Cracks that Pierced the Wall: Koe No Katachi

To watch any type of media fairly and with opened mind, I always to wait for the hype to calm down, especially when the buzz around it includes statements like, “It’s the best ever”. At least that’s how I do it, otherwise, I get swiped away with the tide very easily.

Even if I avoided spoilers, forums and comments regarding this movie when it first came out, there were news still coming to me about the constant debate to see which one was better: Koe no Katachi or  Kimi no Na Wa (another production I held off because of the hype around it.)

With that in mind, I decided to do something a little different for this week’s review: I was going to watch both productions back to back thinking they were similar in plot to deserve such comparisons.

After I watched both productions, I wondered why they were put against each other when there was nothing to compare. Both are different genres and explore different types of themes, with one of them getting an approach of psychology and the other taking place in fantasy. Both have a romance storyline, although one is not explored thoroughly because of the themes presented and the other one focuses completely on it.

The similarities between them were as follows: both were simple stories with determined goals and both were released between 2016 and 2017.

That’s about it.

I immediately understood that the battle between both “fandoms” had more to do with personal preferences or people wanting to win Internet cookies (for pride, for honor, for validation), than presenting actual evidence to argue which is better through fair rules and fair standards.

That is not to say that I can’t pick my favorite movie out of the two for personal reasons, but saying one is better than the other is impossible to do as both do different things and have different objectives, plot, format of storytelling, characterization and uses of cinematographic language.

I still have criticism for both of the movies, as both share some iffy elements that make some decisions in the narratives illogical; although there are a few reasons as to why I think Koe no Katachi held back on its full potential more than Kimi no Na Wa did.

In short: Koe no Katachi is a movie that’s rich in visuals, deep in content, with interesting characterizations, wonderful structure but lacking a strong central narrative, articulate subplots and a strong female counterpart.

As always, we have to turn to the authors, screenwriters and directors to get some answers as to how a work came up the way it did.

The Sentimentality Behind the Screen

First, let’s turn to the author Yoshitoki Ooima. The type of manga Koe no Katachi is, requires a level of transparency regarding the approach of the themes; because of this, it is easy to see where the author’s moral code stands.

If we analyze her manga with psychology books at hand, we will find an accurate portrayal of the state of mind of the main character; it is an indication of her extensive research regarding those topics and how involved she was with her own product.

If we go by themes, Koe no Katachi is all about second chances and is another way to see a road to redemption and forgiveness in a less extreme context. I am not saying that her work lacks tension, it’s just that the external problems revolving around the teen characters may appear like big issues when they are not.

Ooima argues that to them it’s real, to them it means everything and that’s why her characters feel like real teenagers. If I was one, I could’ve totally seen myself in many of them as they are a fine representation on how intense our emotions were around the character’s ages.

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Conversations with the voice actor for Shoko and the author of the manga. Found in Volume 6, Chapter 52 and Page 21.

Probably that is why I found the first big disconnect between me and Koe no Katachi. Plenty of times I found myself thinking, “What a bunch of idiots” later realizing that we were a bunch of idiots trying to figure things out and putting a lot of effort to be accepted or accepting other people in our teen years.

Is not that this feeling goes away completely, you just don’t put as much effort to be accepted and don’t put acceptance at a higher regard when you have other things to worry about (bills, work, family, your own mental and physical health).

Talking about adulthood, it is important to notice that this is Ooima’s first work as a solo artist and the story began as a one-shot manga. This could explain many of Ooima’s flaws as a writer.

For example, her one-shot feels like everything we need to know about the story and is wrapped up neatly when it comes to themes, working any more on it could’ve spawn issues regarding the structure of the story and the emotion behind it, and it did: we got intensive flashbacks to expand on the backstories and the need to project the character’s emotions by reiterating dialogues and thoughts over and over again.

That is not all, Ooima treats adults with the same rules when treating teenagers and this leaves in the open her tendency to overdramatize even the adult’s narratives; this comes at a cost: all grown-ups seem disingenuous and, unintentionally, their problem solving skills are as immature as any other teen in the story.

There are other problems which we are going to see here that has more to do with the original source, instead of putting the fault in the adaptation. However, I refuse the idea of marking Ooima as bad writer she is just inexperienced and will get better in time (hopefully).

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I have seen this style many times before from this director.

Now, let’s jump to Yamada Naoko, the director. She has worked with sentimentality time and time again, which is why I think that she was the best candidate to bring the story one step ahead. While I am not fond of most of the productions she has worked on (Full Metal Panic! Second Raid is the exception), I have a deep respect for her resume (Clannad, Free, K-On,Tamako Love Story and more).

