Remember when there was a time where the entire just seemed like pitch black? There comes a point in our lives where we tend to regret everything we did or we could have done in the past, and it takes a toll on both our mind and spirit. As humans, we have different emotions that come out in different situations and sometimes we can’t control them or the emotions control us instead, it makes us do something that we should have thought twice before doing, and later in life, we look back on those actions and everything piles up and becomes a heavy burden for you to carry. They say that after winter in Japan, Cherry Blossoms tell the snow to melt, but what if the snow melts on its own to give way to spring.
A Silent Voice perfectly captures how the human heart works. It does not need fancy events such as a giant robot attacking earth or magic, but uses its simple and realistic story to touch the human soul and make the viewers literally stay quiet for the entirety of the movie as their attention and heart are being chained in the world of A Silent Voice.
The anime Japanese film was directed by Naoko Yamada who also worked on series such as K-On!, Liz and the Blue Bird, and the Tamako Market anime series with Kyoto Animation. It aired on September 17, 2016, only a few months after Your Name, and has been one of the most captivating films in the anime industry. You could say that the year 2016 was the year where anime films started to rise and prove themselves to many anime fans.
The movie’s plot is centered around Shouya Ishida, a former bully who is now isolated and is trying his best to come to terms with his past and rebuild his relationship with Shouko Nishimiya, a deaf girl who he bullied when they were in Grade School. As he takes one step at a time to find the right way to correct everything he regrets, he always looks down on the floor not listening to the world around him.
A Silent Voice’s story writing applies sensitive topics such as bullying, suicide, and disabilities but it uses it in a way that is appropriate and contributes to the story and character development. Because they use those sensitive issues, the film takes on a more realistic atmosphere and might make some viewers feel offended or in most cases make them relate to the characters and the movie itself. A Silent Voice is centered around all these events that happen in real life. It then pushes the viewer to give empathy to the characters even Ishida who was a massive bully. The ending was, unfortunately, a bit rushed and would have been better if they slowly opened Ishida to those around him step by step instead of making him realize everything in one scene as it makes for a more subtle approach.
The character’s while some of them did seem a bit bland especially Satoshi Mashiba who had no purpose whatsoever were very well written. Character’s such as Ishida and Nishimiya had great character-to-viewer interactions which means that they project their emotions to the watcher and they start feeling the same as well. There is also great character development involved as the characters change not because of events caused by their environment but characters have realizations due to their actions and the actions of the other characters they interact with. One thing that makes the movie stand out is because the plot progression is driven by the characters themselves. The movie does not push the characters to move forward in each situation but characters themselves create events through their actions that push the story forward. There were no scenes where there was suddenly a calamity and the characters had to accept each other in order to survive and that makes them more relatable because the atmosphere of the film feels more realistic.
In terms of art, the movie stayed true to the character design and art style of the original source material which was the manga. The animation quality is only second to that of Makoto Shinkai film but it definitely had the Kyoto Animation fingerprint in it especially in the character’s faces. The fireworks scene had displayed amazing use of lights and the water animation showed that they focused on the detail and clarity of the environment.
The voice acting was familiar to what the Japanese would say in their daily life as well as it the most impact in creating dramatic scenes. What’s very interesting is Shouko Nishimiya’s voice acting which was done by Saori Hayami. Considering that Nishimiya is deaf she could not pronounce words correctly and this can be a challenge to the voice actor but Saori Hayami did do an excellent job especially in how hard it is to convey emotion and get the right tone in Nishimiya’s dialogues.
In terms of music and sound production, it was done well enough that it helped in the overall feel of the film. They also did a great job in using the relaxed piano background music in certain scenes to increase the depth of the atmosphere. It had very fluid use of its official soundtrack as well. The opening theme “My Generation” by The Who and the ending theme “Koi wo Shita no wa” by aiko did what they were supposed to do.
In conclusion, A Silent Voice is not a movie for everyone especially if you have experienced the issues shown in the film. It used beautiful animation and a heart-touching story that when combined becomes the perfect clockwork that the movie is. Though it has its ups and downs, the film still captivated many viewers and has gained a reputation for making almost all that watched It cry. A Silent Voice is an anime movie that at first gives out the stinging cold wind of winter but then the snow that turns everything white slowly melts to give way to the green and vibrant warmth of spring. A Silent Voice doesn’t need fancy concepts, it sticks true to what is real and what happened or can happen in our lives. The film has a conversation with the heart and makes the viewer’s emotions bloom like cherry blossoms after winter. That is how A Silent Voice speaks, that is how Ishida and Nishimiya’s story grasped our souls.