Review: A Silent Voice is Slow for a Western Audience but Worth the Time

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* Warning this story contains heavy thoughts of Suicide, Depression, and Self Harm. *

A Silent Voice is an animated film released in 2016. The main character, Shoya Ishida, stands on a bridge and is about to end his life. As he stands gleaming on top of the railing he falls, only to snap back from his mind from the cries of joy and fireworks lit by children. A reminder of his past and his mistakes as an attempt to make amends.

A Silent Voice is deeply rooted with connection and empathy. It takes on anxiety, depression, and self-hatred, morphing into something beyond fiction, making you feel more human as if you were the main character.

Shoya was a bully, he was both mentally and physically abusive to Shouko Nishimiya, whose hearing is impaired. Shouko is homeschooled while Shoya is exposed to everyone of his terrible deeds even the people who also bullied her and were friends with Shoya leave him. He becomes an outcast, talked about by everyone as bad news he’s dehumanized by it.

In the present time, Shoya hates himself. He can’t look at people’s faces as he is disgusted by himself and his past. He paints over people’s faces with crosses just to remind himself how terrible he is. It’s not until he meets Tomohiro Nagatsuka that a cross falls off showing a person’s face. He has this inch of joy away from his pain, as Shoya asks Tomohiro what friendship really is and Tomohiro says it beautifully that “Friendship is something that defies both words and reality.”

Shoya slowly lets more and more crosses fall as he feels more free making amends with everyone till it crashes. As it all tumbles down, Shoya’s past once again meets him, he blames everything on himself. He doesn’t just point out his flaws, but everyone else besides Shouko and her sister. It is cruel but grand to show just how much Shoya suffered himself, that throughout most of his life he hated himself. It shows his flaws and yet he still blames himself to a degree.

Shoya’s and Shokuo’s life drowns in self hatred; Shouko attempts to end her life as Shoya grabs her hand and attempts to save her. Shoya’s strength diminishes; he asks any god for help and then he will look everyone in the eyes as he falls and injures himself, entering the hospital in a coma state.

The ending is sweet and happy as Shoya wakes up and finds Shouko by a bridge crying,and apologizes about everything from the first time and Shoya asks Shouko “I want you to help me live.” Shoya apologizes for being a creep as they both laugh and Shouko signs to promise with Shoya’s Plea.

At the school festival, Shoya keeps looking down and covers his ears till Shouko helps him stay confident. As he removes his hands, he finally hears the world and looks at everyone’s faces, all of them losing their x’s and tears slowly fall from his eyes. As he finally experiences the true value of life. Yuzuru Nishimiya (Shouko’s sister), “No matter how much you hate yourself, everyone deserves a second chance.”