We know Kyoto Animation. It’s famous (or infamous) for its moeblob characters, idol songs everywhere, and the characteristic massive sparkly eyes. But maybe we can begrudge them these things because of their stunning animation and good storylines. Their latest work is a movie adaptation of the manga series Koe no Katachi, or A Silent Voice. A teaser was released a few months ago, and a trailer has recently been released on the movie’s website. Even with just Japanese subtitles and no English as of yet, we can already tell that this movie is going to be a tear jerker. KyoAni is pretty decent at cranking up the feels, after all. What we’re dying to know, though, is will it be any different from other sad movies we’ve seen?
What strikes us as unique as soon as we read the synopsis is actually just that- the description itself. The story revolves around delinquent Shoya Ishida, who bullied a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya during elementary school. Eventually he drove her to transfer away to another school. Soon after, he begins to be ostracised by his classmates and they almost drive him to the point of suicide. At this time, during high school, Nishimiya transfers back to his class, and he has the chance to make amends. First thing to do? Learn sign language to he can apologise.
Already, we’re greeted with a slightly unusual setting. (We know it’s in a high school as per, but hear us out). We have a main character with a hearing impairment, something that we’ve rarely (if ever) seen in a show. A male delinquent protagonist is nothing new, but this delinquent isn’t going to be made to change by his love interest- she’s far too shy, and why would she want to help him? He bullied her out of school. He begins the change all on his own, believing that he must be punished for his terrible past behaviour. Redemption stories are always good to see- plus Shoya initially doesn’t seem to have much romantic interest in her. His goal from the beginning is to redeem himself. This is of course going off of the trailer; readers of the manga and others may disagree.
The original manga was published by Kodansha from 2013-2014. As many anime fans may know, Kodansha is a popular publisher for the magical girl genre, having released Codename: Sailor V and Cardcaptor Sakura in the past. It’s also the company responsible for 5 Centimeters per second, a movie that can either have you bawling your eyes out or wondering what all the fuss is about. Considering 5 Centimeters per second’s mixed reception, could Koe no Katachi be going the same way? After all, they’re quite similar in style. From the trailer, we can see that Koe no Katachi is a feels-y, sensitive show designed to be dramatic and tug at the heartstrings. If we think about the company working on the movie though (KyoAni), we could say that they’re a responsible pair of hands to leave this story in. KyoAni has animated the feels giant Clannad, so we can expect something impressive this time around.
Something that could disappoint a few people though- why is this thing a movie and not a series? They have a fantastically unique basis for a plot and KyoAni has the existing fanbase to get it going. It could be that the budget was simply massive and better spent on an amazing movie rather than a mediocre series. Or maybe the manga just didn’t translate too well into a full length show. Either way, it still leaves some of us with a desire for a show like this, one that’s a bit different from the other drama/romances clogging up our ‘to watch’ lists.
Koe no Katachi is due to release in Japan on September 17th, so we have a while to wait until these speculations aren’t just speculations anymore. Even so, we’re pretty excited to have seen the latest trailer. According to the website/company, it will be subtitled in Japanese to provide the best viewing experience for anyone, including those hard of hearing. Let’s hope they keep up with this kind of attitude and give us a great movie. We know you can do it, Kyoto Animation.