This capsule on the film A Silent Voice (2016), by Naoko Yamada, was originally broadcast as part of the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Cinema PREMIERE Podcast in September 2020.
When it comes to leading contemporary directors in Japanese animation, names like Makoto Shinkai (your name.) Or Mamoru Hosoda (The Wolf Children) often overshadow the conversation. However, among many other absences, the figure of a talented artist stands out who, with just 35 years of age, has already given us a prodigious set of works that will remain for posterity. Productions that have captivated viewers around the world with their sensitivity, warmth and honesty. Of course, we mean the amazing Naoko Yamada.
With 15 years of experience in the industry, Yamada is already a veteran filmmaker at the beloved Kyoto Animation studio, for whom she had directed the K-On! Series. and Tamako Market, as well as their respective films. But its consolidation would come with the adaptation of an acclaimed manga by Yoshitoki Ōima in 2016.
Koe no Katachi or A Silent Voice is a story of acceptance, about individuals constantly seeking forgiveness from others, but unable to forgive themselves. While the original manga has seven volumes to explore in depth the psyche of all the characters, Yamada and screenwriter Reiko Yoshida make the bold decision to focus most of their efforts on telling this story from Shoya Ishida’s point of view.
When she was a child, our protagonist made a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya the object of her abuse, counting on the complicity of her classmates and under the tolerant gaze of her teachers. Eventually, one of his jokes crosses the line and he ends up being sidelined by the rest of the class. Years later, the Shōya personality has taken a 180 degree turn, being unable to even look others in the eye and even considering the possibility of ending his own life. Despite his efforts to make amends for his mistakes, the true path to redemption begins when Shoya meets Shoko again in high school, but will it be possible to rebuild his relationship with her after so much pain?
There is no one more suitable in the industry to command a production so strongly focused on non-verbal communication and on transmitting emotions through expression like Naoko Yamada. In that sense, Koe no Katachi is a sensory dance of movement, color and sound, which together materialize intangible concepts in sequences loaded with powerful meaning. The immeasurable beauty of KyoAni’s production, whom you will surely recognize as Violet Evergarden, added to Kensuke Ushio’s experimental score, is transformed into a lyrical expression of the antidotes to guilt, self-loathing, the difficulty of communicating and the anxiety to return. to connect.
In the sociological section, the feature film offers a more realistic approach to acute issues such as the behavior of society towards individuals it considers “different”, the ramifications of bullying or suicide, which acquire a completely different dimension within the dynamics of the Japanese culture. But Yamada makes this story his own, privileging a humanist lens. His works have always prioritized immersing, understanding and empathizing with the feelings of his characters, devising narrative methods to present sequences that communicate much more than any word.
Referring to her central motivation for telling this story, the director stated the following: “When you are unable to think of yourself in a positive way, it interferes with your ability to understand how others feel. We all have worries and many things for which we feel remorse, so it is possible to lose the courage to love ourselves. Since I also have a melancholic part, I wanted to make a film that at the end said: ‘You’ll be fine’ ”.
A silent voice is available on Cinépolis Klic in the original language and with Latin dubbing. The movie can be purchased on Blu-ray / DVD through Amazon.
The entry Anime recommendation: Why should you watch A Silent Voice? it was first published in Cinema PREMIERE.