Komi Cant Communicate has won the hearts of readers worldwide with its adorable storytelling and lovable characters but whats really exciting is that reading between the lines could reveal some positive representation that shines a bright light on the Autistic community. Tomohito Odas award winning series has become a hit with manga fans ever since its debut in 2016. With new entries in Komis story continuing to be published today and the release of an anime adaptation on Netflix its safe to say that the series is incredibly popular. Speculation has been circulating though about Komi herself and why she struggles with communicating with some coming to a well evidenced conclusion that she may be Autistic.For the uninitiated Komi Cant Communicate follows Hitohito Tadano as he befriends Shoko Komi. Tadano quickly realizes during his first day with Komi that she has difficulty communicating with people. He manages to forge a bond with her when they communicate non verbally via a blackboard. From there he learns that her ultimate goal is to make 100 friends and vows to help her do so before the end of high school. The story is told in a series of vignettes that show Komi in various situations as she meets new people experiences new social situations and gets closer to Tadano himself. Through these stories the reader gets to know Komi more and some interesting observations come forward that may not outright say if she is on the spectrum but they certainly hint at it.
For starters a common recurring gag through the series is Komis cat ears. Whenever she experiences intense emotions a pair of cat ears spring up. While this may appear to be a common over exaggeration prevalent in manga and anime the context of Komi herself could imply that this is a form of stimming. Expressed in such ways as arm flapping or bouncing stimming is a form of expression usually found among Autistic persons as a way to manage intense emotions. While not necessarily exclusive to the Autistic community its still fairly common and Komis ears can signify a possibility of her being on the spectrum as they usually come out whenever she experiences an emotional overload.Among other examples that have been found include hyperfixation. Throughout the series Komi is shown with an adoration for cats. She owns multiple cat themed things has her aforementioned cat ears and is even says Meow when Tadano hears her for the first time. On top of this theres also difficulty in social situations and sometimes delayed interaction all of which Komi experiences throughout the story. These are all common traits that can be found among the Autistic community that Komi displays and while its possible that shes on the spectrum…her difficulty communicating might not link to it at all.
It appears that the root cause of Komis communication difficulty is selective mutism. A selectively mute person is someone whose anxiety makes it difficult to speak with certain people in different situations. They can still speak but their anxiety makes it difficult to do so…just like Komi displays. Its important to note that Autism and selective mutism are not the same thing. However this does not mean that she isnt Autistic because its entirely possible that she could be both.Currently all of this analysis is purely speculation as Tomohito Oda has not confirmed why Komi struggles with communication. Whether its selective mutism Autism or both its still great to see someone like Komi. She can provide Autistic and selectively mute people with a window of representation as she navigates life and works toward being her happiest self while still being true to herself. She knows her limitations and isnt afraid to let others know. Komi Cant Communicate is on a good path toward being representative of Autistic and selectively mute people and as the series continues itll be interesting to see how things work out.