Komi Can’t Communicate Episode 5: Tadano’s Unexpected Kindred Spirit

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Komi Can't Communicate Episode 5, currently streaming on Netflix. 

Komi Can't Communicate continues to introduce unusual new friends for the socially anxious Shoko Komi. The newest member of the group, joining in Episode 5, is Omoharu Nakanaka, a girl who seems to believe she is a character in a fantasy anime. Nakanaka suffers from chunibyo, a Japanese term for teenagers who try to be cool by living out a fantasy persona. Episode 5 explores some of the various forms of chunibyo, and those who can and can't move on from it.

Nakanaka bursts into Komi's classroom, declaring herself "Marsault Les Primavera" and Komi "Princess Komilia." The onscreen narration contradicts her assertion with a notice reading, "Real Name: Omoharu Nakanaka" confirming that her fantasies truly are fantasies, and the series has not segued unexpectedly into another genre. Hitohito Tadano, one of Komi's earliest and closest friends, remembers his similar habits from when he was younger, and Najimi Osana dutifully informs Komi about Tadano's embarrassing past.

Tadano the Delinquent

A chunibyo-afflicted Hitohito Tadano pretends to be a delinquent in Komi Can't Communicate.

Nakanaka's appearance reminds Najimi of Tadano's junior high years, which prompts Najimi to share all the humiliating details with Komi. Tadano tries to object to Najimi, but they push him out of the way. The unstoppable way Najimi makes it their mission to embarrass Tadano in front of Komi is especially funny because of how relatable it is. Nearly everyone has a friend who is willing to embarrass them like this, and Komi has graduated to the stage of friendship where she has earned the right to hear about Tadano's humorous history. In Najimi's flashback, Tadano has slicked-back hair, an unbuttoned jacket, and rolled-up sleeves. Where Nakanaka fantasizes about being a fantastical supervillain, Tadano fantasized about being a stereotypical Japanese delinquent.

During junior high Tadano sets into motion "Operation L," which is to paint the word "LOVE" in English on the courtyard running track in order to get the attention of his crush, Kawai. Kawai's swift rejection of him causes him to instantly change his hair and clothes, becoming the Tadano the audience is familiar with. The audience learns in Episode 1 that Tadano has tried to become more ordinary to move away from his chunibyo past, but the speed with which he makes this transformation is still shocking. It also shows that Tadano's delusion was not psychologically necessary for him to feel like he could survive school, which may not necessarily be the case for Nakanaka. For her, shedding the fantasy may not be so easy.

Komi and Nakanaka's Blood Pact

Omoharu Nakanaka laughs theatrically in Komi Can't Communicate.

Nakanaka may have a lot in common with Tadano, but this time it is Komi who reaches out to her. In the classroom, Komi is curious about Nakanaka's invented lore, something she evidently doesn't expect from the way she struggles to come up with more details. Tadano interprets her demand for a "blood pact" as meaning she wants to be Komi's friend, an interpretation supported by the nervous way she waits at the door before introducing herself. Later, in gym class, the students are asked to partner up to do stretches. Nakanaka appears genuinely saddened when she sees the other students in pairs, but quickly smirks and comes up with a fantastical justification: "If any ordinary souls touched my Dragon Force, their bodies would melt to the ground." Her villainous laugh fades, however, and she quietly asks herself why nobody will pair up with her. She initially maintains her fantasy even when talking to herself, but the fact that she still asks for a real reason why she hasn't been selected shows that on another level she, like Tadano, acknowledges the truth.

Komi returns just in time, silently offering to do stretches with Nakanaka, who ultimately accepts the offer. The fact that she does so as herself, with no references to "Dragon Force" or blood pacts could be so as not to scare away her new friend, but it could also be because Komi's display of genuine friendship puts Nakanaka at ease. This would imply that her fantasies are a form of coping mechanism. This is further supported by the fact that Nakanaka seems to rely on her fantasies more when she becomes nervous. Nakanaka stutters as she tries to thank Komi for partnering with her. When the words won't come out, she resorts to laughing evilly and inventing a new story about Komi being her "vassal." The narrator concludes that "Komi made a blood pact with Nakanaka," finally humoring Nakanka's fantasy.

Nakanaka's fantasy seems not only fairly creative but relatively harmless, especially compared with the seemingly more normal Ren Yamai who kidnapped Tadano in Episode 4. The way Nakanaka tries to be more straightforward when she is with Komi, however, implies that there is a part of her that just wants to be herself. Given the way Nakanaka struggles to express herself directly, stuttering when she tries to thank her, perhaps her chunibyo stems from social anxiety as well. With so many issues in common with both Tadano and Komi, Nakanaka will surely be welcomed into their growing group.

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