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Komi-san: How a Silent Anime Character Started an Important Conversation

A lot of anime shows, particularly slice-of-life series, hide subliminal messages behind the cloak of genres. For the 2021 hit Komi-san Can’t Communicate, an important lesson is hidden under several layers of comedy and romance. The anime features a socially awkward girl as the main character and subsequently, whether intentionally or not, sparked an important conversation about social anxiety and other mental illnesses.

Komi-san Can't Communicate
This screenshot summarizes what could happen if you have a social communication disorder.

The anime states that Komi-san lives with a communication disorder, so she couldn’t speak even though she wants to hold a conversation. People with this disorder are often misunderstood. Because they don’t communicate well – in terms of Komi-san, she can’t speak her mind – they are sometimes regarded as cold or anti-social. True enough, Tadano at first thought she was the “Madonna” of the class who deliberately ignores everyone. In Komi-san’s words, she experienced the same thing in her middle school because people wouldn’t want to approach her, and so she ended up alone most of the time.

Komi-san Can't Communicate
Komi-san must have been too happy to finally be able to “talk” to someone.

There are many ways to help people with communication disorders, and it’s pretty uplifting that the anime showed a very effective method. Writing instead of talking relatively falls under “environment modification” for people with the disorder. Tadano thought it would be best for Komi-san to express herself through writing first, and he was absolutely spot on. The key is to take it slowly! Right now, Komi-san can use writing as a means of expression and mode of conveyance.

Those with communication disorders do this, too. They start with an expression method that feels “right” for them (e.g. writing, texting, sign language, etc.), and then they gradually transition to holding conversations through speaking over time.

Komi-san stone - Komi-san Can't Communicate
It’s a comedy anime, after all!

The anime falls on the comedy genre, so it’s highly unlikely that they’ll delve deeper on the subject. But at the very least, it was really inspiring that they opened up this conversation!

Are you watching Komi-san Can’t Communicate, too? Tell us what you think about the anime and if you’re loving it so far. Share your thoughts in the comments section, and let’s have a discussion! #

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