Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?
Shoko is an unlikeable protagonist, as teasing and side comments escalate to physical threats and destructive behavior. But where A Silent Voice shines is in showing how easily things can escalate out of control. The teacher’s casual insensitivity, adults’ lack of awareness, and all of the competition and acting out that takes place at that age combine to create a dangerous environment.
A Silent Voice shows the emotional toll of bullying on both victim and aggressor over time. It’s fascinating to see both sides presented so vividly, and I loved the evolution of the artwork as Shoya’s isolation grows. Facial features for classmates become more vague, then blank out into empty outlines, until eventually their faces are X-ed out altogether.
* Thoughtful exploration of bullying
* Art style that perfectly matches story
* Unforgettable characters
* Complex emotions and relationships