Hearing Silent Voices: A “Koe no Katachi” Review


After months of waiting, anime movie Koe no Katachi finally premiered in Philippine cinemas last May 10, 2017. Gaining the highest gross sales in its opening date alone (even surpassing the previous blockbuster anime movie Your Name.), it makes you wonder what exactly makes Koe no Katachi special.

“I can’t hear.”

Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice or The Shape of Voice from direct translation) is the story about Shoya Ishida, a delinquent boy who bullied their deaf classmate, Shoko Nishimiya, during their elementary school years. The tables turn when Nishimiya transfers schools due to the bullying and Ishida became the target of the bullying himself. Because of this, he began to isolate himself from society to the point of contemplating suicide. But the plans of his future change when he is reunited once more with Nishimiya. Ishida decides to atone for his bullying by helping Nishimiya reconnect with their old classmates that the latter did not have a chance to befriend before.

Ishida silencing the voices

First written as a one-shot manga in 2008, it received the “Best Rookie Manga” award in Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine. It was later published in the same magazine starting February 2011, with the first volume selling 31,714 copies within the first week of release and ranked number 19 on the Oricon manga chart. It steadily gained even more popularity as scanlations of the manga circulated around the internet and social media websites.

Volume 1 by Kodansha

The one-shot became a full manga series as people began to demand to know what happens to the two where the one-shot left off. In August 2013, Weekly Shonen Magazine began releasing the full serialization of Koe no Katachi. Later in the same year, manga publisher Kondasha gained the license to compile and publish the manga into tankobon volumes, resulting in the 7 volumes that are now available in the market.

In December 2014, at the final chapter of the manga, the creators surprised the readers by announcing the plans for an upcoming anime project of the series. The theatrical film adaptation was later confirmed in the 7th (final) volume, to be produced by Kyoto Animation (the same animation studio behind the movies  The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days- and Gekijōban Kyōkai no Kanata I’ll Be Here: Kako-hen.)

Watching Koe no Katachi movie was an experience as a whole. For the first time, we finally get to hear Shoko Nishimiya’s voice and we now finally understand her struggles in communicating verbally. It also has a beautiful soundtrack complements well with the emotions and activity in the scenes where it was played. As the movie itself was also intended to be watched by the deaf community, the creatives did not hold back in making each scene as a colorful feast for the eyes.

Mending broken ties


The movie itself focused mainly on the major events in the manga. Probably due to the limited screen time, some scenes which would have been vital for the character’s developments were omitted. The plot was also slightly changed from the original manga series, but these omissions did not cause a major impact in changing the main story line itself.

Even with these limitations, the movie was able to reach out to the audience its true message of fighting bullying, overcoming anxieties, and gaining self-confidence.

“Koe No Katachi” is still showing in Philippine cinemas nationwide.

Images screencap from official trailer (Kyoto Animation)