A Silent Voice is a new Japanese anime film by Naoko Yamada. It is based on a manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Ōima.
The film is a coming of age high school drama based around 2 high school children. One is a Shoya Ishida, who has been ostracised since the 6th grade when he used to bully the other main character, a deaf girl named, Shoko Nishimiya. He reconnects with her several years later determined to make amends for the past, which in turn leads him to reforge some of his old friendships as well. The opening of the film jumps around a little which makes it slightly hard to follow, but once it gets into the story the characters and their relationships drive it forward well.
A lot of the Japanese anime that makes it way to UK or US cinemas tends to be based more in fantasy. A Silent Voice however doesn’t have those extraordinary trappings that a lot of Western Audiences would be used to from a anime film. Instead this is a film that is far more grounded, and simply follows Shoya, Shoko, their burgeoning relationship, and their group of friends as it expands. It’s a great story about redemption, and coming to terms with who you are and making yourself better. Some of the secondary characters get a little less development, but that is probably inevitable with the need to trim a full 7-volume manga down to a 2-hour film.
The film is stunningly beautiful to watch. Some of the imagery is absolutely gorgeous. It is accompanied with a beautiful score by Kensuke Ushio, which is mostly subtle, but not afraid to explode with sound once drama hits. One of the most striking moments in music is how it opens with The Who’s Your Generation. It’s so different, but a very powerful opening to the film.
A Silent Voice is a very moving and effecting film, and well worth seeing if it is playing near you. It’s not as strong as last year’s Your Name, but proof that Japanese animated cinema is still flourishing without Studio Ghibli.