A Silent Voice Movie Review: Almost Nailed It

Overview:

I doubt there are many who haven’t heard of this one. Lucky for me, AnimeLab added it for just one week which gave me a chance to see this much talked about film. Focusing on Ishida, a teenager who in primary school bullied Nishimiya who was deaf and later found himself the target of bullying, the story looks at his life as he tries to find a way to live with himself or to atone for his past acts.

Review:

There was no going into this movie blind. The sheer number of reviews and articles about this anime that have been flung about the internet made that an impossibility. The fact that so many of those were positive set the bar for this movie incredibly high particularly in how it was going to depict disability and bullying. And for the most part, the movie delivers on these aspects phenomenally well. At least, it delivers a recognisable form of both the struggle with hearing impairment and the social aspects of school and life that sometimes fall apart by people not really thinking through their actions.

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The movie is also beautifully constructed. Scenery is almost always flawless and the characters are distinct enough while still mostly being fairly generic school students. The use of the purple crosses to demonstrate Ishida’s disconnect from others and his social isolation was integrated well and used with consistency and purpose. All and all, it is a well put together movie from a visual point of view.

Even though many of the characters are unlikable, that isn’t a drawback to this film. For the most part they are supposed to be. They show us the selfish nature people have and how, even when their actions harms others, they still choose the path that gives them the most satisfaction. Even Nishimiya doesn’t come off as the saint being bullied and abandoned. Her flaws as a character are on display giving us a rare look at bullying that doesn’t paint an innocent victim but presents a situation that no one really likes but no one really knows how to stop or feels really compelled to act differently. Even when the bullying is exposed in primary school, all that does for most of the class is shift the target to Ishida and later on claim innocence.

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And with that in mind, this isn’t exactly a relaxing viewing experience. Despite the soft pastel colour scheme, this movie is hitting hard at social issues and it isn’t point the finger at one cause or perpetrator but rather is painting the entire social construct as complicit with allowing such situations to exist and to continue. Victim, perpetrator, by-stander, parent, teacher, school… everyone is shown to have contributed to the situation and the solution in the 6th grade is no solution as all of these characters are still carrying around the weight of the events many years later which ultimately lead the two characters at the centre of the story to the understanding that they hate themselves.

Ishida attempts suicide at the very start of the movie and it is only after that, and the confrontation by his mother and a rather dramatic (if slightly stupid) burning of some money, that he begins his journey toward looking for atonement or even just a reason to continue living. And he seeks this out by meeting with Nishimiya, who understandably has a fairly mixed reaction to seeing the face of the boy who bullied her so mercilessly again. Despite the progress made throughout the story and the other characters who also come on-board to deal with their own baggage, Nishimiya ultimately also tries to take her own life.

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It is a dramatic story and one that hits hard. It brings the consequences of seemingly ‘innocent’ actions to the forefront and makes you think through the reality that other people might be living due to your words and behaviours. And if the movie had ended on that note I would actually claim this movie was an absolute masterpiece.

And yet, the story continues and leads us by the hand through a redemption sequence and ultimately tries to set up a happily ever after which might make people feel better about what they just watched but kind of shoots the film’s powerful messages and early statements in the foot. While it is lovely these characters get a happy ending, kind of, the far more powerful story is ultimately down-played because of it. While I don’t actually think the suicide should have been successful, leaving us wondering what happened next or seeing just the immediate fall out of the incident where the characters finally feel the full weight of their actions, would have been a much more powerful ending.

