A Silent Voice (film)

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A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice Film Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Japanese聲の形
HepburnKoe no Katachi
Directed byNaoko Yamada
Screenplay byReiko Yoshida
Based onA Silent Voice
by Yoshitoki Ōima
Produced by
  • Eharu Ōhashi
  • Shinichi Nakamura
  • Mikio Uetsuki
  • Toshio Iizuka
  • Kensuke Tateishi
Starring
CinematographyKazuya Takao
Edited byKengo Shigemura
Music byKensuke Ushio
Production
company
Distributed byShochiku
Release date
  • September 17, 2016 (2016-09-17) (Japan)
Running time
130 minutes[1][2]
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
Box office$30.5 million[3]

A Silent Voice (Japanese: 聲の形, Hepburn: Koe no Katachi, lit.'The Shape of Voice') is a 2016 Japanese animated drama film[4] produced by Kyoto Animation, directed by Naoko Yamada and written by Reiko Yoshida, featuring character designs by Futoshi Nishiya and music by Kensuke Ushio.[5] It is based on the manga of the same name written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima. The film follows a former bully turned social outcast who decides to reconnect and befriend the deaf girl he had victimized years prior.

Plans for an animated film adaptation were announced back in November 2014, Kyoto Animation was confirmed to produce the film in November 2016. Miyu Irino and Saori Hayami signed on as voice casting in May 2016 and the theatrical release poster and official trailer were released on July 2016.

A Silent Voice premiered at Tokyo on August 24, 2016. It was released in Japan on September 17, 2016, and worldwide between February and June 2017. The film received highly positive reviews from critics, with praise going to the direction, animation, and the psychological complexity of the characters. It has grossed over $30.5 million worldwide.

The film won the Japanese Movie Critics Awards for Best Animated Feature Film, the Japan Academy Film Prize for Excellent Animation of the Year, and the film was nominated for Mainichi Film Award for Best Animation Film.

Plot[edit]

High school student Shoya Ishida intends to kill himself, but he changes his mind at the last minute and decides to wrap up loose ends. A flashback reveals Shoya as a sixth grade student in elementary school, during which a new student named Shoko Nishimiya joins Shoya's class and is revealed to be deaf. She tries to integrate with the class but ends up being an easy target for Shoya and his friends to bully. When word of the bullying reaches the principal, Shoya is singled out as the culprit by his teacher resulting in the class's bullying becoming directed toward him. Shoya blames Shoko, and the two get into a physical altercation. Shoko is subsequently transferred to another school and Shoya later finds a notebook Shoko left behind and keeps it.

Being outcast throughout middle school for his reputation as a bully, Shoya, now in high school, is a depressed loner who is unable to look others in the eyes and envisions an "X" mark over people's faces. To wrap up his loose ends, Shoya goes to return Shoko's notebook at the sign language center and apologize, but then panics and asks to be friends instead. Shoko accepts his offer, leading Shoya to endeavor to make up for his bullying of Shoko. Tomohiro Nagatsuka, another loner, also befriends Shoya after he protects him from a bully.

One day, Shoya accidentally drops Shoko's notebook into a river; he then jumps in to retrieve it, which is prohibited. Yuzuru, Shoko's younger sister, takes a photo of Shoya jumping in and posts it online to get revenge on him, eventually leading to Shoya getting suspended. Shoya finds Yuzuru, who ran away from home, and brings her to stay at his house. When she leaves in the middle of the night, Shoya follows, and the two make up and become friends.

Shoya and Shoko reunite with Miyoko Sahara, a classmate from elementary school who was friendly to Shoko. Shoko later gives Shoya a gift and confesses her feelings for him, but because she tries to speak her affections rather than signing them out, Shoya mishears her.

