“Back then, if we could have have heard each other’s voices, everything would have been so much better.”Shouya Ishida
Kyoto Animation is known for producing animated series, making this feature-length adaptation of Yoshitoki Ōima’s manga an outlier. A Silent Voice presents a nuanced view of childhood interrelationships, differing perspectives and faltering attempts to communicate. The weightiest aspect is the destructive power of guilt, as Shouya falls into a self-imposed exile, ashamed at his childhood bullying of a deaf transfer student. Rekindling relationships with his old classmates reopens old wounds as well as offering a chance at redemption. As a studio of salaried animators — rather than freelancers paid by the frame — there is a wonderful attention to detail throughout. Subtle and beautiful, the gaps in conversation are filled by a delightful ambient soundtrack that elevates the production beyond most animated fare. A few days ago KyoAni was hit by a deadly arson attack, so I hope this review draws a little attention to the work of those who lost their lives and colleagues.