Movie Review: A Silent Voice (PG)
A picture is truly worth a thousand words.
This Japanese feature by Kyoto Animation addresses deep topics of bullying, friendship, self-worth, suicide, isolation and guilt.
Few films, let alone animations, deal with these heavy issues so elegantly and engagingly.
Based on the acclaimed manga series of the same name, A Silent Voice centres on Shoya Ishida (voiced by Miyu Irino) who, in elementary school, bullies his deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami) to the point where she requests to be transferred to another school.
The tables are then turned on Ishida, who is blamed for her departure, and the bully becomes the bullied.
Ishida remains ostracised even in high school, and subsequently becomes suicidal.
He decides he needs to find Nishimiya and seek her forgiveness and put an end to all the unhappiness.
In doing so, the broken bonds between his elementary school friends are also repaired.
Ishida and Nishimiya's estranged relationship is the focus, but the supporting characters are also rich and well-developed.
There's nothing preachy about this colourful and immersive film that's actually quite dark in nature.
Mean girls, teachers who look away, friends who are more than eager to point fingers... all the adolescent problems that plague teenagers are fleshed out.
Much attention is paid to the beautifully drawn characters and backdrops.
The visual storytelling is powerful, and coupled with the effective soundtrack, you don't even need to read the subtitles to know what the characters are saying.