A look at “A Silent Voice – Koe no Katachi” manga

A look at A Silent Voice – Koe no Katachi manga

聲の形 A Silent Voice - Koe no KatachiOne of the hardest parts about being a blogger of anime and manga titles is that there’s just not enough time to watch everything that is recommended to me, or to read everything that is read to me. I don’t recall who first drew my attention to A Silent VoiceKoe no Katachi, but after some people in and out of the manga publishing business recommended it, and it somehow conveniently showed up very near UQ Holder in Crunchyroll’s manga lineup, I decided that I could probably work in a chapter or two here and there after completing work on UQ Holder.  As a result, I discovered a good manga that is very tough to read thanks to its subject matter, bullying.

***SPOILERS***

Koe no Katachi‘s first volume is mainly a flashback. After lead male character ISHIDA Shouya encounters lead female character NISHIMIYA Shouko, he recounts his days in elementary school where he was a punk bully. Shouko transferred to his school, where her near deafness immediately caused him to bully her fiercely, going so far as to steal and destroy her hearing aides, and do other things to hurt her. Shouko puts on a smile and tries to get along, but the bullying continues, where Shouya’s antics are encouraged by his classmates. However, when adults become aware of this and the expense of all of the hearing aides he destroyed, the class turns on him and he blames Shouko for his problems. Shouko goes out of her way to be kind to him after he’s constantly being beaten up, causing him to end up getting into a fist fight with her. After she transfers out of his school, Shouya realizes how much Shouko had been shielding him from the truth of how bad things had gotten.

As a result, Shouya becomes a loner, finding himself filled with disdain for others, seeing everyone with a big X on their face, but regretting what he’d done to Shouko, going so far as to learn sign language. As a result, he goes out and earns the money to repay his mother, who’d been forced to pay for the destroyed hearing aides. After earning the money in his 3rd year of high school, Shouya is going to commit suicide, but his encounter with Shouko changes that. As a result, the two become friends and are even attracted to each other, but have difficulty communicating this, especially since Shouya feels guilt over his role in her bullying. However, other students from their past show up, causing more problems, and forcing Shouko to reveal that behind her smile is a deep self loathing, so much so that she attempts to commit suicide, something Shouko manages to prevent, but which causes him severe injury.

聲の形 A Silent Voice - Koe no KatachiAs I write this article, I find myself getting depressed as I recalled the story. Going through the 48 chapters on Crunchyroll didn’t help. Bullying is something that is not fun to read about, much less to see it. Considering how Shouko always smiled politely and tried to get along with everyone, it makes it even more difficult to see through the manga drawings.  I just cannot fathom why people would savagely bully someone so sweet just because they are deaf.

I’m not sure how the bullying problems are today, but I know they existed back when I was a kid. There’s a fine line between being teased and bullied. I recall being teased and picked on a lot in school, mainly because I didn’t know how to handle it. There was a guy that lead a bullying effort against me and my brother in 5th grade, which lead to a fight, where I got in trouble thanks to all of the “witnesses” against me. However, the fight ended the bullying.

In sixth grade, there was a guy who’d try to race up behind me to whack me hard on the back of the head. That lead to a fight, and oddly enough, years later, we were great friends. I had some problems with a group of guys in eighth (and possibly ninth) grade, but it wasn’t severe.

Regardless, once I got older, the bullying stopped, and I kind of made it my mission to put a stop to other bullies. The only fight I got into in my high school days was to stop a bully I saw in action. I beat him fiercely, so much so that it actually scared me. (And I may have caused him to lose a stack of comics books he’d purchased…possibly. ^_~) Oddly enough, he became a responsible adult.

Because of my experiences, that also adds another element to my reading experience of Koe no Katachi.  Although I was never deaf, I can relate to Shouko’s character of trying to get along and smiling in public even though it is to hide the pain inside. I can relate to Shouya’s disdain for others around him, many of whom are despicable people. That’s kind of how things are in high school.

Considering how evil Shouya was in elementary school, and the melodramatic way things are set up to cause the reader to hate him, his 180º turn around (thanks to the six year time skip) is almost enough to give one whiplash. And yet because he is truly repentant and willing to do whatever it takes to make things right, he moves from a hated figure to a sympathetic character. The new Shouya makes me want him to succeed in being with Shouko in a romantic way.

聲の形 A Silent Voice - Koe no Katachi

Speaking of Shouko, it really is surprising that she would befriend Shouya after everything he’d done to her. I know I mentioned becoming friends with a former bully, but in Shouko’s case, she initially tried to flee from Shouya, but then came back with her normal polite, sweet way. She even falls for Shouya, attempting to confess to him by speaking the words aloud, but as these things go, that didn’t work out for her.  And yet despite her friendship with Shouya, Shouko attempts to commit suicide.  As I said, this is a tough manga to read.

