Komi Can’t Communicate is a romantic comedy series written and illustrated by Tomohito Oda. Currently, four volumes have been translated into English through Viz Media, with the first volume having released on June 11, 2019. After reading the first three volumes, will this newcomer manage to stand out and differentiate itself? Or is Komi Can’t Communicate just another generic addition into the genre?
What’s the story Komi?
The story revolves around our two main protagonists, Hitohito Tadano, an average high school boy, and Shoko Komi the popular, beautiful class princess. While everyone is drawn towards Komi, no one dares speak to her. They deem themselves unworthy and even when they conjure the courage, she won’t respond. That’s because Komi has a secret, she has trouble expressing herself and communicating with others (hence the title)! Tadano is the first to notice Komi’s difficulties. After getting to know her, together they set out with an ambitious goal, to make 100 friends for Komi.
It is quite a simple premise, but one that I feel readers can find relatable at some level. At some point, we have all had some problems with expressing yourself to others. After going through the first couple of volumes, the concept of Komi making new friends has yet to get old. There comes the point where you can’t help but celebrate any small victory that Komi archives as you become invested in her journey. There is a steady and visible progression with her character that is apparent throughout.
If there is one aspect that I have to commend Komi Can’t Communicate on, is the emotional range it employs. On the one hand, you have great use of humour that for the most part, always sticks the landing. Some of the situations that Komi will find herself in are quite mundane, such as clothes shopping or ordering a coffee. Due to the writing, they organically develop into hilarious or satirising resolutions that never seem unrealistic. At other times the humour will come from character interactions that you don’t expect. It is such a niche, but an accessible type of humour that it is sure to connect with everyone.
Joking aside, this series also has some moments that tug at your heartstrings. While they may not happen as often, they tend to be the highlight of the chapter or volume they’re in. I found myself in awe that such a light-hearted and comedic series could have such profound and compelling character moments. It is not often that a series will have you grinning from ear to ear for it only squeeze your heart a couple of pages later.
Komi and co, the characters of Komi Can’t Communicate
One of my favourite aspect of this series is the character dynamics. Tadano and Komi have such a well written and believable relationship that you can’t help but become invested in their story. Given their characteristics, you would not expect their pairing to work so well. However, it does in a manner that is organic and pure. If their pairing was not believable, the story would quickly lose its footing and become uninteresting. Thankfully these two have a solid path ahead of them.
Due to their mission of helping Komi befriend 100 people, this means that there are new characters continuously introduced. This revolving cast of new and old characters helps to keep the story flowing and fresh. Throughout the volumes, there was never a moment where a character overstayed their welcome. Each character introduced feels unique and relevant, they have their own distinct personality and characteristics that play off each other. This helps to enrich the story, whether it is in humour or in any additional capacity.
The art of Komi Can’t Communicate
Komi Can’t communicate has a very clean and minimalistic art style, but this should not be taken to mean that it is dull and boring. The panels don’t feel cluttered or clunky, which makes the book have a natural flow that facilitates reading. This minimalism actually has quite an interesting effect as it helps to highlight the great character designs throughout the manga. A great deal of effort and care has gone into illustrating them, giving them their own recognisable qualities.
In Komi’s character, especially, as she has two very distinct styles. Komi that drawn which such poise and refinement that almost any page could be hung up as a display. I affectionately refer to her other form as “Owl-Komi”. Here Komi is drawn in an almost chibi style, with wide eyes that are used for comedic effect. I feel overall, it is a very elegant and refined style. Some may call plain, but I think it adds to the appeal and charm of the manga.
Is Komi Can’t Communicate worth reading?
If you enjoy a great story, endearing characters and good humour, then there is no excuse as to why this is not on your bookshelf already. With Viz Media publishing having some of the most popular titles in manga, Komi Can’t Communicate can get lost in the shuffle. But discovering it is like finding the perfect hidden gem. The charm of this series will make you fall in love with it, Komi will have you reaching for the next volume. Once you’re up to date, you’ll realise a couple of agonising months stand in your way. I highly recommend picking up at least the first volume and investing your time into Komi-Stocks. With the adaptation of popular manga into anime, there is no doubt that Komi will soon be picked up as the next big hit!