I look forward to working with you,” or, less literally, “I hope we can be friends.” It then cuts to a black screen which dedicates the series to those with social anxiety. Though it does not make up for the more lackluster parts of the series, it was a pretty thoughtful ending and one that I appreciate.
To be frank, there are a lot of Slice of Life comedy series that I would go to before Komi Can’t Communicate. Horimiya, Chuunibyou, hell, I would even go as far back as School Rumble. Still, that does not mean there are no good qualities here. Komi is a likable enough walking metaphor, and seeing any potential development in her character is worth waiting for the second season.
How do you all feel about Komi Can’t Communicate? Let me know in the comments below.
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