If you are wondering, ‘Is this another Japanese movie?’, indeed, it is. Recently, there has been a spark in the anime — also known as Japanese animation — industry. More of these films are starting to play on the big screen, especially in Singapore! One of them was the touching and heartfelt movie — Koe no Katachi (the English title being “A Silent Voice”.)
Ishida Shouya — a young boy with an outgoing personality — meets Nishimiya Shouko, a deaf girl. Nishimiya transferred to Shouya elementary school in her final year, meaning there was a need to make new friends. Her classmates were really fascinated about her situation, having never been friends with a ‘deaf girl’. Nishimiya uses a notebook to communicate with her classmates and they help her through writing notes in class. However soon enough, due to frustration and troubles communicating, Nishimiya is isolated and bullied. Shouya takes part in this too, being an impressionable and mischievous juvenile. When Nishimiya’s mother realises that her daughter is being bullied, Shouya is turned into a scapegoat. The class turns against him, giving him the blame and turning him from ‘bully’ to ‘bullied’. Shouya is now a teenager and is finding his way through life. He decides to try to repay his ‘debts’ from the incident in elementary school in a final effort to make sense of purpose and living. Not before encountering Nishimiya again. Will he be able to make amends?
Well, whether he made up for his wrongdoings is left for you to find out and decide! This curiosity was one of the factors pushing me to catch the movie when it came out in Singapore. There are many other factors too. This movie touches on very heavy subjects like disabilities, bullying and ending one’s life. However, it does so in a touching, heartfelt manner that is sure to give you emotions ranging from laughs to tears. Shouya is a very complex character. You may detest him at first but then when you see him develop, you start pitying him. Sometimes I even questioned, who was the bigger victim because of the incident? He matures very quickly and you can’t help but notice the paralleling qualities between him and Nishimiya Shouko. Nishimiya may be deaf, but she isn’t weak. She stands up for herself and is a sweet, kind and caring girl. She’s a character you’ll love instantly. Nishimiya can be stubborn and strong-willed. However, there are moments when you can experience her loneliness and sadness first-hand which really takes her character to another level. Both characters share similarities ranging from experiences to metaphorical disabilities — some that you can only spot if you see the movie for yourself!
The most outstanding thing for me was the use of ‘voice’. As Nishimiya is deaf, she speaks through sign language instead of talking. Even though she tries her best, others couldn’t connect with her in elementary school as the bridge of communication was lost. Shouya, after being isolated himself, grows to block out what other people say. He, being tired of hearing insults and gossip,chooses to be in a way, ‘deaf’ himself. Both Nishimiya and Shouya helped each other get past the traumatic experience in a twist of events. Their troubles from friendship to family problems are all relatable and heart-wrenching, making me shed tears more than a couple of times. The symbolism was really a great factor in telling the story in one of the best ways possible.
On the whole, I enjoyed this movie so much that I could probably watch it a billion times! The animation was great in terms of quality, the plot and storyline was so real and touching and the character development was spectacular. The relatability of this film is one of its most outstanding features, one that sets it above the rest. It may no longer be in the cinemas, but do catch it when it comes out on DVD or blu ray. This catch is definitely worth a shot!