Anime, Reactions, Shows

Komi Can’t Communicate S1E1

I enjoyed writing my first episode analyses and reactions so much that I decided to try another one. I think I am going to alternate between Yuri on Ice, Komi Can’t Communicate, and Kaguya-Sama: Love is War. That’s not set in stone yet, but is pretty likely. Mention in the comments if you feel like I should do a different show. Almost anything on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu is fair game. I avoid shows with lots of gore or strong sexual themes.

Spoilers for Season 1 Episode 1 Below!

First off, we hear a little girl singing in Japanese. The lyrics to the song are about hoping to make a hundred friends in first grade. Cute. My first thought is, this is the protagonist’s childhood.

Wrong, just a random pedestrian.

The real star of the show is the teenage girl walking down the sidewalk to school. Apparently everyone within range of sight thinks she is drop-dead gorgeous. I am clueless when it comes to beauty, but even I know she is beautiful. I mean, only because all the other characters are gawking and blushing at her appearance. Otherwise it would never have occurred me to label her as beautiful or consider her appearance at all. That’s just me, I guess. But still.

I have never seen people react like that in real life. I guess the only equivalent I could think of is how a person would be treated if they were suspected to be a celebrity.

There is a cat too, a black cat. It got me thinking. Are black cats considered bad luck in Japan too, or is that just a western thing? After a quick google search and checking several websites, I discovered that black cats are considered GOOD luck in Japan.

As an English major, I was taught that most artistic and linguistic choices are not only intentional but that even simple ones have meaning behind them. In other words, the animators and writers wouldn’t include a black cat for no reason. My guess is that since a black cat crossing your path in Japan is good luck, it is a reflection of how the “hot” teenage girl has had the good fortune to be born attractive. So the show wants our first impression of her to be that she is a lucky, beautiful girl. Interesting.

The black cat runs away from the attractive girl when she gets closer. That seems like a bad sign for her luck, or at least like the universe is giving her mixed signals.

The narrator chimes in with information about Itan Private High School, but just normal observations.

It’s Tadano’s first day of high school and he is reflecting on how it is strange that an average joe like him got into a school like this. My first thought was, this is going to be one of those wish fulfillment anime where the average guy gets the love and attention of the super pretty girl, isn’t it? I don’t actually mind that trope that much, as long as it is not a harem anime.

I guess we’ll see.

My goal for the time being…is to read the room and live a peaceful high school life.”

Tadano

Tadano’s desire to “read the room” and basically just fit in without drama is super relatable. When I was in high school, blending in was not so much my intention as disappearing completely. I was in cyber school, which made it easy to avoid social interaction. I wanted my high school experience to be as uneventful and peaceful as possible. Which isn’t really what happened, because I was a ball of stress with horrible mental health.

At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Tadano’s high school experience likewise is going to be anything but peaceful. After all, why would he be a main character in this show if it was going to be boring? His goals kind of remind me of Saiki from The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, who just wants to live a normal, peaceful life. The main difference is that Saiki has a somewhat negative attitude while Tadano is definitely upbeat, even if they both want to “live inconspicuously” in their pursuit of happiness.

The narrator already seems superfluous because she explains that Tadano is shy. A tell don’t show moment for sure–I’m sure we could’ve figured that out for ourselves.

Apparently Tadano tried to be unique in junior high and it backfired–growing hair out, being apathetic, trying to learn bass, having a cringey username are all listed as things he did to stand out.

Tadano’s first impression of that pretty girl from earlier is that she is menacing because all she does is stare at him. We learn her name is Komi, but not from her, because she doesn’t say a word and just runs away.

Through no act of her own, Komi immediately becomes the most popular girl in school, and Tadano is despised for being the one who gets to sit next to her. I never was in public school, but I have always thought it is a mixture of looks and charisma/people skills that tend to make people the most popular. A pretty girl may be popular, but if she has the “wrong” hobbies or habits or personality, she will never be the MOST popular. That was the vibe I got from TV shows I watched with public schools in them.

The narrator says that Tadano’s high school life was doomed from the start. I kinda wonder why no one tried to sit beside Komi before him, but maybe they were all too nervous. He just did it by accident. When I was in classrooms for the first time in college, I either chose the front row of seats or the back row of seats. It depended on the amount I was interested in the class. If I thought I would be bored, I would sit in the back so I could get away with writing for fun on my laptop. I almost never chose my seat based on who was sitting nearby, except when I shared a class once with my best friend. Tadano seems to put even less thought to who he sits beside than me.

They all start introducing themselves to the class. I HATED introducing myself to groups of people when I was a teenager. Agari’s way of introducing herself, when she could barely get the words out, was basically me. Except she blurted things out pretty loudly, while I mumbled. But I can totally understand why Agari and Komi would struggle with this.

