A deaf elementary school girl named Shoko Nishimiya transfers to a new school and meets a boy named Shoya Ishida. Shoya leads the school in bullying Shoko over her disability until she transfers to another school. Immediately, the class bully Shoya for having bullied Shoko. Shoya loses contact with Shoko, and for years he suffers the consequences of his guilt. Upon entering high school, Shoya finally decides he must find Shoko, determined to make amends for what he did in elementary school and to become Shoko’s friend. Along the way, he meets new and old faces, and struggles with many complicated relationships and feelings.
(This is a spoiler-free review!)
A Silent Voice is an anime film based on the manga series created by Yoshitoki Ōima. Ōima is a manga artist who also worked on the manga To Your Eternity. The manga of A Silent Voice consists of seven volumes and it was created in 2013 and ended in 2014. The anime film was produced by the animation company Kyoto Animation which is well known for working anime titles like Clannad, K-On! and Violet Evergarden.
Just like the title of this article of the review, I am going to make sure I don’t spoil the story. I read the manga as well, but I am only going to focus on the anime portion.
Story: A bully’s path for redemption
The film begins with the male protagonist Shoya Ishida living his best life in grade school with his peers. His school life changes when a new student named Shoko Nishiyama transfers to Shoya’s school. It is revealed that Shoko has a hearing disability. With this news, Shoya decides to bully her and play with her disability and gets the class involved. However, after losing so many hearing aids for Shoko and can’t stand the harassments, Shoko is transferred to a different school. It doesn’t take long when Shoya’s classmates blames him for the bullying and excludes from his group. Shoya becomes a victim of getting bullied himself and he becomes isolated from his former friends. As time passes and Shoya goes to high school, Shoya isolates himself from everyone in his class and must deal with the guilt of his actions. Feeling the need for redemption, Shoya somehow finds the bullied deaf girl Shoko and hopes to amend for his sins. As the plot progresses, Shoya must learn what it means to be fully redeemed and learn the power of true friendship.
Review: The Painful Path of Self Redemption
After spending two hours with this movie, I felt like this movie didn’t hold back on themes of bullying, redemption and self-forgiveness. While this anime is fictional, the actions and dialogue of the story and characters feel real. I feel like the magic of this movie is with the characters. While watching the movie, I got to see the perspective of Shoya from childhood to teen years. He went from a reckless kid with no regards to his actions to a cautious teen who seeks healing from the chaos he created. The movie shows the anxiety and pain of him when dealing with confrontation towards his peers. You can sense the fear he has inside and he is unable to progress in life. Not only this movie deals with isolation, but the theme of hearing plays a huge role too. In this movie, we see Shoko who deals with bullying and unable to speak properly to her peers. We also see her deal with the fear of being burden to others and how it affects everyone. While the movie focuses on redemption, the later half of the movie also reveals the importance of forgiveness. The forgiveness theme slowly blossoms as you follow Shoya’s adventure and when it hits, you can’t help but feel your heart break.
For the negatives of this movie, this is basically a plot about Shoya and his redemption path. As we watch this movie, we do get to see him interact with the other characters, but it’s mostly on him and occasionally Shoko. I won’t go into details, but in the manga, we get to see some background details on Shoko and her family. There is also more to the story of A Silent Voice for Shoya once the redemption aspect is complete. However, despite the additional story plots from the manga, the movie did do a good job on telling the main story of A Silent Voice. I watched this movie in English Dub and I want to say that the English was really good. I thought Robbie Daymond was excellent as Shoya.
Verdict: Should we open our senses for this movie?
In my opinion, I feel like anime and non-anime fans, should watch this movie. Despite the story removing minor fillers and other plot points, this movie did do a good job on the themes of redemption and forgiveness. The characters in this movie gives the viewers different reactions. We either feel sympathetic for someone’s pain, we feel awkward in tense moments or we loathe a character for harsh actions. For a slice of life film, this movie felt real and emphasizes the importance of hearing a cry for help or a suffering heart. You don’t need to be an anime fanatic to enjoy this movie. If you enjoyed the movie, I would recommend reading the manga as it goes in depth of the story and characters.
This is my review. Did you see this movie? What did you think of it?