3 Episode Rule – Komi can’t Communicate

3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.

This is my final entry into the Autumn season’s 3 Episode Rule series. In general, I have a habit of overcommitting myself to assigning myself shows and only actually watching half of them. Although this season might be the most I’ve followed through and posted about the shows I’ve seen since I started writing this series. I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of the shows we’ve been given this season, or just because I had two weeks off work to dedicate all the time to watching and writing them.

Truthfully, I want to say it’s the former. I’ve kind of felt that anime in 2021 had been a little weak. I know we’re still reeling from the effects of COVID and people changing the way they have to work, but honest to god, I feel like this season has had more really cool shows than maybe the preceding three seasons combined.

Which is why I’m rethinking how I do my end of year top ten list this year. But that’s neither here nor there yet. Let’s actually get into this series show: Komi can’t Communicate.

In the past couple of years, I’ve really come to realise that I really love romantic comedy manga, but when it comes to the adaptations in anime form, I really struggle to connect with them, and inevitably fall away from them before they’re half done. It happened with Nagatoro earlier this year and Quintessential Quintuplets a couple of years back. Two manga I love in which the anime didn’t move me. As much as I’d wanted them to.

And maybe therein lies the problem. The thing that can make manga fans insufferable plebeians to people who just want to enjoy some anime. Because while I was aware of Komi-San as a manga, I never read much of it. And so the impact of these first three episodes left so much more of a mark with me coming in blind… ish.

Komi can’t communicate comes from OLM and has been licensed in the west by Netflix of all people. Thankfully, mercifully though, they’ve made the choice to forgo their regular business model of waiting until the hype and word of mouth have died off and then releasing it all in one big chunk three months after the fact. They’re actually releasing them on a weekly basis. Albeit with a slight delay given the lateness of this post from me.

Here’s the thing about me and anime romance. I like the slow burn. The ones that doesn’t start off as a romance at all, and even when the romance starts in earnest, it’s not the be-all and end-all to the story and what’s happening within the story. It’s why I ended up enjoying Uzaki-Chan more than I’d probably like to admit. It’s because the romance is an organic part of an otherwise normal friendship.

In Komi, we first meet Hitohito Tadano, just about as average an high school boy as you’re ever going to see in one of these kinds of series. He somehow managed to enter a prestigious school and has done so with the goal of just coasting through without standing out and drawing attention to himself. He intends to do this with his self proclaimed skill of being able to “read the room”.

It’s through this skill that he quickly comes to realise that school diva and “Queen of the school” after her first day Komi-San isn’t all quiet because she’s cool and detached. It’s purely because she suffers from extreme social anxiety. And despite the fact that she can’t speak aloud to anyone, she somehow manages to blunder through every social situation she finds herself in just because everyone admires her so much.

Which is how Tadano gets mixed up with her. Despite claiming he wants nothing to do with her, he can’t help stick his nose in and help her out. Because the thing is, she really does want to come out of her shell and talk with people.

Right from the get-go, this show is just so sweet. I feel for Komi-San. She might have everything you could want while at high school at a glance, but in reality, she’s just a normal kid with social problems. Which is something we’ve all had to deal with at some point in our lives, to some extent or another. Plus, now that I’m older I come to realise that I really was amongst the crowd judging people from afar.

Like most of the kids in this school, I would judge and make assumptions on people purely on appearances or hearsay. Then again, I was a pretty crappy kid. In my head, I was a Tadano, but in reality, I wasn’t anywhere close. And very few of us are. He’s that “normal” anime high school kid who actually has an unlisted superpower. The power of being absurdly selfless and nice to absolutely everyone without any ulterior motive. Innocent or otherwise.

Tadano clocks Komi’s issue right from the beginning and the pair start to bond and communicate by writing to one another on the blackboard. It’s a great sequence to end this first episode and show what the series is about. One that simultaneously makes you feel for Komi by really making you feel what she’s been living through and to finally find someone who s willing to give the time to understand her. But also it’s full of cute little gags.

We learn that Komi’s goal is to make 100 friends in high school. Which seems like both an absurd number and a really small one simultaneously. But friends are different things when you’re in school compared to when you’re my age. And so, slowly we follow these two building up a collection of friends for Komi, while also breaking Tanado out of his shell by forcing him to “protect” her. All while he seems oblivious to how any of this makes him look.

The first of which is Najimi Osana; a genderfluid character who is about as extroverted as you can get. It’s through Najimi that we learn that this school is actually totally full of weirdoes. And Komi making friends might not be as simple as it first seemed.

Verdict: This wasn’t one of the most hyped showed of the season for nothing.

This romantic comedy airs on the side of wholesome much more than it does Echhi. Which means it’s immediately going to hit a chord me and my tastes right away. Not only that, it does feel like a lot of love and attention when into the making of this one. Based on that first episode alone, the show gives lavish attention to the setting and establishing and that wistful, nostalgic setting of high school. But it also goes all the way in the other direction and perfectly executes the silliness and reactions of Komi-san and her plight.

I enjoyed this show, much more than I was expecting to given what I explained earlier, how a lot of romantic comedy anime and leave me feeling cold. I am very into this in its fledgling episodes and looking forward to keeping up with it. The studio has done a very good job, which makes me all the happier knowing that their next project is Fantasy Bishōjo Juniku Ojisan to in the new year. Which might be the most I think I’ve ever been looking forward to an Isekai in my life.

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