Komi Can’t Communicate is mostly a cozy manga series about high school kids and friendship. It’s reasonably predictable with no real disasters and some occasional comic moments. The protagonist Komi is the class beauty but she’s got social anxiety to the point where it’s difficult for her to speak to anyone in public, but this is taken by most people as ‘cool’. Tadano is the totally average guy who seems to understand Komi and decides to help her work on her anxiety and make friends. Tadano is actually kind of irritating in that he’s mostly clueless except when he isn’t; he also is a totally static character. Komi on the other hand ahs been starting to develop as a character; she’s starting to make friends on her own. BY this point, there’s basically a gang of misfits who are all friends.
Volume 17 keeps things mostly light by covering mostly the standard school festival shenanigans, but actually follows through on some previous narrative, and Komi actually takes some communication initiative in realistic way that’s hard to find in a lot of this kind of story. Manbagi, one of the other girls in the group, has started to figure out she has a crush on Tadano, but she thinks Komi likes him too, and it’s been getting to her. Here’s where things actually get real; Komi finds Manbagi and actually forces her to have the “we might like the same guy” conversation, and won’t let Manbagi off with Manbagi’s attempt to claim that she’ll be fine letting Komi have Tadano because that’s the obvious preference. Their conversation is refreshingly real, and Komi actually makes the point that the female friendship on the line is as important as the boy questions. Turns out that was also part of Manbagi’s reasoning for saying she’d step aside for Komi.
Anyways, this is not a deep or even very realistic series, but when it has a moment (or several scenes) like this, it really gets the tone right. I especially appreciated that Komi was the one who really forced the conversation to take place when she’s the one who has trouble conversing, and Manbagi’s pretty outgoing on the surface. It’s the two girls prioritizing their relationship, and that’s kind of a rare thing in standard teen high school comedy. Honestly, I don’t think the story really even needs much Tadano anymore; he gets credit for helping Komi start her journey, yes, but he’s outlived that usefulness. As a love triangle interest, there’s no real reason for that, beyond his general acceptance of most anyone.