Review and Synopsis by Anime Girl
Koe no Katachi Review by Amy AnimeGirl.io
Koe no Katachi opens with Shoya Ishida standing on a bridge. He fantasizes about jumping, ready to kill himself. Something distracts him at the last second, stopping him and causing him to change his mind from throwing himself off the bridge. He begins to think about his days in elementary and middle school.
Those were the days that would change the course of his life and lead him to the edge of the bridge that fateful day.
It can all be traced back to the day a new student is introduced to the class; Shoko Nishimiya. Shoko isn’t just another new student; she’s deaf. She tries to attend the school like any other elementary school student. She tries her best to make friends and connect with her peers even though she has to overcome an obstacle that they don’t have to; being deaf.
The trait that makes her unique is also the characteristic that makes her an easy target for Shoya and his friends. This group of kids is the school’s bullies. When this is brought to the principal’s attention, Shoya is held as the sole culprit responsible for what has happened.
Shoya begins to blame Shoko for what has been happening. The two get into a physical fight, which leads to Shoko being transferred to another school. When she leaves, she accidentally leaves her notebook behind. Shoya finds and keeps this notebook.
Time goes by, and Shoya finds himself in middle school in a completely different situation, one that closely mirrors how Shoko must have felt through her experiences of being bullied in elementary school. He is now the social outcast of the school because of his reputation for being a bully. These feelings of isolation eventually lead him to fall into a deep depression. He is unable to look people in the eye, crossing out their faces, causing him to drift even further from the people around him.
Tomohiro Nagatsuka helps Shoya out with a bully, becoming one of the only friends that Shoya has. He is the first character that has the “X” removed from his face. This sets off a chain of events that allows Shoya to begin to flip his script and to open up to the possibilities of other friendships.
During this time, he is also reunited with Shoko. Shoya visits the local sign language center and comes himself face to face with the girl he bullied only five years prior. He attempts to make amends with Shoya by showing her that he has learned sign language. He slowly begins to earn back Shoko’s trust over time.
One day, while walking along a river that is prohibited from being in, he accidentally drops Shoko’s old elementary school notebook into the rushing waters. He jumps in to retrieve it.
However, this act doesn’t go unnoticed. Yuzuru is Shoko’s overprotective and blunt younger sister. She is there the day that Shoya jumps into the river to retrieve Shoya’s notebook. In an act of revenge, she takes a picture of Shoya jumping into the forbidden river. She takes these pictures and posts them online, where she knows others will see them. She is successful in her acts and Shoko is then suspended from school for his actions.
Yuzuru has run away from home. Shoya finds her and takes her back to his house instead of allowing her to sleep in the streets. When Yuzuru leaves in the middle of the night, Shoya follows, and the two are able to make up and become close friends.
After Shoya and Shoko meet up with Miyoko, an old friend from elementary school who is interested in Shoko, Shoya attempts to show her feelings to Shoko. She gives him a gift and tries to tell him the feelings that she has for him verbally. Because she is speaking instead of using sign language, Shoya mishears her.
Shoya, Shoko, Tomohiro, Miyoko, and two other classmates attend an amusement park. While they are there, they are accompanied by Naoka Ueno. Naoka makes Shoko join her on the Ferris wheel. While they are there, she berates Shoko. She blames Shoko for driving her and Shoya apart and expresses her intense feelings of hatred for her while also expressing her love for Shoya.
Yuzuru comes to the rescue with her camera. She was secretly recording the encounter and showed the entire thing to Shoya. Niki Kawai, who had attended the amusement park, is desperate to remove herself from the situation, and she tells everyone who wasn’t aware of Shoya’s past on how he used to be a bully. She tries to apologize to the group, but Shoya is done with the encounter, especially after Naoka remains distant.
After Shoko and Yuzuru’s grandmother dies, Shoya attempts to cheer them up. He takes them on a trip through the countryside. While they are there, he sees how Shoko takes responsibility for everything that has happened to Shoya through the years. This realization causes Shoya to devote his life to the two sisters.
