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Manga / Komi Canít Communicate
aka: Komi San Wa Komyushou Desu

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I know. Komi-san is beautiful. Out of all people I've ever laid my eyes on, she's definitely the most beautiful. Pale white skin, smooth silky hair. Big slit eyes. And she smells nice too. She's just dazzling. But... I know. I know that Komi-san has a communication disorder. And I also know that she really wants to be able to speak with people. And that is the Komi-san that I became friends with.
Tadano's inner monologue, Ch. 7
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Hitohito Tadano is just your Ordinary High-School Student starting his first year of high school. Planning to have a peaceful and normal high school life, his plans came to an end before they even begin. The reason? He has been seated right next to the overwhelmingly beautiful school idol, Shouko Komi, and thus has become the target of the entire class' jealousy. Soon, however, he figures out Komi's secret: Underneath her beautiful appearance, Komi suffers from a communication disorder which prevents her from making friends or even speaking normally to other people.

Empathizing with her plight, Tadano resolves to spend his high school life helping Komi make one hundred friends. Yet, things may not be as easy as they sound, as the school is filled with students with strong personalities, and making friends with these weirdos might bring troubles of their own.

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Komi Can't Communicate (Komi-san wa Komyushou desu, roughly meaning Miss Komi has a Communication Disorder) is a romance/slice of life/comedy manga penned by Tomohito Oda, running in Shonen Sunday. VIZ Media picked up the series for English release starting summer 2019.


Tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Komi is so beloved by the school that most of their decisions hinge around what will either make her cutest or happiest.
  • Achievement In Ignorance: At a festival stall where people can pull a string to receive prizes, the stall owner uses mind games to stop people from getting the best prize. For example he looks alarmed when they consider choosing a string that only has pocket tissues attached. Komi gets the top prize anyway, just by choosing at random.
  • Adult Fear: You (Komi) cannot contact your friend (Tadano) for a day because he's kidnapped by a Yandere (Yamai) who wants to get rid of him so that the Yandere can become close to you. Discussed by Komi towards Tadano after the ordeal.
    Komi: "What if Tadano-kun stayed confined there? What if something worse happened? What if something happens again? All because of me."
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  • Always in Class One: The main cast is in class 1-1. Then subverted when the cast moves on to the second year, with most of Komi's female friends ending up in another class, but they still occasionally manage to get some screentime.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Three different characters share a cat motif:
      • Shouko Komi (the Komi of the title) is consistently tied to cats. She is depicted with cat ears when startled or excited, her friends buy her a cat plush and she even goes to a cat cafe at one point. It ties in with her appearing aloof and stoic, but really being curious and affectionate.
      • Akira Komi, her younger cousin, also sprouts cat ears when excited, tying into her close relationship with Komi, being the kitten to her cat.
      • Rei Natsukido is depicted with cat-like eyes, and acts aloof, isolated, and independent.
    • Himiko Agari has a dog motif. She refers to herself as Komi's dog, sprouts dog ears and a tail at times, and acts like an excitable, if nervous, puppy.
  • Always Second Best: Yadano is always this to Komi, at least in her own mind.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Komi's mother Shuuko enjoys acting like a ditzy teenager (even referring to herself as an "eternal 17-year old"), much to her daughter's embarrassment. Her father (despite being similar to Komi) isn't much better, as when Tadano & his sister first meet him at a shopping center, he's in a godfather's getup (styled by Komi) that unnerves Tadano.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Whether or not Komi has some sort of diagnosable disorder is left open to interpretation. The various narrations describing Komi's problems with communication sometimes explicitly refer to it as "Communication Disorder" and other times merely state that Komi is bad at communication. In-universe, Tadano is irritated by Yamai when she refers to Komi as having a "disorder." Meanwhile, Komi's communication problems run in her family - her father, brother, grandmother, and uncle all display similar behavior. However, it is strongly implied (and outright stated in her brother's case) that everyone's reasons for their difficulties with communication are different. Komi, at a minimum, suffers from severe anxiety. Commonplace social interactions cause her to become paralyzed with uncertainty and fear, and she spends multiple hours a day ruminating over minor exchanges with others.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • Shousuke allows himself to tell Hitomi about his favorite food only because she was the first person who wasn't afraid of his scary glare, and kept on trying to honestly befriend him.
    • Sure, Komi wants to have another 99 friends besides Tadano, but when it comes to sharing moments with others, Tadano will always, unequivocally, have her undivided attention. Tadano is the one who dared where no one did, and as such, he is her first and very best friend.
  • Bit Character:
    • Chiarai, Sonoda, Shinobino, Onigashima, and one unnamed knight girl. They're included as Komi's friends, but they don't have much focus and're mostly just there in the background. Even with the fact that 2 chapters focus on the 3 male normies, it's more about them having delusional ideas about dates with the girls that the audience was already introduced to, which meant the other 2 female normies don't even have a segment for them.
    • Though later, Onigashima has an exclusive chapter about her in Chapter 121.
  • Bland-Name Product:
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Komi tries her hand at jokes in chapter 29. Aside from the obvious problem that Komi does most of her communication in writing, she also favors "Dad Jokes" that nobody else finds funny to begin with. The punchline of the chapter is that Tadano is just as bad at jokes as Komi. Fortunately, Komi finds his jokes amazing.
  • Captain Obvious: Almost all activities and events are described in text boxes by the mangaka. Occasionally justified since Komi can't always communicate her thoughts to the reader (it's in the title). However, this technique becomes plain unnecessary at some points, when the thing described is clearly shown.
  • Cast Herd:
    • Komi's friends are split up between the main group (Komi, Tadano, Osana, Yamai, sometimes Agari), the outliers (Katai, Inaka, Nakanaka), the normies (Chiarai, Sonoda, Shinobino, Onigashima, and Kishi), the Japanese squad (Shinobino and his "royal retainers"), and the families (the Komis, the Tadanos).
    • For Komi's second year, Komi's group composed of her, Tadano, Manbagi, Katai and Ase, though Katai is more grouped with Tadano, Naruse and Kometani.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Otori very much lives on her own pace. She does everything slowly. At one point she watched a fireplace recording from Christmas to the day after New Year's without realizing the time.
  • Crossover: Shouko once dreamed she was in the world of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle in one bonus chapter, and interacted with and slept with the Princess.
  • Description Porn: The explanations behind the various group activities turn into this, often bordering on Wall of Text territory.
