Summer vacation is ending for Komi and her friends, and the return to class looms ever closer. Will new characters appear and help her reach her goal? More importantly, how will Komi fair in the sports festival? Komi Can’t Communicate is a romantic comedy series written and illustrated by Tomohito Oda. It is currently being licensed and translated through Viz Media, available in both physical and digital formats. Is Komi Can’t Communicate volume 4 worth reading?
Continuing the story
The story still revolves around helping Komi reach her goal of making 100 friends, so it is a bit more of the same. There are a couple of highlight moments that stood out to me I want to mention. The first is right at the beginning of the volume where Komi and company get together and play what is obviously Super Smash Brothers (but for legal reasons, it is instead called Swamp Bros). It was fun to see them trying to work around character copyright and watching Komi dominate at a game in which she has no clue how to play. It was also a nice touch to see Komi cosplaying as Princess Zelda. An enjoyable and quirky chapter that knew what it was and didn’t take itself too seriously.
Komi Can't Communicate volume 4 spoilers
An integral part of this volume is the sports festival; after all, it is on the cover. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at first because it felt like the staple festival trope in manga. As I continued reading, it made more sense. The climax is a relay race, the victory depending on Komi. Honestly, there was a point in which it felt like she would get some shonen power up with how hard she was pushing herself. Ultimately, Komi ends up tripping, and this is where the festival concept clicked in. Instead of becoming super anxious, she instead pushes herself to keep going. Ultimately it was done to show Komi’s growth in confidence as well as her character. I applaud Oda for this subtle touch, as at first glance, it was lost on me.
Something that keeps me entertained from previous volumes is Komi’s family dynamic. You would think she would be more comfortable around them, but she is still timid. Even her family sometimes has a hard time getting a read on her. Undeniably it’s a bit puzzling but not in a negative way. Still, my favourite story beats are its quiet moments. You can see the romance between Komi and Tadano begging to bloom just a bit. It’s quite endearing to see these two navigate around each other. Hopefully, there will be a more steady development on this in the future, fingers crossed.
I have to apologise because, in my previous review for Komi, I neglected to talk about one of the best characters in this series, Najimi Osana. Najimi is a vital part of the character dynamic and story; it’s almost a crime I didn’t mention them. Najimi is one of Tadano’s childhood friends and at this point, make up our leading character trio (Komi, Tadano, Najimi). They are a complete foil to Komi, extremely social, outgoing with a very quirky personality. You may notice that I am using gender-neutral pronouns to describe them, and that is because their gender is not mentioned, although we get a strong impression that they identify as female. This comes up a few times throughout the story, but it isn’t played for diversity points, just a unique part of their character.
We get two new side characters introduced in this volume, of which one is much more significant than the other. The first is Nokoko Inaka, a country girl who wants to learn how to become a city girl. I don’t particularly have a problem with her, but she was almost a bit too forgettable. Her inclusion did not amount to much, consisting mainly of shadowing Komi while she bought a sandwich. I feel that it was done to show the progress Komi has made when ordering food. Also, her accent is perhaps a bit too country. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk like this outside of an old western movie.
The second character is Chika Netsuno, a second-year who is the epitome of a devoted student-athlete. Her demeanour reminded me of a shonen character with her trying to push everyone to perform at their very best. She was energetic and high spirited which fit the whole sports festival atmosphere. I liked her inclusion more, as she pushes Komi into giving it her all. That’s what these characters are here to do, push Komi into various situations that help her develop
Everyone loves a bonus
Something I forgot to mention in “Is Komi Can’t Communicate Worth Reading?” are the little bonus one-page comics we get. There is usually one or two towards the end of the volume, which is a nice addition. Often, they tie back towards specific chapters, but they don’t add anything of vital importance towards the overall story. In this volume we get Najimi being Najimi and more wholesome Komi content. They are a nice little bookend to wrap everything up.
Is Komi Can’t Communicate Volume 4 worth reading?
For a series that should be ready to take the next step in terms of story, it is surprisingly shy about doing so. While this volume remains a solid read, I feel that it is the weakest one out of the bunch. Overall, I have enjoyed the format for these past four volumes; however, it would be a good idea for new plot points to be introduced.
Komi being the main character aside, it would be interesting to see a little more focus on Tadano or one of the other main characters. From what I have seen, future volumes may address this, but that is a review for another time. It would be frustrating to see the potential this series has gone to waste due to format overuse.
Regardless of this, Komi remains one of my favourite manga series so far. The art, dialogue, and characters are still top-notch. If you’re a continuing reader wondering about picking up Komi Can’t Communicate volume 4? You should, and if you’re still debating jumping in, you should.