Directed by Naoko Yamada, ‘A Silent Voice’ (Japanese: 聲の形 ‘Koe no Katachi’; lit. ‘The Shape of Voice’) is a coming-of-age story about second chances, social stigma and overall, a heart-wrenching tale of reconstruction and redemption.
A film adaptation of Yoshitoki Oima’s manga series of the same name, the story’s protagonist is Shoya Ishida and follows his life as a high schooler on the brink of suicide. He becomes ostracized from his peers and everyone around him after he takes bullying Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf female student, too far in elementary school and rather than admit his mistakes, pushes blame amongst his friends. In doing so, he destroys his social connections and ends up with no friends.
From start to finish, the film provides a realistic view to the plot; no fantasy, no sugar-coating. Shoya’s struggles are all painted out and placed in plain sight. The film does rewind time to when Shoya was in Elementary school to provide context, and does it effectively without dragging on too long and away from the present-day of the film.
The art is colourful, beautiful and intricately detailed and this shows especially in the variety of locations and characters shown in the film. In terms of music, the film provides instrumental BGM to accompany appropriate scenes, but other than that, nothing really stood out in terms of music, which could be a good thing, as to not draw from the story and the focus wouldn’t drift away listening to the music. Although the theme song for the movie “Koi wo Shita no wa” by J-Pop artist aiko (which plays in the credits) is an acoustic song that really suits the mood of the film, sombre yet light and fleeting.
Anyone who is familiar with Japanese Anime or Manga will know the typical cliches; wide variety of eccentric characters, self-narrated inner thoughts, comedic flair and emotion you can’t seem to capture enough in real life. That being said, the plot, the characters and the aforementioned emotions are all put on display in a way that is realistic and engaging, making it easier for people to enjoy, relate to and overall, genuinely feel the emotions surrounding the characters.
For that very reason this film is definitely a must-see! I loved it, and there was points in the film where I wanted to scream, cry and at one point I held my breath and almost turned purple (but I ain’t spoiling that moment so you can all experience that suffering too😅)
Whether you’re accustomed to Japanese Anime, be it series or movie, or not, this film has a plethora of relativity for almost anyone, and with illustrious aesthetics and an even more beautiful story, it would be an absolute crime to pass off. (So says me, the Anime Police!😂)
AND WITH THAT BEING SAID, HERE IS THE TRAILER AND SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS~ [and a well placed SPOILER ALERT right here]
- The film never properly shows her but Shoya has a sister who has a daughter with a man of African descent (I assume) who all live in a small flat above his mother’s hair salon. Which makes a total of 5 people living together in the small flat and adds to the diverse collection of characters in the film😄
- One of Shoya’s friends after a significant event (that would be waaaaay too much of spoiler) says to Shoko “You have to love yourself, even the bad parts” – I thought that was nicely placed in the film.
- This wouldn’t be obvious to western viewers, but the characters are often feeding Koi fish (Carps), a significant kind of fish in Japan. Koi fish in Japan are a symbollic icon of overcoming adversity, so the fact the characters are always seen jumping into the river and feeding Koi fish is a symbolism of the main characters overcoming their short-comings and working on reconstructing their lives. Koi fish also can signify love *wink wink* They’re also spiritually significant, think Pudge the fish in Lilo and Stich.
- There is a scene where Shoya and his friend visit a place called “Meow Meow Club” and unfortunately for them it wasn’t the kind of “meWOW” they were hoping for – it was a literal Cat Cafe, which is common in Japan and self explainatory – a cafe where you sit and play with cats😅