Shoya invites Shoko to an amusement park with Tomohiro, Miyoko, Miki Kawai (another classmate from elementary school) and Satoshi Mashiba (Miki's friend). There, they are joined by another classmate from elementary school, Naoka Ueno (who had also bullied Shoko alongside Shoya then), who drags Shoko into a ferris wheel. Naoka voices her feelings of hatred for Shoko, blaming her for creating a rift between her and Shoya, with whom she is infatuated. Yuzuru, who had been secretly recording the encounter, shows the video of this to Shoya. Desperate to remain blameless for her part in bullying Shoko following the leak, Miki exposes Shoya's past to the students who were oblivious to it. Later, she attempts to apologize to the group, but Shoya blows everyone off after Naoka remains dismissive.

Shoya learns Shoko and Yuzuru's grandmother died recently. To cheer them up, Shoya takes them to the countryside and sees that Shoko blames herself for everything that has happened to him. Shoya decides to devote his entire social life to the sisters.

During a fireworks festival, Shoko goes home under the guise of finishing homework. Shoya follows when Yuzuru asks him to get her camera. When he arrives, he finds Shoko standing on the balcony, about to commit suicide. Shoya succeeds in grabbing her and pulls her back up, but falls into the river below. He is rescued by his former best friends in elementary school but slips into a coma. Hoping to help Shoya, Shoko meets with each of the group members to explain her and Shoya's situations.

One night, Shoko dreams about receiving a farewell visit from Shoya. Horrified, she runs to the bridge and collapses in tears. Shoya, awakening from his coma, stumbles to the bridge and finds her there. He apologizes for the way he treated her, asking her to stop blaming herself and admits that, while he once considered ending his own life, he has since decided against it. Shoya then asks her to help him continue to live, to which she agrees.

When Shoya returns to school, he is reunited with his friends and comes to understand how much they still care for him. The friends go to the school festival together and Shoya finds he is finally able to look people in the eye again as he envisions the "X" marks falling away. Looking around at his family and all the new friends he has made, Shoya tears up, knowing he has finally redeemed himself.

Voice cast[edit]

Shoya Ishida (石田 将也, Ishida Shōya)
Voiced by: Miyu Irino,[6] Mayu Matsuoka (child)[7] (Japanese); Robbie Daymond,[8] Ryan Shanahan (child) (English)
A high school boy who bullied Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf girl, in elementary school. He becomes the victim of bullying when the principal finds out. Now a social outcast, he strives to make amends with Shoko.
Shoko Nishimiya (西宮 硝子, Nishimiya Shōko)
Voiced by: Saori Hayami[6] (Japanese); Lexi Cowden[8] (English)
A deaf girl who transferred to Shoya's elementary school where she was the victim of constant harassment by Shoya and his friends, forcing her to transfer again.
Yuzuru Nishimiya (西宮 結絃, Nishimiya Yuzuru)
Voiced by: Aoi Yūki[7] (Japanese); Kristen Sullivan[8] (English)
Shoko's younger sister who is opposed to Shoya being around Shoko.
Tomohiro Nagatsuka (永束 友宏, Nagatsuka Tomohiro)
Voiced by: Kenshō Ono[7] (Japanese); Graham Halstead[8] (English)
A rotund high school boy who befriends Shoya.
Naoka Ueno (植野 直花, Ueno Naoka)
Voiced by: Yūki Kaneko[7] (Japanese); Kira Buckland, Gia Grace (child)[8] (English)
Shoya's elementary school classmate who joined him in bullying Shoko.
Miyoko Sahara (佐原 みよこ, Sahara Miyoko)
Voiced by: Yui Ishikawa[7] (Japanese); Melissa Hope, Catie Harvey (child)[8] (English)
One of the few classmates in Shoko's elementary school who was friendly to Shoko.
Miki Kawai (川井 みき, Kawai Miki)
Voiced by: Megumi Han[7] (Japanese); Amber Lee Connors, Annabelle Corigliano (child)[8] (English)
A classmate of Shoya's from elementary to high school.
Satoshi Mashiba (真柴 智, Mashiba Satoshi)
Voiced by: Toshiyuki Toyonaga[7] (Japanese); Max Mittelman[8] (English)
Miki's friend, a high school boy who befriends Shoya.
Kazuki Shimada (島田 一旗, Shimada Kazuki)
Voiced by: Ryo Nishitani, Sachiko Kojima (child) (Japanese); Michael Sinterniklaas, Spencer Rosen (child)[8] (English)
Shoya's elementary school friend and accomplice in bullying Shoko. When the principal finds out, he starts to bully Shoya.
Keisuke Hirose (広瀬 啓祐, Hirose Keisuke)
Voiced by: Takuya Masumoto, Hana Takeda (child) (Japanese); Brian Beckerle[8] (English)
One of Shoya's friends in elementary school who later starts bullying him alongside Kazuki.
Takeuchi (竹内, Takeuchi)
Voiced by: Fuminori Komatsu (Japanese); Marc Diraison[8] (English)
Shoya's teacher in elementary school.
Miyako Ishida (石田 美也子, Ishida Miyako)
Voiced by: Satsuki Yukino (Japanese); Sara Cravens[8] (English)
Shoya's mother.
Yaeko Nishimiya (西宮 八重子, Nishimiya Yaeko)
Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese); Lipica Shah[8] (English)
Shoko and Yuzuru's mother who disapproves of her daughters being around Shoya.
Shoya's Older Sister (将也の姉, Shōya no Ane)
Voiced by: Ayano Hamaguchi (Japanese); Stephanie Sheh[8] (English)
Maria's mother and Pedro's wife.
Maria Ishida (マリア, Ishida Maria)
Voiced by: Erena Kamata (Japanese); AnnaBelle Deaner[8] (English)
Shoya's niece and the daughter of his older sister and Pedro.
Ito Nishimiya (西宮 いと, Nishimiya Ito)
Voiced by: Ikuko Tani (Japanese); Barbara Goodson[8] (English)
Shoko and Yuzuru's grandmother and Yaeko's mother.
Pedro (ペドロ, Pedoro)
Voiced by: Ryunosuke Watanuki (Japanese); Chris Jai Alex[8] (English)
Maria's father, the husband of Shoya's older sister and Shoya's brother-in-law.

