Review of A Silent Voice (2016)

Moving picture, 130 minutes

Yamada Naoko (director).

Seen in 2017.

A bully in the last year of elementary school crosses a line and sees his life crash so hard he’s still struggling in high school.

Drama. A lot of the detail here stands up well to scrutiny. The film is better in every way than All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) and more similar to Nobuko (1940). It is a good choice to focus it on the bully. More traditional stories about Japanese bullying, such as Yū Miri’s “Shioai” (2000), tend to revel in misery. The giddy joy of the asshole is a necessary complement to explain the agony of the victim.

There are several curious choices in this production that indicate a kitchen-sink approach to the adaptation from Ōima Yoshitoki’s comic. Consider the inclusion of Shōya’s brother-in-law, the Brazilian Pedro, in just two or three brief shots, doing nothing. Pedro’s daughter, Maria, never makes it past the level of a comic/cute relief character, nearly always in a good mood and wearing crab-themed clothing with matching upturned braids resembling crab claws. I would have appreciated yet more realism there, and in the character design. Notice how the tag in Shōya’s t-shirt is always sticking out over the back; it’s the same gentle yet obvious type of stylization as in the live-action Blue Blazes (2014).

References here: En betraktelse av A Silent Voice, Trygghet i ett paraply, Shōyas femtonde april, Kromatisk aberration för effekt.

moving picture animation Japanese production fiction