Years ago, Shoya Ishida led his peers in tormenting a hearing-impaired classmate, Shoko Nishimiya. When she transfers schools, Shoya finds he has gone from bully to bullied, and is left completely alone. Now Shoya struggles to redeem himself in Shoko’s eyes and to face the classmates who turned on him.
This manga did not live up to the one shot. Just read the one shot and be done with it. Granted, it's hard to live up to perfection, but still. Actually it fell way short. Koe no Katachi squandered such incredible potential that I can't help but get mad at it far more than any mediocre, or even bad, series. It could have been amazing, but in the end it was just infuriating. But the beginning was just so damn good. *SPOILERS AHEAD* (not like they matter when nothing comes of it) Lets forget about how annoying Tomohiro is. Let's forget about how boring making a movie is. Lets forget about how one note all of the friends are. Lets talk about the defining moment of the series. When Shouko confesses. Holy shit, a confession this early, out of nowhere as well. Shouko gives no signs beforehand, as we're mostly from the perspective of Shouya. And then? Literally nothing. No fucking change. NOT EVEN A CHANGE WITHIN HER CHARACTER! You'd this would advance the story, you'd think this would reveal more about the characters, YOU'D THINK THAT THE FUCKING CHARACTER WHO JUST FUCKING CONFESSED WOULD ACT A LITTLE FUCKING DIFFERENTLY AFTER FALLING IN LOVE!!! But no, we get one scene in next chapter that aknowledges that it even happened and then literally it's never brought up again. FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! I can't even contain how mad I am about this. This moment sets the pace for the rest of the entire series! God damn, I am so mad. I am SO MAD! HOW CAN YOU DO THIS? There is no character progression. There is no relationship progression. There is no more reveals about the characters. I don't think this needed to be a romance, I would have preferred it to be a plot point which shows how Ishida can't forgive himself enough to have a relationship with the girl he antagonized, but something, anything, would be infinitely better than what we got. Constant teasing of the ship with no progression. NO FUCKING PROGRESSION! The most interesting part of this manga, the reason why everyone is reading it, is Shouko and Shouya. Their relationship, their struggles. Shouko's guilt and his redemption through suffering. Shouya's hardships and her misguided self hatred. These were the things that were intriguing. These were the good parts of the manga. This is what everybody came here for. What did we get? A bunch of bullshit about their self righteous friends. After shorty comes in, the manga hardly spends any time with our two main leads. HOW CAN YOU MISS THE MARK THIS BADLY AFTER CREATING SOMETHING SO GOOD? Fuck. Everything stays in a stagnated place while boring bullshit and meaningless drama happens between the friends. The whole point of things happening is that they change something. Nothing changes. There's no point to having drama if, after it's resolved, nothing is different! And the one shot was so god damn amazing in this too. We're narrative creatures. Things in stories must happen to produce a result. There's no point in watching if nothing changes. It's like watching a video of someone lighting a fuse on dynamite and then the video ends before it even gets halfway to the charge! None of the issues with their friends are resolved, they are all still the way they were before, except they get along better for no decernable reason at the end. Not that I ever cared about their friends. But even still, since they were introduced, I wanted them to complete their arcs. I wanted resolutions. They each brought up a problem, but there was no solution. They were all wrong in some way, but none of them went anywhere in any direction. Instead of the nature of the characters, or the relationship between the two, the biggest mystery/driving force of the latter half is what the function was of the gift she gave him. Are you kidding me? She literally tries to kill herself and nothing changes. SHE TRIES TO KILL HERSELF AND THE STORY MARCHES ON EXACTLY THE SAME AND THE MAIN CHARACTERS DON'T GROW CLOSER TOGETHER. It's like they're puppets with defined traits and shit is just being thrown at them, but they can't move because that's not how they function. Oh sure, there's drama, but do any of them actually evolve? Do any of them change? None of them learn anything. All the friends do is get in the way of the story progressing. Any action that might inform who the main characters are, or their relationship to each other is blocked by their presence. Glasses girl is a delusional maniac who is in denial, and NEVER REALIZES IT. She ends up being portrayed like a good fucking person by the end, despite not changing at all. Kuroneko is a violent bitch who constantly excuses her actions, as if that actually changes anything, and then acts like she's the victim for having reasons. Tall girl is a gutless, no impact, zero note character who has no reason to exist. Angry guy doesn't know how to use words to fix problems and throws tantrums that change literally nothing while acting like a good guy despite ignoring when his friends are being bullied. Shorty is annoying. That's all there is to him. He's clingy, and never says anything important, and just gets in other people's business. This manga would be significantly better if he weren't in it. Aside from Shorty, none of them are even his friends anyway. They act like they're his friends, but they do nothing friendly with each other. Basically they're just aquantences who would never speak if it weren't for the movie Shorty wants to make. None of them ever talk about anything other than the movie or Shouko. That's not a friend, that's a co-worker. When he feels like he's isolated from the group, its because he is. He was kind of just there. These characters might have been interesting had the writer realized that they were wrong. That they were bad people. But apparently because none of them ever finish their arcs, the writer thinks they're all fine the way they are. I tolerated the making of the movie in Haruhi Suzumiya because the character interactions were the meat of the show, so it didn't matter what they did, despite the movie clearly being awful and the setup being boring. Here, the gathering of supplies was boring, and the movie completely stalled the plot. It didn't even put the main pair together in roles that might advance their characterization or relationship, which was the whole point of the "making a movie" plot point to begin with. In the end, that's what plagued this manga. Boring stuff in the way of actual progression. I just don't get it, you write a story to get something across, right? To send a message? To convey a feeling? The one shot certainly did. Don't you want to get there as fast as you can? I guess not.
