Original Run: October 7, 2021 - December 23, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Tomohito Oda
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Komi Can’t Communicate. Reader discretion is advised.***
The new academic year has begun at Itan Private High School. Hoping to coast through this next phase of his school career under the radar, Hitohito Tadano (voiced by Gakuto Kajiwara) is ready to take it easy. However, by pure happenstance, his assigned seat is next to the immensely beautiful and universally revered Shouko Komi (voiced by Aoi Koga).
In an instant, the rest of the class turns on Hitohito with bitter jealousy. It appears his desired quiet life is not to be. But, amid the hateful stares and pettiness, Hitohito notices something. Whenever Shouko must step up to speak, she doesn’t. Or, more accurately, she can’t.
Hitohito takes a shot in the dark and approaches Shouko, and sure enough, his suspicions are spot on. It turns out Shouko suffers from intense social anxiety and finds it almost impossible to communicate with anyone. Despite this, Shouko’s dream is to make tons of friends and pleasant memories.
Realizing Shouko is just like anyone else, Hitohito offers to be her first-ever friend.
This will not be a long review; I do not know how it could be. This series was one of those instances where it is impossible NOT to hear the buzz surrounding it. For the record, I have never read a line of the original manga, but I don’t know if that will stay true forever. You see, there is only one way I can describe Komi Can’t Communicate, and it is this:
This show was phenomenal on all accounts. Forget if you’re a fan of the slice-of-life genre; hell, forget if you’re a fan of anime.
For everyone, this is something I can’t recommend stronger.
Before we get into why Komi Can’t Communicate was so brilliant, we need to take a moment to acknowledge something. Let’s give a huge round of applause to OLM, the animation studio behind this series. Not only did they provide us with this modern-day masterpiece, but OLM also delivered spring 2021’s equally impressive Odd Taxi (Komi Can’t Communicate aired during the fall 2021 season).
This review released in January 2022 – two months before the 4th Annual Anime Hajime Highlights. As of the writing of this article, I have damn near the entire fall season to watch before the handing out of any awards. That said, provided there isn’t another absolute powerhouse yet to come, Odd Taxi and Komi Can’t Communicate are in direct competition to not only rank in several categories, they are vying for the top spots.
But where that dust may settle, I (as of January 2022) don’t know.
So, for the time being, Komi Can’t Communicate; where do I even start?
Well, the easiest jumping-off point has to be this show’s animation.
While slice-of-life anime can look amazing, their artwork is not usually their most prominent feature. Nevertheless, Komi Can’t Communicate was simply beautiful. Just because this sort of series’s visuals doesn’t have to be good, that doesn’t mean it can’t knock it out of the park when the chance arises.
On top of the outstanding animation, the sound direction and music were on point, and the atmospheres this show created were powerful and impossible to overlook.
When Komi Can’t Communicate was charming, boy howdy was it charming. Likewise, things were always above and beyond whenever this series was sweet, touching, and intense (if you can believe it). Still, of all the emotion induced by this show, its sense of humor and adorableness was off the charts.
From 2021 and recent memory, there has hardly been anime as consistent as Komi Can’t Communicate was. This show’s humor relied less on slapstick and physical comedy – although both existed. Instead, this series’s success came from its relatability and down-to-earth-ness.
Helping to achieve that was Komi Can’t Communicate’s extensive cast of memorable characters.
While I could discuss everyone in detail, that will take too long, and I would much rather you watch this show to see for yourself. Granted, I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t, at least, mention Najimi Osana (voiced by Rie Murakawa), who was always a treat to have on-screen.
However, this review would be incomplete if we didn’t discuss Hitohito Tadano and the titular Shouko Komi.
First, Hitohito was one of those characters who was impossible to hate. Additionally, he was unlike most other slice-of-life male protagonists. Instead of being a clueless, thickheaded lead who always seems to bumble his way through situations, Hitohito had a solid read on people, particularly with Shouko. Despite her inability to speak to others, Hitohito could figure out what Shouko was trying to get across.
Be that as it may, Hitohito had his own social reservations. He wasn’t the most confident and could be as shy as Shouko, albeit he could speak when necessary. And yet, it was his timidness that allowed him to be so likable. Hitohito was a genuinely good guy who didn’t see or treat Shouko as this goddess, which was a pedestal that gave her nothing but discomfort.
Frankly, in any other series, Hitohito would have been the character to remember. Except, this show had Shouko Komi.
Shouko was this series. Although her difficulty communicating was often the source of humorous misunderstandings and complications, her struggle was real.
For anyone who doesn’t like speaking in public, has trouble making friends, or finds a phone call to be all kinds of stressful, you will find a bit of yourself in Shouko. There were so many instances where Shouko wanted to speak, she tried to talk to people, but she simply couldn’t. Not only could you see her distress, you could feel it.
Considering how many times this series got me laughing, and had me smiling, it was when Komi Can’t Communicate was full of heart that it truly shone. And when that happened, my god, it was bright.
I could have written a Series Negatives section. However, it would have been nothing but nitpicks and forced discussion. At its core, this series was a slice-of-life, so it had many of the elements that make the genre what it is, and many of those elements can be divisive.
But believe me, this show was and had much, MUCH more. It is, without a doubt, among the best anime to come out of 2021. Heck, it is one of the best series to come out in recent memory.
With beautiful animation, memorable characters, and a massive heart, this is a must-see.
Komi Can’t Communicate has the biggest recommendation I can give.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Komi Can’t Communicate? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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