• Titles: Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu, Komi cherche ses mots
  • Genre: Slice of life, school, comedy
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: NUT

Shouko Komi is perfect, a goddess! She’s tall, slender, almost unbelievably beautiful. Her mind is as sharp as the finest blade and her wit even more cutting. She is a creature so above her fellow men that she doesn’t even need to use words. She can control the room with a simple glance. And she never loses her cool. That perfect mask remains impassive in every situation because she is just so extraordinary that nothing phases her. We would all wish to be Komi if such a wish was attainable for mere mortals. And Tadano gets to sit next to her! Like he deserves such an honour! Who does he think he is. And now he’s even talking to her and telling people that she’s shy. That cannot stand! Let’s get him!

I have a bit of a strange history with Komi Can’t Communicate. I had actually known about the manga for a while now. Even before it was officially licensed in English, the title was a darling of the fan translation community and I gave it a quick read. Now scanslations have fandoms just like any other community and the Komi one was a bit… enthusiastic is usually my nice word for it.

I mean there were a lot of people who honestly claimed that Komi Can’t Communicate (or Komi Doesn’t communicate, there were a few titles back in the day)was the best manga to have been released in decades and anyone who didn’t agree was met with either direct hostility or a never-ending barrage of well-meaning explanation to why they are wrong. I read the first few chapters. I liked them quite a bit but not to the point that it was now my favourite manga, so I sort of stepped back from it.

After a while, the manga did get an official English version and then got recommended to me pretty much nonstop on every site I buy manga. I was Komi saturated. S when I saw that Netflix was coming out with an anime adaptation, I figured I would wait until the buzz died down a bit.

This is pretty much the same impression my post will make

Production

Visually Komi is interesting. There are a few scenes, especially sunset ones, that show that the production had a bit of resources to play with here. However, the nature of Komi Can’t Communicate simply doesn’t lend itself to super impressive animation. Instead, the production really went all in preserving the distinctive look of the character models. Komi especially is rather unmistakable.

There is also frequent use of a secondary art style to really mark the silly nature of the story. It’s not exactly chibis but the characters do look a lot more cartoonish at times and it’s charming, in my opinion. Seeing beautiful Komi with her sharp eyes visually devolve into a cute little character with enormous lost puppy dog eyes adds a lot to the story.

Personally, I loved the look of the OP. It’s very sharp with high contrast and shadow lines. I remember wishing that the entire anime had been rendered in that style on more than one occasion. But I do like the look of it as it is.

adorable Komi is adorable

Story & Characters

Between the one or two chapters I read and the time I started watching the Netflix animation, a lot of stuff happened for Komi. The official manga also manage to gather a vocal and enthusiastic following that certainly helped to hype the release of the anime. I remember seeing a lot about it when it premiered. But then, as the season wore on, I stopped seeing as many posts. My fellow bloggers weren’t mentioning the show in their other posts and there were no huge twitter threads like My Dress-Up Darling is getting this season.  

I assumed that Komi Can’t Communicate had failed to live up to fans’ expectations in some way. For some reason, the excitement hadn’t been sustained I thought. Since I had only read a few very early chapters, for all I knew, maybe the story goes in an odd direction or just gets boring after a while. The premise did seem rather limited.

And so, I started watching Komi Can’t Communicate last week with a very cautious mindset. I expected that I wouldn’t love it as much as the die-hard fans and that whatever turned the other viewers off, would do the same for me. Remember that at this time, I had avoided detailed episode reviews as I wanted to discover the series for myself. As such, I hadn’t in fact read anything to specifically suggest fans had become disenchanted with the show, I was simply going off of circumstantial evidence and years of watching the blogosphere.

