Within the first few pages of this manga, the author discusses the perceptions other people have towards those who suffer from social anxieties, glossophobia (fear of speaking), to other communication disorders. Komi is one of many individuals at this school who cannot seem to form any words (which is interesting, considering the entrance exam for this private school is an interview). Enter Tadano, a boy who is determined to be mediocre and pass by unnoticed through his high school years. Tadano finds himself having some of his first high school conversations with Komi through writing on the chalkboard. He decides he wants to be Komi's friend and help her reach her goal: to have 100 friends. Tadano next introduces Komi to one of his long-time friends, Najimi, who is a super popular, super social gender-fluid character. Together, the trio look out for Komi and help her navigate social situations while getting her to reach her goal of 100 friends.
This story has a lot of well-placed humor while still showing deference to the phobias, anxieties, and disorders these characters are working through. The illustrations are wonderful, adding a layer to the humor and to the nervousness when necessary. Komi and, later, Agari's struggles to communicate to their peers are relatable, and I'm sure teens even without communication disorders will find their plight sympathetic. Tadano is confident but bumbling, and Najimi is socially adept and confident. Thus, there are characters for all social skill levels to connect with and enjoy in this title.
There are a few sexual references throughout the first volume, which makes VIZ's "Teen" rating appropriate.
Sara's rating: 9/10
Suitability level: grades 7-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Realistic Fiction, Friendship
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