While she has great directorial instinct and talent in her storyboard writing, in my opinion, she is too one-faceted. All of her works (as a director and writer) consists in somber, melodramatic and slice of life media with serious tones. So, doing something with Koe no Katachi comes from a place of experience, although it was expected. As a result, many of her techniques were recycled specifically for this film (once again, FMP! being the exception):  her use of pastel and light neutral colors, post-production’s blur and the indiscriminate usage of cornea blinding whites, to mention a few.

There is nothing wrong with recycling the techniques she perfected, however I would like to see her going outside of her comfort zone to direct something she is not used to.

Now, we are going see Reiko Yoshida, the script/screenwriter. Her works have been varied throughout the years and she has proven herself to be a talented screenwriter; however, her tendency to craft melodramatic works turns against her plenty of times, sometimes creating something wonderful (School Rumble, Bakuman, Yowamushi Pedal, Ghost Hunt, etc.) and sometimes creating total failures (Rurouni Kenshin’s OVAs , Mob Psycho 100 live action –which we will cover in the future- and Romeo x Juliet which I don’t even have to explain why).

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I loved the music choice and the montage at the beginning.

She has had an interesting career that highlights an attitude of “All or nothing”, there is no in-betweens for Yoshida. My take on her inconsistency may come from external faults and could be linked with producers pushing her around, directors changing her script (which is necessary sometimes), directors not understanding her screenplay writing or simply she is not into the types of stories her management gives her.

Her addition to the team for Koe no Katachi was a no-brainer since she has worked with Yamada Naoko through the production of K-On/Tamako Market and there is no doubt that she did a marvelous job in this film (more on this later).

Both, Reiko Yoshida and Yamada Naoko are a power team and with an incredible resume. Their experience in the genre of slice of life hasn’t gone unnoticed, but it’s pretty clear that these are the type of works we can expect from them, and this is the second reason I detached myself from Koe no Katachi.

Searching for my Sanity

When I started to search on the web for opinions to see if people saw what I saw, I started to notice the pattern. The outstanding reviews, the expected comparisons and more than positive reactions came up often. Koe no Katachi triggered my eternal questioning of my taste: Netizen accepting Koe no Katachi unequivocally as a masterpiece and serious movie critics agreeing with that notion.

Somehow, I was not feeling that way.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie “worked” in its goal: connecting with the characters. It made me love Shoya, the main character, while the tune My Generation from The Who was playing accompanying children having fun. It made me hate Shoya when he became an aggressor; it made me be angry at him when his abuse escalated; he also drew my sympathy when he was being bullied; he made sorry for hating him when he felt worthless due to his regret.

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I was happy that he accepted himself but I couldn’t shake this underwhelming feeling.

What more can a production ask for when its goal is to make you feel something?

The beautiful composition, colors and animation were entrancing. The rhythm in editing left a few things for interpretation without telling us exactly what was happening. The directorial decisions on certain themes were incredibly bold but visually interesting. Because of these visual cues, the director was able to convey the complicated themes being presented with respect and from an empathetic point of view regarding bullies, social anxiety, betrayal trauma, self-hatred, fear of the unknown, self-worth and suicide.

Sometimes, Koe no Katachi wanted for us to feel identified with some of the characters, and in my case, it succeeded at a minor degree because, you know, it made me feel nostalgic at times but not identified. Nonetheless, this has never been a problem for me before, because I am always open to see the magic in movies and stories.

So, Koe no Katachi had everything the story needed to make me feel inspired and say, “This is it! This is the greatest production I have ever watched!” So why… why did I feel so unmoved by the end of the film?

I couldn’t shake the unimpressed feeling the movie left me with. If it had everything I liked, why didn’t I like it as much as the reviews indicated? To me it was good, but not “masterpiece good”. It was a story that could test the time; but, this feeling didn’t leave me throughout the day and kept arguing with myself why. I wasn’t even sure on how to do this review because I couldn’t bring myself to mindlessly praise something without stetting in stone the reasoning behind my praise.

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What did I just watch?

To take a step back, I watched the movie again (part of the reason this review is a little late); this time, I took a different approach. Instead of looking at the film as a whole I started to see each element in the movie separately always asking why: Why this cut? Why this music? Why this dialogue? Why this montage? Why this angle? Why this shot? Why this visual effect?

No luck.

The story was good, the direction was great, most of the characters were complex and the themes were brilliantly presented. I decided to ask other questions.

Was it because of the genre, slice of life? Shoya’s inner battle made me think that the story was more than slice of life, so that wasn’t it.

