Review: Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda

cover185303-medium 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!

As someone with some serious social anxiety, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this manga.  I thought it’d be cute and fun and maybe a little reflective of what I go through now, even as an adult.

Granted, my anxiety isn’t nearly as debilitating as Komi’s is, but I could still relate in a lot of ways.  That moment when the teacher calls on you and, even though you know the answer, you’re paralyzed by the fear of saying something in front of the class.  That I totally related to.

The way Tadano vows to help Komi is sweet.  I was worried in the beginning that he was doing it only to win her affection or that he’d push her too far, too fast, but I was surprised that he did neither.  Eventually, I’m sure they’ll become a couple, but for right now, as much as he adores her, he’s good being her friend.  He’s also very understanding of her limitations, even if he doesn’t understand them in the least.

Najimi, on the other hand… I’m not sure what to say about her.  She’s very much over the top and is everything I love in an anime/manga character.  I know I’ve mentioned this before but the thing that has always drawn me to manga (and anime) is how ridiculous the characters can get (and still be considered normal).  Since she’s really popular and has no trouble making friends, she might be exactly what Komi needs.  Also, I think she might possibly be trans, which is amazing.  I can’t say for sure because I’m old and out of touch and don’t want to make assumptions.

Agari is probably the one I relate to the best.  She’s a very nervous, very anxious girl.  While she has these problems, she can get past them when she needs to.  There’s a scene where she needs to tell her entire class something and it nearly paralyzes her.  In the end, she finds the strength to get it out and complete the task she was given.

Komi Can’t Communicate is presented in a series of short, quick chapters that slowly introduces you to all the characters.  As you move through them, you can see Komi – and the rest – making progress, each with their own personal demons.  It’s a very fun and personal sort of manga and I can’t wait to get the next in the series.

4/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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