A Silent Voice is a beautifully animated, incredibly well-written piece showcasing a captivating story of friendship, consequences, and forgiveness. It holds no punches, tries to poke holes in the veil of perfection, and makes you face parts of reality you’d rather not. It was kinda overshadowed by the Your Name duo for these possible reasons: they came out in the same year and the dark theme A Silent Voice tackled in contrast to the never seen before theming of Your name constructed a bridge between the viewers and the movie.
‘A Silent Voice’ takes great care in dealing with deeper issues that are pervasive throughout society today, following Shoya Ishida and his involvement with his classmate Shouko Nishimiya, a young girl who happens to be deaf and had trouble speaking. As she is different Ishida and his classmates bully and harass her horribly through elementary school finally forcing her to switch schools.
A Silent Voice is tormenting to the point where you might want to question your life, however, just like life it was rewarding when you make it out to the other half.
The story begins with a melancholic look with Shoya undergoing some ending preparations before standing atop of a bridge ready to fall as he was singled out, blamed for what happened and his friends, who helped him torment Nishimiya, suddenly turned on him, ostracize him and he became the victim of bullying he once practiced. Hence, Ishida decided to withdraw inside himself. But, with burning fireworks he is reminded of his carefree childhood puts these ideas of suicide to hold.
Bulling, here in ‘A Silent Voice’ movie, works with characters demonstrating the power of bystander effects, diffusion of responsibility, and cognitive dissonance, involving entire classrooms against a single student as well as apathetic teachers. When one must act, watching others around, they do nothing. This leads to horrible instances.
But the core is forgiveness, forgiving those who have wronged you especially if you can’t understand them. Forgiving someone is a hard thing to do, unlike how most anime hold it either as a weapon of revenge or immediate let-off, neither of them is true to life though. But, this movie pictures forgiveness practically.
One day after this bridge incident, Ishida runs into Nishimiya and makes it his mission to atone for his past and acts of cruelty. What Ishida is seeking from Nishimiya is not for her to excuse his past actions but to recognize that he is a changed person and not hate him for what he has done in the past. Ishida exhibits signs of learned helplessness he was able to understand Shouko when he underwent the same treatment; this triggered a completely different Ishida who has learned to forgive.
As for Shouko, she never blamed anyone. She took herself as a burden and believed what they did was justified. She directed all the blames towards herself, this becomes evident when she climbed atop her balcony and tried to end this burden. But her interaction with Ishida made her see that she is not useless and not a burden and then only she was able to forgive Ishida.
Moreover, one more part where it hits really hard is the communication problem, how disability can cynically affect one’s dignity impelling the person to go remote from people around them. A Silent Voice is a masterpiece flushing out complex issues of depression, bullying, and what it means to love oneself.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I implore you to do so, it’s on Netflix right now.