“Animation is something kids enjoy, and adults have to endure.”
The 2022 Oscars received major backlash as presenters Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott came out to present the award and spoke on how animated movies are “formative experiences” for kids who watch them “over and over.” Many animators throughout Hollywood, including famous director Phil Lord, expressed anger and disappointment as Hollywood does not understand the time and effort it takes to make an animated film. While animation did begin with the idea of reaching out to kids, like anything else in this world…it evolved. Not only is animation for kids, but new animation is being made for adults, with more mature themes that sadly, little to no people know about anymore. Knowing this, I would like to help out in telling people how great animation is and the stories they tell. So, this being my first recommendation, I would like to introduce you to my favorite animated film, “A Silent Voice.”
“A Silent Voice”, a manga written by Yoshitoki Ōima and a film directed by Naoko Yamada, focuses on the lives and relationships of two kids, Shoko Nishimiya and Shoya Ishida. Nishimiya is a new girl in middle school, who is revealed to have a hearing disability, leading to tension between her and her classmates, especially Ishida. For the first 20 to 23 minutes of the film, we see Nishimiya bullied constantly by Ishida and his friends, eventually leading to her transferring to another school. The aftermath of the bullying, however, leads to Ishida being the scapegoat of the bullying, taking all the punishment with his friends not being punished at all. After this, we flash forward to a 17-year old Ishida. He is anti-social, depressed and hates himself for his actions towards Nishimiya. He has shut himself off from the world to the point where he conplemplates suicide, and comes close to doing so, until he meets Nishimiya again. The rest of the film focuses on Ishida doing his best to make it up to Nishimiya and learning to come to terms with his actions.
This film does an amazing job of not showcasing purely good and purely evil characters. Everyone in this film is a gray character, just regular people who have their redeeming qualities and faults. While the manga fleshes out the supporting characters more and helps us understand them and see their point of view on the events of the film, Yamada does a good job of compressing the character’s arcs enough to where they are still relevant but do not take up a majority of the runtime.
Showcasing regular people though means we get to see all the awkward conversations, heated confrontations and most emotional moments right in front of us. When I say this movie has some of the most emotional moments in film, I mean it. Without giving spoilers, all I will say is: Be prepared for the fireworks. You won’t see them the same way again after you finish this film. The film also showcases Ishida being an outcast in an amazing way. Putting X’s on all the characters’ faces helps show how Ishida does not like being interesting with others and looking them in the eye, doing his best to block them out.
“A Silent Voice” is a must-see, not just for anime fans, but for anyone who has experienced bullying or regret of any kind. While some people may be disappointed, this is not a love story about Nishimiya and Ishida, far from it. It is a story about redemption, one that will leave you sobbing at the very end. “A Silent Voice” is not about a guy falling in love with a girl, it’s about a guy being able to love himself again.
Title: “A Silent Voice”
Director: Naoko Yamada
Starring: Miyu Irino, Saori Hayami
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5