[I also have a Video review here.]
A Silent Voice is a 2017 anime drama written by Reiko Yoshida and directed by Naoko Yamada. The story revolves mainly around Shoya Ishida who after bullying Shoko Nishimiya, the new girl in class who is also deaf, until she leaves before being subjected to bullying himself which eventually results in Shoya deciding he must meet Shoko again and atone for his sins.
Note this review lightly explains what happens but in a way where the movie is still worth watching.
The movie starts off quite interesting, instead of going straight into the part of the movie where the two are younger it shows the older Shoya seemingly traveling around and what even seems like thoughts of suicide, it was a nice introduction to the artstyle as well plus the ambient sound (or music?) really fit into the mood despite not much happening.
The sudden switch to the old english music used in the intro credits was really odd though I did get used to it quickly as it was essentially to show you how him and his friends were like before the events of the movie which is seemingly a more powerful message if you’ve seen the trailer or even the description as you know in advance that he’ll screw it up.
I was surprised at how fast it introduced the characters and what happened, Shoya was already introduced in the intro credits while Shoko had an interesting scene with strange ‘music’ with barely any notes that just somehow worked. Despite the viewer only saw a few example’s of Shoya bullying Shoko (with it being over the course of 5 months story-wise) it didn’t feel rushed. It was also still enough that his inevitable betrayal and bullying was, at first, rather satisfying especially because of how innocent Shoko was and her failed attempts to become friends. Although the bigger surprise was yet to come.
The way it skipped straight to an older Shoya meeting Shoko again made it seem like it’d just jump straight into the romance with them not even showing him learning sign language but simply (and honestly effectively) hinting at it at the start of the scene. As rushed as it felt at first it was nice seeing Shoya repeating the same sign language that Shoko herself had previously tried.
However it suddenly got much darker than expected and the results of Shoya’s bullying was revealed as he walks through the school hallway, the way it focused on him with the blurring and X’s on people’s coupled with the choice of music was amazing. The way the scene ends with him covering his ears is an incredibly powerful message seemingly enhanced by certain things about the plot and really needs to be seen to be appreciated. From then on you just can’t hate on him anymore and actively hope it gets better soon. That’s not even including a certain scene which mentions suicide and the rather depressing explanation of the ripped calendar shown at the very start of the movie.
It does start getting better for him as you’d expect and in quite a clever way too, after showing a few failed attempts to see Shoko there’s a seemingly unrelated scene of random kindness which pays off in a way I didn’t see coming, I can’t explain how emotional it was when Shoya realises that he made a friend and the X falls off and slowly floats to the ground like a plaster or something. This became a chain reaction and it seemed to be going up with him the emphasis being on meeting some of the characters from the old school.
I personally liked how it was done, none of it felt too coincidental or too happy and it knew when to tone it down a little. After all not all reunions are good ones and after certain events someone even gains an X on their face. Its to be expected that it’d start going downhill again but once again in quite a good way, you honestly can’t hate on Shoya for what he said which temporarily ruined most of his friendships (except with Shoko and her sister) because you can imagine its something that’d been on his mind for quite a while. Although after some semi happy moments something totally unexpected happened and honestly it could of gone anywhere from there and made it a bittersweet ending if they had wanted to.
Luckily the outcome of the event is far better than expected (it could of gone extremely dark) with a scene between the two and eventually meeting up with his friends. However if it ended just there, we also get to see him finally take away his hands from his ears (not literally but thats what it shows) and all of a sudden the X’s fall off everyones faces at once. The feels in that scene are so powerful even Shoya starts crying and I swear the music is more complex (and has been getting more complex throughout the movie).
Overall I can definitely recommend it to anyone that likes anime drama’s and if it does get a dub I’d recommend it to more people. If I were to say there’s a message to this movie it’d be to treat people nicely considering how much his life was screwed over for bullying someone compared to the events that unfolded due to the random act of kindness.
P.S. Do note I forgot to save this the first time and had to rewrite from memory so it may be a little worse than I’d want it to be.
Amazon UK Digital rent is £4.50, Digital buy is £10, DVD is £18 and Blu-ray is £20 (not including P&P): http://amzn.to/2smEisO
Currently not available on Amazon US.