Every protagonist needs the right support to help them along their journey, even if that journey is just a slice-of-life comedy. In the case of the anime Komi Can’t Communicate, Komi gradually overcomes her social anxiety with the help of her first two friends Tadano and Najimi. Although there’s a lot of attention on Komi’s relationship with Tadano, Najimi shouldn’t be forgotten as a major source of support.
At the beginning of this series, Tadano was the first to realize what Komi was going through and helped her communicate through writing. He becomes Komi’s emotional support, giving her the help she needs to begin achieving her goal of making 100 friends. As much as Tadano helps, Najimi is always the one to keep Komi engaged, which helps her make a number of friends and push herself to her limits. Both Tadano and Najimi use their strengths to help Komi overcome her social anxiety and grow — but one of them has helped her grow more than the other.
Tadano’s Emotional Support Got Komi Started
Since she was little, any social situation triggers a nervous response in Komi, which manifests in intense shaking throughout her body and an inability to speak. Most pressingly, it’s left her with little to no positive experiences with friends of her own. When she enters Itan Private High School, her classmates and teachers are surprisingly impressed with her silence accompanied by her beauty, admiring her from afar. Tadano is the only one who notices Komi’s struggle and takes the first step in helping Komi to grow.
Tadano is able to pick up on Komi’s inability to speak due to his flawless ability to read people. Once he confirms that it is in fact social anxiety that Komi struggles with, he suggests she write out what she wants to say since being forced to speak isn’t helping at the time. This habit of writing instead of speaking becomes Komi’s most important tool in her growth, but it’s also a crutch, especially when Tadano tries to do most of the work for Komi.
Although Tadano’s great patience and willingness to help is admirable, he has a tendency to coddle her, frequently offering her the easier solution rather than pushing her to try new. While the emotional support he gives to Komi is crucial at the beginning of her growth, Tadano doesn’t challenge Komi enough going forward to help her attain her goal. The one who really pushes her is Najimi.
Najimi Pushes Komi In The Right Direction
After failing to talk to anyone else about Komi’s predicament, Tadano is able to introduce Komi to Najimi since they are childhood friends. After growing accustomed to Komi’s anxiety and habits, Najimi comes up with their own ways of helping that are strikingly different from Tadano’s.
At first, Najimi’s attempts at pushing Komi are too forceful and don’t take into account her comfort level. When they send Komi out to make ridiculous food orders for them, it leads to Komi’s embarrassment and Najimi apologizing — although to be fair, the challenge is an important experience for Komi’s development. Other ways that Najimi helps are inviting Komi and Tadano to social events like playing games after class or taking a trip to the pool over the summer, which neither Komi nor Tadano would have been able to do on their own.
These experiences help Komi grow in confidence and in her tolerance for social interactions leading up to the Kyoto field trip, which Komi is terribly afraid of. To be fair to Tadano, he does offer Komi a safe space to express her feelings in regard to the field trip, but his suggestion of not going with the class could have been incredibly detrimental to Komi’s progress. As stressful as the Kyoto trip winds up being, it’s because of all the experiences that Najimi set up that Komi builds up a small tolerance against her social anxiety when she’s on her own. It also helps that she’s become so familiar with her classmates, thanks to Najimi uniting them.
Regarding who is the one who’s helped Komi most, it can’t be ignored how important both Najimi and Tadano are to Komi. Together, they are a balanced duo: Najimi creates the challenges to make her grow while Tadano helps her manage the emotional impacts that follow. If Tadano wasn’t involved and it was only Najimi, Komi most likely wouldn’t have opened up to anyone, and without that positive reinforcement, she would have no motivation to try. On the flip side, if only Tadano remained Komi’s support, Komi would probably never grow beyond talking to him, lacking the experience to handle people on her own. That being said, even as a united front, Najimi is still more to thank for Komi’s growth.
As the series progresses, Tadano begins to learn from Najimi’s example of Komi to fend for herself, so to speak, as he did when he rejected her invitation to the cat café but encouraged her to invite others. Initially, Tadano was against pushing Komi, afraid to cross any boundaries.
Najimi doesn’t play it safe by hiding themselves out of fear or supposed limitation; they rise above those boundaries. Their dynamic with Komi is such an important one because the two characters are polar opposites. Komi is extremely nervous to express herself because of her anxiety, while Najimi is unapologetically themselves — and off on the side is Tadano, who is also a bit of a nervous sort. The reason why these opposing dynamics are so important is because Komi needs to learn from someone who is different from her. Most importantly, the best way to progress is by trying, and thanks to Najimi’s extreme approach, Komi is encouraged to grow.