  • Drink Order: Osana tends to send Komi out on snack runs with ridiculously complicated ones. They say it's to help her build confidence in her talking skills, but it's more likely Osana just didn't want to go themselves.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several major supporting characters actually made cameos in the very first chapter's cover page. This included characters like Katai and Naruse, who wouldn't be formally introduced into the series until dozens of chapters later. Even Hitomi and Shousuke are introduced on the same page, though they appear recurrently in the comic without any focus until their own chapter, some 120+ chapters later.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • There are many differences between the one-shot & the series. In the one-shot, Komi's eyes are her main focus, she could speak openly (but it is either short or very long), Tadano has a different motivation for why he became normal, and the chapters are more focused on only the two of them working out Komi's issues rather then Komi's quest of making friends.
    • In earlier chapters, Tadano's outright hated by the rest of the class for daring to talk to Komi. By later chapters, he's just another face in the crowd in their eyes. Though it's more of a Characterization Marches On, since by that time everybody (especially Yamai, who found out the hard way) realized that Tadano is already a friend that she won't abandon.
    • In Najimi's introduction, they were shown as less bubbly than in later chapters, where they are drawn almost exclusively in a cartoony style.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Tadano's mom is somewhat under the impression that he might be gay, and there are instances where Hitomi hints that she has talked to her mom about it. However, just because he has a dude who loves him and treasures him (Katai), doesn't mean that he in particular is gay.
  • Erotic Eating: During the Summer Festival, Yamai repeatedly tries to get Komi to kneel down in front of her and eat food she'd feed her... like a sausage, or a white-chocolate covered banana...
  • Everyone Can See It: Pretty much everyone can tell that Tadano and Komi have romantic feelings for one another. The only ones who can't are either people who are obsessed with Komi, like most of the student body, or people who seem to completely ignore it, like Najimi. Even then, there are subtle hints that they're fully aware of it, but choose to ignore it anyways.
  • Extranormal Institute: Komi and Tadano's school houses students that are weird, plain and simple, characterized by exhibiting extreme personality traits. One of the fears of Tadano regarding Komi's goal is that due to the quirkiness of the students, she might find making friends there particularly difficult. It's a normal school, though. This is by design In-Universe. Entry into the school is based entirely on a student's interview, with the school viewing personality as the most important aspect of a person.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: The main motivation of our two main characters and a good number of their classmates.
  • Idiot Hair: When the characters are drawn simplistically, they became their identifying trait.
  • Inconsistent Coloring:
    • Some of the characters' hair colours vary between coloured covers and coloured strips.
    • Komi's hair is usually dark purple, though the exact shade varies, and sometimes it's just black (or even dark brown. As well, sometimes her eyes are black, and sometimes they're purple.
    • The shade of the puff of hair on Tadano's head also varies. While it's always grey, sometimes it's so light that it's nearly white, sometimes it's so dark it's almost black
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Crosses over with comedy fantasy series Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle in two omakes, one for each series: the Komi-san omake sees Komi visiting the Demon King's castle in a dream, while the Sleepy Princess omake sees the Princess visiting Komi's world.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Najimi once brings up Tadano's ability to read other characters' thoughts but goes ignored.
    • When Komi lies awake in bed at night, consumed with anxiety about things she did in social situations, "Anxiety point 4" is "Did they sense some awkward tension?" and point 5 is "Why do I sometimes grow cat ears?"
  • Last-Name Basis: Tadano and Komi are this towards each other and are too Twice Shy to change it. Najimi won't allow Loophole Abuse via Komi writing down "Hitohito" either.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Due to Komi's issues with speaking, she is often drawn without a mouth.
    • Tadano's ability to read a room often takes the form of him being able to read other characters' thought bubbles.
  • Lemony Narrator: The one for this series is fairly lemony, but the crowner in-universe has to be Kometani, who plays this to Naruse's school life.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • There are several throughout the story, usually involving Komi's classmates and their competition to gain some proximity to her, and especially when their plans go badly.
    • There's one from the group when Komi slips at the pool gathering, hurting herself.
    • In the second year, and having seen her in normal garb, Manbagi's classmates immediately turn away from her when she decides to don her extreme Gyaru Girl makeup once again.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Almost all characters have names that form a pun. For example, in Japanese surname-first order Tadano Hitohito is a play of "tada no hito," meaning "just another guy," and Yadano Makeru straight up means "doesn't like losing." Osana Najimi is everybody's childhood friend, and shy Komi Shouko is a pun on "komyushou" (a person with a communication disorder). From Nakanaka's name, "naka" is written with the same kanji as "chuu" from chuunibyou. Even one-page characters like Teshigawara Hoshiko ("a girl who really wants some tissues").
    • Komi's teammates during the Kyoto trip, Mikuni Katou and Ayami Sasaki, are actually references (the former being influenced by a famous Shogi player, the latter being inspired by the protagonist of Sukeban Deka) in exchange for puns in their name. They're still plenty meaningful; Mikuni calculates similar to a Shogi player, while Ayami uses a yo-yo to defend Komi like her namesake.