Was there any type of narrations or dialogues that didn’t make sense? No. The movie showed us and barely took the time to explain to us the reasoning behind the character’s decisions, more than that, it left the widow open for us to fill in the gaps regarding those decisions.

So, was the story simply not made for me? I mean, school based stories don’t bother me and I can take drama as long as is not mindless melodrama. If every dramatic turn serves a legitimate purpose I don’t see the problem with them.

None of these questions encompassed everything I was feeling.  If it wasn’t the direction, the animation or the art/photography; if it wasn’t the story, the themes or the approach, then, what was bothering me?

So I focused on my pet-peeves. Just like that, I kept finding little rips that ended up unraveling a chunk of my excellent rating.

Answer 1: Special Treatment for Special People

While Shoya, Yuzuru and Sahara were complex to me, there are a number of characters that still feel one-dimensional: Shoko is the undeserving too-goody shoes victim, Naoka is the bully mean-girl, Kawai represents the remorseless/irresponsible/blame-shifting persona, Keisuke Hirose is the virtue-signaling-outsider, Miyako is the unconditional loving mother, Yaeko Nishimiya is the tormented parent and Ito Nishimiya is the loving, wise grandmother.

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To me Naoka Ueno was complex, it is a shame that most of the time she was pushing her feelings onto everybody.

Still, I think that it would not be fair to put two of the characters mentioned in those boxes entirely because it was not that easy to deconstruct once you take in consideration the situation everybody was in: Naoka may be a bully, but she had her reasons to see Shoko as a rival and probably the only one who saw her as a person more than a girl with a disability (I am not condoning her attitude towards her, though); Kawai’s reason to place her blame on everybody but herself may indicate that there is more to her than what the eyes meet.

As for everybody else, we really don’t see much; the way I saw it, they are there to provide the lightheartedness to the film and it was necessary to keep them that way, otherwise it would’ve been a crying-fest. That was my train of thought and in the end, the characters were not the problem.

Then I noticed my tendency to forget Shoko Nishimiya’s “depth”. Even though we know that she is not the upbeat/forgiving person we came to know and has deep issues seethed into her feelings of worthlessness due to her discrimination and bullying… her personality was still too simpleminded for my taste.

True, no one can handle that type of treatment from everybody without shifting the blame onto oneself. The thoughts of “I am the problem and the root of everybody’s misery” is not farfetched from Shoko’s reality; however, for a story about the complexities of psychological issues, Shoko seems uncomplicated.

Once you hate yourself, you hate the people around you. Once you feel not worthy of love, people are not worthy in your world. Once you close off your walls, there is less likely a chance to let people in or for you to get out. It is a theme that is not impossible to present, as it is there inside the film, perfectly and amazingly displayed through Shoya’s arc.

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This was a natural moment… but it doesn’t go anywhere in terms of her characterization and only acts as a reiteration to feel sorry for her.

The duality Shoko represents may work to stir up emotions, but once you step back, it is a simplistic approach. If Shoya and Shoko were at the same level of damage, then it would not be a problem to see the dark side of Shoko as we have seen in other characters and how the worthlessness also makes you closed off and wary of people.

I get it, she had to represent all that’s good in humans even if that meant permitting anyone to walk all over her worth to see the juxtaposition between Shoya’s mindset and Shoko’s. I don’t see a problem with that at all. It made her interesting, one-dimensional, but interesting.

Once her suicidal tendencies were revealed, the juxtaposition disappears. If this is the idea of portraying a complicated character, then it would not have been problematic for us to see Shoko getting mad nor do questionable things that really made us think twice about her status of “victimhood” the same way we see Shoya as perpetrator and victim.

It is not a problem for us to see flaws of logic of the characters including the main one, why does she get a pass? Isn’t she human after all? Doesn’t she have any faults? Indulging in my cynicism: Or is her disability an excuse to give her a pass?

The reason I said this contrast falls apart once she reveals her true nature, has to do with the fact that she has more in common with the darker side of Shoya than his lighter side. In this sense, there is no need for Shoko to be perfect and the victim, yet, the fact that she is faultless, thus her pain is undeserving, thus everyone who rejects her are bad people and bullies, leaves us feeling pettiness for her situation instead of empathizing with her pain.

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Bullied once, bullied forever.

“Poor girl; bullied, discriminated and deaf.”

Mind you, I am not saying this doesn’t happen in real life; however, disability or no disability, they are people with flaws, virtues and stories to tell. It is in your discretion to dislike them as people or not being akin to their personality. Yes, there are socio-political issues that have to be fixed for people with special needs all around the world, but disagreeing with them or not being able to connect with them for various reasons, should not be sign of ill-will and should not give people the power to label others.

