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Score: 9.02/10

Koe no Katachi

Eng Title : A Silent Voice

Alt Title : The Shape of Voice

JP Title : 聲の形

Year : 2016

Genre : Drama, School, Shounen

Season :

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 1/1

Duration : 2 hr. 10 min.

Studios : Kyoto Animation

Synopsis

As a wild youth, elementary school student Shouya Ishida sought to beat boredom in the cruelest ways. When the deaf Shouko Nishimiya transfers into his class, Shouya and the rest of his class thoughtlessly bully her for fun. However, when her mother notifies the school, he is singled out and blamed for everything done to her. With Shouko transferring out of the school, Shouya is left at the mercy of his classmates. He is heartlessly ostracized all throughout elementary and middle school, while teachers turn a blind eye. Now in his third year of high school, Shouya is still plagued by his wrongdoings as a young boy. Sincerely regretting his past actions, he sets out on a journey of redemption: to meet Shouko once more and make amends. Koe no Katachi tells the heartwarming tale of Shouya's reunion with Shouko and his honest attempts to redeem himself, all while being continually haunted by the shadows of his past. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

I remember that I was reading manga, but at that time it wasn’t coming out frequently and scanlating wasn’t going good either, that’s why I read about 9 chapters, so I barely remember any events expect the beginning of the story and main characters. But I was waiting for anime adaptation since that time. Even though kinda hoped for series, not just a movie.

I must say that I was a little worried about it airing at the same time with Kimi no Na wa, but it still seems alright, box office going good, even though it is three times less than Kimi no Na wa (but don’t compare original movie made by Makoto Shinkai with manga adaptation, even from KyoAni).

But for the first half an hour (or maybe more) I was sitting quietly, being afraid to move even, cause it grasped me completely. I was feeling anger, pity, shame, a whole parade of emotions. Story felt good and dramatic, as Japanese like to do. Never ending and always sharp problems of bullying in school, attitude to people with disabilities who are trying to fit in the society.

Animation was great. This is what you should expect from Kyoto Animation. And don’t try to compare it to Kimi no Na wa, it is really just on different level from the very beginning. And camera work! It was really incredible, I loved tons of shots, how they tried to accent on legs and lower parts of the body (I mean shots excluding characters’ heads :D).

But as for characters and their development, movie had some problems. Both two main characters were shown great. But such a large amount of, probably, interesting supporting characters weren’t developed good enough, even though the movie is more than 2 hours. Like Mashiba (red-haired guy in anime), for instance, he said just few phrases and felt really left out. And two ex-friends of Ishida from elementary school seem to have been forgotten at all, even though there were at least two scenes with them. And there were some shots that I didn’t quite understand, like, for example, why Shouya’s mom was bleeding and looked really beaten up, after she gave money to Shouko’s mom? She beat her, really?

In general, I enjoyed it a lot, and can say that it’s the second best movie by KyoAni (after Haruhi, obviously) and it is definitely worth watching. And I probably should finally read manga completely.

Koe no Katachi is dangerous because it is exploitative. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about deaf people. I don't. This movie certainly does not allow any greater understanding into the mind of deaf people is the point I want to iterate. It uses a serious problem as a plot device constantly and reduces Nishimiya to one-dimension. She is the textbook definition of a mary-sue as well as a damsel in distress. This is clearly troublesome when trying to explain deafness to an able-bodied audience. Nishimiya's entire character is her illness. She is paper thin with her sole character trait being she likes to feed fish. She is so inhuman it is gross. Moe being used in this way is offensive. Including deafness or any other handicap into anime is an exciting idea, and I laud the attempt. Sadly, the execution is simply sickening. A personality-less self-insert male character who wants to repent for mistakes he made when he was a child falls in love with the object of his errs. It's inherently questionable to approach this topic from a romantic perspective because it's hard to sympathize with an object. And that is what Nishimiya is, an object. To be affected on, for us to pity, for us to see illness in a "new light," to justify against bullying, to see the indomitable human spirit. A show like Monster works this concept excellently because it uses the object of interest (Johan) as more of a symbol. This work tries to make Nishimiya a character as deeply developed as Shouya but they foist too many roles on an underdeveloped symbol, not even mentioning her role as a character. Shouya, Ueno, and Ishida are all flat. Their motives are drawn to plot points not to logic. Ueno shows up when things finally start moving in a direction the audience would be satisfied with in tacky KyoAni fashion. Drama in this work is so over-the-top and predictable it's borderline cringe-worthy. Even if you could swallow the unbelievable developments that lead to the saccharine mid-section of the film the way it dissolves is so inauthentic. Shouya shows no signs of development and no effort to change throughout the work and then magically obtains a group of friends. As for the abstract? The art? If you polish it up enough and use a voice technique the audience is unfamiliar with you have the safest ticket to visual and audio praise you can muster. Are there creative shots in this work? Impressive blocking of characters? Fresh setting or new takes on animation/style? No. This is a typical KyoAni work. They stuck with what sells. What the point is thematically I can't tell you. I can tell you that this film is successfully doing what it wanted to do. Capitalize on disease using moe with the highest budget in the industry. This work is not even average, it is bad. Please stop and think about why you feel the way you do when you watch this work. If you're crying is it because Nishimiya is a person you have become endeared by or are you crying because she's like an injured puppy? Affection for things like this a wonderful human trait, but this work is dubious.

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