A Silent Voice (M)
Rating: 4 / 5
Japanese animation A Silent Voice is a modern moral tale, which tells of a young man’s hard-gained humility and the ending of the vicious cycle of his self-imposed exile.
Nearing his final year of high school, Shoya Ishida has been left dealing with the domino effect of tormenting a hearing-impaired classmate. Youthful and narrow-minded impulses, spurred on by misguided attention-seeking, have resulted in complete alienation from his peers.
Five years later, Shoya sets out on a quest to somehow reconnect with the classmate and maybe somehow find redemption.
Written by Reiko Yoshida A Silent Voice is on trend with what we’ve come to expect from high school melodrama, and with a tone that’s vibrantly sentimental. Production house Kyoto Animation’s visuals have been meticulously crafted, and great care has been put into creating a sense of uber-reality.
The backdrops of Idyllic Japanese streets, classrooms and landmarks are accompanied by lush piano instrumentals which provide a strong emotional pull. While director Naoko Yamada’s style is reminiscent of the anime genre (and this includes a certain lack of depth beyond eye candy and ‘cuteness’), Yamada’s choice of bright colours ‘breathes’ life into well-groomed cartoony characters.
In contradiction to the glossy refined aesthetic, suicide looms as a surprising central motif. The filmmakers play these idealistically dark scenes with poise and avoid delving into disturbing or excessively dim territory. Still, one scene in which the topic is handled with humour was admittedly awkward, but not to point of upending the overall vibe.
The strength of this film is its achievement of being both life-affirming and believable. A Silent Voice is perhaps even sophisticated enough to rekindle an appreciation of the moral narrative in even the most cynical moviegoer.