I love going into movies blind. A movie is unspoilable when you don’t even know the synopsis of a movie. All I knew heading into A Silent Voice was that it had beaten the powerhouses your name. and In this Corner of the World for a couple “Anime of the Year” awards. And all I can say is, sometimes it’s good to know nothing going into a movie, but occasionally, you’re going to get blindsided.
* TW: This review contains mentions of depression, bullying, and suicide.
A Silent Voice is a movie about bullying. A damn fine one at that. You know you’re in for one hell of an emotional story when the first five minutes of the movie is prep for a suicide attempt. Our story starts with our protagonist, Shoya Ishida, deciding not to kill himself. But the real story begins back in 6th grade when our second protagonist, Shoko Nishimiya, transfers into Ishida’s class. You see, Nishimiya is mostly deaf…and you can probably guess where it goes from here.
Ishida (and a few others) relentlessly bully Nishimiya—ripping out and destroying her hearing aids, ignoring and taunting her, and throwing her things into fountains. Eventually, Nishimiya breaks and transfers schools. And everyone blames Ishida for all of the bullying. As he attempts to implicate others, he becomes the bullied. This bullying continues into high school. It isn’t until Ishida meets Nishinoya on the day of his attempted suicide that they both begin to heal and rebuild.
This movie isn’t easy to sit through, but it is so necessary to see. It not only shows the toll on the victims of bullying but their friends and families as well. And God, it does not hold back. I shifted uncomfortably about 1000 times through the runtime. I sat through the movie, reliving both sides of the coin throughout my life. As I grew up and was bullied in high school, I apologized to the people I bullied in grade school. If I had not already done that, I would be writing a flurry of letters tonight.
This movie isn’t exactly cathartic for people who have been through this. But I believe this movie can be a force for good for future generations. And I applaud everyone involved for undertaking and masterfully creating a movie that forces you to witness and swallow the pain bullying causes.
Finally, for anyone who has experienced bullying, depression, or thoughts of suicide and need someone to talk to, here is a link to multiple call centers around the globe. Good luck out there, everyone.