What does it mean to forgive? What does it take to make amends for the wrongs you’ve done in the past?
These are the questions the film A Silent Voice or Koe no Katachi answers. It is originally a 7 volume based manga written by Yoshitoki Oima in 2013.
It was soon adapted to a Animated film directed by Naoko Yamada, of Kyoto Animations. Although the movie is an adaptation, I will talk and make a review about the film itself without referencing anything from the source material. As a first timer watching anime, the expectation of of what I’ll be talking about will be beyond what I know about anime. So, I will not talk about the Japanese vs English Dub, with all of that out of the way, we will now dive through what the movie is all about:
- The Story and the Characters
A Silent Voice revolves around a deaf girl (Shouko Nishimiya) and a boy (Shoya Ishida) who used to bully her. The boy then tries to make amends for the bullying he has done to her at the past. That is basically the whole synopsis of the story, but of course I wouldn’t leave it at such a lukewarm explanation of what it is about, the film isn’t afraid to show the realities of how society can treat the depressed and the disabled when in that society, no one knows how to treat such.
The role of depression and disabilities aren’t played here as exaggerated, but rather it is shown just how it is in reality. Early at the film, we see Shoya, our main character, confused of how to treat Nishimiya, being a kid and all without the capability to understand her and as a result, Shoya makes fun of her. Until the bullying crosses the line, leaving them in trouble with school authority, Shoya’s friends used him as a scapegoat to justify that they weren’t in any way involved with the bullying. Here we see, a representation of what happens when you stray away from societal norms and how it immediately forms a cognitive dissonance with Shoya and his friends. His friends started bullying him too, and eventually in the story we see our outgoing extroverted protagonist turn into an anxious and aloof person he is. It brings us to catharsis, the emotional build up which gives Shoya the tenacious manner to make up for the horrible things he has done at the past, specifically, to Nishimiya.
2. The Visuals
The animation felt like it was being recorded like a real movie, the use of environmentalism was well utilized in a way that it could be interpreted to show a mood in a certain situation in the scenes. I did my research regarding Naoko Yamada’s works and she has been consistent with the methods see uses such as the expression of a character that can be seen in foot shots and the subjective reality of a person through a quick shot of a flower to determine their personality. It is a quite impressive concept, also the “X” marks on the faces of the people in the perspective of Shoya, as a visual note that he is afraid to face people, due to his anxiety. It worked out very well as if it’s almost as you could watch this film without sound and still understand what is happening. After all, this is a movie about understanding. No one else would have pulled it off than Naoko Yamada.
3. The Music
The music can be described as concept driven, it is mostly melodies played in the piano. Kensuke Ushio, the person behind the soundtrack, had an unorthodox way of recording the soundtrack. He placed a mic inside the piano. The effort put into the soundtrack matches the theme of the movie because the sounds being played are cues of each action done in certain scenes. Like two particular scenes, when Shoya was bullying Nishimiya, we hear an upbeat sound, like everything is fun and enjoyable in his perspective, but when the tables have turned, in where Shoya is the one who is now the victim, the sounds plays a shallow and melancholic melody. There is one particular soundtrack that plays in the ending of the movie and I am extremely moved by such. It is simple, yet cathartic.
As a person who used to resent anime, I was surprised that a friend of mine would still recommend something out of the ordinary, at least in my point of view, and tell me to watch a certain anime. He definitely knew I wasn’t into anime, but he still insisted that I must watch A Silent Voice. The assertiveness of his action was enough for me to be convinced to that I must watch this film, otherwise there wouldn’t be a good reason for him insisting. That made me curious to as how this film was able will be able to convince me, a person who isn’t a fan of anime. That being said, after watching the film, I was moved to tears and felt a sense of inception that must happen at the core of emotions. In spite of all the weird things Japan can do with anime, this one particular film makes up for all of those weirdness and it proved me wrong about my idea that anime is weird and stuff, but this? This puts the icing on the cake.
I rate this movie a 9/10, it would have been an easy 10/10 but I felt that some of the characters needed more screen time. Nonetheless, it has my approval of a must-watch-even-you-are-not-into-anime seal.
This movie is recommended for everyone, yes everyone, even non-anime fans. This film is also relevant today, because this generation is dealing with a lot of issued regarding mental illness. Maybe this masterpiece of a film, will help you and others, to find their Silent Voice.