A Silent Voice (2016)HD
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About the Film
Shoya Ishida starts bullying the new girl in class, Shoko Nishimiya, because she is deaf. But as the teasing continues, the class starts to turn on Shoya for his lack of compassion. When they leave elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other again... until an older, wiser Shoya, tormented by his past behaviour, decides he must see Shoko once more. He wants to atone for his sins, but is it already too late...?
A vivid, true-to-life masterpiece
Speaking personally, A Silent Voice is my favourite film ever, period. It is a milestone in the depiction of disability and social anxiety, not only handling these and other themes with total mastery, but also conveying it to the audience in an emotionally-evocative package bursting with vivid colours, gorgeous animation and wasteless direction.
Its story is one about making up for past mistakes; about acknowledging one's own flaws and living comfortably with the ones you can't change; about opening up to the people around you and listening to them. It is a heartbreaking tale that speaks to anyone who has suffered from crippling social anxiety and hits closer to home on the subject than any work of fiction before it. This being said, it isn't always as heavy as that. There is plenty of room for comedic relief, which does a critical job of balancing out the doom and gloom of its characters' internal turmoil. The film is also not trying to depress you: a happy ending is all the better when it is worked to the bone for, and A Silent Voice's ending is a perfect thematic and emotional climax of everything the plot has been working towards. One complaint that is raised often is that the Japanese marketing of this film makes it out to have a focus on romance, and while this is a feature it is not the focus, nor the point of the film. Enough snippets are thrown your way that you know where this relationship is headed, even if our protagonist is a bit too socially numb to figure it out himself quite yet.
Speaking of Shoya, his character is very well-handled. It is easy to make a character immediately and unreemably dislikeable, especially if he is tormenting a deaf girl when we are first introduced to him. However the film makes sure we understand exactly what drives him to bully Shoko, and the overwhelming guilt he carries with him for the entirety of the movie means that we don't bear a grudge towards him. Shoko is another character who is portrayed exceedingly well. It is all too common for a work of fiction to have a disabled character whose disability is their only trait, and who is otherwise the perfect model of a human being. A Silent Voice instead portrays Shoko as she is: a human being with her own habits, flaws and issues, completely divorced from her disability. Because of this, A Silent Voice portrays the plight of the deaf while also portraying the character of a mysterious girl who takes more body-blows from life than anyone should have to take.
Kyoto Animation is the studio behind this film, and their breathtaking style fits this story like a glove. They have always been an amazing studio for capturing near-lifelike levels of detail in the way characters move and express themselves bodily. Thanks to this, the film achieves a gorgeous, colourful look and under the direction of Naoka Yamada the studio's talents are pushed to their greatest extent. Ms. Yamada is an extremely talented director, packing as much nuanced detail into every frame of cinema as she can. When I had heard the director of K-On! was behind this adaptation I was initially sceptical, but those doubts were swiftly put to rest. At her request, the song My Generation is used to open the film, capturing the free-spirited attitude of Shoya in his childhood as we are introduced to his character for the first time. Music is used sparingly in the film, only rolled in during the story's biggest emotional moments, making such moments hit us harder.
A Silent Voice is a true cinematic benchmark. Not just for anime, or the Japanese market, but for films worldwide. Its impact was smothered by the cult following of Makoto Shinkai's 'Your Name.' at the time of its release, but if you were to ask me which was the better film the answer would be very cut and dry. There is nothing I have seen before, and there quite possibly will be nothing after, that has left or will leave as deep a personal and emotional impact on me as A Silent Voice has. If you see one film this year, or even one in your entire life, then let it be this one.
Amazing film, cannot fault
Personally my favourite film of all time: great story, fantastic soundtrack and beautiful visuals.