Production[edit]

The anime adaptation of the manga was announced in the manga's final chapter that released on November 19, 2014,[9] later specifying that the adaptation will be an anime theatrical film on December 17, 2014.[10] In the Weekly Shōnen Magazine's 46th issue of 2015 that released on October 14, 2015, Kyoto Animation and Naoko Yamada were announced to be the animation studio and director of the film adaptation, respectively.[11] The film's distributor, Shochiku, listed the adaptation releasing in Q4 2016.[12] On April 8, 2016, the film adaptation's official website opened, announcing that Reiko Yoshida would write the script for the film, Futoshi Nishiya would designed the characters and the film was scheduled for release in Japanese theaters on September 17, 2016.[13] Kensuke Ushio and Pony Canyon composed and produced the music, respectively.[6] The film's theme song, titled "Koi wo Shita no wa" (恋をしたのは), was performed by Aiko, while "My Generation" by The Who was used during the opening credit.[14][15]

For the English dub, deaf actress Lexi Cowden was cast as Shoko.[16]

Analysis[edit]

Themes[edit]

The cinematic adaptation, based on the manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Ōima, covers a large part of the original plot. Some segments have been shortened for runtime reasons. Individual scenes were weighted differently so that the manga can be considered supplementary literature, for example, of the characters' backgrounds.[17]

The more obvious themes covered by the film are school bullying and the integration of disabled people in society. The film then tackles with handling guilt within a community (although this aspect is exposed more in-depth in the manga),[18] redemption for mistakes of the past,[19] forgiveness and self-respect.[20] Director Naoko Yamada explains that bullying should not be considered as the central theme of the film but rather a means to explore Shōya's personality as he gets older. The course of bullying is presented precisely and intuitively, in rapid sequences. It is depicted as a collective failure, starting from school managers and overwhelmed teachers to the class community itself.[21]

The film, lastly, deals with the theme of suicide. Yamada said she was "determined to confront the topic with integrity and treat it gracefully", stressing that it "is by any means not the right decision".[22]

