Good evening guys! Tulcadhiel signing in and today I am bringing you my review of A Silent Voice directed by Naoko Yamada, a movie adaption of the Manga under the same name by Yoshitoki Ōima.
As a note I would like readers to know I have limited knowledge of the original Manga series this movie was adapted from although I am aware there are some changes from the original material (even if I wouldn’t be able to point them out to you).
Warning: Potential Spoilers
A Silent Voice is a story about a teenager called Shoya Ishida, a suicidal, social outcast who is looking to make amends with a deaf girl, named Shoko, whom he bullied during his youth. Will Shoko be able to forgive Shoya for his past mistakes and will Shoya ever be able to get over his trauma?
I found out about this movie by seeing videos uploaded by some of the my favourite anime reviewers on YouTube. When I heard the story discussed aspects of bullying, self-induced trauma and featured a deaf character as one of the leads, I knew this was a movie I had to give a shot.
Shoya Ishida is voiced by Miyu Irino and Mayu Matsuoka (elder and younger versions respectively). Shoya is the main character of the entire story so he had to stand out and take centre stage. The voice actors were perfect for this character! Miyu Irino was great in bringing across the soft, nervous tone to Shoya that was needed to present him correctly. I especially love how Irino was able to express the characters joy, even when hesitant and unsure. And let’s not forget Matsuoka who gave a great performance of a bored, confused but ultimately cruel child. It’s important to note that Shoya honestly didn’t understand what he was doing to Shoko was wrong until he had a reality check and everyone deserted him, so Matsuoka’s cheerful, class-clown vocals was perfect for him.
Shoko Nishiyama was voiced by Saori Hayami and unfortunately, this actress didn’t get a lot of chances to use her voice. As Shoko is deaf her speech is not perfect and comes across as slurred, however credit where credits due, Hayami really brought emotion and depth to Shoko in the few instances she does speak. There’s a especially hard to watch seen where Shoko tries to speech throughout a whole conversation with Shoya, crying and spluttering, just in an attempt to seem normal. It’s clear that Hayami gave everything she could for this character when given the opportunity.
I feel the rest of the cast we’re appropriately selected for their roles. However anime and manga rely on the visuals to express the characters, meaning none of the actors got a real chance to act aside from using their voice. Don’t get me wrong, the voice acting is superb and I doubt it’s an easy job but I really feel like this movie could of used some more harsh elements, like perhaps uglier visuals at times or distorted imagery, just to get the characters pain and troubles to reach a new level and resonate better with the viewer. But I’ll go more in depth on the visuals later on.
As an anime, this movie knows exactly where to place a character in a scene to the best effect. Additionally, there are several shots in this movie that are utilised perfectly to present a mood, whether uncomfortable, unsure, panicked, pained or content.
However, I can honestly say the cinematography and angles used within this movie-adaption are expected norms for an anime. Again, anime is designed to be effective in the best way possible and if that means characters can be shuffled and moved to make the most visually appealing image, it shall be done!
Moving on, this movie has an simple but effective selection of environments it uses to make this story effective. The most important locations I would say are the primary school where Shoya and Shoko first met, the Nishiyama’s home and the Koi bridge.
The movie is very good a making the viewer feel familiar with the environments. The primary school feels big and daunting yet cosy on the inside. At times, the setting feels isolated and harsh and the movie is great at shifting from one to another. The Nishiyama’s home is a realistic which has a lot of power within this movie. It feels like a restricted place, like the viewer and Shoya shouldn’t be there.
The Koi bridge is a beautiful location that the movie continues to periodically return to and sometimes, not for a good reason. Sometimes Shoya and Shoko are signing to one another, another time it’s another characters place were they can cry. However, the Koi bridge continued to feel grand, beautiful and peaceful, despite whatever event occurred there.
This movie looks great. The visuals are smooth and clear, the characters are all easily recognisable and not too artistically extreme, the environments are stunning when needed and mundane when not, hell, even the background characters have decent designs where the viewer can actually tell their different people, which is a rarity in most anime.
A fun visual played throughout most of the movie is these weird ‘X’ shapes across most characters faces. As the movie is shown through the perspective of Shoya, an outcast who doesn’t speak to anyone in his school and doesn’t know them, the ‘X’ signifies them as being unknown. Someone Shoya doesn’t know. As the movie progresses people around Shoya lose their ‘X’ and even during some scenes you can actually see how the individual speaking with our main lead causes them to develop a relationship, whether friends or just repairing old bridges.
The music and audio used in this movie is great. The power this movie gives to the characters voices is definitely used to it’s full potential and the few times where music is used, its not too jarring or off-putting, although I must confess the use of My Generation by The Who early on did make me jump a little.
The Final Verdict:
Overall this is a good movie! If you’re expecting a beautiful, loving romance you will be disappointed but if you’re looking for a story that goes into the effects of bullying and how to re-build bridges and overcome personal obstacles, this is the movie for you. There’s a lot of character growth and this is the perfect movie for anyone looking for something sad yet uplifting and hopeful.
So this is the first anime review I’ve done. It’s quite hard to review something based so highly on visuals, but I tried my best. Next week I’ll be posting my teaser for this months theme ‘Revolution’ but until then, hang tight! Ja matane!