My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A few months ago, I was watching trailers for various anime looking for something new to watch and to check out what movies were coming out in the future. Among the many that I watched then, was the trailer for A Silent Voice. I was intrigued by this anime and added it to my list to watch. Since it was based upon a manga, I wanted to read the manga first before eventually watching the movie, mostly so I could experience the original content first.
It took me a little bit to get into the story. One of the issues I had, right from the start, was how similar the two main characters names were. Shoya being the bully of Shoko, and they both occasionally went by the nickname of “Sho”, so sometimes it was confusing as to which Sho someone was referring to.
The series consists of seven volumes, with the first one setting up the backstory for the main characters, establishing Shoya as the bully and Shoko his unfortunate victim. As a bully victim myself, I sometimes have a hard time reading about bullying, and yet at the same time I wish there were more books out there that dealt with this issue. That is why I was drawn to this series, because so much of it’s story revolves around bullying, both the act as it happens and the long term effects it has on everyone, from the victim, the bully and the bystanders.
One thing I liked about this series is now it shows that the bully can also be deeply affected by what they have done. We all know the bully victim takes a beating every day, and that there are often long term side effects that stick around for many years, if not the rest of their life. But many people think that the bully is never affected in any way by all of them. Perhaps for some that’s the case, and they go on with life without any ill effects from what they did to others. But in the case of Shoya, he did feel shame and regret over what he did and wanted to make things right again.
Seeing the characters change over the course of this series really was great. It showed that people can change, that the bully can feel remorse, that the victim can forgive them. It also showed various reactions from those who had watched it all happen, and perhaps even participated a bit in the bullying themselves. I did have a few issues with it. For example, I find it really hard to accept that a bully victim would become friends with their bully later on in life, and even go as far as to have slight romantic feelings towards them. I can’t say that this would never happen in real life, but as someone who was bullied before, I can safely say that I would never ever be friends with the people who tormented me – I could forgive them, but never trust them enough to let them close to me. I also didn’t care for Tomohiro, someone who becomes friends with Shoya in the second volume, because I felt he was too much like a bully and was only going to complicate things – and in a way he did but not completely.
I feel like the one thing that didn’t translate well in the art was the sign language. Obviously it’s hard to draw people communicating through sign language when in manga form. It’s the one aspect of the series that I think will be better expressed in the movie.
Overall, I enjoyed this series. I didn’t absolutely love it, but it was good. The artwork was wonderful. I would recommend this series to anyone interested in it, and those looking for books that have bullying in them. I feel like it does a great job is portraying it. I will one day watch the movie to see how it compared to the manga. I will also be on the lookout for more by this author.