Following the resounding success of Your Name, British viewers have been treated with again with another cinematic release of a Japanese animation. The film has got a limited run and a select few cinemas, so may be under the radar to some folk. A Silent Voice is the story of a boy, who as a kid, bullied a fellow student, who now looks to make amends for his actions.
Based on the manga of the same name, the plot focuses on Shoya Ishida, a young boy in elementary school, who along with his friends doesn’t take too kindly to the new transfer student, Shoko Nishimiya. Shoko happens to be deaf, which makes her a target of practical jokes and bullying from Shoya and several others. It all gets too much for Shoko, and her parents take her out the school, leaving Shoya to feel the brunt of his schoolmates as they ostracize him from their group and the entire school.
Fast forward a couple of years and Shoya is on the on edge with suicidal tendencies, and it’s not until a chance meeting with Shoko, that he realises that they are both alone due to their circumstances, and he needs to atone for his part in what happened in the past.
On the face of things, this is another high school teen love story, but there are several other aspects that the movie manages to deal with, such as depression, bullying, disabilities, social anxiety and suicide. The film deals with these very well, especially with the addition of crosses across the faces of everyone Shoya does not feel comfortable talking it. As he gets more confident, and more mature, the crosses gradually drop off, a fine way to display such an issue.
It’s the relationship between our two that keeps the movie together, as both our protagonist struggle to explain their feelings for one another, and the lengths that Shoya goes to, in order to apologise for what he had done, felt right. Though Shoko has to live with a disability, her progress to accepting her hearing aids rather than hiding them is something that is captured well, as is her struggle to get across her true feelings which are hampered by her speech impediment and their obvious difficulties in communicating.
The supporting cast are a mixed bag, Nagatsuka, the first real friend Shoya makes in a long time is great comic relief, and is someone the audience can really warm towards. Whereas the others, don’t really have much to add. Yuzuru, Shoko’s overprotective little sister is good fun, and has her own personal trials, but the rest, of the clan, are pretty one dimensional. A run time of 2 hours is massively bloated, and the pacing is rather slow at times. Which does make the film feel like it is dragging along to a conclusion most can pretty much assume.
As always, with these high budget animations, the film is simply wonderful to watch, any scene involving trees, water and cherry blossoms are done so well, and credit must be given to the animation team for putting out such wonderful work.
For some people, the film may feel it’s going on for a while. But the various aspects of life that the movie deals with combined with a compelling relationship. Makes A Silent Voice an impressive feat. The film may be difficult to find at a local cinema, but if you can, it’s most certainly worth a viewing!