Komi Can't Communicate is a long-running manga series by author Tomohito Oda, and earlier this year, the first trailer previewed the upcoming Komi Can't Communicate anime, followed by another trailer several weeks later. Already, new fans are speculating on this new series' plot and character arcs, but not everything is as it seems.
The heroine is Shoko Komi, a beautiful but shy girl who struggles to speak to others, and the deuteragonist is her plain but empathetic classmate, a boy named Hitohito Tadano. Early in the story, Tadano will vow to help Komi make 100 friends by the end of high school, but love actually might not bloom between them. Their relationship is something else entirely.
Komi Can't Communicate is a slice-of-life story set in a typical Japanese high school, and anime and manga vets may be expecting an awkward but heartfelt romantic story arc between Komi and Tadano. However, Komi Can't Communicate isn't a shojo story, nor is it a shonen loosely modeled after a shojo. Shoko Komi is deeply grateful to Hitohito Tadano for all his help, but her positive feelings aren't liable to blossom into true love, or even a substantial crush -- not at first, anyway. Komi does get flustered around Tadano and other friends and runs away blushing, but that's only because she's getting used to having a social life in general, not having a love life.
Hitohito Tadano also gets flustered around Shoko Komi, especially when they're alone together, but then again, Komi is a beautiful and popular girl with a good reputation, and this is ultimately what Tadano is reacting to during such scenes. He might vaguely entertain the idea of being Shoko Komi's boyfriend, but he knows he's just one of many classmates seeking to be her friend, and he's not selfish enough to keep the ultra-popular Komi to himself. Given his meek and easygoing personality, he's not the type to even try. He's the kind of character where things happen to him rather than because of him. The exception is when he helps Komi make new friends, and he's doing that for her sake, not his own -- and Komi understands that.
The plot of Komi Can't Communicate could be described as a massive harem anime of friends rather than love interests, with minimal fanservice or innuendo along the way. Shoko Komi wouldn't even know what to do with a reverse harem -- instead, she wants 100 platonic friends to call her own, and this challenge will help her overcome her communication disorder. This was Komi's own idea all along -- no one is trying to "fix" or presume to know what's best for her. Komi has had enough of a quiet and friendless life, and she sets her sights high to transform her social life, relishing the challenge.
Hitohito Tadano is a kind and empathetic boy, and surprisingly insightful about the minds of others, even Shoko Komi herself. This makes him Komi's best asset in her quest to make 100 friends, and Tadano has the honor of being Shoko Komi's first real friend. He knows that this story is about self-acceptance and self-actualization, not romantic love, and that Komi will achieve self-actualization by sharing her spirit with everyone around her as a friend.
The humble Tadano wouldn't dare try to keep Komi all to himself as a lover, even if Komi herself wanted it. He faces minimal pressure to try, and he and Komi develop a fairly comfortable rhythm as friends, while sparks only very slowly start to fly between them. In this way, Komi Can't Communicate sets a clear example of healthy boy-girl relationships where mutual trust and respect come first, and if romance is destined to develop, it will come naturally at its own pace. There's no need to rush it with comedic hijinks -- neither Komi nor Tadano would like that.