Stylistic means[edit]

The narration of Shōya's story, starting from his past to present, describes how he slips to the lower end of the hierarchy that he established at the beginning. From his perspective, it is shown how bullying can affect an adolescent's psyche and prove his resilience. Shōya faces many challenges: the rejection of Shōko's mother's or the avoidance of former classmates, who don't want to confront their past behaviour when he and Shōko work through their past.[23]

Shōya's alienation and inability to stare at his fellow people are symbolised by crosses (🞬) on their faces.[24] This behaviour is often emphasised by camera framing, which avoids the faces of people around him as Shōya's shies away from eye contact, often focusing on body language instead.[25] In some face-to-face conversations, Shōya's interlocutor's face is cut out of the frame; the empty space left behind him achieves an unsettling effect for the viewer.[20]

Symbolism[edit]

The film relies on subtle and sensuous motifs.[26] Yamada uses flower language to reflect feelings and personality of the characters. Shōko is juxtaposed with white daisies, symbolising purity, and blue or red cyclamen, which can represent resignation, leave-taking, but also deep affection.[27] Cherry blossoms often enclose Shoko and Shoya: they appear when the two first reconcile and when Shoya's befriends Tomohiro Nagatsuka.[28]

The koi, a symbol of luck and perseverance in Japan, represent Shōya, Shōko, and the rest of the group overcoming their shortcomings and rebuilding their lives.[29] Fireworks are a metaphor of the transience of each single moment of life: both scenes with the fireworks anticipate the suicide attempts of the two protagonists, reminding them of their hopelessness towards life.[20]

The film occasionally shows short dream sequences. The architecture seen in the background describes the protagonists' inner life, recalling Michelangelo Antonioni's work. In other scenes, the lack of harmony of the characters is depicted by oversized pictures in the room.[17] The characters are stylized, recalling the caricatural style of My Neighbors the Yamadas.[21]

Music[edit]

My Generation by The Who is used at the beginning of the film to express teenage rebellion and angst. The song rides the excitement and amusement of the kids gathering before school, ending with Shōko's entrance into the classroom. Yamada said that, for this scene, she wanted to use an evergreen that everyone could identify.[20]

Composer Kensuke Ushio, recognizing the central role of sound in the film, gave importance to musical and non-musical elements, including silence. The song lvs, played when Shōko is excluded from the class community, was recorded by putting a microphone inside a piano, obtaining a muffled sound in which the piano mechanics' noises are emphasized. This technique recreates for the viewer an effect that resembles Shōko's perception.[20]

Release[edit]

The film premiered in 120 theaters across Japan on September 17, 2016.[13][30] It was screened at the 2016 Scotland Loves Animation festival on October 22, 2016,[31] and at the ICA in London on February 5, 2017.[32] Anime Limited distributed and released the film in the United Kingdom and Ireland on March 15, 2017.[33] Purple Plan released the film in Singapore and Malaysia on March 9, 2017.[34] Madman Entertainment released the film for a limited duration in Australia and New Zealand from April 9, 2017, and April 16, 2017, respectively.[35] Viz Media Europe acquired the film for distribution in Europe (excluding the UK and Ireland), Russia, Turkey, and French-speaking Africa in 2017.[36] In 2017, Konnichiwa Festival released the movie in theaters in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Peru for a limited time in May, while in countries like Argentina and Uruguay, Anifest had a theatrical release in June.[37] Pioneer Films released the movie in the Philippines on May 10, 2017.[38] Eleven Arts screened the film at Anime Expo on July 3, 2017, with a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on October 20, 2017,[39][40] and a second screening in January 2019.[41]

Home video[edit]

Pony Canyon released the film in Japan on May 17, 2017, on standard edition DVD, standard edition Blu-ray, and a limited edition Blu-ray. The limited edition Blu-ray contains two animated videos of the film's theme song and "Speed of Youth", one of the original soundtracks by composer Kensuke Ushio.[42] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Anime Limited released the film on standard edition DVD and Blu-ray, and a collector's edition combo set on October 30, 2017.[43] Madman Entertainment released the film on standard edition DVD and Blu-ray, and a limited edition combo set on December 6, 2017.[44] Shout! Factory released the film on a standard edition DVD and Blu-ray combo set in North America on April 2, 2019,[45] and Right Stuf released the film on a limited edition combo set on November 26, 2019.[46]

