Tomohito Oda’s tankoubon volumes of “Komi Can't Communicate” are fully available in the English language at our local book store which is an indicator of the size of the audience anticipating this anime. Volume 1’s cover shows the classic moment that the two main characters, Shouko Komi and Hitohito Tadano, first engage in a meaningful sharing of ideas on a school blackboard. It is truly memorable because poor Komi is chronically shy and struggles to form any sort of meaningful communication channels with her classmates. All they see is her stunning beauty which means they idolise her and put her on a pedestal. They don’t realise that her cool reserve is masking her social anxiety such that she is unable to reach out and make friends. The only exception is Tadano who, in a moment of inspired chemistry, realises that her demure nature is hiding a soul in search of help. He asks her about it - leading to that brilliant moment at the blackboard where she expresses her wish for 100 friends. OLM delivered the anime version in 2021 and it was an instant smash hit. Much like Violet Evergarden, before her, you didn’t need to know who Komi was to recognise her iconic image. Suddenly she was everywhere.
The anime delivery is pitch perfect with a wide cast of colourful student characters. Komi is refined and elegant whilst Tadano is a timid yet compassionate boy. Then there is the strangely androgynous Najimi Osana who is the diametric opposite of Komi: confident and outgoing with thousands of friends. The three quickly hook up to help Komi in her mission. There is the scary yandere Ren Yamai who obsesses over Komi, the strangely chunibyo character Omoharu Nakanaka, the highly passive-masochistic Himiko Agari, the Komi-rival Makeru Yadano, the adorable but utterly airheaded Kaede Otori, and so on… It is a great set-up for a story with a wonderful cast, abundant in magical little moments. Osana insists that Tadano is with them when they go out because Osana feels he/she can only communicate with Komi through the boy. Then there is classmate Nene Onemine who appears to be only the second classmate, after Osana, to notice that Komi has developed feelings for Tadano. The moments we enjoy with Komi’s family are pure gold as we get to see exactly how she is the way she is: her Mum’s good looks but with her Dad’s inability to communicate. It is hard to critique something this good. Sure, there are a lot of quite cliched high school moments crammed in here: the Maid Café at the Culture Festival, the sports day, the day at the pool, etc., yet there is much originality too. Season two will be with us by April 2022. Why not? When you are this good you are sublime.