Komi Can’t Communicate: Komi Makes a Stronger Effort to Speak

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 11 of Komi Can't Communicate, "It's Just a Performance for the Culture Festival," now streaming on Netflix.

The entire premise of Komi Can’t Communicate is built on Shoko Komi’s extreme social anxiety being the reason she has a communication disorder. Episode 1 of the series establishes that she wants to break out of her comfort zone by making 100 friends. Throughout the course of the series, Komi has made two close friends -- Hitohito Tadano and Najimi Osana -- and established casual friendships with Himiko Agari, Ren Yamai, Nene Onemine, Omoharu Nakanaka and Kaede Otori, among other classmates.

While Komi still experiences extreme anxiety in social situations, often freezing and trembling on the spot, she has made significant progress in overcoming some of her limitations. One way she has progressed is that she's now able to communicate with her friends using a notebook and text messages. On rare occasions, Komi is able to speak a few words, but only when certain conditions are met like talking on the phone or not having a notebook at hand. During Sports Day in Episode 10, she is able to speak the words "ganbatte kudasai" ("please do your best") as a way of encouraging Tadano. However, it's not until Episode 11 that Komi starts making a concerted effort to vocalize her thoughts.

The first time Komi vocalizes a response in conversation is in the first half of Episode 11 when her class is making preparations for their school's culture festival. During the preparation phase, Komi is invited by her classmates Kaede Otori and Nene Onemine to accompany them to the local Home Center to buy supplies. At the store, Onemine ends up doing the shopping while Komi finds herself keeping an eye on Kaede.

During her alone time with Kaede, Komi uses her notebook to share her past experiences with school festivals, conveying how useless she felt as a result of her paralyzing anxiety and struggles with verbal communication. She also conveys how happy she feels to be invited by Kaede and Onemine to help them with shopping because it makes her feel productive and useful. Komi's feelings are further validated by Kaede on their way back to school when she tells her to do her best at the culture festival. Feeling touched by these words, Komi says "hai" ("right") without thinking about it. This surprises both Onemine and Komi herself.

On the day of the culture festival, Komi finds herself working as a maid for her class's maid café and tends to her first customer, a 32-year-old otaku named Tatsuhito Akido. Komi wants to provide her best service but is extremely nervous about making mistakes. Her anxiety is mistaken for "ice queen" behavior by Akido when she brings him a glass of water and attempts to say "gomen nasai" to apologize for her poor customer service skills. Because her apology is stammered as "go...m-me...i," the customer thinks she is saying "gomei" as in "gomeiwaku," indicating that he's an annoyance.

While Komi isn't shown interacting much with the customer since Najimi handles his order, after finishing his meal, the man looks and feels completely full. This causes him to express a desire to leave, which makes Komi feel even more self-conscious of her customer service skills. She attempts to stop him from leaving by saying "matta" ("wait"), though she is unable to finish her sentence. Instead, Najimi comes to her rescue by letting her know the proper way to say goodbye to a customer in order to encourage them to return.

While Komi's progress in using vocal language is slow, the fact that she manages to speak at least three times throughout Episode 11 indicates that she wants to get better at speaking and has made vocal communication her next goal for improving her social skills.

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