Koe no Katachi Review

This movie is a roller coaster of emotion!

At last this KyotoAni movie finally came out, but does it actually live up to all the hype? Although I kinda think that other major anime movie Your Name probably had way more hype surrounding it than A silent voice.


 This is actually a story that I read the manga completely (it’s licensed by Crunchyroll Manga, and also available for purchase in volumes) before I knew it was getting an adaptation, but that was a year ago or more. So I knew the basics of the story, and that it was going to be a rough go, but was the movie successful on its own? Also, I reread the manga this week after watching to see what I thought of the difference.


KyoAni adaptation

Finger guns pew pew~

Fosh// Out of all the KyoAni series ever created I gotta say Koe no Katachi easily tackles some of the most mature subject matter of any of their previous works with some exceptions to maybe the second season of Clannad: After Story? Which had me confused as to why KyoAni would want to even adapt something like Koe no Katachi in the first place because they tend to go for very happy slice of life series without anything super sad or depressing, but I suppose every studio needs to change it up every once in awhile or was this just a cash grab? As far as I can remember the manga for Koe no Katachi did fairly well and gained a huge following! I will say this movie does a decent job as an abridged version of the Koe no Katachi manga; however it does leave out some of the important info on the background of the side characters and some extra events, but since this is an adaptation of something else we all know how tough it can be for any studio to include all of the “cool” moments from the original source material into a two and a half-hour movie.

Yuzuru is the best <3

Highway// I think that the choices made for this adaptation did a very good job of keeping the essence of the story while cutting it down to a manageable length. It’s still a movie that’s over 2 hours, very long for an anime movie. And the “making a film” storyline really wasn’t missed. They also did a very good job, I thought, of toning down and cutting the time it took to establish the characters. While that has the effect of making Shouya seem less of a bully and a punk, it still comes across. And cutting the ending back doesn’t really harm it either, and leaves a nice extra bit for the readers of the manga. So overall I think it was a very successful adaptation.

Mature themes

Easily one of the most intensive moments from the movie.

Fosh// Koe no Katachi hits us with some heavy subjects from bullying, attempted suicides and living with a disability. While those are very mature themes most people would say that they original creators cherry picked subjects that would pull at the heartstrings of readers which I can sort of agree with, but at the same time those themes have been around for a long time and I’m sure most of us have seen at least one or two anime series from good old Key.

Shouya to the rescue?!

Fosh// Let’s take each mature theme and discuss them starting with the bullying side which we see mostly through the eyes of Shouya who at the start was the “ringleader” of his band of “cool kids” who were the token delinquents of their elementary class. And when Shouko transfers in something snaps in Shouya and he just can’t help himself but make Shouko his new target? That and discovering she is deaf makes it all the more fun for him? It even gets to a point where not just Shouya is picking on her but slowly the ENTIRE class (all the main characters) eventually join in? At this section the movie shows us the intense bullying scenes play out before our eyes in a stupid montage. I heard stories of people in theaters laughing during this section? For me it was just let’s just show how many times can we destroy or damage these really EXPENSIVE hearing aids because these kids are assholes! Yeah I know generally kids are jerks at that age so good on KyoAni for getting that right? I guess?

Shouya’s mom takes things to the extreme.

Highway// I personally thought that they got the message across, but the movie felt a little bit like it soft-pedaled Shouya being a jerk and a bully. Like Fosh says that “he snaps”, whereas the manga kinda beat you over the head with the fact that Shouya was a punk, and that it was pretty much inevitable that he was going to pick on Nishimiya, it just took until he could feel comfortable that the other kids would back him up for him to start doing it. And when he starts that ball rolling, everyone jumps on. I think it’s not really hard to see that Nishimiya is somewhat of a pain. You have to slow things down to accommodate her, she can’t sing right, you have to interrupt your thinking to include her. So Shouya strikes just as these feelings of annoyance are growing in people, so they’re happy to jump on the bandwagon, especially being bratty-ass pre-teens.

Oh right this “fight” was hard to watch.

Fosh// After all of that montage ends we get another shocking moment with Shouya ripping a new pair of hearing aids from Shouko’s ear causing her to bleed and cry? Oh and he physically got into a fight with Shouko after school too which I assume is the reason she quit going to school? So I gotta ask is there a special level of hell waiting for Shouya when he bites the dust? because OH MY GOD I wanted to kick his ass, but I suppose that was the point? I know this cause everyone reading the manga to wish death on Shouya due to what he did; however he does get a taste of his own medicine after his whole class and even the teacher rats him out for picking on Shouko over and over again and eventually the tables are turned and Shouya when he is the new target everyone picks on and his friends straight up quit hanging around him.

I wish they would just hug it out.

