Those of you that have been following me for a while now, and know me a little, probably recall the fact that I mentioned at times that I have been bullied for quite a while at school when I was young. Obviously it’s a past that I don’t like to recall often, as it was a very dark time in my life. But I never really talked about the after effects, and what it meant for the present. A couple of days ago I heard on national television that this year the stats for children being bullied at school were at an alltime low. I scoffed at that. Stats? Really? I think every child that has to go through that every day is one too many. Statistics be damned. Because bullying can have long time effects. For me it has meant a low self esteem and second guessing myself. Always having doubts. Like when someone doesn’t answer a text I sent. (Maybe I said something wrong and the person doesn’t like me anymore? Which obviously usually isn’t the case). But even worse is probably the fact that I have trouble connecting with people at times in real life. Especially when it comes to maybe falling in love. (Because really can someone fall in love with me?) All these dark thoughts aside….I have made progress over the years. Which is a good thing.
At one point I was just done with it all. The self pity, or the fact that people might not like me. I began to think more along the lines of when people don’t like me, it’s their loss. And that certainly helped. While I will never fully lose those feelings, I do think it get’s better over time. But this all goes to show what bullying can really do to someone, and that the bullies themselves probably don’t even realise this (or couldn’t care less). The movie A Silent Voice deals with bullying, but it does this in a different way then one might expect. Shōya Ishida is a young and popular boy in his class which also means that a lot of the other children listen to what he has to say. One day a new girl called Shōko Nishimiya is introduced to the class. Well, she has to introduce herself but does this in a very unusual way. She pulls out a notepad, begins to write in it and then shows it to the classroom. It says that in order to get to know her, people can use the notepad. You see, Shōko is deaf. The class at first doesn’t really know how to deal with it. After a few days though, Shōya begins to set the tone, and starts to terrorise the poor girl. Even going so far as pulling out her hearing aids. Yeah…he is a real tough guy.
But when the principal eventually gets word of this and begins to ask questions about who is responsible, the rest of the class pulls away from Shōya. In fact the tables are turned and his classmates begin to bully him. Shōko eventually leaves the school, getting a transfer, and life moves on. Years later though Shōya begins to feel remorse. His own life is not really going well, and he decides to try and find out what has become of the the girl whose life he made miserable. But is she really willing to forgive him? Or an even better question would be should she even forgive him? I’m not going to lie here, A Silent Voice is not a happy go lucky film. It deals with a lot of things that might trigger unwanted feelings in quite a number of people. Heavy themes such as bullying and suicide all feature prominently in this movie. But it’s also a film that gives hope. There is a line in this anime that says even monsters have a heart. While I’m not so sure if that’s true for every monster, I’m definitely convinced that it’s true in a lot of cases. While there might certainly be children that bully simply because they enjoy it, there is usually more going on.
What I loved about this film is the fact that it shows that people can really change. When you first meet Shōya you begin to develop intense feelings of hate towards him. Especially because of the fact that the object of his reign of terror is one of the most innocent and sweet girls one is likely to meet. But as the movie progresses this changes. You really begin to believe the fact that the boy, now a young man, has changed, and really attempts to make the best of his earlier mistakes. It also helps when you see what has become of Shōya‘s own life. He has trouble talking to people (Which is represented by people having large X’s on their faces. Something I thought was really unique and clever). And his life really isn’t all that great either. Yes one could argue he had it coming. But without giving too much away, you will also see that friendship can sometimes come from the most unlikeliest places. And that’s where the hope lies within this film. It really emphasises how important friendship truly is. Certain people in your life can give you confidence, and I’m glad to say I have those in mine.
A Silent Voice also has a great animation style. It might not appeal to everyone, and it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen, but I really liked the way the characters were designed, and the way all the backgrounds blended together with these. This movie clocks in at a little over two hours, and I think my only gripe with it is that it might have been slightly too long. There were a few points in the film, where my attention started to waver. But, these moments were never very long, and certainly didn’t spoil the film in any way. This is simply one of those films that I think is very powerful, and deals with a pretty heavy subject matter in a beautiful way. It contains some very likeable characters, an amazing storyline, and ultimately ends up giving hope to people that have been on the receiving end of these kinds of experiences. At times it might make you a little melancholy, but when the credits start to role you will have a film to look back upon that you will be glad to have seen.
I give A Silent Voice a 9 out of 10 score.