A Silent Voice (2016)

This is part of What I’m Watching.

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Your Name set me on the path for highly-emotional, heart-tugging anime. A Silent Voice (also translated The Shape of Voice) has had some buzz surrounding it1  and I’ve been waiting excitedly for it to become available. The story follows Ishida, an isolated and (at least briefly) suicidal teenager who is weighed down by remorse for his past bullying of former deaf classmate Nishimiya. His bullying eventually resulted in her transferring schools, leading Ishida’s friends and classmates to ostracize him despite their own participation in the bullying. In an effort to atone, he meets Nishimiya again and offers friendship. This sets them down a path of redemption, exploring themes of loneliness, bullying, friendship, forgiveness, suicide, and the deep-seated need for human connection.

I relish the way many anime enhance (exaggerate?) displays of human emotion. Even more so, I love the way I can be captivated by the most mundane aspects of everyday life and the small moments that build relationships. While there is a slightly romantic vibe in A Silent Voice between Ishida and Nishimiya, that’s not the focus (even though the trailer below makes it look like a teenage romance). At the beginning of the film, Ishida is shown blocking out the faces and voices of others, portrayed through the visible “X”s over people’s faces and the symbolic gesture of covering his ears.

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The film is less about romance and more about the healing between people and allowing oneself to become vulnerable enough to truly see and hear others. While it’s a tad too long and some of the characters remained underdeveloped, I found A Silent Voice incredibly moving. I was a blubbering mess by the end. Definitely worth checking out.