For Komi, there is a long uncomfortable silence before she goes to the board and writes her name. The teacher’s reaction to the swish of Komi’s skirt is disgusting. She shouldn’t be fawning over a minor like that. It’s gross.

When she writes her name and returns to her seat, she is met with cheers and confetti. A little over-the-top, but the anime makes a point. Komi is popular but no one here really knows her or cares that she shares nothing but her name. She is just a pretty face to them.

Oh, and typical. Komi drops her eraser and it bumps Tadano’s foot. He tries to return it and a classmate dressed like a ninja throws something at him. Tadano has made himself a target. I hate to see behavior so petty. How is Komi supposed to have friends if anyone who gets close to her is punished for it?

Komi stares at Tadano again, and the unhelpful narrator chimes in again with “Tadano chose to pretend he didn’t see anything.” Um, yeah. I could see that.

After Tadano is knocked out by a stampede of students trying to get near Komi, he only wakes up to hear Komi admitting to herself that she can’t speak in front of other people, and playfully and kind of sadly saying meow to a toy cat. (Another black cat–I’m sensing a theme.)

Tadano awkwardly says he didn’t hear anything she said. Not very convincing. Someone who didn’t hear wouldn’t know she said anything to begin with, so they wouldn’t have made that comment. That’s why even though I talked to myself at home as a teen, the instant I was outside my home, I was dead quiet when I wasn’t spoken to.

When Komi tries to run away, Tadano panics and asks if she struggles to speak with people. The narrator, who I have already come to hate, says that Tadano gets it. It was kind of fun that she said he “leveled up” in understanding like in a video game though.

Komi is depicted as catlike in this scene, probably to show how jittery and shy she is. She writes on the chalkboard asking how he knew she couldn’t talk to people.

I don’t know…perhaps it is the fact that she goes into full panic mode every time someone talks to her and never speaks around other people. Is it safe to say that is a dead giveaway? Are people so blinded to her beauty that they don’t realize her emotional state at all? Literally no one has noticed this before? How? How did she get all the way to high school without anyone coming to that realization? In Kindergarten, the only grade in which I was in a public school, the teacher discussed the possibility of having me tested and put in special education classes because I did not play much with the other kids and rarely spoke. I didn’t have a communication disorder, but I know that Komi was written to have one. How did teachers not realize something was up? Is school so different in Japan that they would disregard a student who never spoke? What about verbal presentations? Or, as a elementary student, show and tell?

Suffice it to say, I have questions.

Komi clearly struggles with self-esteem. She perceives those around her as getting nervous and not interacting with her because no one would want to talk to someone like her. I feel the same way sometimes. Well, a lot. Like, why does anyone even want to talk to someone like me? Honestly, so far I feel like both Komi and Tadano are pretty relatable characters. No doubt many other people could relate as well.

Komi outpours her feelings onto the chalkboard by writing her innermost thoughts, showing her deep anxiety and her desire for connection. Finding someone she can finally communicate with is clearly cathartic.

It was hilarious when Tadano thought she was crying but she actually had a case of the hiccups. Unexpected. I try not to predict anymore, but I don’t think I would see that coming even if I had tried.

Komi believes this is the last time Tadano will talk to her after she shares her struggles. Now, I don’t have a communication disorder, but I do have a serious mental illness. Every time I share with a new person my diagnosis, symptoms, and struggles, I have an almost overpowering fear they will reject me. It’s why I haven’t talked or written much about it, even though I want to be my true self in my writing.

Komi is afraid to let people know her true self as well. Even though I know Tadano is very unlikely to reject her, I still feel for her and understand her concern.

And he doesn’t reject her. He writes on the board to communicate with her as well. It’s super sweet. They cover the entire chalkboard as the chalk dust falls like snow. It’s a beautiful scene.

Komi admits she wants to make a hundred friends. A HUNDRED? What is this, Facebook? How would you even keep up with that many friends? But then Tadano says she only has 99 to go now, which I admit, is cute. Tadano decides he is going to help Komi make 99 more friends.

Now intro time? I’m guessing this is going to be the intro in future episodes, though it is appearing closer to the end of the episode now.

The intro is pretty, for sure. I like the different themes and the upbeat music.

The narrator tells us some actually useful information. This high school’s only criteria for acceptance is an interview, and acceptance depends entirely on character. It is a school that has a reputation for being filled with unusual people. (Kinda like how the cyber school I attended ended up being a net for people who were incredibly passionate about specific hobbies, were highly intelligent, or were kicked out of their previous school, among other reasons.)

I thought the episode was over when the credits rolled, but there was more. Komi couldn’t speak when she was called on to read in class, and the teacher used that as a reason to reflect on his teaching methods and had everyone start reading silently. Odd how he pretends to understand Komi when he knows nothing about her.

That’s the real end. Kind of weird to sneak that last tidbit in, but cool I guess. I liked it. It could go in a great direction or a terrible one from here.

Did you watch Komi Can’t Communicate? What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.

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