Director: Naoko Yamada
Production: Kyoto Animation/Pony Canyon/ABC Animation/Quaras/Shochiku/Kodansha
Distributor: All the Anime
Platform: Reviewing the Blu-ray Version
Release Date: Out Now
OK, I am trying a new format here; I have less experience reviewing films than I do games or TV shows, so to try and create some structure for myself to produce more articles on films, I am testing out my new idea for a running feature: “Film in 500”, where I review films I have seen within the extent of 500 words. It may help me getting more film reviews done, as for some reason I have previously found them a bit daunting, being unsure of how specific to be when going into the story details; with this word count, I shall be tasked with being concise!
I mean, blimey, that one paragraph was around 100 words (this isn’t counting for the review)! This could be genius, or could go wrong… ah well, let’s try it, beginning with a review for A Silent Voice: The Movie! Oh, and do let me know your opinion on this set-up for film reviews. Would be very helpful to know if this works well! 🙂
In the quest through my Blu-rays, I recently viewed A Silent Voice: The Movie, a poignantly told story about events that unfold after a case of school bullying. Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami) joins a new grade school in Japan, promptly informing the class of her limited hearing. Many of the students aren’t very understanding, and Shôya Ishida (Miyu Irino) particularly bullies her – verbally and physically. He’s shockingly inconsiderate and mean-spirited. Shoko keeps putting on a smile and trying to befriend classmates, but eventually moves away to another school.
From here, we see how years pass and characters grow up. Shôya harbours guilt about his actions, and is himself now isolated and lost in high school. He seeks out Shoko to try and find resolution – not necessarily forgiveness, as that isn’t his decision, and I appreciated A Silent Voice having that level of emotional awareness. The awkward, well-intentioned reunion blossoms, despite inevitable roadblocks that occur as a consequence of the past; there’s an endearing message here about how we can change, but at the same time must be responsible for our behaviour.
It’s delicately handled storytelling that is carried through to the side characters. Other students have varying life paths and individual opinions on their involvement with the bullying; there’s an explosive scene later on, where true feelings are outed, and it’s testament to the film that it feels earned. To reiterate, however, the most powerful scenes are reserved for that dynamic of Shoko and Shôya. A Silent Voice goes to very emotional and mature places, so be prepared for tears to flow!
The animation style is slightly different to any other I have seen. It’s superbly drawn; there’s a natural, handmade appearance, with fine lines and painterly colours hitting that balance of being beautiful, but not overly extravagant. For a subtle, character-focused story, it fits very well. On the audio side are similar qualities, a focus on ambient sound allowing the excellent voice acting to be at the fore. Given the trouble Shoko has hearing, sign language is prominent, and the patiently portrayed narrative gives this expressive form of communication space to shine – it’s really engaging in such a visual medium as anime!
If I had any complaint about A Silent Voice, it’s that I felt it ended ever-so-slightly too soon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a satisfying conclusion, but it was a bit sudden, as if there could have been another scene or two to further pay off the range of character arcs. Really, though, there is no critical flaw, and I can only imagine people being put off if the premise just isn’t to their tastes.
A Silent Voice tells a touching story about how we make mistakes, and should be aware of them, but there is always room for us to improve as people and seek forgiveness. In doing so, we can help each other in unexpected ways. With fantastic character development and inherent quiet charm, A Silent Voice is an important story I highly recommend.