A (not so) Silent Voice

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You might be interested to know that whenever that Nick sees a movie he thinks is good, he then brings it to Erin (if she didn’t watch it with him already). If Erin also approves, then Nick will go about getting other people to try it too. Otherwise, he would only tell others who are also into the genre. This film passed the Erin-approved test, and if you will never see another anime film in your life, it should probably be this one. Please let it be this one. Though it is a recent movie that was highly received, it may be somewhat difficult to find (even Amazon options are limited). Go to this site and find a theatre: http://www.elevenarts.net/asilentvoice or get in touch with me. I have a copy I can share, but only one, so it may take time as it makes the rounds.

We watched this animated film called “A Silent Voice (映画 聲の形)”, which is an adaptation of a manga by the same name. I (Nick) really enjoyed this for a slew of reasons, most of them revolving around how a movie deals with several powerful issues (suicide and bullying in Japan) in a not-so-“cheery” way but by a method that brings forth emotional sincerity without being too heavy (I only cried twice). I will only talk about a few things that will hopefully encourage you to see this wonderful story yourself while avoiding giving too many details outside the major themes to prevent spoiler level dangers. That being said, please go see this movie instead of reading here. Beyond just being a good honest look at some big Japanese issues, it is a genuinely entertaining and endearing experience that I would recommend to anyone. 

The picture opens with one of the more prominent characters getting his affairs together before jumping off a bridge. How’s that for a start to a film? If your only exposure to animation has been more Disney-like at this point, you might see this more of what a drama live action would look like in a hand-drawn form. This character stops at the last moment when he recalls the moment a new student was introduced way back in elementary school, and that’s where the basis of the story finds traction.

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The new student, Shoko, is deaf. And while, initially, the students are receptive and even help to some degree, the situation ultimately leads to a negative upset of the social fabric of all parties involved. Those who were once friends are suddenly relating in ways they didn't anticipate In Japan, the saying “The nail that sticks out gets hammered in the hardest” really comes to play here, and this girl’s disability is what sticks out. She becomes the target of teasing and bullying, and one individual appears to lay it on more heavily than the others.

However, the situation becomes unique when the alpha bully finds himself being singled out in a unique way and ends up becoming the “nail”. The bullying theme is certainly the main focus throughout much of the story, yet as you might have already surmised, the suicide element plays a role several times throughout the film as well. Overall the journey is about what reconcillation is and it's a needed part of a persons personal and social restoration. 

I’d love to go into all kinds of detail, unpacking these emotions, characters, ethics, etc... given the Japanese context, but I promised I would avoid spoilers. Maybe after some folks have had a chance to see it or if it’s requested, I will go into things a bit more. Or even better: let’s get in touch and let’s talk about it! This should go further from just being a “good viewing experience” into providing a platform for some good discussion, and I think you’ll find yourself in agreement.

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