A Silent Voice is an anime film about a one-dimensional deaf girl and her bully trying to be a nice person to her years after he bullied her, which was in middle school. The film starts off with this 25 minute prologue that is annoying and overstays its welcome, showing us this kid bullying the deaf girl for no other reason than she’s deaf, and at some point it becomes a little unrealistic.
The deaf girl named Shouko is presented as this cute loli that has a heart and is trying to be friends with everyone. The bully is presented as this kid who gives no shit for anyone, but from what I know, bullies have quite a bit of reason towards their bullying, but here it felt shallow. Watching a kid bully another kid simply because she’s deaf for 25 minutes isn’t interesting; it’s hard to watch and kind of unnecessary to have as well.
We then time skip to High School, and Shouya, the bully, is shown as a depressed kid who has tried to kill himself, and this felt like the writer trying to make you care and like the bully now that he’s no longer a bully and has problems. But the issue is that none of this feels genuine. We get it, people change and you want us to emphasize with this character, but after showing me him bully a girl for 25 minutes, it’s kind of hard to do that.
I have a certain problem with films that try to be sad when the only goal in mind is to make you cry. It feels manipulative, especially when it’s as cheap as it is in A Silent Voice; which ironically enough is the issue. This film doesn’t have its own voice; it feels like a bunch of people sat down and started brainstorming after hearing what the film will be about, “What could we do to make this as sad as possible? Have the characters cry for each other!” and that really bothers me, especially when it’s as obvious as it is here.
The film then has Shouya try to be Shouko’s friend in this overlong melodramatic drag that is its second act. Did I mention that this is 130 minutes? Easily could’ve been less than 90 if you cut out the many unnecessary scenes in the second act and trim the first 25 minutes, which as I mention, over stays its welcome. There are parts in the second act where sad moments happen, and you can obviously tell they’re supposed to be sad, but it doesn’t feel earned. These moments aren’t rare in many films alike, which are so painful to me by now.
The sad music cranks up to 100 and you can feel something, but that something is simply emotional music and seeing someone sad on screen, which is automatically going to get a reaction from you. Especially if you’re sensitive like me, at least. That’s why you have to take a step back, and analyze if what you’re feeling was earned or not. If it was, and you genuinely care for the characters and what’s going on, then that’s great. If you don’t, then it’s best to look somewhere else and be aware that what you felt was something without heart and only wants the attention of those who can’t see the difference.