Spirited Away, The Secret World of Arrietty, Mary and The Witch’s Flower. Anime feature films, shorts and everything in-between have recently become more popular within western mainstream media. Although when speaking about these types of films, Studio Ghibli is most likely the first name that comes to mind, there’s so many more notable films to be aware of. A Silent Voice is one such beauty. Head by popular female anime director Naoko Yamada, the 2016 animated feature is a stunning coming of age film that takes an intimate look at the lives of young people as they navigate through emotional life changes.
A Silent Voice skips the fantastical plot lines, melodrama and predictable hero’s journey that have become synonymous with anime. The film takes a refreshing more vulnerable approach, touching on important subjects like bullying, social anxiety, self hatred, suicide and more. Following two characters from childhood to adolescence, Shôya Ishida is the popular kid and bully, and Shoko Nishimiya is the new girl in his class with hearing disabilities who is the target of Shôya’s bullying.
Having been adapted from the manga Koe No Katachi, A Silent Voice handles the pacing of the story line perfectly. Each character serves a purpose to push the story along nicely. The cinematography and framing in this anime is also breathtaking.
The viewer easily able to grasp onto a characters emotions without dialogue, through the films choice in music, beautiful frames and odd camera angles.
One might assume the storyline would mostly follow Shoko, showing how she deals with being bullied and overcoming her fears. However we instead see both characters development throughout the narrative, but especially Shoya. How he goes from popularity to outcast, and grows into a reclusive individual. We follow his journey of redemption in how he deals with the aftermath of his past actions, while simultaneously following Shoko’s story of how the past has moulded her into the individual she is now.
A Silent Voice is refreshing, honest and packed with emotion!
No scene is wasted on dull moments that don’t add to the storyline. And whats more, we aren’t forced to watch a love arch between the two leads. The film becomes even more jarring with characters faces literally having an X placed on it, forcing the viewer to feel the lack of connection between individuals.
With its spectacular visuals, A Silent Voice is not a film that will soon be forgotten. From start to finish it commands attention with its framing and beautiful soundtrack. You don’t have to be a fan of anime to appreciate this movie. I give this film 5/5 stars. Theres more to anime than Studio Ghibli and Dragon Ball Z. Check out the film on Netflix while its still there!