A Silent Voice is an anime film adaptation of Yoshitoki Oima's manga of the same name, produced by Kyoto Animation and released to Japanese theaters on September 17, 2016. The movie was directed by Naoko Yamada and written by Reiko Yoshida, with Futoshi Nishiya serving as character designer. The English dub was produced by NYAV Post.
Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf elementary schoolgirl, transfers into a class of hearing students. Although she tries to reach out to her classmates, her disability makes her an easy target for bullying. Eventually, the physical and emotional abuse escalates to the point where she is forced to leave.
The class and teacher refuse to take responsibility for their complicity in the bullying and instead push all of the blame onto a single participant: Shoya Ishida. He is ostracised by his former friends and becomes a victim of their bullying himself, forcing him to spend the rest of his schooldays alone and bitter. He falls into a deep depression and comes to realise the gravity of what he did to Shoko, attempting to make amends in his own small ways, such as taking a sign-language class.
Years later as a high schooler, he happens to meet Shoko again and finally has a chance to apologise for his past actions. The story unfolds as Shoya and Shoko get to know each other as real people and struggle with the emotional scars of their pasts.
A Silent Voice provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Shoko's romantic feelings and failed confession to Shoya isn't entirely forgotten in the film, but the group's falling out and Shoya falling into a coma understandably take greater priority.
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Shoya sees Kawai as one, and he has plenty of reason to think this, considering that most of Kawai's actions are made with her academic reputation in mind.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Shoko verbally tells Shoya that she loves him (suki) but because of her Speech Impediment, he thinks she's referring to the moon (tsuki). When Yuzuru finds out, she can barely hold in her laughter.
- Adaptational Heroism:
- In the original manga, Takeuchi-sensei tries to stop the bullying of Nishimiya at first, but then becomes apathetic, and when Ishida subsequently gets bullied, Takeuchi-sensei tells Ishida he brought it on himself. In the movie, he consistently tells Ishida to stop bullying Nishimiya, and he also doesn't accuse Ishida of bringing his problems down on himself when Ishida's life goes down the tubes.
- Miki Kawai comes off as a much worse person in the manga than in the movie, because in the manga, we see Kawai joining in on Nishimiya's bullying by laughing along with it, so Kawai looks like a hypocrite when she cries about her innocence later. But in the movie, we really only see Kawai being nice to Nishimiya, so the only real hint of Kawai's original manga characterization is when she gets Ishida in trouble by telling everyone about his past misdeeds, which can still be interpreted as her simply being scared of being tarred with Guilt by Association by her peers, so Kawai comes off as much nicer in the movie.
- Nishimiya's mother is harsh in both manga and movie, but she comes across as more sympathetic in the movie, because in the original manga, she was initially very hard on her daughter before softening later, but in the movie, we only see her being harsh in Nishimiya's defense.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Naeka Ueno. In contrast to many other characters having their flaws shaved down, Ueno never goes through her My God, What Have I Done? Heel Realization. She remains defiant and unapologetic about her continued bullying of Shouko, is never called out on her Blaming the Victim mentality toward Shouko, and remains unrepentant to the end of the film.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Due to the film being a Pragmatic Adaptation, much of Kawai's narcissism and Satoshi's toxic Bully Hunter complex gets removed in the film.
- Apathetic Teacher: Mr. Takeuchi seems very sick of his job, and he ignores Shoko being bullied until the school administration gets involved.
- At Least I Admit It: Zig-zagged with Ueno. While she admits that they all bullied Shouko in elementary school, she refuses to see the bullying was WRONG, or that her friend group broke up due to their own bullying behavior.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Downplayed with Ueno. While she remains somewhat abrasive and defiant, she acts nevertheless friendly with Shoya and Shoko's new friend group, yet during her ride with Shoko on the Ferris wheel she reveals she still hates Shoko, blames her for their elementary school friend group breaking up, and wants her to feel as unworthy of friendship as possible.
- Bitch Slap: When Ueno is verbally and physically assaulting Shouko after the latter’s suicide attempt landed Shoya in the hospital, she winds up on the receiving end of one from Shouko’s mother.
- Blaming the Victim: Naoka Ueno does this hard in the film. While she readily admits to bullying Shouko, she vehemently denies said bullying was wrong. She insists Shoko deserved it by daring to try to fit in and make friends, and blames Shoko for their elementary school friend group breaking up due to said bullying. And unlike in the manga, Ueno never has a Heel Realization over it.
- Book Dumb: Yuzuru is a skilled photographer and wins local photo competitions, but she rarely attends school. Later, after Yuzuru decides to become a regular student again, she reveals to Shouya that she's been failing her assignments and asks him to teach her how to study, which Shouya happily agrees to.
- Central Theme: Communication. Specifically, how one must first be willing to listen in order to understand another person.
- Chekhov's Classroom:
- At one point in elementary school, the Ueno's teacher makes her recite literature about a person who has committed a wrong but proudly refuses to apologize for it. This would later define Ueno's stance on bullying Shoko.
