A Silent Voice (Koe no Kotachi) tells the story of a boy, Ishida Shouya, trying to redeem himself and make up for spending his childhood days bullying a girl, Nishimiya Shouko, because she is deaf. Nishimiya’s deafness is a big centre point of the film and is the source of Nishimiya’s hardship.
This film has been the highest awaited film to be released this year for me as I am a huge fan of the source Manga that this film is based on. As such I wanted to be as critical as I could about this films adaption, but it was hard for me to find anything that I would consider a major fault. Given that the screenwriters had to condense a 7 volume manga into a 2 hour film its inevitable that there would be some changes. I must give them a pat on the back for pulling it off with a good, faithful adaption.
I will make this point now, I love this movie and think that it was a good adaption of the Manga. Now given the choice out of bad new or good new I like to go with bad first, that way we can end on a high note.
Wait what? There’s something bad about this movie?
So what did I find bad about this film? Well for starters, they left out a lot of story points from the Manga, though this was purely just because of time limitations. In the interest of saving time the screenwriters decided to just focus on telling us Shouya and Nishimiya’s story. This is fine because they are the main characters and the focus of the story, but this did lead to some scenes about the other characters having less impact and being less meaningful. This is best seen in any moment where we get to see the interactions of Nishimiya’s family, particularly her mother.
Shouya and Nishimiya’s childhood
The other fault I have to give to the film is its presentation of Shouya’s elementary school days. While overall there is nothing wrong with it, I just felt that it jumped around a lot which made it a little difficult to follow the passing of time. Now again my only dislikes about this film have to do with the fact that it was confined to a 2 hour time limit, so compromises needed to be made to fit the whole story in. But in my eyes, it was important for the story to properly show you how Shouya used to treat Nishimiya when they were kids because she was deaf, so that the rest of the story moments between them and their growing friendship have more weight and meaning.
Great, we’re done with the bad stuff, now we can get onto what makes this film awesome.
I have briefly mentioned it before but A Silent Voice is about Shouya and Nishimiya’s growing friendship, which I absolutely love. In a lot of films I’ve watched where a guy and a girl have a growing friendship, the writers like to further develop that into love. A Silent Voice doesn’t do that, while it is shown that Nishimiya does develop feelings for Shouya it isn’t focused on and is even interrupted by Nishimiya’s growing self-hatred due to being deaf.
A Silent Voice is an emotional ride from start to end and I loved every moment of it. From the beginning when you hate Shouya as a kid for bullying Nishimiya just because she’s deaf, to the end where you love both Shouya and Nishimiya and just want them to be happy. There are ups and downs, Shouya going from hating himself to slowly enjoying time with his new friends. Nishimiya staying positive but slowly falling to self-hatred, feeling that everything bad that happens is her fault. But what is most important is that Shouya and Nishimiya are there to pick each other back up when they need it.
Art from the manga (left) and movie (right)
I haven’t even touched on the art for this film yet, but at let me tell you, this a beautiful film. I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear that Kyoto Animation was the studio making A Silent Voice. I have mentioned them before in one of my previous reviews but I’ll reiterate. Kyoto Animation have an outstanding track record for producing some of the most visually pleasing experiences in anime. Because of this there were some scenes in the movie that had a far greater impact than what you get in the Manga. Speaking of the Manga, I am pleased to see that they kept the likeness of the characters and the art style from the manga. Especially the fact that they kept the crosses over peoples faces that Shouya didn’t want to face, which was a creative decision by the original creator to display Shouya’s frame of mind towards the people around him.
A particularly favourite scene of mine was towards the end of the film. While it was suspenseful and shocking in the manga, the added effect of stunning visuals, the music and the talented voice acting filled this scene with so much more emotion. Even though I knew what was coming I was still felling tense sitting in my chair.
A beautiful face, but shit is about to go down.
Actually, speaking of talented voice acting, can I just mention the fact that they cast Saori Hayami, my favourite Japanese voice actress to play Nishimiya, who barely speaks and when she does its near impossible to understand. Fun fact, speaking properly is very hard when your deaf. It almost felt like a waste of her incredible voice. But when I thought about it, I wouldn’t have recognised it was her voice if I didn’t already know beforehand. That’s not a bad thing, that’s actually very good because I feel that she pulled off how a deaf person speaks very well.
Alright let’s bring this all to a close. As I stated before, I love this film, I think they did a fantastic job with it. It is a very good adaptation of the manga because it isn’t the same as the manga, hence the word adaptation. They did make some changes but overall it was still a very well make film. I would happily recommend this film if you are a fan of character dramas. Go watch it while you still can; anime films tend to not last long in cinemas outside of Japan. If you miss seeing the film why not give the manga a read, both are very good and worth your time.
If you have a premium subscription to Crunchyroll you can read the manga online here.