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Well, before we start, I just want to say thank you to everyone, because our review of “A Silent Voice” from nearly a year and a half ago has hit over 2,000 views. Not really sure what specifically is bringing people back to it, though I will say that I am happy about it because that is one of my better reviews that I have written.
While this post is not exactly related to the review, seeing people come back to it this much has made me think about the film a lot recently. Plus, since I have not done one of these in a while, I figured it would be a good idea to come back to “A Silent Voice” while it is still on my mind.
Shouya is a character that, in a lot of ways, represents ignorance about the Deaf community. Now, I want to make this perfectly clear, I myself am not immune to this ignorance in any way, and still have had very little contact with that community. However, there are plenty others who have been insolated from this group entirely, despite the fact that the make up a significantly larger portion of the population than one might expect.
Shouya starts out as just another student, ignorant of Shouko’s situation, and who becomes a bully not out of any particular dislike for her, but simply because of peer pressure, so much so that he ends up being one of the main culprits by the end. In fact, the bullying gets so bad that Shouko is forced to move to another school, and Shouya is scapegoated by all the kids in his class. He himself then becomes the target of the same bullying he inflicted on Shouko.
Fast forward to high school age Shouya, where he attempts to commit suicide, but backs out at the last second, only for his mother to find out and chastise him for it, as well as accidentally burn all of his life savings. After being brought back to his senses, he then makes it his mission to apologize to Shouko, or something like that? He feels unclear at the beginning.
Shouya is a flawed individual. I do not think anyone is going to argue this, however those who do not feel this way are more than welcome to try and argue in the comments. Even he recognizes that his desire to reconnect with Shouko is at least partially borne out of wanting to feel better about himself, and this selfishness definitely comes at the cost of making her a bit uncomfortable, and potentially even spurring on her suicide attempt at the end of the film.
Once criticism that I have seen made of Shouko is that she is stereotypical in her damsel in distress archetype, and while I do not necessarily disagree, it does not paint a full picture. This is because Shouya is actually the one who is saved throughout the film. Even before the two had met as high schoolers, it was the thought of his horrible actions against her that kept him alive. After all the time the two spend together, it is ultimately she that becomes his savior, and gives him a reason to live again.
Shouya’s journey in “A Silent Voice,” while indeed romanticized in a way that feels unfair to Shouko, is somewhat allegorical to the journey many people have taken in our modern social environment. The tendency of many to otherize people based on characteristics largely outside of their control is one that has ruled human history, and it is only relatively recently that societies have engaged on a large scale with the idea that this otherization is wrong. Whether it be members of the Deaf community or any other marginalized group, it is important to realize the impact of our words and actions on others.
How do you feel about Shouya Ishida? Let me know in the comments below.
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