Highway// I actually love the fight scene because that’s where we see for the first time that Shouko is blaming herself for Shouya’s being the target of the bullies, and get the first hint that she doesn’t really blame Shouya for bullying her. Again, the movie uses shorthand here for the idea that she’s cleaning his desk, and has been doing it for a long time, after his classmates have been writing on it in continuation of their bullying of him. It’s only after she transfers out that he realizes that, and having someone that he so hated, so tortured, actually standing up for him and trying to help him is so alien for pre-teen Shouya to understand. But I think that’s really what leads to his epiphany about how bad he was, and the way it’s presented right before their re-meeting 5 years later works really well.

It still confuses me why Shouko would even be put in any singing classes.

Fosh// So did anyone actually feel sorry for Shouya when he was the one being targeted? I certainly did not care because I can totally relate to Shouko even though I wasn’t pushed nearly to such extremes as her, but I did wish for all kinds of bad things to happen to whomever was picking on me at the time. Aside from that whole bullying bit Shouya never seemed to recover from it and we catch up with him around high school age working part time to pay his mom back for the money that she gave to the Nishimiyas to replace the hearing aids. Although his intentions seemed pure we learned they were coming from a very dark place! Before giving her the money he was going to kill himself due to all the depression he was going through in his personal life or just got sick and tired of having no friends and having everyone hate him at school? Either way she found out about his attempted suicide and kinda didn’t do much about it? You would think she would force him to get some mental help, but I guess burning his hard earned money was his punishment? At least in the end he gets to finally live his life and see the world after gaining the ultimate power of friendship! Minus Ueno because she will always be terrible along with Kawai if you knew her real manga background. What did you think she was really a pure innocent soul in all of this? HA.

I guess you know why Yuzuru is so protective over Shouko. 

Highway// I think the movie got across Kawai’s personality defect, using the scene where she accuses Ishida of bullying her. But getting to the suicide attempts, from what I know, mental health issues in Japan are something that is considered a very personal, very private failing, and you don’t really bring it up, you don’t get help with it. Most parents aren’t going to want to acknowledge that their child has a condition like depression, but the more we watch of the movie, the more I think we come to understand that it’s still there, even if it’s not talked about.

Living with a disability

Shouko completely losing her hearing in her right ear is sad to learn about.

Fosh// For most of our readers here a good majority of people know about me being born with a muscular disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy which the TLDR version is basically having a body that just gets weaker with age faster than normal people? So when I got word of what Koe no Katachi was going to be about I wanted to take a look at how they tackled that subject, but at the same time I was worried that they just tossed Shouko who is deaf into the series to make it sad for the hell of it? Which ended up being the case for some of it, but I also totally understood they wanted to tell us a story. To my surprise Shouko was shown as a tough character in that she didn’t really break in front of Shouya or anyone else picking on her, but yeah she did physically fight Shouya. I also wondered if she understand what was going on back in the day at school? Part of me feels she didn’t fully grasp what was going on around her, but we do know it affect her later on because I think she tells either her sister or grandma that she wants to die because she feels like a burden to everyone around her. When that moment happened in the manga I remember it being a really tough scene to get through. Along with that actual scene with Shouko jumping from her balcony in an attempt to kill herself, but out of all the characters Shouya saves her and ended up being in knocked out for a few days? During those days man Shouko could have used more hugs.

“I want to die…”

Highway// I thought the main thing that the story does very well, and that the movie handled well, was in getting the audience to realize that Shouko’s biggest problem isn’t hearing disability, but is her depression. Again, the difference between the movie and the manga on this point is that the manga kinda beats you over the head with it, but even without that, I felt it was clear that it’s not her disappointment in not being able to hear that drives her to attempt suicide. It’s her feelings that everything is her fault, that the people around her would be better off without her. This is a hard thing to get across, especially in a movie like this where the viewer is predisposed to give Shouko the benefit of the doubt, and where quite a few stories would make her into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl type character, whose only point is to bring Shouya back from his own depression. But I really like that she has her own real problems, ones that predate any interactions with Shouya and his classmates, ones that are inside her.

Shouko crying for Shouya.

Fosh// Now in my personal life I’ve never really been pushed to that point, but the part about feeling like a burden to others yeah due to all the extra help I need just to get by every day and it does wear on someone going through that so in that sense I felt for Shouko. I will praise Koe no Katachi for getting the parts where Shouko tried talking right much like we saw with Nick from gangsta without making it feel cringe worthy or come off as mocking deaf people. Oh and the use of sign language was also a nice touch. The only thing I was confused by was why did Shouko suddenly developed a crush on Shouya? Why fall in love with the guy that made you life hell? Did she simply learn to forgive him and move on from those memories? Was it because he was the only guy to ever hang out with her and just so happened to know some sign language? Although to their credit we don’t really know if the two of them really hooked up at all because it’s left to our imaginations since the manga and anime both end in similar ways! So do you think they did? I’d like to think they did, but even so if they just ended up being good friends that good enough for me.

Extra Feels

Come on ponytails are the best.

A very strange birthday party.

I thought this was a great goodbye scene for Shouko’s grandma.

I laughed quite hard during this baka bit.