Streaming[edit]

Madman Entertainment streamed the film on AnimeLab for limited durations between February 14, 2018 to February 20, 2018,[47] and June 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.[48][49] Netflix released the film on the website on June 5, 2019.[50]

Television broadcast[edit]

In Japan, the film received a terrestrial television premiere on August 25, 2018 at 9:00 PM through NHK Educational TV and it received an audience rating of 2.5%, according to the video statistics.[51] It was aired on July 31, 2020 at 9:00 PM through Nippon TV's Friday Night Roadshow amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, along with Akiyuki Shinbo and Nobuyuki Takeuchi's Fireworks.[52]

In the Philippines, the film was first televised on August 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM through ABS-CBN's digital subchannel, Asianovela Channel, with encore at 9:00 PM.[53] It was aired again on April 10, 2020 (Good Friday) and for this time, it was broadcast through ABS-CBN and its high-definition service as part of their Holy Week schedule, a month prior to its controversial franchise renewal and broadcast stoppage.[54]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #2 at the Japanese box office behind Makoto Shinkai's Your Name, and grossed a total of ¥283 million from 200,000 admissions within two days of its premiere across 120 theaters.[30] As of November 30, 2016, the film has grossed a total of over ¥2.2 billion from 1.7 million admissions.[55] It ranked at #16 on Nikkei Hit Ranking for 2016 from East division.[56] It was the 19th highest-grossing film in Japan in 2016 and also the 10th highest-grossing Japanese film of the year in the country (tied with Death Note: Light Up the New World), with ¥2.3 billion ($19.56 million).[57]

In China, the film grossed CN¥44.5 million[58] ($6.7 million).[59] It also grossed $310,407 in the United States and Canada, $110,552 in the United Kingdom, $437,577 in Bolivia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Spain and Thailand,[60] and $5,471,482 in other territories,[61] bringing the film's worldwide total to approximately $33 million.

Critical response[edit]

Makoto Shinkai, director of Your Name, called the film a "fantastic piece of work" and a "polished and grand production" which even he is unable to replicate.[62] It won Best Animation of the Year in the 26th Japan Movie Critics Awards, where director Naoko Yamada also received praise for her work on the film.[63] At the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the film was selected as one of the nine feature films in competition.[64]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on 34 reviews, and an average rating of 7.61/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "As beautifully crafted as it is powerfully written, A Silent Voice looks at teen bullying from a soberingly hard-hitting perspective that's uncommon for the animated medium."[65] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[66]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result References
2016 Japanese Movie Critics Awards Best Animation Feature Film A Silent Voice Won [67]
2017 Japan Academy Film Prize Excellent Animation of the Year Won [68]
Best Animation of the Year Nominated
Mainichi Film Awards Best Animation Film Nominated [69]
Comicbook.com Golden Issue Awards Best Anime Movie Nominated [70]
Newtype Anime Awards Best Anime Movie 2nd place [71]
Tokyo Anime Award Festival Anime of the Year (movie) Won [72]
Best Screenplay/Original Story Reiko Yoshida Won [72][73]
Japan Media Arts Festival Animation Division - Excellence Award A Silent Voice Won [74]
Japan Movie Critics Awards Best Animation of the Year Won [75]
Annecy International Animation Film Festival Feature Film Nominated [64][76]
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Animated Feature Film Nominated [77]
Sitges Film Festival Feature Film Nominated [78]
Anim’est International Animation Film Festival Feature Film Nominated [79]
Camera Japan Festival Won [80]
2018 The Anime Awards Best Movie Nominated [81]
Best Animation Nominated
Monstra Lisbon Animated Film Festival Feature Film Nominated [82]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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