Koe no Katachi

Title:Koe no Katachi
A Silent Voice
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - KYOTO
A deaf elementary school girl, Shoko Nishimiya, upon transferring, meets a boy named Shoya Ishida in her new class. Shoya, who is not deaf, leads the class in bullying Shoko, because she is deaf. As the bullying continues, the class starts to bully Shoya for bullying Shoko. After graduating from elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other… until later, when Shoya, tormented over his past, decides he must see Shoko once more. Shoya wants to make amends for what he did in elementary school and be Shoko's friend.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

130-minute film that premiered on September 17, 2016.
Animated by Kyoto Animation.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 10 9 8 10 Ggultra2764 [series:3477#1552]
A Silent Voice deals with the consequences of bullying and social isolation in its focus on our lead character, Shoya Ishida, who had participated with his classmates years earlier in bullying a deaf girl named Shoko until they choose to isolate him when their bullying gets more attention from school staff and they attempt to avoid any ramifications for their actions. This isolation continues into high school for Shoya as he deals with the social pressures of his isolation and tries to atone for the suffering he inflicted upon Shoko.

Before I review this film, I should explain more about how serious an issue that bullying can be in Japanese schools in real life. Because of the culture's strong belief in group social structures, bullying is a more traumatic experience for the victims as students who stick out from the strict adherence to a collective identity are more likely to be targeted for bullying by classmates. Incidents are done behind the backs of staff members and classmates not involved typically avoid speaking up or involving themselves in the situation to avoid becoming victims themselves. Despite their academic qualifications, many school officials are ill-equipped to detect and handle any bullying incidents. The continual trauma from bullying has led many students to either commit suicide due to reaching their breaking points from coping with the pressure or moving to other school districts due to the negligence from school officials to resolve their situation.

A Silent Voice offers a believable exploration of this phenomenon in Japanese schools as Shoya starts off as one of the bullies to Shoko, targeting her due to her disability. When school officials pick up on the bullying and confront Shoya on the issue, his attempt to also reveal other classmates were involved in the bullying lead him to also be bullied and eventually deal with social isolation that nearly drove him into committing suicide. Being older, Shoya has learned from his past misdoings as he desires to make up with Shoko, yet still finds himself struggling with his isolation in school as his former friends try to distance themselves from taking personal responsibility for the incident and plant all the blame for Shoko's bullying onto him or Shoya to try making themselves look better.

Outside of Shoya, A Silent Voice also explores Shoko's developments where she finds herself the victim of bullying and starts to gradually develop her friendship with Shoya. While accepting of him in her life, Shoko does suffer from feelings of worthlessness as she sees herself being personally responsible for the problems that Shoya faced from his friends turning on him. The effects of her bullying are also felt on her family as Shoko's mother and younger sister are initially distrustful of Shoya due to his past acts yet gradually become accepting of him as they see his efforts to redeem himself are genuine.

The film even takes the time to explore how other characters were effected by the complicated situation involving its two leads. It explores how the families of both were effected by the attention that the bullying brought about. Classmates of the two from elementary school make their appearances, each having varying views of the bullying situation where they try to avoid taking personal responsibility and blame one of the two for bringing the events about. Shoya also befriends a couple high school students, one of whom having his own issues with bullying that our male lead helped him with.

Visually, A Silent Voice employs a soft, pastel animation style with clean lining that help give the characters and settings a lifelike feel. Character movement is quite fluid with a good deal of emphasis on body language in expressing the actions of the characters, especially in the use of sign language as characters interact with Shoko due to her disability. The movie's soundtrack mostly consists of soft piano and ambient tunes that are fitting for the dramatic situations that play out throughout the film.

I also have to give a special shout-out to Saori Hayama's voice work as Shoko due to her believable depiction of a deaf character struggling to properly speak due to the speech impediment she has from her disability. I can't recall any anime I've seen within my 15 years of fandom that offered such a believable depiction of a deaf character.

Overall, A Silent Voice makes for a powerful film focused around redemption, self-worth, and understanding with Shoya and Shoko's character developments, as well as not being afraid to tackle the very real issues of bullying and social isolation within Japanese schools. If you are a fan of anime dramas, A Silent Voice is a strong recommendation that I would implore you to check out.

Last updated Sunday, January 14 2018. Created Sunday, January 14 2018.

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