Komi Can’t Communicate: Komi Makes Significant Progress Connecting With Peers

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of Komi Can't Communicate, "It’s Just Stage Fright," now streaming on Netflix.

Komi Can't Communicate has been exploring the myriad of ways high school students experience social anxiety. Episode 1 introduced Hitohito Tadano and Shoko Komi, two students who are fearful of very different social circumstances. Tadano doesn't want to be the nail that sticks out and gets hammered down, while Komi is easily paralyzed by peers making her the center of attention. Episode 2 introduced Najimi Osana, a non-binary student who appears to be fun and outgoing but is gravely fearful of rejection -- something they experience first-hand with Komi.

Episode 3 introduces the character of Himiko Agari, who is very similar to Komi in the way she experiences social anxiety. Like Komi, Himiko doesn't like being the center of attention. However, unlike Komi, Himiko doesn't freeze the moment all eyes are on her. Instead, she hyperventilates and tends to verbalize what's on her mind before running off somewhere to hide. Despite the different ways in which Himiko's social anxiety is triggered, Komi relates to her and decides she wants to befriend her. This marks a significant first step for Komi as she works on overcoming her own social anxiety.

One of the first steps Komi takes to overcome her anxiety and communication challenges is by attempting to talk to Himiko. At first, Himiko's own anxiety is triggered, as she finds Komi intimidating to be around. Since Himiko is aware that Komi is admired for her beauty at Itan Private High School, she doesn't believe Komi's intentions are good at first -- even less so because Himiko believes herself to be unattractive by comparison, and the thought of being bullied certainly crosses her mind.

Once her misunderstanding is clarified with Najimi's help, Himiko decides to befriend Komi herself, very nervously offering Komi her mobile number. This marks the other significant turning point for Komi: she starts feeling comfortable enough with her classmates to start asking them for their mobile numbers, including Najimi and Tadano, whom she considers her friends. Although Komi isn't quite at the level of being able to verbalize her needs and wants, she's able to express her thoughts to her classmates in writing and by using hand gestures.

Another major turning point for Komi is when she attempts to make her first phone call to Tadano. When she panics and immediately hangs up the moment she calls him, Tadano calls her back to find out if she wants to talk. Komi still isn't ready to have a phone conversation just yet, but she's able to verbalize her thoughts for the first time, which surprises Tadano. Although Komi speaks in a highly nervous tone, Tadano is happy to hear her voice for the first time and finds it attractive. While Komi isn't able to comfortably converse over the phone, being able to at least verbalize her thoughts is major progress for her.

The final major turning point for Komi in Episode 3 is her decision to join in with whatever activities her classmates are participating in. This is most notable in the scene where her classmates are playing a game before class and Komi silently communicates her desire to play as well. She is invited by Najimi to join them; however, the classmates end up breaking their own rules to let Komi win by default. Komi is unaware this is happening, as she doesn't understand the rules of the game, but she finds herself enjoying things anyway. Tadano, who does understand the rules of the game, ends up accidentally embarrassing himself, but he's immediately made to feel better by Komi when she tells him that she had fun regardless of the game's outcome.

While Komi Can't Communicate will continue exploring social anxiety as its major theme, Episode 3 makes it clear that it will also be exploring the different ways it can be overcome.

Jolene Cujoh from the sixth season of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
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