Komi Can’t Communicate: The Sleeper Series Has Found its Voice.
There’s something so comfortable feeling about a nice slice-of-life manga. When I say slice-of-life I mean particularly down to Earth shows and reads that focus on issues at high-school, or love triangles, sports events, and all sorts of real-life fiction narratives. The antithesis of this would be a manga like One Piece which is another favorite manga of mine, that focuses on a pirate named Luffy who consumed a “devil’s fruit” that gives him super-elastic hero powers in the search for the treasure of all treasures, the One Piece. Obviously, even on paper, One Piece is a manga/anime series that’s incredibly popular but for it’s bonkers adventurous fantasy-style storytelling. So with the sleeper series that started in 2016, Komi Can’t Communicate established a simple set of characters and a set goal in its series. Our main character is, you guessed it, Shouku Komi, a student that has the looks and aura of the ultimate Queen Bee of her class, but is stifled by her inability to say even the simplest sentences. Hitohito Todano is the less adored wallflower of his class, that is enamoured by Komi but also wants to see her evolve into a more confident version of herself. How are they going to accomplish this? It’s simple: Komi plans to make 100 friends.
What started as a manga that published twenty-one volumes in Japan eventually took to English adaptation, and it’s niche fandom was established from there. It doesn’t speak volumes like other manga series in the genre like for example the popular Boys over Flowers, but it garnered a cult status that found fans in subreddits and forums. There are a few solid reviews out there that share admiration for the wholesome nature of its characters and light comedy, but also a few that criticize the gender fluid character Najimi Osana for falling too deep into the archetypal stereotype of the character. I personally think Najimi is a solid character with a nice social status in the manga, but I hope the anime fleshes out this performance more in depth. And since its English release in 2019, a growing popularity for the series has formed internationally. As the fandom rose for the series, a petition went on to see it produced as an anime, and on May 11 of this year, fans got what they wanted: an anime series release slated for October 2021. With a popular Youtube trailer and buzz from other anime sites, we may all get wrapped up in Komi’s plight for confidence. Perhaps we will see a truly quiet but riveting performance of our lead, speaking volumes while saying little. I hope the comedy that’s fleshed out in the many characters is shared and enhanced in its new format. Time will tell if the series grows legs and leads to more manga entries and follow up seasons, but in October, Komi will have her spotlight.
Will you be listening?