That smile is the best <3

Are you done crying? I certainly haven’t stopped…

End Thoughts

This was leaps and bounds better than what I got from Your Name just based on the somewhat relatable subject matter, but i’m not gonna compare the two because I know both movies told completely different stories. As much as I loved this movie it does have plenty of issues like the passing of time? We don’t really get clear reminders of how time flows in Koe no Katachi outside of things like festivals, Shouya and Shouko getting older; however it sorta didn’t matter cause to the characters and viewers we were along for the ride. I was a bit sad they didn’t reveal more about the side characters and what really went down for them; however I don’t care for the side characters as much unless it’s Yuzuru who is by far the best even though she did come off as being super protective. Oh and I guess the moms were alright too? They didn’t do much but most of their “great” scenes from the manga were left out of the movie for whatever reason? Maybe it was too real for some? So all Koe no Katachi was a solid film for me even though i’ll bet money most of the complaints are going to be about the ending and fact that Shouya and Shouko didn’t hold hands, kiss or get to confess again? To that I will just say I don’t think romance was ever the goal in Koe no Katachi which I guess is up for debate depending if you wanted a feel good romantic ending.

This is a tough story to watch. It took me two stints to get through the whole thing, and there was a lot of cringing throughout. You really care about these characters, and their feelings hurt you, if not as much as they are hurt themselves. I’d have liked these two to be together in the movie, but I think the manga gets the idea across that they would probably be a couple. It ends at a good point, tho, and the things it leaves out are not bad choices. And once again, it proves just how great an actress Saori Hayami is, since she’s my favorite VA and I didn’t realize it was her as Shouko, just that whoever was doing the character was terrific.


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9 Responses to “Koe no Katachi Review”

  1. sonicsenryaku says:

    I couldnt wait to see what you guys thought about this movie; good job on the review. This has lept into my top 3 rankings as kyo ani’s best works; Naoko Yamada is a force to be reckon; I think what i like most about her directing style is how she directs with live-action sensibilities; she understands the strengths and weaknesses of both live action and animation and utilizes both mediums’ philosophies to enhance her work. Yamada truly went out of her way to make koe no katachi feel like a film and the overall product is nothing short of beautiful.

    • Highway says:

      It is very good, although I think the difficulty of watching it probably makes it so it won’t be something I rewatch much. There are parts that I’d have liked to see from the manga added in, in the same way: not beat over the head, but added subtly. But that would have made it another half-hour long, I think.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        And i wouldnt have minded whatsoever. Hell, the disappearance of haruhi suzumiya (yet another great piece of work from kyo ani) was 2 hours and 40 minutes. I would have been more than happy to receive that extra 30 mins. they should have made an extended edition for the blu-rays if the concern was not making the film feel too long for theater viewing

    • Foshizzel says:

      Thanks! Yeah I was excited to see what KyoAni did with this after reading the manga and hearing about them adapting it into a movie, but to be honest I was a bit worried cause damn did Koe no Katachi hit on some heavy subject matter and like I said in the review the last “serious” series was Clannad After Story? That said damn they did a great job.

  2. zztop says:

    I wonder if Voice’s mangaka, Yoshitoki Oima, was perhaps drawing from experience when writing Voice’s story. Especially when you consider a school of thought that some authors can write about certain themes vividly becuase they experienced it.

    For example, a biography of anime writer Okada Mari reveals she had a pretty bad childhood – she was constantly bullied at school to the point she became a shut-in, her father cheated on her mother and subsequently was forced by her grandfather to get divorced, and her mom became a serial dater afterwards to fill her own emotional gap…

    Some think Okada has flair for melodrama because she lived through those events.

    • skylion says:

      This is never as clear cut as it seems, because it belies creativity, imagination, and research. If the “write what you know and experienced” is true, then there are some crime writers out there that have some questions to answer…

    • Highway says:

      I think there’s also a lot of selection bias in there. Since everyone is told “write what you know” then a significant number of people who write about a certain topic have experienced that. If you cherry-pick the best stories of a style or topic, then you’re going to be more likely to pick some of the ones from people who have experienced it.

      Plus, the author experience becomes a part of the story. The narrative becomes meta, even if the story is not really about the person’s specific experience. A story will get more mindshare if it’s associated with an author who has a compelling story. And that kind of mindshare affects the readers perception of the quality and authenticity of the story.

      We even do it as reviewers here. I’ll write about the things I’ve experienced in order to bolster my arguments for or against a show’s depiction of an event. It’s just what people do.

    • Foshizzel says:

      Yeah I kinda could guess that Okada Mari probably had a rough childhood given some of her past series she wrote, but at the same time she has said in several interviews that she just likes tragic things to happen to her characters cause its fun…

      As for Yoshitoki Oima maybe he had a deaf friend that went through some similar life of bullying and what not? But I’m totally on board with Highway that you can easily create your own Koe no Katachi like story by cherry-picking a random disability+suicide attempts+bullying and add a character redemption story and you’ve got something to work with.

      All that said though I loved Koe no Katachi!

  3. […] another post, we discussed an author’s experiences informing and shaping their stories, and one of the […]

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