Komi can’t communicate is a scene-from-life comedy anime based on the popular shonen manga of the same name. The series follows high school student Shoko Komi as she overcomes her crippling social anxiety with the help of her friends Tadano and Najimi. Komi’s behaviors are similar to Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).
Despite Komi being worshiped as the goddess of her high school due to her beauty and “stylish” personality, her classmates fail to realize that her indifference is the result of crippling social anxiety. Komi is terrified of interacting with the people around her, even though she desperately wants to communicate and make genuine connections. When Tadano transfers to Komi’s elite school, her exceptional observation skills allow her to understand Komi’s feelings. He decides to help Komi achieve her goal of having one hundred friends by the end of her high school years.
What is social anxiety disorder and how does it affect Komi?
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is one of the social disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a reference guide used by health professionals worldwide. . There are two categories of Social Anxiety Disorder: Generalized Social Anxiety, the most severe and all-encompassing form, and Performance Only Social Anxiety, anxiety related to a social situation such as public speaking. The symptoms of SAD can be mental and physical. For example, a person with SAD might avoid social situations and have negative self-perceptions while experiencing increased heart rate, tremors, sweating, or digestive problems.
Although the anime doesn’t say so explicitly, Komi has the telltale signs of General Social Anxiety Disorder. During the Komi can’t communicate, the audience can see his extreme concern towards social situations. Komi also exhibits physical symptoms when she trembles, sweats, and blushes. Because Komi’s classmates admire her deeply, they put her on a pedestal and revere her from afar, further isolating her and making it harder for her to connect with them. Komi misinterprets the admiration of her classmates as an avoidance that exasperates her anxiety and negative self-perception.
Komi’s friends help her overcome anxiety
What ultimately sets Komi on the path to overcoming her social anxiety is her determination to connect with others despite how difficult it is to do so. Tadano identifies with Komi’s efforts and decides to help her, beginning by becoming her first friend. Some tips to help someone overcome SAD, according to mental health experts, are to be patient, avoid avoidance, stay positive, celebrate small victories, and encourage them to seek professional treatment. Although not perfect, Tadano and Najimi constantly offer this support to Komi.
When Tadano notices Komi’s inability to speak, he suggests that she communicate in writing. Tadano and his classmates patiently create a space for Komi to communicate in writing, but she quickly becomes a crutch. Where Tadano might coddle Komi, Najimi pushes Komi out of her comfort zone and into social situations. Najimi regularly invites Komi and Tadano to social events like going to the pool during the summer or playing with her classmates. Tadano’s patience, empathy and Najimi’s outgoing nature create a balanced duo and a safe place for Komi to grow. As a result, the audience gets to see Komi’s growth throughout the series. Her classmates also begin to understand Komi and see her as a fully actualized person instead of an untouchable deity.
Although Komi can’t communicate portraying the misunderstandings between the characters and Komi’s physical reactions for laughs, the anime doesn’t shy away from the realities of social anxiety. Komi has a hard time making friends even though she desperately wants to, something the audience can relate to. She begins her journey to overcome her social anxiety with the support of her friends. Although she is not perfect, Komi can’t communicate it can be a positive example of how to overcome social anxiety and how to help someone who is dealing with it.