Another element of this manga that beats me down is the continued focus on bullying. With Shouya’s and Shouko’s former classmates showing up over time, not only do we have to relive the subject, but one girl goes out of her way to target Shouko and attempts to get Shouya to go along with her. So whenever the manga starts moving in a more positive direction, a giant fist slams the reader in the face again with the bullying topic. For me, that is just depressing, so while the manga may be a good one in terms of story and subject matter, it is not a joy to read.

I continue to read the chapters as they come out, just because I’m curious to know if things will ever start to improve for Shouya and Shouka. However, I’m not going to chapter blog it because I just don’t think I could handle thinking about the series at that level.  Don’t let that put you off from trying out Koe no Katachi for yourself.

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12 Responses to “A look at “A Silent Voice – Koe no Katachi” manga”

  1. Caroline says:

    You finally did it. I hope that when the manga ends, you make another review.
    Also, thanks for recommending me Hayate.
    You told me once that you do the reviews for Toaru kaguku no railgun. Is there a chance for you to do the reviews for Accelator or the Toaru light novels reviews?

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      You finally did it. I hope that when the manga ends, you make another review.

      Yes, I will do that. ^_^

      Also, thanks for recommending me Hayate.

      You’re welcome. ^_^

      You told me once that you do the reviews for Toaru kaguku no railgun. Is there a chance for you to do the reviews for Accelator or the Toaru light novels reviews?

      I’ve not read them, but they are on my massive list of things to read. We’ll see if I can get time or not. ^_^;;;;;

  2. WMC says:

    As a long-suffering victim of bullies in grade and high school because I was small, smart and got good grades, I will tell my very gratifying, true story of the halt to the abuse. When as a senoir I had finally got my growth, and I was in the middle of a very intense intramural final basketball game, this son of a bitch who had bumped, shouldered and elbowed me for 20 minutes tripped me from behind and dropped me sprawling to the hardwood. I literally saw the red haze, and because I was so wired by the game, I leaped to my feet, wheeled on him and hit him so hard in the middle of his chest with the heel of my hand that he flipped horizontal. The first thing to hit that same hardwood was the back of his head, knocking him so far out he didn’t come to for 15 minutes, 5 of which he had no heartrate. All I could see was his neck. I wanted him dead. Now. It took the rest of my team to keep me off him. I didn’t care. All I felt .was satisfaction, even though the adrenaline reaction soon had me shaking like a leaf. He made it all right, but he took a trip to the ER on a gurney.

    Never heard or felt a whisper of abuse from anybody again, even in college in the same city. And interestingly, no one ever said a word about it.

    I’m not a born killer and have never taken martial arts, but I have never regretted trying to kill that bastard after having lived for ten years in constant fear of getting beat up again. And I know I can kill to keep from becoming a slave.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Thanks for sharing that story.

      I can understand where you are coming from. In my rage against a bully (my only fight in high school), I did not care either and had to be pulled off the guy. He did not have to go to the hospital, but then even in my rage, I only beat him in the arms. I was scared since I couldn’t stop wailing on the guy, but even then, I was restrained from doing him any real damage. In the end, as I stated, he became a contributing, responsible adult.

  3. Lolomus says:

    It’s good you got to read this one – I agree with you, that this is a really great manga but really hard to read because of the story and I litterally cry at almost every chapter. But I most say, that I still don’t like Shouya that much later on, I don’t really know why, but it just feels like he still annoys me at some points – and when all the others pops up, ugh, Ueno and Kawai – yuck! (But I like they made one of the chapters from Kawais point of view, a lot of things gave more sense, but I still don’t like her!)
    Btw am I the only one feeling there’s something weird about Mashiba? I find it kind of weird, that almost everyone of the main characters have so big personalities and you learn about their feelings, but not Mashiba.. He’s like a character in the background but still in the foreground.. Maybe we’ll get an issue with his thoughts soon?

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      But I most say, that I still don’t like Shouya that much later on, I don’t really know why, but it just feels like he still annoys me at some points

      Considering the unforgivable acts Shouya did to Shouka, combined with his still having a disdainful attitude toward others, I can understand where you are coming from.

      Btw am I the only one feeling there’s something weird about Mashiba?

      No, you aren’t alone. He looks like a poser-punk.

  4. […] after being depressed as all get-out by the bullying themes in A Silent Voice, Akamatsu-sensei delves into the issue of bullying by having Santa bullied when he was alive. I […]

  5. Miguel says:

    I really want a part two of a silent voice the move I love this

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I didn’t watch an anime version. I did read the manga, but it was very difficult to do.

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