Storytelling school

Komi Can’t Communicate Represents Shojo’s Best Storytelling Theme

Komi Can’t Communicate contains shojo DNA, which has a big impact on how Komi’s story unfolds.

Komi can’t communicate is a popular shojo-style shonen anime series set in a seemingly ordinary Japanese high school, and all of this greatly broadens the appeal of the series. There is something for every taste Komi can’t communicateand it’s an example of how the four traditional anime demographics can blend together to create new material.

Shonen, shojo, seinen, and josei are the four main demographics of manga, with shonen arguably the most popular of them all. Despite this, some series like love to kill and Komi can’t communicate skillfully borrow from neighboring demographics to breathe fresh blood into outdated ideas, resulting in some of the most creative and memorable anime of recent years. Komis contains more than a little shojo DNA.

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The titles of shojo, shonen, seinen and josei are not rigidly defined by their content – they are defined by their target audience, which leads to loose guidelines and conventions for each. Generally, shonen anime is about typically male protagonists who change the world around them and overcome challenges, while shojo titles involve typically female protagonists who change both themselves and their relationships with others.

These trends are a good point of reference for how shonen and shojo shows generally work, but there is some room for overlap. Many girls enjoy watching shonen anime, while some boys are into shojo, and anime creators understand that cross-pollination can help them grow their audience while creating fresher content along the way. Komi can’t communicate is one of those titles.

While Komi can’t communicate is officially a shonen anime, just like Tomohito Oda’s original manga series, the story has a lot of shojo elements, and not just because the protagonist, Komi Shoko, is a girl. The series minimizes conflict and fighting and instead focuses on Shoko’s quest to transform her personal life and gain confidence by making 100 friends by the time she graduates from high school.

Everyone can relate to the desire to have more friends and form meaningful friendships, but Komi can’t communicate pushes deeper into shojo territory by emphasizing personal relationships and their positive impact on people without creating a zero-sum game. Generally, shonen is about winners and losers and progress is made by defeating enemies or completing many difficult challenges. On the other hand, the heroine of Komi can’t communicate it’s that everyone comes together as friends and enriches each other, without needing to compete or “win” at anything.

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Something similar can be said about related series such as Horimiya, which is also a low-conflict story that’s more about budding teenage romances than conflict or victory. In both shows, the central romance is about making connections and having the characters accept each other and themselves, without needing to fight anyone, literally or otherwise. It makes the stories of Komi can’t communicate and Horimiya rather linear, but that doesn’t take away from the appeal of these titles for boys or girls in the audience. Shojo is about personal growth and positive relationships with others, and these shows both deliver.

How Komi Can’t Communicate Stays Rooted In Shonen

komi, tadano and najimi from komi can't communicate

Modern anime proves that cross-pollination between the four major anime genres can be fruitful, and while these series show just how modular demographics can be, titles such as Komi can’t communicate take care not to be what they are not. Shows like Komi can’t communicate, love to kill and After the rain staying rooted in their respective demographics while borrowing elements from others, which helps these series appeal to their original audiences.

Shojo fans will find a lot to like Komi can’t communicate, but it’s a shonen title and the show has never forgotten that. On the one hand, the main role is actually shared between Komi Shoko and his friend Tadano Hitohito, who is as much narrator and protagonist as Shoko. Male viewers can easily relate to the sweet and laid-back Tadano, who simply aims to make everyone around him happy while slowly developing a sweet romance with Shoko.

Besides this split protagonist technique, Komi can’t communicate stays true to her shonen roots by giving the heroine a concrete and challenging goal – to make 100 friends despite her shyness. Traditionally, shojo is about a single main romance, while shonen is more about achieving goals and overcoming challenges. In a shojo-friendly way, Komi can’t communicate gives Shoko a shonen-style goal – a goal she can conquer piece by piece and be proud of. She’s not trying to become Hokage or save the world, but her goal is still analogous, and making friends is like a giant practice montage for her. It’s shonen enough.

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