A Silent Voice
I got to see this movie last night in the theater with my two teen boys last night. It was powerful. I highly recommend it not only for it’s beautiful animation, but for it’s story that was often sweet, infuriating, and sad.
The story opens with a teenage boy, Shōya Ishida, on a bridge contemplating suicide. He then goes into the memories that got him to that place.
During elementary school, he bullied a girl (Shōko Nishimiya) who happened to be deaf who was new to his class. Shōko soon became an outcast in her class with the other students following suit, however Shōya was the main bully. Shōko tried hard to befriend Shōya and others despite her treatment, but was rebuffed for her efforts with the bullying intensifying. Things finally come to a head when Shōya rips out Shōko’s hearing aids (not the first time) and causes Shōko’s ear to bleed.
Shōko doesn’t come to school the next day. The principal, upon hearing about the incident from Shōko’s mother, confronts the class and demands to know who was responsible for Shōko’s bullying. The homeroom teacher calls out Shōya for his behavior and the rest of his classmates lets the sole blame rest on Shōya. Shōya protests insisting that it wasn’t just him, but several of his friends and classmates as well. Shōko transfers to another school and, because of his act of sharing the blame, Shōya becomes the subject of the bullying. He is outcast, bullied and shunned by his friends and classmates.
By the time we return to the present we find Shōya as a loner. He is filled with shame and guilt for his behavior in his treatment of Shōko and anxiety about others due to his own bullying. He is socially isolated and suicidal.
In a last act of penance Shōya seeks out Shōko, these many years later, to apologize to her before finally committing suicide. In the years since he has seen her, he had learned sign language so he could communicate this to her. When he finally meets her instead of apologizing to make it an end for himself, he (on impulse) asks her to be his friend.
And so the new story begins. I won’t go into it all. There is hope. New friendships. Sadness. Old wounds. Sadness. Guilt. And pain.
It is a very powerful story. It reminds us of something that I feel sometimes that gets forgotten: what we say and do matter. We impact one another. So often it becomes easy to depersonalize another when online because we don’t see a real person in front of us feeling real pain. On top of this, we can carry this desensitization out in to the real world.
Attention Parents: This is a movie with challenging themes. Watch it anyways. Watch it with your kids. Have conversations with them around the subjects of suicide and bullying.
Please watch this movie when you get the chance. Besides the story, it really is beautifully animated.
Until next time: Happy viewing.
And if you are going through a hard time…please don’t do anything to hurt yourself. It will get better even if you don’t believe it right now…trust me…People love you. Okay?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline