Volume 1 Synopsis
Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!
Title: Komi Can’t Communicate (Komi-san wa Komyushou Desu)
Author: Tomohito Oda
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-life
Some of us are born social butterflies destined to the sweet nectar life offers while the rest of us are so inept that the nectar is comically bitter. High school student Komi Shouko would definitely fall into the latter category: a girl with a captivating presence enough to grant her popularity among her classmates, yet so awkward she can only communicate through writing her words out. For Tadano Hitohito, a guy that wants to live a peaceful school life being the only one privy to this information aims to grant Komi’s request to get rid of her Communication Disorder (or komyushou in Japanese) and make a 100 friends. And thus, Tomohito Oda’s comedy series, Komi-san Can’t Communicate (or Komi-san wa Komyushou Desu) begins! Unsurprisingly, if you are looking for a good time, you will have no trouble finding it here. You would really have to be trying hard not to otherwise.
For a title all about creating whimsy out of a rather complicated lifestyle hindrance, Komi-san Can’t Communicate is a real bingo champion in the comedy department hands down. For one, the character interactions, especially between Komi and Tandano are golden and range between cute to humorously cathartic. Being able to understand all her little idiosyncrasies based on her expression (that hardly ever changes) alone, it is something of an adorable charm for Komi but also a close example of how people with social anxiety wish they could open up and be understood. With Komi being far from the only character with personality quirks, the series also excels with the other cast members and how they interact with each other. Only being introduced to a limited selection of characters thus far, the interactions readers do witness give these characters enough time to shine and informs them of all they pretty much need to know. One of the most prominent characters readers will meet is Osana Najimi, an androgynous male that dresses as a female and steals the spotlight whenever he shows up. He also happens to be everyone’s childhood friend. And yes, if you couldn’t tell from the name of alone (or missed the footnotes), Oda really loves puns and wordplay, most of the character names alluding to their eccentric personalities or character trope. Unabashedly silly in every regard, these individual elements make up the sum of what makes Komi-san Can’t Communicate a pleasant read for the time being.
As far as the artwork goes, Oda style is nothing special as far as making the art standout but works for it is. Komi is the picture of a traditional beauty, yet when her panic attacks get the best of her, she turns into an adorable goofball that you can’t help but want to root for. Coupled with the many expressions that the characters can assume at any given time, it is one of the things that helps in regards to the comedic timing. Being quick to miss it, the scene real estate panel to panel is impressive, with the author able to pack in a lot of small details that make the characters and their expressions standout. One technique I noticed often is using Komi’s deadpan expression against a black background. Oddly enough, it makes her look scary than anything else. All that being said, being a fan of the eye catches between chapters, would it be too much trouble to ask Oda to put out an artbook?
Ending off on a rather cute note and the friendship count only up to 3, Komi-san Can’t Communicate seems like it will be a real wild and wacky ride. With only a fraction of the characters introduced proper and plenty of gags I want to see play out, Oda sells the audience on so much only to pull the line away at the last moment. Even though social anxiety can be debilitating, I think audience going through the same will get the most out the manga: seeing Komi starting to live an enjoyable life little by little. Of course, even for those that aren’t, a serviceable and cute story await that you will most likely want to stick with until the end. Do your best at making friends and creating smiles, Komi.
Final Verdict: With great characters, excellent gags, and amusing setup, Komi Can’t Communicate hits all the high points of a comedy series then some. Having the comedic timing to back it up and great and witty writing in the other corner, this is a recommended treat for those looking for a laugh and an easygoing story to match.