  • The Men in Black: A parody happens with the Library Fan Committee, which are tasked with dispensing fan smackdowns whenever someone gets too loud at the library. They indeed wear black suit and tie, and ear communicators. Funnily enough, out of all people, Agari is a member.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Naruse listens to Justice Bieber in his introductory chapter.
  • Odd Friendship: Nearly all of Komi's friends have their quirks, with the exception of Tadano who is ridiculously average.
  • Painting the Medium: Kometani plays narrator to Naruse's antics, so he speaks in short descriptions and his word bubbles are drawn as text boxes.
  • Panty Shot: Tadano gets one while he's climbing with Komi; his pants slip down to the point where she can see the top of his underwear, and struggles to avert her gaze from it.
  • Punny Name: The characters with puns in their names usually have a personality or quirk that follows, and that's almost all of them. The characters in this series who don't have puns in their name can be counted on one hand: Mikuni Katou and Ayami Sasaki (being Shout-Out names instead), making for a whopping total of 2.
  • Quirky Town: Pretty much everyone in the school is strange, even Tadanonote . The end of chapter 6 reveals that this is done on purpose, as the school only accepts students based on their interviews, with them viewing personality as being the most important thing
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • During the class trip, the Normies are discussing all the cute things and sweet shops they're going to see, and the Gonk group talks about Sekimatsu's love life in a super gossipy way.
    • A flashback chapter shows how Komi's mother Shuuko fell for her future husband Masayoshi slowly over time. The act that tipped the scales from infatuation to love? Masayoshi bandaging her finger after she cut herself by accident in Home Ec class, then demonstrating his advanced cooking skills.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Naruse somehow manages to work out Komi's communication disorder just by noticing how much she doesn't speak... but, Naruse being Naruse, he measures it in how much time she hasn't spoken to him.
  • Scary Librarian: Gorimi acts as this during the study session chapters. She has a three-strike policy: anyone who makes a large amount of noise will be smacked on the head, and if done thrice she kicks them out. This somehow gets turned into a contest by Najimi.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The one shot has Tadano think about Shinnosuke when poop jokes come on topic.
    • While Shouko's watching TV at home, one program has a character saying "There is only one truth".
    • Chapter 19 has the group recreate the reaction guys pose.
    • Shouko and the gang recreate the We Came by Bike cover at a photo booth.
    • Shinobino's ninja film idea for the cultural festival gets shot down by one of his friends. Why?
      "Historical dramas are good, but ninjas are just nonsense, desu."
    • One of the events at the cultural festival involves students confessing secrets and crushes from the school rooftop. This is based off of "Confessing Your Love from the Rooftop", a well known segment from the variety show Gakkou e Ikkou!
    • The cover for chapter 102 has Komi dressed up like Blouson Chiemi.
    • Mikuni and Sasaki call Komi and Tadano's relationship a "battle to see who gets confessed to first".
    • During Najimi's "Don't Get Kicked out of the Library" game Manbagi's phone rings. Her ringtone is "Cha La Head Cha La".
    • When the gang goes to the beach, Naruse breaks out a replica of T.M.Revolution's infamous "Hot Limit" bodysuit..
    • The tall mute girl in a ripped shirt that Rei meets in the American school is very reminiscent of Susie from Deltarune (the game being quite popular in Japan, starting in a similar location and dealing with similar issues than the manga).
  • Shared Family Quirks: Komi has the same communication problems as her father and little cousin Ayame. Her brother has the same aloof demeanor, but he chooses not to speak unlike the others.
  • The Shut-In:
    • How Komi unintentionally spends the first week of summer break. She realized after finishing all her summer homework that she's had zero outings since school let out.
    • Katai was one for a while, which is why he showed up later in the series.
    • Otori is even worse, having spent all of her time between Christmas and New Years watching a fireplace recording.
  • Sneeze Cut: Happens when Komi's grandmother finds out about Tadano.
  • Title Drop: Naruse does one when he's noticed that Komi hasn't spoken all year:
    Naruse: It has been nine months since the year started, and she still hasn't spoken a word to me... Could it be that Komi-san has a communication disorder!?
    Kometani: That's a normal assumption to come to.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Invoked, but ultimately cut short in Chapter 30 with Komi and Tadano.
  • Unknown Rival: Yadano considers herself as Komi's rival and tries to beat her in anything. Komi doesn't even notice her.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Manbagi's friend Gonzales is a short young girl, but her voice is so deep and husky that she sounds more like a musclebound man. She doesn't seem to mind, given that she plays it up for laughs.
  • Will They or Won't They?: One of the major plot threads of the story revolves around whether Komi and Tadano will ever admit their feelings towards each other.
    Tenjouin Ryoko (a tour guide in Kyoto after seeing their interactions for one chapter): Just get married already (is what she thought).

(Writing on a chalkboard)

Tadano: "Komi-san, what is your dream?"
Komi: "Having a hundred friends. PLEASE DON'T LAUGH"
Tadano: "Okay, then. I'm your first friend. And I'll help you get 99 more."
[...]
Komi: "Thank you. Please take care of me."

Alternative Title(s): Komi San Wa Komyushou Desu

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