We are back to getting through Stew’s many volumes of a manga series he started buying, but stopped reading way too long ago: Komi Can’t Communicate!
In volume one, we started meeting the core cast of characters, including the titular Komi, who has such direly extreme social anxiety that she can not speak in front of others. But she can write! Or even make short phone calls! I don’t know how that is better.
In addition to her, the co-main-character is Todano, Komi’s classmate who first figures out she isn’t just aloof but actually has a problem. He has a crush on her, but also promises to help her accomplish her dream: to make 100 friends!
We’ve also been introduced to friends number two (Najimi) and number three (Agari), getting Komi off to a good start towards her goal, but a bad start as a series. At the rate of volume one, we will get to 100 friends in just… 34 volumes.
That’s… actually not bad for a manga. Not great! But at least it isn’t eternal, like Naruto or One Piece.
With that wrap-up in mind, let’s see what everyone gets up to in Volume Two!
Luckily things actually happen in this volume. Not a lot of Move The Plot Forward kinds of stuff, but at least some events and goings on. In volume one, we were pretty much reduced to just meeting people. Here we have adventures!
The volume starts off with another new character, Yadano. Yet another classmate of everyone, she actually does not become a friend of Komi’s or the group–at least not yet. This opening serves as this weird reminder that Komi is essentially physically flawless. Yadano decides to challenge her at everything the day has to offer: the annual physical and the ensuing fitness test.
So apparently a Japanese high school physical consists of four categories: Height (okay), weight (sure), eyesight (weird, but makes sense), and… sitting height (what?). I’m… not sure what sitting height means other than to prove that Komi is tall and a lot of that is her legs. Tomohito Oda (the author of this series), are you okay? Are you in love with your fictional high school student? I’d say you can tell us, but you know what? Go ahead and don’t.
Komi is superior to Yadano at everything, including the games in the fitness test. Yadano goes all out sprinting to win the last race, but Komi breezes right by her. After this, Yadano lets the oblivious Komi know they were competing in her own head and heads off, determined to get stronger to face Komi again. So this is likely not the last we’ve heard of her. Hopefully she gets better at, uh, Sitting Height at some point in her life.
From there, we see Najimi and Tadano visit Komi at her house, where we meet the first (but not last!) member of the Komi Family: Mom! Mom is ANOTHER unearthly perfect beauty who is just thrilled her daughter has made friends.
Does anything of note happen here? No. But we find out Komi has an honest-to-goddness family, so that will come back later.
The longest stretch of the book focuses on another classmate, Yamai. Yamai is another girl (is Tadano the ONLY boy in this school?), as well as yet another character that openly has a crush on the flawless Komi. And you know what? Writing all this down is making me like Komi less. But I promise in the book, she is a fun character. Just… god, everyone’s weird obsession with her. Weird and creepy and sexual.
To accomplish her goal of getting close to Komi, Yamai kidnaps Tadano, ties him up, and locks him in her closet. And she would have gotten away with it, too, if not for Najimi inviting herself and Komi over. Yamai knows inviting them over compromises her, but is too enraptured with Komi to say no.
SO OF COURSE Najimi and Komi find Tadanao. Yamai explains she did it for Komi who can’t possibly be happy with an ordinary bum like him as her friend. Komi shows some backbone in declaring (in writing, of course), that SHE decides who her friends are. Yamai apologizes (kind of?), and Komi accepts her friendship.
Yamai also displays the secret ability to manifest a butcher knife out of thin air. Which… I guess can be useful?
It does all end with a sweet moment where Komi tries to “break up” her friendship with Tadano since he almost got hurt because he is close to her. He reminds her that, like her, HE chooses who his friends are. And then Komi actually speaks to him in person for the first time in the series, telling him she still wants to be his friend, too.
More short stories follow: The group heads to a Ramen restaurant called Ramen Right?!, where Agari gets to show off her specialty: Ramen restaurants, I guess? It’s a pretty niche specialty. But it’s the first thing that Komi asks for on her own. And we see that the world is filled with other socially awkward people able to vibe with Komi (here, the chef).
Then there’s a bit where Komi hears a good way to connect with friends is to tell jokes, so she starts writing down puns and giving them to people.
Which… one of the things I dig about this story is the humor in just the art, like Komi walking away but staring at Tadano as she does so. I mentioned in Volume One that this series reminds me a lot of Azumanga Daioh, and that’s an era in which that book excelled, as well.
MORE WEIRDOS IN THIS SCHOOL, as the group encounters Nakanaka, a girl who “is going through a phase” where she believes she is a reincarnated warrior with a dragon soul inside of her. She decides Komi is a reincarnated princess who also has a dragon soul, so they must enter into a blood contract to never get too close, or their dragon forces will cause an explosion.
This is silly, yes, but we end up seeing Nakanaka is just a lonely girl who is trying out an identity to give herself some personality. And when no one wants to pair up with her at gym class, Komi actually goes over and partners with her. And so Nakanaka makes friend number… what? Five? I don’t think Yadano counts yet.
And that rounds the volume out with the friends taking Komi shopping because she never really leaves the house and doesn’t have any outfits. So basically, it’s an allowance for Oda to draw Komi in various new clothes.
I feel like Oda sees himself as Tadano in this series, but he’s actually Yamai.
And that’s volume two! Komi has five friends, so at this pace, we’ll hit 100 by volume… forty? The number got worse! And I’m pretty sure the series isn’t that long.
Until next time… take care!