You never know when things can go wrong

Komi Can’t Communicate is basically a coming-of-age comedy. Komi is extremely shy and riddled with social anxiety to the point where she can’t bring herself to have a normal conversation with her peers. However, she’s also very beautiful and her default expression makes her look calm and collected even when she’s panicking. As such, most other people consider her intimidating and unapproachable. And mistake her quietness for being a cool girl who is above it all. But that’s not the case, since Komi desperately wants to make friends. One day, Tadano catches her talking to herself when she thinks he’s asleep and figures out the truth. From there, he decides to help her and the two of them start a quest to get Komi as many friends as possible.

The premise is very sweet, as you can see. But like I mentioned before it is a little limited. Komi Can’t Communicate is mostly a comedy and a LOT of the humour is just Komi panicking while people around her misinterpret it and decide she’s the coolest person ever. Frankly, even very early on, it gets repetitive.

Komi does manage to make friends with Tadano’s help fairly easily. However, most of them are eccentric to the point of being insane. Najimi is a genderfluid troll who frequently deliberately puts Komi (and mostly Tadano) in unpleasant or difficult situations just to amuse themselves. Agari is a shy girl like Komi who turns into a BDSM sub whenever Komi is around and wants to be treated like a dog. Also makes a lot of jokes about hot dogs being her penis for some reason. Meanwhile, Yamai is a Yandere with Komi as the object of her affection. At times, these characters became a bit much for me. They are all repetitive as well and the jokes around them didn’t seem to fit the rest of the show.

one of the rare PG screencaps I have of her

However, that’s not what I remembered after I watched the last episode of Komi Can’t Communicate. I can point at a lot of individual moments that I didn’t really like or that didn’t work for one reason or another. I can say that the supporting characters need some work and the entire season was more repetitive than most anime. But the impression that it left on me was that of a charming exploration of friendship.

There is some suggestion that a romantic relationship between Tadano and Komi could happen in the future but for now, they are two friends who care a lot about each other and their friendship was just touching. I really liked this simple exploration of how we can help each other in mundane little ways. It made me happy to watch and I found myself wanting to see just one more episode every time.

I ended up putting season 2 straight on my planning to watch list. The show isn’t perfect and maybe some of those hit or miss supporting characters or the same jokes that come up all the time really did turn some viewers off. But after watching it, I think it’s just a case that Komi is in fact a calm show that doesn’t really stray far from its central friendship theme. And because of that, it’s not really the sort of show that going to cause a huge uproar, even if viewers are enjoying it. The manga was already so popular that it wasn’t a surprise to that many people either. Unlike My Dress-Up Darling which had a very liked manga but wasn’t anywhere near as widely known.

At the end of the day, Komi Can’t Communicate seems to be a faithful adaptation of at least the first chapters of the manga and a pretty charming anime overall. I’m looking forward to more!

You might like this anime if:

You liked the manga! Hah! You want a sweet slice of life about making friends and don’t mind occasionally raunchy jokes.

My favourite character:

I really like a straight man in these types of shows so I have to give it to Tadano but he would be pretty boring without Komi so maybe I like the two main characters best of all!

Suggested drink:

a Shy Lady

  • Every time Komi gets cat ears – awwwwww
  • Every time anyone blushes at Komi – take a gulp
  • Every time Najimi has a childhood friend – don’t take a sip, you’ll pass out
  • Every time Komi gets minsunderstood – take a sip
  • Every time Komi freezes – gat some ice for your drink
  • Every time Komi makes a friend – raise your glass
  • Every time Komi actually says something – marvel in awe
  • Every time Najimi pretends to do communication training – take a sip
  • Every time Yamai goes dark – be afraid
  • Every time Tadano can read Komi’s mind – take a sip
  • Every time Komi has a pny tail – take a sip
  • Every time Osana sends Komi on an errand – get something for someone else in the room. If you’re alone, congraulations you can chill
  • Every time Tadano is secretly looking out for Komi – cute!
  • Every time we see Komi’s mom  – Yay!