While attending a fireworks festival, Shoko decides to go home early. She says that she needs to finish her homework. Yuzuru asks Shoya to get her camera, so Shoya leaves shortly after Shoko, following her on the way home. When he arrives, he finds her standing on a balcony, ready to jump. He quickly grabs her, holding her hand while she dangles from the balcony. For an agonizing second, it seems that the pair are both about to fall over the edge entirely, but he manages to pull her back up, and instead, Shoya falls into the river below.
His old best friends in elementary school manage to save him from the waters in the act of fate, but he slips into a coma. Shoko, desperate to help Shoya now, meets with the group members to explain what has been going on.
One night, Shoko dreams about Shoya. Shoya appears in her dream to give her a farewell message. Utterly distraught, she runs to the bridge and breaks down into tears. Shortly after this, Shoya wakes up from his coma. He stumbles out to the bridge and comes face to face with Shoko. He expresses his deepest regrets for the way he treated her. He explains to her that she needs to stop blaming herself, and he says that he once contemplated suicide as well. Shoya asks Shoko to help him keep living.
When Shoya and Shoko attend the school festival, it’s revealed how much she cares for him. Shoya can look at other people in the face again. He is able to look around and see the family and new friends he has made, and he cries.
Shoko Nishimiya is the main female protagonist of Koe no Katachi or A Silent Voice. She is introduced as being the new deaf student at the beginning of the movie. Shoko is a strong character that shines through the entire film. While she is deaf, she does have two hearing aids. Later in the film, after having one of them pulled out, she only wears ones, probably because she received permanent damage from having the other forcibly removed.
Nothing slows Shoko down, though. Even though her hearing aids have injured her, she is still brave enough to continue to wear the other. She also doesn’t flinch from the beginning to build a relationship with her childhood bully, Shoya.
Her powers of forgiveness are something to admire and learn from. She doesn’t see herself as someone who has special circumstances and refuses to be pitied. She is slow to anger and cry, showing her real strength. This is especially true after the loss of her grandmother, who was like a mother to her.
Shoko deeply cares for the people in her life but has little love for herself, which is something many girls experience while going through high school. She blames herself for the things that have happened to her and the people around her. She can’t shake the feeling that she is useless.
All in all, Shoko is an extremely relatable character despite her differences. She is someone that the viewer can look up to and learn from with how she handles herself and the way she cares for the people around her.
Yuzuru is the younger sister of Shoko. She is in 9th grade and rarely attends the school they are enrolled in. At first glance, Yuzuru is a rebel. She is overprotective of her older sister. She is blunt, cold, and straightforward. These traits come out when she first meets Shoya and then later when she manages to catch Naoka in the act of berating and belittling Shoko.
What is particularly special about Yuzuru is how once a character has gained her trust, she transforms into a kind, sweet, and loyal person. While she can hold a grudge and fight her own fights, she is the kind of sister that I think everyone wants to have.
While there are many bullies that Shoko encounters throughout Koe no Katchi but Naoka perhaps takes the cake. She is first introduced as a classmate in elementary school. She sat beside Shoya and was close friends with Ishida. But once Ishida wants her help in bullying Shoko, she stops being friends with her.
However, this doesn’t prevent her lashing out at Shoko in retaliation for what she feels like is driving a wedge between her relationship with Shoya. She even lashes out at Shoko after her attempted suicide, which results in Shoya becoming injured.
Naoka is prone to outbursts and can be violent. She admits to this herself, which is very revealing of her character on a deeper level. Naoka does show some remorse for her actions but doesn’t feel like she has to change. Towards the end of Koe no Katchi, she becomes a softer, more caring character. With this change, it’s easier to see how she becomes flustered, giving us a hint as to why she may have acted in the past.
I appreciate this character because it does bring another, very different female character into the story. I like that this character doesn’t feel like her journey is over even though the story has ended. She still has growing and changing to do. She goes as far as to apologize to Shoko, which shows real character development and wraps up the sense of high school drama and them all entering into the next stage of life.