I finally got an opportunity to watch “A Silent Voice” (Koe no Katachi) and I can see why it was one of the top anime movies last year. In anime there are many themes of bullying and I think this is helping to bring a bit of awareness to what goes on in school and the little that is often done to stop it. I’ve mentioned these things before in my post about the anime March Comes in like a Lion. In that anime and this movie little is done to stop the bullying.
In this movie the main character Ishida is a young boy at the start. He seems a bit like the devil may care type and the ring leader of his small group of friends. Then one day a new student is introduced.
Nishimiya is deaf and she wears a hearing aid. She mostly communicates with her notebook and the students are understanding at first but slowly that turns in to resentment. They don’t want to help her and nothing is done in class to make her life any easier which is extremely sad. One teacher tries to have the students learn sign language to communicate and only one student offers to learn. When that student leaves Nishimiya is bullied to the extreme and also the students destroy her hearing aids multiple times.
When the principal finally confronts the class they all point fingers at Ishida. In typical mob fashion he now becomes the one getting bullied. This goes on through grades school and in middles school some of his old friends point him out at a bully (ironic huh?) and they continues to ignore him. He is isolated.
At the start of the movie we see him wrapping up the last bits of his life and getting ready to kill himself.
Instead he stops himself and goes to see the one that he bullied in grade school. Thus his redemption story begins.
Now at this point Nishimiya is a bigger person than I could ever be. If I ran into a bully I probably would not be so kind. Her character however, is one that will always blame herself for anything bad happening to others. She is always apologizing and believes she ruins everything. She is forgiving and they build a tentative friendship.
It is hard for me to feel sympathy for bullies this movie does a great job building up Ishida’s character. He rather take on the isolation and believes that he deserves it all after what he did to Nishimiya. I guess part of me would have to agree with him. He gets to the point where he can’t look at anyone face and the movies visuals show giant X’s over everyone face and their voices are muted to him.
We can see his regret and we see the situation that he puts himself in to do penance for what he did. He took on all the blame for what everyone did to her in grade school. He shows remorse and tries in his own way to make Nishimiya happy.
This next bit will have spoilers so if you haven’t watched the movie you may want to stop reading.
In this movie it starts out with him wanting to kill himself. He is isolated and alone. He pays back the money to his mother and cleans his room. Then bringing Nishimiya into his life stopped him. In this whole journey I don’t think he realized her true feelings and how she views herself as a burden to everyone.
The small group of friends that the built is destroyed after the bullying is brought up again. I’m annoyed at the character Kawai and how she never admits to her part in what was done to Nishimiya. There is never any redemption for the other bullies and one of them didn’t even change and everyone seemed okay with it? That part was a bit hard to swallow. So when this small group that came together fell apart Nishimiya takes the blame on herself.
Ishida finds her getting ready to jump off the balcony of her high rise. Her story of feeling useless and a burden didn’t really shine through to me until this moment. As I was watching Ishida grow I wasn’t seeing her destruction.
As much as she had a loving family and support she kept apologizing for everything that went wrong. She just got to the point where she tried to fix things by dying.
In the end the friendships they made will never be fixed if someone leaves the world. Sometimes when you are depressed you don’t see that. You only see yourself as the problem and that the world will be better off if you are not in it.
That is never true. The world will always be less without you.
The characters in this movie find the strength to come together again and support each other. I’ve heard that the side characters are fleshed out more in the manga but I’m glad that their was a main focus to this movie. There wasn’t enough time but the message is clear about seeing the value in others.
I hope you get a chance to watch this movie. I hope that you know that you are someone important. This isn’t just a nice message for a movie but to take with you in life. If you ever need someone to talk to send me a message and if you ever think that the world is better without you I hope you reconsider. I’m including a link for the suicide prevention hotline and I hope if the person you want to talk to isn’t free that you call or text them. They are there 24/7.
To borrow words from Mr. Rogers at this point… I’m not trying to be cheesy since I honestly believe what he says, “There’s just one person in the whole world like you, and people can like you just the way you are.”