Komi Can't Communicate is an anime about Shoko Komi, a girl with social anxiety. Its end credits sequence is just as beautifully animated as the rest of the series, capturing the feelings that have defined Komi's life up to this point.
In the first episode of the series, Komi tells her first friend Hitohito Tadano that she spent three years of junior high school trying to talk to and make friends with her classmates but was never able to. This dark period of Komi's life is not directly shown in the series itself, but scenes from it are animated in the end credits sequence, providing a tragic glimpse into a time before Komi had friends.
The sequence shows a closeup of two girls talking to each other in the foreground, with another girl walking alone in the background. The focus shifts and the shot is reversed. The solitary girl, implied to be Komi in junior high, is now the central figure. There is a montage of boys eating lunch together in a classroom and girls showing each other their phones. The keys and vocals of J-pop sister act Kitri swell as Komi starts running to a montage of the ocean, sunflowers, autumnal leaves, icicles and the turning pages of a book, ultimately transitioning to a shot of present-day Komi running in the same direction. This is followed by an especially heartbreaking shot of the younger Komi sitting alone in the middle of a classroom.
The next montage contains scenes from a traditional Japanese summer festival, including two people's hands holding a goldfish in a bag, a row of stalls and people wearing yukata, a goldfish scooping pool, a sparkler and two silhouetted figures holding lanterns against a backdrop of stars. Audiences experiencing Komi's story for the first time in anime form can only assume that the two figures are Komi and Tadano attending some future festival.
The final montage starts with a finger drawing of a cat's face on a rainy window. The face has a similar appearance to the one in Komi's notepad in the opening sequence, removing any doubt as to who drew it. This is followed by two miniature snowmen standing sentry in the winter weather. One has a blank, deadpan expression and the other has a gentle, reserved smile: simple but shockingly recognizable likenesses of Komi and Tadano respectively.
Eventually, present-day Komi finally stops running when she reaches her classroom to sit with her friends. Interestingly, this scene is dynamic: every time Komi makes a new friend in the series, they are added to the group shot of the classroom in the ending credits. As of Episode 3, "It's Just Stage Fright. Plus More.," Komi is accompanied by Tadano, the gregarious Najimi Osana and the diffident Himiko Agari. The final shot of the credits displays a beautiful full-color illustration on the blackboard of various flowers.
The first half of this ending provides some dark implications about what Komi's life was like before she met Tadano and the others. The second half, however, is about the ways Komi's life has improved since she started high school, and how it may yet improve in the future. The scene of the two girls talking with the younger Komi out of focus in the background suggests that Komi was out of focus in the other students' lives; that her struggle was invisible or irrelevant to them.
The following shot of the girls is over Komi's shoulder, implying that Komi wants to look back at them because she desires their easygoing level of communication. The scenes of the junior high schoolers enjoying each others' conversation about such mundane things as food and phones emphasizes the kind of casual communication that Komi missed out on, and the shot of her all alone in the classroom effectively conveys the oppressive loneliness that she must have felt.
In contrast, the montage of summer festival scenes is optimistic and uplifting because it implies that Komi will one day be able to conquer a public event such as a festival that likely requires a lot of communication with strangers. The implication that Komi and Tadano will attend the festival together, as well as the two snowmen who bear their likenesses, are encouraging reminders that she and Tadano have a special relationship and that he is not going to leave her side any time soon. The evolving group shot is also encouraging because the audience can infer from the pattern of increasing characters that the room will be filled with friends by the end of the series.
Komi Can't Communicate is an uplifting series about making pursuing goals and making friends, but that doesn't mean it should shy away from how miserable Komi's social anxiety made her life when she was in junior high. Komi's days of constant loneliness may be behind her, but she will probably always remember them.