A Silent Voice

In which one writer waxes lyrical about A Silent Voice, before coming to terms with his weebness.

Bullying is bad, friendship is great, and I’m pretty sure anime falls somewhere in between.

A tragic tale of isolation, insecurity and guilt, wrapped around the typically far-fetched framework & OTT hijinks of an anime production. Don’t let that put you off, there’s real heart here. Not least from the film’s deaf deuteragonist Nishimiya, whose unwavering sweet temperament in the face of so much contempt from her peers is endlessly endearing. Her counterpart, Ishida starts off on far more rocky ground. It is to the film’s immense credit that we’re able to see him as anything other than the irredeemable asshole (let alone an empathetic hero-type).

A Silent Voice deals with bullying in a way that ought to strike a powerful chord with anyone who’s fallen prey to it in the past – whether they were a victim, bystander or indeed the tormentor-in-chief themselves. It attempts to analyse a bully’s psyche (in a way that’s mostly coherent) – shining a light on the warped insecurities that drive them, and showcasing how they’re often victims themselves in life’s vicious cycle. It counters the darker aspects of its subject matter through a hopeful exploration of friendship – fleshing out supporting characters to help them form meaningful, authentic bonds with the two leads.

At least, that’s its intention. In reality it’s only semi-successful in its attempts to add depth. Where certain characters, like Yuzuru, are able to flourish with their allotted screentime, others (such as the wonderfully entertaining comic relief Nagatsuka) feel more subservient to the plot or protagonists. I understand this was adapted from a longer manga series, and that shows in its attempts to patiently flesh out its central themes – only to come out somehow feeling simultaneously rushed and pedestrian. Some of the character motivations can feel a little confusing, and you have to wonder if maybe this would’ve been better suited to a mini-series format.

After the delightful surprise that was Your Name, this is now the second anime feature I’ve seen in theatres – and the big screen really does do this stunning brand of animation justice. The bright colours pop and the visual artistry on display is enough to keep you absorbed in all the spectacle – even when the story meanders.

Random Thoughts

Oh shit guys, I think I’m a weeb.


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