I started the review of these two anime films together because I watched them back to back. It was mid-July and I was out of town A Silent Voice was on Netflix and The Anthem of the Heart was on a provider I can’t remember at the moment. It belonged to my host.
The films have many things in common, high school, slice of life, regrets, teens and disability. They also have differences. I recommend both are insightful and deep.
A silent Voice [Koe no Katachi]
Directed – Naoko Yamada
Written– Reiko Yoshida
Based on Manga by Yoshistoki One
Shoya Ishida is a former bully who stops himself from committing suicide. After decided to live he attempts to make amends with the person he terrorized in elementary school, a deaf classmate Shoko Nishimiya.
In the flashback, 6th grader Shoya and classmates are introduced to Shoko. It is them revealed that Shoko is deaf, the class would have to make an extra effort to communicate with her. Most of the children feel that it is a burden and some of them speak out about not wanting to adjust what they do just for Shoko’s sake. Proving to young Shoya that whatever he did to Shoko was justified. Eventually, the bullying was reported to the principal. Shoya was singled out as the only perpetrator. Shoko left the school and Shoya became the next bully victim. It continued into high school, to the point he has no friends and does not interact with anyone. He believed he was better off dead.
Shoya first meeting with Shoko is awkward. However, he continues to visit her and she does not rebuke him. She is still a friendly girl trying her best. Shoya is impressed. It allows him to take action, like helping out a classmate. That very grateful classmate decides that he and Shoya are friends and makes the effort to maintain the relationship. At the same time, Shoya is trying to rebuild a relationship with Shoko. New and old friends are made and the past rears its ugly head. Shoya and Shoko go threw a lot. They make it eventually.
This was another anime I had a difficult time reviewing. I wanted my words to be profound and have meaning. The anime says many things and I wanted to be someone who was able to convey them. Overall the anime and manga are about forgiveness, redemption, self-worth, depression. It questions if it is possible, for any of us to have it.
I remember reading the description for the manga years ago. I had no inclination to read it then. I was hitting a burnout phase. No manga or anime was worth it. I don’t think so now. This anime convinced me to read the manga. Because there were aspects of the story that could not be put in the film and could be explored in the book. Characters that had more depth but weren’t able to be seen in the film. Thumbs up.
The Anthem of the Heart [Kokora ga Sakebitagatterunda]
Directed– Tatsuyuki Nagai
Screenplay– Mari Okada
Story by Choheiwa Busters
Jun Naruse is a high school student who was “cursed” speechless. When she was a young child, she witnessed and reported on something that caused the break up of her family. She was told that being mute would keep others from being hurt by her words. She has not spoken a word out loud for almost 10 years.
Fortunately for Jun, she is not bullied in school. Her classmates are considerate about her “disability”. They don’t understand it but they don’t ostracize or penalize her for it. This is a different issue at home, Jun’s inability to talk is cause for embarrassment for her mother Izumi.
Events that lead to Jun’s transformation begins when her teacher, Kazuki Joshima, picks Jun and three other students to be part of the social outreach committee. Takumi Sakagami, the average HS boy, Natsuki Nito, a cheerleader and “perfect girl”, Daiki Tazaki, an injured baseball hero. All four students would rather not participate in the committee. Each has their own reasons. Takumi and Jun both attempt to talk to Mr. Joshima in private. This is where Takumi is revealed to be a good musician. His random performance inspires Jun. She may not be able to speak, but a song is another method to communicate with another person. Jun can sing. Her effort inspires Takumi and the whole class to perform a musical for the community.
There is a love trapezoid in this story that is kind of downplayed. Takumi is liked by Natsuki and Jun. Daiki likes Natsuki. Sorry, there might not be a shape to explain this. Takumi and Jun are similar in away. They both experienced the break up of their families. Jun stopped speaking physically. Takumi stopped playing music and talking to his friends.
Jun’s desire to express her feelings taught Takumi that it was time for him to deal with his own.
Everything is revealed on the day of the play. Jun is the star and because of a misunderstanding, she left the play. The show goes on with Takumi desperately looking for Jun. When he finds her, they have a discussion, they both express their feelings and he convinces her to come back to the school and perform.
Jun does this to the relief of the whole class. She is able to let her mother know her true feelings about everything. This is very important. The relationship between the four is resolved in a bittersweet way. It was interesting because it was not expected. I was annoyed at first and then I adjusted.
The interesting thing about this film is that the musical uses known songs and melodies like Beethoven’s Pathetique, Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz and Around the World, from the movie Around the World in 80’s Days. They changed the words for the play written by Jun. I was impressed. Thumbs up.
Like many films and books, I have seen or read, I wanted to write more. These two films said interesting things about self-worth and preception. They were able to convey that overcoming obstacles are not easy, it can be a painful emotional rollercoaster. The truth is always best and speaking truth is sometimes difficult.
This is the truth I cannot write any more about this subject. I recommend both films. They are some triggers so please be aware if you or someone you know watching with you can be affected. Overall enjoy.