A Silent Voice: A Must-Watch for Anime-Lovers

4.5/5 Falcons

Demetrios Kotsopoulos, Contributing Writer

A Silent Voice is one of the most depressingly accurate portrayals of anxiety and depression in anime, making it a film you either watch or you don’t. Not a very helpful way to start, I realize, but it is quite apt. 

Based on the original manga written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima, A Silent Voice follows a young boy named Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino), who, as a child, becomes the class bully to the new deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami). Eventually, when he goes a step too far in his bullying, he becomes a target for the rest of the class. Moving forward to his teenage years, he is now a quiet and withdrawn introvert, completely contrasting the outgoing charismatic child that he was. He meets again with Shoko and over the course of the film, comes to accept what he did and rebuild a relationship with the girl who just wanted to be his friend.

The film also enjoys foreshadowing later events in the film.

This storyline falls into a very small niche of films in which it becomes difficult to recommend to others, because no words will do it justice. Not only that, but the film also stars an amazing narrative that you might not actively want to experience again. What I mean by that is, it is one of those films that everyone owes themselves a watch of at least once, but only that. Not because it has a horrible film or narrative, but quite the opposite. It is a film so good at what it does that the horrible things it makes you feel over the course of its story is not something one might want to experience again. Depending on your personal history and your experiences with anxiety and depression, A Silent Voice may make you relive those feelings alongside its characters. This may not be a problem for some. However, if you are one who seeks to watch anime as an escape from reality, it might kill your mood entirely. 

A Silent Voice asks a very important question: Are you allowed to ask for forgiveness from someone you had bullied in the past? Should one even be allowed to ask?  Shoya asking for forgiveness could be seen as him trying to clear his own conscience. There is a scene where a character asks Shoya if they are really friends with Shoko. Shoya is left completely speechless. He does not know. It is these moments in the film that I think many can relate to. The film is a very long one, adapting 7 volumes of manga, but they do it extremely well, cutting out the right things. The film also enjoys foreshadowing later events in the film. There are so many shots throughout the film that separate characters from each other, conveying their disconnect from one another. Small hints like these are often sprinkled throughout the film. 

A Silent Voice is more than a film. It tells viewers that it is never too late to learn to understand the people around you. More than anything, it teaches you that you can always get through life no matter how hard it can be.

This piece also appears in our June 2022 print edition.