Komi Can't Communicate
by MrAJCosplay/Cartoon Cipher,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Komi Can't Communicate ?
As someone who is neurodivergent and suffers from ADHD, it can be very difficult communicating exactly what I want to say to people. Sometimes it's easier for me to write things down in an attempt to focus my thoughts, but other times I need to recite my main point over and over and over again. I know for a fact that I am not alone in these struggles. In fact, you could argue that I am quite lucky compared to most. I've spent a long time trying to develop a mode of communication that works best for me, but others both younger and older than me are still trying to figure things out. If anything that I have said so far resonates with you, then just based off of this premiere episode, I think Komi Can't Communicate might be the sort of relatable show that we were hoping for but never really thought that we would get.
The general shtick here is something that we've seen numerous times before: the beautiful and elegant high school girl is the center of attention for all, yet they end up getting paired with a character that almost goes out of their way to appear average by comparison. Normally this setup is brought about by the main male presenting lead discovering some sort of secret, but it's been a while since such a thing ended up being so relatable. It's not like Komi is an alien or has some kind of secret life. Ironically, she may just be one of the most normal people in the school! But perception can be a powerful thing, especially when you have only so much to go off of. So In a way it kind of makes sense that Tadano, a guy who doesn't want to stand out and is trying his best to just read the room, would be the first person to discover this. One isn't good at communicating while the other doesn't appear to be the best at reading people. A match made in heaven.
Such a premise can definitely be played up mostly for comedy and that's what a good half of this episode focuses on. A lot of the interesting gags regarding crashing and burning with a variety of different interfaces and overlays were a lot of fun. My favorites, of course, were the Pokémon and Mega Man references. Everything is heightened with an emphasis on survival as characters are constantly trying to fend for themselves in a high-stakes environment, and that could be fun as long as we keep finding creative ways to exercise that. The storyboarding also contributes to the timing of these jokes, and they almost always landed with me aside from one or two instances where I don't think a joke was necessary.
The other half of this episode admittedly hit me in a place that I wasn't expecting right out the gate. It's very easy to laugh at Komi's struggles in a slice of life series. In fact, in most other shows, her disposition would be seen as quirky for a side character. But when you make that character trait the focus and emphasize the actual real-world struggle that comes with having a fight or flight response to just saying good morning to somebody, that alone can hit you a little bit differently. Obviously it's a process that could take months or maybe even years to fully develop or get comfortable with, and I'm really glad that this wasn't an issue that was resolved by the end of this episode.
The path to finding 100 friends when the act of speaking instills so much physical fear in you sounds more daunting than a lot of other end-of-the-world stakes you see in other anime. Even if you can't relate to that struggle, the show's attention to detail and directing makes you really feel the weight of how much Komi has probably gone through in silence. Having a conversation entirely through writing on the chalkboard might seem like such a tedious task to many, but it means the world to her as a big step in the direction of where she hopes to be. My favorite detail was in the little pieces of chalk that were falling down as Komi was writing – it almost looked like she was crying as she was getting all of this stuff off of her chest. I could genuinely watch this montage for hours because from a purely emotional standpoint, it just leaves me with a very hopeful yet bittersweet feeling that's almost addictive.
Honestly, this is probably the first show this season that I've come across where I literally have little to no complaints with the first episode. The only thing that I can think of that distracts from my overall enjoyment doesn't even have to do with the show; rather, it's the platform that the show is streaming on. I appreciate the fact that Netflix is attempting to branch out more in an attempt to stream their shows weekly instead of releasing them months after the fact. While I might have a bias towards watching weekly releases, I think a good argument could be made that a lot of the hype for certain shows were severely diminished due to this release format. I understand they want to put shows out with as many sub and dub options for their global audience as possible and that does take time. But considering the fact that this is only a subtitled release, I'm not 100% sure why there is a two-week delay for global watchers. I could understand if the translation for the show was a significant upheaval, but it is a bit hard to appreciate when there are some moments in this first episode where the presence of on-screen text and subtitles wasn't as extensive as it probably should have. It's fine if there's no on-screen text translation when a character is just saying what's already written down. But that montage of the two communicating with each other via the chalkboard was so beautifully done, I just wish I knew everything they were silently saying to each other, and it is a little bit frustrating when the camera pans over the chalkboard without any on-screen text to tell me exactly what they're talking about.
I am so cautiously optimistic about where we go from here. The amount of effort and detail that goes into such a simple yet relatable idea isn't something that I like seeing squandered. There's definitely going to be a lot of room for laughs in this series, but I hope this isn't the only glimpse of its heart that we see. For a show that's about troubled communication, I'm enamored with what it has told me so far and really hope it works up the courage to say more moving forward!
Komi Can't Communicate is currently streaming on Netflix.
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