In the same year that an abusive anti-Semitic drunkard and all-around terrible human is in a high-profile family comedy after having been nominated for Best Director, a film like Naoko Yamada's anime A Silent Voice, about a violent man seeking redemption while his victim largely blames herself, plays as tricky at best. Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino) is a sixth-grade bully who wastes no time tormenting the new girl in class, the hard-of-hearing Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami). This includes constantly destroying her hearing aids, and even physically attacking her -- a sequence that is visually coded as a rape -- when she persists in trying to be his friend.
Their paths cross again several years later, and a despondent and vaguely suicidal Ishida tries to make amends with Nishimiya and her friends and family while also trying to work through his own social anxieties. It's likely that much of A Silent Voice's nuance has been lost in the adaptation from the source manga, and it certainly has a different resonance in its native Japan, but the synopsis describes his friendless-outcast status as "the tables turning" and "Shoya finding himself the victim," which, no. It has some interesting visuals, but A Silent Voice demands investment in the redemption of someone who's impossible to root for. And seriously, fuck Mel Gibson.
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