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Still, it is a minor criticism and the movie still packs quite a punch. I’m really glad I had the chance to see it and if you haven’t seen it yet, I certainly recommend checking it out.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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23 thoughts on “A Silent Voice Movie Review: Almost Nailed It

  1. I saw it last night and I was struck with the spellbinding animation and a powerful tackle on the social issues and the perpetrator-victim relationship and how one’s flaws and aggressiveness instantly facilitate the others’ coming to the surface. A truly powerful film, and your review is truly interesting. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t like the movie that much. I came across Silent Voice through the manga and let me explain you what I think it’s the worst part of the movie… It’s pace! (I know, I know, it’s a movie, it’s impossible to have the pace as a movie, but let me explain).
    Your Voices was one of the few mangas that really made me cry! The characters are extremely well constructed and the pace to the saddest moments really kicks you in, more than that, you have the time when the main character is on the hospital in a coma after saving Nishimia which in the manga seems to be forever, while in the movies seems to be way faster for him to wake up.
    Other thing is, in the manga you do have then the reconciliation, I mean when someone tries to kill itself and you have a dear friend at the hospital in a coma in a death or life situation, well those kind of things change people, the thing is in the manga more than seeing you really have the time to feel the characters change and more than that, it’s not they end up happy ever after, they end up as group of friends, sure, but you know that there will be times they will disagree again, the thing is, they were able to accept their flaws as normally close friends do.
    So, yeah I was not really fond of the move (I am biased of course), I didn’t even feel sad or anything with what was happening and I was looking at my best friend reactions throughout the movie and I could see she was also not getting into the characters to the point that if they died she would be upset because of that.
    This way, I think the movie fails giving you the main thing that the story is supposed to give you and thatthe manga delivers preety well. I think this one should have been adapted to an Anime so people would have more time to start falling for the characters and that the creators had a better opportunity to control the pace and deliver the same feeling that the manga was able to transmit! πŸ™‚
    Sorry for the long post, but I needed to take this out of my chest >.< Great review by the way! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kind of liked that this one was a movie. If this had gone on a bit longer and particularly if I was watching it week to week, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it very much. But still, there would be advantages to having that longer run time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always forget that normally people watch anime one weekly episode at the time! Since I always watch it when the Anime is complete I have my own pace so I was thinking of binge watching the Anime in a seat xD

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I also agree that if the suicide is successful, it would be a powerful ending. Yet, I don’t want to feel what I felt watching Orange, regret. I like happy endings after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even if the suicide wasn’t successful, if the movie had ended with the immediate aftermath of shock and realisation from the other characters an just left it there the message would have come through loud and clear.
      I know people as a rule do prefer happy endings but I just felt this one undermined the earlier strength of it message by continuing on to set one up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I probably would have preferred a bit more time myself before tackling this one, however as it was only going to be available for the week I kind of had to dive in. For what it is worth, the hype probably isn’t too overblown.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As you know I have unfortunately experienced a lot of bullying in my past, and as such this is probably going to be a film that is going to hit very close to home to me personally. That said, I really want to see it. It’s (of course…duhhhh) not available for me at this time. But like Your Name it’s one that is high on my list to watch as soon as I can. I really loved your review for it. Sometimes it’s better to not have a happy ending when it negates (or at least partially) the things that came before it. That said, for a subject like this, for me personally I don’t mind that happy ending.😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the audience definitely chooses how they perceive aspects of this film and depending on your own personal experiences you may connect more with it or not. Hopefully this, and Your Name, and all those other titles on your watch list, become available to you at some point soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It is an amazing movie. I recommend that you read the manga because a big part of the story was left out when it was adapted to a movie which to be honest is unavoidable. It’s a plot thread which develops and explains some characters who appear in the movie, as well as furthering the theme that people can change, and it makes the ending better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll be honest and admit I probably won’t track the manga down for this one. It ultimately isn’t my kind of story so while I appreciated it while watching, I’m not really looking for a second dive into this.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome review.
    I’m surprised you didn’t run this movie through the ground of criticism, haha!
    Glaring issues with this movie seem to be much more personal than generalized. Many people said it didn’t do the manga justice; some say it’s crap because it didn’t make them cry.

    …and then there is that one silly person who wouldn’t stop comparing it to Kimi no Na Wa.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As much as this movie doesn’t really suit my personal tastes, and as much as I wish the ending had gone a bit differently, there’s plenty of good reasons to recommend this one. Like everything, it won’t suit everyone, but it is a pretty solid film.

      Liked by 1 person

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