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Review: A Silent Voice, the Japanese anime where everybody says sorry

PUBLISHED: 10:18 14 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:18 14 March 2017

Romantic anime drama, A Silent Voice follows youngster Shoko, who after moving to a new school is taunted because of her hearing impairment, principally by Shouya. Picture: AlltheAnime

Romantic anime drama, A Silent Voice follows youngster Shoko, who after moving to a new school is taunted because of her hearing impairment, principally by Shouya. Picture: AlltheAnime

Archant

Naoko Yamada’s film is touching and charming and beautifully animated, but it’s a world inhabited entirely by overgrown babies.

A Silent Voice (12A)

***

This is a Japanese anime where everybody says sorry all the time; so much so that even they get fed up with the amount of apologising going on.

When he was at Elementary school Shōya Ishida (Miya Irino) bullied a new girl in the class, Shōko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami), because she is deaf. Nishimiya is so desperate to make friends that she constantly apologies to her aggressors, which just makes it worse.

Eventually she transfers to another school. In High school the shame of his earlier behaviour has made Ishida an outcast, who decides he has to make amends and say sorry.

Naoko Yamada’s film opens with an attempted suicide and is slightly darker than the kind of Japanese animation we are used to. Perhaps because it touches on two big topics in Japanese society, bullying and suicide rates, it was a big hit, the second biggest animation after Your Name.

It is touching and charming and beautifully animated. In places it’s so lifelike I wondered if they hadn’t snuck in a photo just to see if we could tell the difference. It also has that inherent creepiness of all animes.

Every character has those big glassy eyes that project innocence, like it is a world inhabited entirely by overgrown babies. Yet all the girls, the school girls mind, are drawn wearing ridiculously short skirts.

Now I understand that this cunning duplicity is the nudge nudge key to the form’s global appeal, but when the story suggest it is trying to achieve a greater emotional depth it is a little distracting.

• A Silent Voice is screening at Vue, Norwich on March 15 and Cinema City, Norwich, on March 15 and March 18

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