WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Komi Can't Communicate, "It’s Just My Summer Uniform," now streaming on Netflix.
Shoko Komi is the most popular student at Itan Private High School, earning the high admiration of most students and even gaining a rival in the form of Makeru Yadano. In Episode 5 of Komi Can't Communicate, Yadano continues her rivalry with Komi during the athletic prowess portion of the school's physical exam. Komi once again bests Yadano at everything, which causes the latter to feel disheartened. When Komi shows she has no hard feelings toward Yadano despite her competitive nature, the latter likens Komi's kindness to acceptance of her rivalry.
Witnessing Komi's unique talents during a school physical causes Komi's friend, Najimi Osana, to have a lightbulb moment. If Komi has a natural talent for athletics, what other abilities is she possibly hiding? This revelation causes Najimi to make their boldest move yet: they ask Komi if both they and Hitohito Tadano could visit her house to get to know her better. This request causes Komi to have a silent panic attack, but ultimately decides to break out of her comfort zone and invite them over.
At Komi's house, Najimi and Tadano meet her mother Shuko, and initially assume Komi is an exact replica of her mother. However, they quickly learn Shuko is the exact opposite of her daughter in that she's very outgoing and is happy to see her daughter bring friends home from school. Her mother's reaction very strongly implies this is the first time Komi has had friends over, which further validates her past struggle with relationships. It even confirms she hasn't had any friends until now.
When Komi invites Najimi and Tadano to her bedroom, more of her anxieties flare up, revealing she is extremely shy. This vulnerability is exacerbated by Najimi's tendency to pry, which causes Komi to feel exposed. Since Najimi knows the space under the bed is a popular hiding place for kids to hide pornographic material, they especially think to look under there to see what Komi is hiding. Luckily for Komi, she doesn't keep dirty magazines under her bed, but Najimi does unearth her magazines about improving communication, implying she's been secretly trying to teach herself new strategies.
Najimi shifts their attention over to Komi's photo album, where they actually learn more about her as a person. Just like in the gym earlier, Najimi and Tadano quickly learn Komi is a very talented person. Since childhood, she's done everything from swimming competitions to piano recitals, even taking an English conversation class in primary school. However, just like with her native Japanese, Komi also struggles to communicate in English. At some point, Najimi takes a picture of themselves with Komi and Tadano on their mobile phone and sends the picture to Komi, who decides to frame it.
With one major barrier down, Komi starts feeling more comfortable being her authentic self around Najimi and Tadano. She decides to invite them to a place she's always wanted to visit with friends: a ramen shop -- an endeavor their mutual friend Himiko joins them on. At the ramen shop, both Komi and Himiko have no trouble ordering their food and eating it in a timely fashion, but Najimi and Tadano are unable to handle the large serving; both end up leaving the shop feeling full to the point of nausea. Despite this somewhat disastrous first time for them, Najimi and Tadano continue to indulge Komi's desire to eat ramen with them the following week.
With Komi now revealing more aspects of herself to her closest friends, it's becoming clear as Komi Can't Communicate progresses that she is slowly but surely overcoming many of her social shortcomings. While it often takes some pushing from Najimi to bring her out of her comfort zone, over the course of five episodes, Komi has demonstrated a strong willingness to conquer her anxieties. It won't be long before Komi graduates from writing notes to her friends to being able to speak her first words in person.
KEEP READING: Komi Can’t Communicate Episode 5: Tadano’s Unexpected Kindred Spirit
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