I've watched a lot of anime but I haven't read much manga. I think this might have been the first one I actually finished. I became interested in it because of the themes of disabilities and bullying. I really enjoyed how realistic a lot of the events, characters, and emotions were. The story follows a guy, Shoya, who bullied the deaf transfer student in sixth grade, Shoko. Due to his bullying and the bullying from the other students and even the teachers in a way, Shoko transfers out and Shoya goes from being the bully to being bullied. Shoya spends the next several years alone until he tracks Shoko down to apologize, after which he plans on committing suicide. However, he changes his mind and begins to reconnect with old classmates, ponder what makes someone a friend and what being a friend means, and become closer to Shoko. Although some scenes may be a bit exaggerated, it's quite realistic, at least, I would like to think it was slightly exaggerated. The story included many different points of view. Shokos fathers family who thought being deaf was the mothers fault and ultimately wanted nothing to do with a deaf child and ommitted her and her mother from the familiy. The elemntary school teacher who thought it was unfair that he and his students had to put up with a deaf girl believing Shoko was a burden. He thinks she should have just gone to a school for disabled children instead of forcing the regular school to put up with her and her needyness as if she was bothering them on purpose. Shokos mother was the type who didn't want to learn sign language, considered it inappropriate to sign at the dinner table, tried to use "tough love" to make Shoko stand up for herself and become stronger, and seemed uncaring. She actually wasn't such a bad person though. Some of the high school students underestimate Shoko or don't want to deal with it but they don't make fun of her. Some still hold grudges or believe themselves to not be a part of the circumstances. Some regret how they treated her and want to make up for it. Overall, I thought the characters were well developed according to their role and also verry realistic. What struck me was how the story seemed to be told without a lot of bias. It tried to show each character fairly by showing their good and bad points. Shoya for instance was a terrible bully, but he was just a kid. He was later bullied just as bad and he was living with the guilt and regret of his actions. It just goes to show than bullies aren't always bad people and they have their own hardships too. I think it also tries to show that those who bully the bully are no better than the bully. Bullies are still human and they are hurt just like anyone else. The consequences of bullying can be quite serious for all parties and it's not black and white...even though manga is...bad joke. Anyway, there was very little I didn't like. I can't say one of the things without spoiling part of the story. I kind of wish it hadn't ended so soon too. I wanted him to go with her at the end too. Those are really the only issues I had though. It was really easy to read and undterstand though. There's not a lot of big action which is good because I have a hard time following the pictures when it's got a lot of action. Who says what was easy to notice and how the words were said was clear. The pictures made sense and I could almost alway tell who was who just by looking at the picture. It's an easy read full of emotion and a well developed story. It also attracted me because of my own experiences. I was bullied pretty badly by students, teachers, etc when I was young too and I often think about it. Eight years later, about a year ago, I recieved a email from one person who had done some pretty awful things to me. She apologized and seemed to regret what she had done. According to the author, A Silent Voice is based off a true story, or at least the emotions and feelings so it's no surprise that some people are able to identfy with it.
I went into A Silent Voice with an attitude of equal parts interest and trepidation. Interest because of the high praise I had heard for the manga, and trepidation because the subject matter of childhood bullying seemed ripe for disaster. There are a million ways to make a story about bullying into a preachy PSA or a melodramatic angsty train wreck. What I ended up getting was a marvellously written story that completely shattered my fears that this manga was going to paint by numbers or take the easy way out. STORY If there's one archetype I'm an incurable sucker for, it's 'The Atoner'. A high school boy tries to make ammends to the girl he bullied in 6th grade, but also needs to learn to forgive himself and others. A Silent Voice covers the subject of bullying from multiple angles, covering not just the main victim and main bully, but also delving into how bullying can affect large groups even if only a handful of people are directly involved. As for the actual sequence of events that make up the plot, those are fairly simplistic and straightforward. The plot focuses more on simply putting characters into normal situations and letting them go to work, rather than than creating grand setpieces or throwing lots of curveballs from out of the blue for the cast to react to. It has a couple moments of perhaps excessive drama, where emotion seems ramped up for the sake of 'feels' rather than logical progression. But overall the story is solid. ART Excellent background work is the best part of this series' art, with strong character designs to boot. For a series so heavily grounded in realism, it was critical to sell the idea that the story is taking place in the real world. To help sell this idea, A Silent Voice has highly detailed, beautiful backgrounds and settings that are practically reference photos. Combine this with character designs that are clearly distict and have a healthy dose of realism mixed in with the traditional manga aesthetic (body types, faces, and outfits are all fully within the realm of believeability) and it becomes very easy to believe you're seeing something that could happen in real life- which helps the emotional moments hit home. The layout and design of this series very straightfoward, with few gimmicks or tricks in the presentation. CHARACTERS This series should be required reading for anyone who wants to know how to make a character sympathetic even while they're not always or even often likable. Characters don't always fall into common tropes, and sometimes it can even take a couple re-readings to decide what you truly feel about a character. It would have been so easy to write this story with a Mary Sue or two for leads, surrounded by nasty bad guys who are just mean for the sake of being mean. The most admirable characters can sometimes make big mistakes and reveal major personal flaws, and the least likable pain-in-the-butt characters can sometimes show positive traits and do a good deed, and in neither case does it feel like a Deus Ex Machina because the writer took the time to properly flesh the cast out. There are a couple flaws in this area however. In the middle a story a new character appears who is treated like they're super important and have always been there, despite never having been seen or shown affecting the plot in any way. And then just a chapter or two later, that same 'super important' character leaves the story and isn't referenced again. So there are flaws if you take a good look, but dang if the character writing isn't still strong. OVERALL An excellent manga, hands down. I give this series a very strong recommendation, a real 'must read' for someone looking for a serious emotional story.
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