As visually gorgeous as this show and its namesake are, Komi Can’t Communicate is 100% successful because of the friends who support her. There’s only so much a show can do with a protagonist who can’t portray her feelings clearly. Like me, you might feel apprehensive about a full season focusing on a scenario as mundane as a person incapable of communication, but rest assured, the story actually maintains focus on each encounter’s struggle and increases momentum through to the end.
The title is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Shouko Komi, a breathtakingly beautiful girl who stuns anyways who lays eyes on her. My first impression was that she might struggle to articulate her feelings, and just go with the flow of others around her. The situation is far more dire than that. Somehow through some miracle (or neglect), she’s made it all the way to high school incapable of speaking a single phrase, much less an actual sentence. Many times we don’t even see body language, since Komi often freezes up when confronted. A chance encounter and understanding between her and classmate Hitohito Tadano starts a friendship based on trust and understanding with the goal of gaining her more friends over the school year.
There’s a lot of suspense of belief that has to happen for viewers to enjoy the premise given all the public speaking usually associated with school, not just the academic success side of it but also the social aspect. A lot of reliance is placed on her looks, which exempts her from others’ expectations; they admire from afar and make assumptions about why she doesn’t say or do anything in response to her surroundings. One of my favorites comedic examples of this is whenever Najimi blackmails Komi into ordering elaborate menu items from popular food services like Starbucks. Once she pushes past her fear of entering the store, she ends up freezing at the ordering process; employees often take her silence as a challenge and end up putting their own spin on what they think she wants and deserves—never actually matching the original order. Of course, they never learn that, since Komi takes their offering with relief and exits as quickly as she entered, further reinforcing their misunderstanding and her lack of need to truly communicate.
While a failure to communicate is the main gag repeated throughout the series, there is slight improvement between encounters that helps the jokes land and still feel original. A head nod gradually becomes a quiet, single word response. An internal wish to show support gets whispered aloud amidst everyone else’s yells. Komi gets her first cell phone, gradually adds new contacts, and is even able to talk, however, brief, through a phone call. Each victory seems minuscule and unnoticeable, yet also mountains to celebrate.
A sequel tv series has already been announced and I am 100% on board to see how much more Komi will grow. I hope the art direction will continue in quality given the gorgeous shots and colors used this season. Komi reminded me each week to never give up trying to communicate, to make that connection with the other person no matter how small. We could all definitely use a lot more of that, right?
Rating: 1 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.