- After Shoya's class turns on him, their teacher explains how a lot of great men in history were facing internal struggles of their own. Shoya, at this point, has fallen from grace as the class clown, realizes how much damage he did in bullying Shoko, and is now being bullied himself.
- Compressed Adaptation: The anime adaptation is an impressively downplayed example of this; despite being only a single 129-minute film, it manages to fit almost the entire story of the 62-chapter manga. The only major aspects of the story left out were the group attempting to make a film, which the movie arguably works fine without, and the Distant Finale, ending instead at the school festival.
- Do Wrong, Right: Combined with Turn the Other Cheek, Ueno tries to insult Shoko by signing "moron". Shoko with a smile about how Ueno has finally decided to learn sign language, shows her that she's doing it wrong.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ueno in this version sees nothing wrong with bullying Shoko and is genuinely perplexed on why Shoya would feel guilty or want to atone for it. She also assumes that Shoko's Nice Girl qualities must be fake and that she must secretly hate Ueno, because Ueno herself is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who hates Shoko.
- Faux Affably Evil: Naoka Ueno, due to Adaptational Jerkass. She will act friendly from time to time, but that does nothing to hide the fact that she is a callous, narcissistic sociopath who despises Shouko for no good reason.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Ueno invites herself into Shoya and Shoko's new friend group partly because she can't stand the deaf girl she bullied in elementary school now being friends with people she's no longer friends with.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Shoya and the teenagers related to him as either friends or love interests fit nicely:
- Shoya is Melancholic — The Atoner Byronic Hero who is often depressed and suicidal, and desperately tries to be a good person and make up for what he did to Shoko during childhood.
- Shoko is Phlegmatic — the immensely kind, mild-mannered All-Loving Hero who easily befriends everyone, despite her shyness and low self-esteem related to her disability.
- Nagatsuka is Sanguine — the cheerful, extroverted and friendly Nice Guy, who befriends a loner like Shoya as he was a complete outcast.
- Ueno is Choleric — unpleasant, selfish, cruel and bossy, pretty much The Unapologetic with both Tsundere and Yandere tendencies.
- Hate Sink: Naoka Ueno, who is shown being mean, even violent, and unapologetic.
- Hypocrite: Ueno ingratiates herself into Shoya and Shoko's new friend group partly to push Shoko out of it, by insisting Shoya reconnect with their old elementary school friends and continuing to bully and undermine Shoko when no one is looking. She then has the gall to blame Shoko for the Drama Bomb on the bridge that results in the new friend group breaking up over it, when she herself refused to stop stirring the pot or opening old wounds.
- Karma Houdini: Naoka Ueno. While Shouko's mother does beat the snot out of her after the latter blamed and physically attacked Shoko for her attempted suicide, unlike in the manga, Ueno never has a Heel Realization. She's also never called out for her Never My Fault or Blaming the Victim mentality toward Shoko and is in fact rewarded for her vile behavior by being welcomed back into Shoko's friend group at the end (by Shoko herself!) despite refusing to apologize for all the grief and drama she caused.
- Never My Fault: Kawai and Ueno are both this to some extent. While Kawai denies ever being complicit in Shoko's bullying (which otherwise seems true compared to the manga), Ueno denies the bullying was ever wrong, or that her elementary school friend group broke up due to their own bullying behavior rather than because of Shoko.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Subverted twice with Shouko and Shoya due to the former’s suicide attempt.
- Product Placement: The Nikon brand is popping up a couple of times in the movie.
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Naoka Ueno. Even though she is 18 years old, it's clear she retains her childish mindset from grade school. She ridicules and humiliates Shouko, throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way, doesn't take responsibility for her actions, and refuses to move on from her past friendship break up.
- Shout-Out: In the English dub: "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assist us in baking our mother's birthday cake."
- Skyward Scream: In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film, Shoko begs for forgiveness for trying to kill herself and unintentionally putting Shoya in a coma to his mother, crying, "I'm sorry," in an increasingly broken and strangled voice that eventually just devolves into an incoherent, agonized scream of misery that fades out with a view of a cloudy sky.
- The Sociopath: Naoka Ueno is a low-functioning example. She shows no remorse for her actions, always feels entitled to attention from others no matter what, and instantly drops her friendly charade the moment she doesn't get her way.
- The Unapologetic: Ueno knows she bullied Shoko in elementary school but refuses to admit it was wrong. She remains unapologetic to the end of the film.
- Wham Line: "But tell me Shoya, why would you want to kill yourself?"
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Naoka Ueno does this twice. She physically assaults Shoko twice in the film, and both times blames Shoko. Once on the Ferris wheel, when Ueno slaps Shouko for daring to say she hates herself due to Ueno's bullying. Then after Shoko's attempted suicide, Ueno blames Shoko for her "selfishness" in trying to end her own life, even though Shoko's suicide attempt was partly due to Ueno's continued bullying.