First off let me just say…WOW! Just…wow.
This film. So beautifully done and heart-wrenching and emotional and beautiful. Kyoto Animation has done it again. Can they seriously just keep making anime FOREVER?! I will gladly support them until I am old and grey. Just release Violet Evergarden ALREADY! I NEED IT! Gimme gimme.
But back to the review! Sorry, sometimes I just get so adamant about wanting something so badly that nothing will change my mind. I am like a one track freight train with no particular destination.
Yes, Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice) is a Japanese anime film done by Kyoto Animation and was released in Japan on September 17, 2016. Of course, we American folks had to wait several long (and I mean loooonnnggg) months until it was released over here. I FINALLY GOT TO WATCH IT LAST NIGHT AND MY HEART IS CRYING ON THE INSIDE. Ugh…I was so not ready for the feels.
Here is the plot summary for this film:
“The story revolves around Nishimiya Shoko, a grade school student who has impaired hearing. She transfers into a new school, where she is bullied by her classmates, especially Ishida Shouya. It gets to the point where she transfers to another school and as a result, Shouya is ostracized and bullied himself, with no friends to speak to and no plans for the future. Years later, he sets himself on a path to redemption.”
My initial thoughts when I saw the anime film trailer was that it was going to be more romance based (boy…was I wrong). But instead it took a very different turn. The film focused more on hard topics like bullying, suicide, overcoming one’s past self, and ultimately redemption. Topics that need to be discussed daily with teens and young adults.
I read the first volume of the manga and I thought they did a superb job bringing that to the big screen. It was pretty much on point! But as I was reading through some of the comments left about the film many people who actually finished the manga, unlike me, said they missed a few key elements to the story. Everyone still gave it a 10 out of 10 rating though! You can really only cram so much into a 2 hour film. The same could be said of Hollywood films. So, I guess if you want to know more then go read the manga. Best advice I could give you guys!
We know from the summary that Ishida bullies Nishimiya when they are in elementary school together. What I gathered from the film is that (like many kids) he couldn’t grasp the concept of other kids born with ailments (i.e. being deaf, blind, paralyzed etc). Most people steer away from the topic of children/adults born with disabilities. It’s the whole “avert your eyes and look away because it’s not polite” mentality that really grids my gears. People struggle with their disabilities enough, so why not make them feel more comfortable and offer help? Nishimiya’s class did this at first until they started to feel like she was more of a burden rather then a friend. This is where the bullying really takes off.
They say mean things (because they know she can’t hear), they trip her, they write mean things on the chalkboard, and they even had the balls to throw away her hearing aides. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT! I was like wtf is this?! I wanted to jump into the movie and slap these kids so effing hard.
But that’s how you know an anime is good! It makes you feel all the feels. Eventually, these kids do get caught with their bullying but they decide to pin the blame all on Ishida. Eventually Nishimiya transfers schools and Ishida gets ostracized for being the bully. (Another classmate named Sahara also transfers schools because she was the only person to befriend Nishimiya and gets bullied along with Nishimiya). In a way karma takes over and Ishida takes Nishimiya’s place and everyone around him starts to pick on him. (In a way I can see why they did this. It came around full circle).
Years later we see Ishida grown up and in high school. We also see him at the top of a very tall bridge trying to kill himself. I was like…well this anime took a very dark turn in the matter of minutes. At first, I didn’t want to believe he was trying to commit suicide but then I came to the conclusion that he was trying to off himself. And then I wondered what it would be like to carrying all the guilt around? How many years did Ishida feel like this? I also wanted to know why he came to the conclusion that he should kill himself. SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS! Maybe I should take my own advice and finish the damn manga!
Of course the movie couldn’t progress if Ishida killed himself (he doesn’t jump btw), so we move on to the next course of action. Ishida realizes he’s an outcast, a lone wolf so to speak. He has no friends and honestly almost no will to live. In the film his classmates have large X’s on their faces. This is to represent Ishida’s struggle of making a connection with friends and his struggle to really look them in the eyes. But alas! He eventually does make a friend. He saves a kid named Nagatsuka from a bully trying to take his bike one morning. Ishida offers his bike instead so the guy will leave Nagatsuka alone. Of course, Ishida knows he has been ripped off and almost couldn’t care less. He just wants to see Nishimiya again. (He eventually runs into Nishimiya at a center for deaf people and asks her to be friends with him but it kinda goes off course in a way).
This new friendship with Nagatsuka ultimately leads Ishida down the path he was searching so hard for. He reconnects with Nishimiya and even forms a bound with her younger sister Yuzuru (their scenes together were done so well! I loved every minute of them). By forming this new bond with Nishimiya, Ishida then comes across many of his old classmates who (in turn) also semi-bullied Nishimiya. Ueno (I was like…this b**tch the entire movie) was the girl who pretty much started the shunning of Nishimiya, Kawai was friends with Ueno but just sat there and laughed when Nishimiya was getting bullied, and then we have Mashiba who hates people that bully other people but didn’t meet Ishida until they were in high school. (Mashiba didn’t have anything to do with everyone when they were kids but was involved in everyone’s drama because he wanted to be friends with the older Ishida). Sahara comes back into the group but she realizes that she is a coward.
We learn that Ueno had always hated Nishimiya (and she states that she always will in the movie), Kawai is conceited and only cares about herself, Sahara was always scared so she ran away from her problems, Mashiba was the outsider trying to stick his nose in everyone’s business, and Nagatsuka had no idea that Ishida was a bully when he was a kid. What a intense group of young adults we have!
Ishida then feels the guilt of his bullying come crashing down on him. It is an overwhelming vice that haunts him day in and day out. Over their summer holiday Ishida tries to make things work with Nishimiya but you can tell something is off. (I knew something bad was going to happen. There were red flags all over the damn place!)
I don’t want to spoil the end of the movie so I think I am going to stop there. The ending of the movie was not what I was expecting. I can at least tell you that much. In a way I wanted just a little bit more. Nothing super extravagant but just a teenie tiny bit more just to give it that edge. To make it seem like the film came to a well rounded conclusion rather than leave the viewer hanging. But I guess that’s how they get you to read the manga or come up with your own ending! Ha.
Overall this anime film (while I was anticipating something a bit different) was pretty much FLAWLESS! I enjoyed watching it from start to end. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears at certain moments. It really hits you hard in the gut. I am so proud that this film dug into tough subjects/topics. These are topics you don’t get to see done very often in anime. We usually get the same cliche bull crap every time we throw on a new show/series. I want to see more movies like Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice)! Make me proud anime studios! Show me what you’ve got. I know you’re holding out on us 😛
Other Anime’s Like Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice):
Your Lie in April
Hotarubi no Mori e
The Anthem of the Heart
Kimi no ni Wa (Your Name)
Disclaimer: All imagery and photos come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them. If I find any links I will always post them (this usually entails fan art or any other work affiliated with an artist).