Genre(s): Drama, School, Romance
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Heavy, dramatic themes, some language and violence)
Episodes: One 2-hour 10-minute movie
TheAwersome Rating: 9.0 / 10 (Poignant and direct)
Premise: A former class bully, Shouya, reaches out to the deaf girl he’d tormented in grade school. He feels unworthy of redemption but tries to make things right.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: Hoo boy. This was a solid, excellent piece. What A Silent Voice does remarkably well is deal with heavy topics in a straight-on, direct way. Bullying, depression, anxiety, disability, suicide, and other topics weren’t treated as deep, somber, dark entities, but as things that are real. Because, they are. And to be honest I feel this is the best way to deal with these often-stigmatized topics: don’t fuel the stigma. This isn’t a movie about disability. It isn’t a movie about bullying. It isn’t a movie about mental illness. It’s a heartfelt story of redemption, healing, and connection in the face of those things. There isn’t an easy fix; sometimes there isn’t a fix at all, and you just have to adapt. Some things won’t ever go back to the way they were, and that’s okay.
The visuals are gorgeous and beautifully add to the artistic depiction of the protagonist, Shouya’s, struggles in a way that really hits home what it feels like to experience social anxiety and depression. The soundtrack is equally effective in a beautifully artistic and experimental way I’ve only seen in Anime Movies. What is also beautifully captured is the pure, tender joys of finding a close friendship and re-connecting with people from your past. The joy of being able to look yourself in the mirror and truly, honestly, be proud of who you’re becoming.
TLDR: A beautiful, intimate piece that explores self-acceptance, redemption, and life’s small events that feel larger than a Marvel movie.
A Silent Voice does (in a somewhat more approachable way) what Doki Doki Literature Club does so very well in highlighting different aspects of depression and suicidal thoughts. In showing the reality that the people struggling don’t always look “sad” but are often those who seem to bring joy to those around them. It isn’t the typical Hollywood portrayal of the aloof lonely kid or even someone who even has bad things happen to them necessarily. It takes many shapes and forms that affect different people differently but most of all, doesn’t define who they are.
A Silent Voice deals with these heavy topics in a respectful, appropriate way that neither milks them, uses them as cheap plot points, or trivializes them. As such it is an emotional ride, but in a cathartic, hope-filled way infused with KyoAni’s signature love for the craft, story, and life itself.