Based on first impressions alone, most of the male characters in Komi Can't Communicate do not come across as acceptable members of society, let alone healthy representations of male stereotypes. With the exception of Tadano, most of the guys give off traits of toxic masculinity, fitting neatly into the mold of aggressive, demanding, authoritative men with potential superiority complexes and perverted tendencies.

Upon close inspection, however, all of these "manly" characters reveal to have their own unique soft spots which are contradictory to their reputations, showing viewers that guys can also possess a sensitive side and still be accepted by their peers.


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The Sweet and Sensitive Type

Hitohito Tadano is no "ordinary guy" as he has an uncanny ability to read the room, but does not use his powers for manipulative depravity but instead tries his best to help his classmates out. His assessments of situations shows an immense emotional capacity because Tadano always tries to dissect the reason behind someone's actions, usually giving them the benefit of the doubt. Tadano is the only one to see through Komi and Katai's intimidating auras and consider their internal battles, opting to take the sensitive approach instead.

His powers of adequately evaluating people are emphasized in "It's just a feeling," when Omoharu Nakanaka and Ren Yamai beg Tadano to teach them his "mind reading" talents. The young man's integrity is accentuated further when it becomes obvious that the girls want to use their desired telepathy with impure intentions. Tadano has never used his perceptiveness to take advantage of Komi, or anyone else, and has only ever tried to assist, even if he humiliates himself in the process.

On countless occasions, Tadano (who also gets anxious in social situations) puts himself out there for Komi's sake by extending the proverbial olive branch to the rest of Class 1-1. Although he might sometimes get teased by his classmates, Tadano is celebrated by many fans for possessing the most empathy and sensitivity and is not mocked for not being "manly" enough. On the contrary, the Komi Can't Communicatefandom has nicknamed him "Chadano", to highlight Tadano's undeniably attractive chad-factor.

The Aggressively Affectionate Type

Katai Makoto is ultimately the perfect personification of the concept of toxic masculinity, specifically when it becomes evident that everything "toxic" about him is purely projected. Due to his bulking physique and awkward demeanor, Class 1-1 automatically assumes the boy has sinister intentions and their first instincts are to run in fear. Not only does Katai not seem to possess an aggressive bone in his body, but he turns out to be the most sentimental and lovey-dovey of all the characters in Komi Can't Communicate.

The relationship that Katai strikes up with Tadano is genuine and heartwarming, regardless of its comic effect. Their bromance may be a bit too touchy-feely for most people, but maybe that's the point. Katai just wants to show Tadano how much he cares about him, so why shouldn't he be able to without people getting uncomfortable? Masculine affection does not have to involve roughhousing and teasing or tests of manliness. Tadano initially seems uncertain of Katai's cuddly habits but does not tease him and instead goes with the flow, shamelessly bonding in a positive form of male camaraderie.

The Bad Boy Type

Chiarai Shigeo, Sonoda Taisei, and Shinobino Mono are collectively known as the "Class Delinquents", but again, this nickname seems to be based on outward appearances only. True, they are no angels and openly perv on the ladies of Class 1-1, having a particular field day in "It's just the pool," but any young, hormonal teenager would find it difficult not to ogle in that situation. Tadano shows the slightest signs of toxic masculinity when it comes to his general approach to the class delinquents, as he tends to be a bit judgemental with these particular boys.

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In Season 2 of Komi Can't Communicate, the male characters are fleshed out a bit further, and many viewers soon realize that they may have made the wrong assumptions about Shinobino and his buddies. In "It's Just A Fantasy," the boys dream about each girl in the class, but the scenarios discussed are not as dirty or depraved as one might have thought. Although the potential sexual rewards are insinuated, the boys spend most of their time on the date-portion of the evening, or fantasize about long-term, committed relationships, evidently focused on more than just sex. Anime is generally not shy about exaggerating perversions (just look at Ren Yamai!), but the writers opted out of this stereotypical trope, deciding to show the boys' sweeter sides instead.

It is refreshing to see that the top candidates for these fantasy romances are purely chosen not based on their looks (or cup size), but rather on their compatibility as a companion and romantic partner, with Nakanaka and Najimi falling high on the list. It is also important to note that Najimi regularly falls into the "potential love interest" category, and their sexuality is neither questioned, judged, nor ridiculed. The fact that Najimi is transfeminine is a non-factor, a pointed assault on the toxic masculinity trope!

The Self-Absorbed Type

The only male character that has been cast in a negative light in Komi Can't Communicate so far is Shisuto Naruse (although interestingly enough, there are several antagonistic female characters). The self-absorbed, self-proclaimed 'ladies man' is anything but appealing, as his stellar good looks are in contrast to a seemingly unattractive personality. Naruse is the perfect medium for the toxic masculinity trope to be utilized, as his superiority complex surely involves putting other people down to elevate his own feelings of self-worth.

When the boys have to bare it all in the Kyoto bath house, one would assume Naruse would take the opportunity to point out his superior qualities. Surprisingly, Naruse shows no nastiness but instead invites Katai to pose alongside him in a mini-photo shoot, sharing the spotlight equally. When the "less attractive" guys wish to join in, Naruse barely hesitates to include them and does not mock their physiques. Even though most viewers are crying tears of laughter by this point, the steamy photo shoot is essentially one of the most wholesome moments between the boys on the show, one full of acceptance, support, and veneration.

Such Shameless Stereotyping

This slice-of-life romantic comedy could arguably lean toward the Shoujo category, therefore constructing the ideal male from a woman's perspective and subsequently eliminating toxic masculinity from the picture. However, to say thatKomi Can't Communicate is filled with female-orientated content is a bit of a stretch. Most of the female characters are one-dimensional and portray negative female stereotypes, makinng them quite unrelatable. Much of the content is also sexualized and suited to the male gaze, and the fanservice is undeniable.

While emphasizing Komi's beauty is integral to the storyline, one cannot claim that the inclusion of certain imagery is intended to satisfy the Shoujo potential of the show. Therefore, the strong, male characters of Komi Can't Communicate wish to appeal to a wide audience of all genders, by showing that masculinity can exist without its toxic shadow in toe, and men can show their softer side and still be celebrated.

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Source: reddit/u/NerdStone04