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

15 thoughts

  1. I think in some respects this series operates as a commentary on the ulterior motives and hidden agendas behind why people form relationships with other people. Whether disguised as kindliness, or friendliness, or the desire to be helpful, often those motives and agendas are more about what we think we can get from the other person, or out of our relationship with them, than they are about the person themselves. Which is a pretty dark subtext to run for what is supposed to be a comedy; but which I think, at least at some level, is nonetheless there under the humour…

    1. I think interpretation has a lot to do with personal experience. I didn’t really see that angle at all. Maybe I will in the second season?

      1. It was more a case of noting that in both our reviews of this series we observed that some of the characters seem to have decidedly odd views about Komi and what a relationship with her might/could involve…which led me to the conclusion that maybe a subtext in the series was a (to be sure, understated) commentary on the motives behind why some people befriend others…?

  2. I absolutely LOVE the manga and have all eighteen volumes that have been released in English. So I was quite surprised that I bounced off the anime BECAUSE IT WAS PRACTICALLY A ONE-TO-ONE ADAPTATION. We otaku complain and complain when the anime adaptation is different from the original manga or light novel series! So why did this bother me? My best guess is that because Komi is foremost a comedy series, reading the manga allowed me to take on the comedy at my own pace. But back in the day I loved both the anime and manga versions of Azu Manga Daioh, so maybe I am just a weirdo. Yeah, that is probably it.

    1. That’s interesting. Tone and voice acting may have interfered. I don’t know if you watched it subbed or dubbed but that makes a huge difference in delivery

      1. In retrospect, I think that it is that I can read several chapters of the manga in time it takes to play one episode.

  3. Saw some of the manga’s on NetGalley up for request but skipped it due to not being on time for volume 1. Seems i missed out on a good series. Great post!

  4. I always find it enjoyable that we reviewers can draw vastly different perspectives on the same series we are covering. It keeps things fresh as every reviewers take on a series is uniquely their own. And not just a copy paste from another reviewer.

    With that said. To me, Komi Can’t Communicate is all about extreme mental issues that creates problems for the people who deal with these issues daily. It’s not a mean spirited title, but if you want a better girl who wants to make friends story read Hitomi-chan Is Shy With Strangers.

    Komi is an extreme introvert. However everyone perceives her struggles to escape her own crippling inability to connect with others as her being this aloof mysterious goddess… Or God. In Volume 1 she was voted God of the school. Apologists are presently working on explaining why her existence proves that she exists.

    Tadano is obsessed with getting things exactly the way he thinks they should go, and shuts down when faced with natural opposition that appears in everyday life that thwarts said efforts.

    Yamai The Yandere is a popular girl who is heading for a prison sentence for being a sociopath. Either that or a programming exec job at Netflix.

    The we have the adorable girl whose self esteem is so rubbish she wants to be Komi’s Basic Dog… Even though she has a body that says Velcoon… Inside joke. If you read my book Tales Of The Frolicking Mare you’d get it.

    Finally Najimi. A person who discovered that in order to be popular you have to remake yourself in order to appeal to the most people. As such Najimi has forsaken her own gender identity to become a female, until plot says otherwise, because Najimi does whatever it takes to maintain her lofty position she has built. Even if it means shedding parts of her identity she thinks holds her back.

    At the end of the day this is a series of extreme mental issues, and the people who have to deal with these issues daily. It’s an. Ok series, but it’s not perfect. Still it’s popular and enjoyable so… Ok. I’ll keep on reviewing it. Nuff said. Bye.

  5. This is one of those shows that wowed me with an outstanding first episode, and then settled for being pretty fun instead. I’m watching the second season right now, and once a week is the perfect pace for this show. It’s a great simulcast watch, perhaps a bit much to binge (at least for me). The side characters are very hit-and-miss for me. Some annoy me, some I like, some I can’t remember when they show up next. (I consider Najimi a main character, since they’re the motor of the main dynamics.)

    1. That really was a fantastic first episode wasn’t it! I haven’t started the second season yet, sounds like it’s pretty similar to the first which is fine by me.

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