A Silent Voice poster

“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.