A Silent Voice is a subtitled animated Japanese movie by Yamada Naoko. It’s about the relationship between two school students, Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino) and Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami). When Shoko, who has a hearing impairment, starts as a new student in an established elementary class, delinquent Shoya teases her because of her impairment. But when he transfers to junior high school, his former friends turn against him and Shoya finds himself isolated and lonely. He feels guilty about his past actions towards Shoko, and he frequently thinks about how he could atone for his behaviour.
One day, he reunites with Shoko and the two become tentative friends. In an effort to bring happiness to Shoko’s life, Shoya sets out to reconnect her with other students from elementary school, whom she never had a chance to know
Shoko and Shoya gradually begin to develop strong feelings for each other, although Shoko still experiences feelings of hopelessness that eventually lead her to attempt suicide. When Shoya tries to stop her, he puts his own life in jeopardy and the two must both come to terms with their actions.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Relationships; disability; bullying; forgiveness; suicide
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
A Silent Voice has some violence. For example:
- At various points throughout the movie, students fight, both playfully and seriously. Boys straddle other boys, grab and pull their clothes, throw baseballs at the back of other people’s heads, and put other students into headlocks. In one example, a boy in a headlock says that he’s in pain.
- When Shoko extends an offer of friendship to Shoya, he throws dirt at her face.
- When teasing Shoko, Shoya pulls out her hearing aids and blood drips down her ears.
- One of the teachers slams his fist against the chalkboard when angrily asking Shoya to stand up and face claims that he has been bullying Shoko.
- Shoya shoves Shoko and pushes her up against a desk. Shoko then bites his hand, after which the two physically fight. Shoko ends up kicking him to throw him off her, and then she straddles him so she can hit him.
- Shoya slaps himself after saying something that he believes was stupid.
- Shoya’s mother threatens to burn his belongings at the breakfast table because she thinks he intends to kill himself. She then accidentally sets his money on fire, and Shoya needs to remove his shirt to put the fire out.
- Shoya’s best friend picks up another student by the collar to threaten and intimidate the other student. The two end up pushing and shoving each other.
- When Shoya walks Yuzuru home, her mother slaps him across the face.
- Shoko tries to kill herself by jumping off a ledge, but Shoya saves her. He falls and is hurt.
Content that may disturb children
Children in this age group might be scared by the violent scenes in A Silent Voice, mentioned above. These children might also have trouble understanding the movie, which is in Japanese with subtitles.
Children in this age group might find A Silent Voice hard to follow because of the Japanese language and subtitles. They might also be upset by the violent scenes and the idea of suicide.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the idea of suicide and the attempted suicide of a leading character. Also, a character’s grandmother dies, and children might be disturbed by her death and scenes of her funeral.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by the suicide themes and scenes in this movie.
A Silent Voice has some sexual references. For example:
- Students discuss their crushes. One really likes another student and thinks he’s ‘cute’.
- There are references to students dating and having boyfriends and girlfriends.
- Shoya’s friend lends him money when he goes on a trip. He tells Shoya the money is for meals, travel and a ‘love hotel’ to spend the night with Shoko.
- Shoko is told by her female friend Sahara that her ‘chest has gotten bigger’. Sahara then says, ‘I wonder what size they are?’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
None of concern
Nudity and sexual activity
A Silent Voice shows some partial nudity. For example, when Shoko and Shoya jump into a lake together, Shoya is almost able to look up Shoko’s skirt. He averts his eyes after looking briefly.
None of concern
A Silent Voice has some coarse language and insults.
Ideas to discuss with your children
A Silent Voice (also known as The Shape of Voice) is a moving animated movie about teenagers. It tackles a range of individual and interpersonal issues, including the nature of friendship. For example, it examines the idea that friendship isn’t founded on logic and reason, but on connection and vulnerability.
Because the movie deals with mature and disturbing themes like bullying, suicide and atonement, it isn’t recommended for children under 14 years. If you have older teenagers who see the movie, you might like to talk about these themes with them.
It’s also important to note that this movie is in Japanese with subtitles, so it’s likely to be hard for younger children to follow.