Another way to say this is: they deserve the respect every other person deserves respect; disability should not be a measuring system to determine anyone’s level of integrity when treating others.

To me, this extends to real life and spreads to the portrayal of people with disabilities through characters. To draw pettiness out of Shoko’s condition, combining it with her impeccable kindness and undeserving punishment seems like an active way of condemning anyone who doesn’t like the deaf girl, at the same time, pushing the idea that you should treat people with disabilities right because they are disabled and not because they are people.

Am I explaining myself clearly? I hope I am because it is a delicate subject to bring up on the internet.

This is why I mentioned that the only one treating her like a person and not as the deaf girl who you must be friends with, was Naoka. True, her treatment was crude and reprehensible as no one should go through what she approved of and even encouraged; still, the original author and the production was able to manipulate us into hating her because she didn’t like Shoko. Naoka didn’t like her because of what she represented (a rival) not because she was deaf… or at least that’s what I tell myself to feel less guilty about hating Naoka.

We could say that Naoka’s arc is enough for the audience to reflect to treat handicapped as people without babying them; in my mind, this still contradicts the fact that Naoka’s nastiness knew no boundaries and Shoko’s contrast in “personality” didn’t help me think otherwise.

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This is what I wanted to see. More moments of catharsis from her, yet…

Because of this train of thought, I can’t shake the feeling of contempt behind the message: I didn’t like Shoko because she felt like a person, I liked her because the author pushed me to like her. I had to like her because she is a good girl, and because she is deaf, and because she blames herself, and because she is not at fault of anything, and because she is forgiving, and because she loving, and because she is angelic, and because she is a victim, and because *insert positive adjectives*.

As a result of such special treatment, out of all the characters, Shoko was the least developed, which in itself I feel that is a sign of disrespect.

I am aware that I am being offended on behalf of others and I would understand why anyone who goes through the same situation would like her characterization, the main reason being: we don’t get a lot of anime about minorities; however I am in the mindset that if people want to make serious stories about them, it has to be done well: treat them like people and give them traits that you would give anyone else. Make them complex, make them do bad things, good things, let them be chaotic, be kind, be vile all at the same time. Their disability should not be an excuse to make them so good it hurts or so bad it portrays a stereotype.

It is a shame that all of these issues were masked under the events, pretty colors and dramatic decisions from the author that leaked into the screenplay. To me Shoko was a wasted opportunity in manga and movie.

Answer 2: Shoko, Shoya and Infatuation

In a way, the portrayal of Shoko as the flaw-free angel contrasts the way I came to the conclusion as to why I liked Shoya: I didn’t like Shoya because he was depressed or had anxiety. I liked Shoya because he was flawed enough to highlight the interesting side of the film. It is not a secret that his arc was my favorite because of his complexity, as it should be; he is the main character after all.

He was not the only one at fault, yet he held himself responsible for his actions and tried to set things right whatever that meant in his mind. Yes, he treated Shoko with contempt and reached out to her right because of his guilt, but his growing affection came from a place of accepting and forgiving himself. It is the reason we don’t see romance develop throughout the movie, but a friendship.

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It is interesting how everybody turned their blame on each other except from Naoka and Shoya.

When thinking about the relationship between the two and the juxtaposition they represent of each other, it becomes uncomfortable for me to think about Shoko’s affection. The movie is unambiguous to let us know that her infatuation started at childhood and never ceased, it became stronger once she reconnected with Shoya.

Stockholm syndrome and trauma bonding echoed through and through. “Guys bully girls they like” seems to be true within the context of the movie. The fact that there is some indication from Shoya of liking Shoko since childhood (as he blushes, stutters and focuses on her) doesn’t help making me think otherwise.

Loving your ex-bully may happen in real life as real people have the ability to change with age… but there are a lot of factors that accompany this thought that makes me so unsettled by it. Because of this, I had to constantly remind myself this is anime and a work of fiction, not real life. I thought: it can happen, it did happen and it’s not a big deal because it’s anime, not everything has to make sense, “Love isn’t logical, love just happens everywhere”.

And there I was, trying to find an excuse to overlook one of the central themes of the movie for the sake of an entirely positive review. If the stories presented in the movie are level-headed with real life, I am not sure if their infatuation is viable, possible or even natural.

Answer 3: The Branches should’ve been Thick Enough   

Often, I found myself puzzled by storylines that were not that important in the broad spectrum, not explored enough, added for dramatic effect and with little repercussions on the main story.

Some of those subplots are:

  • Sahara’s introduction and time within the group was brief and easily discarded.
  • The grandmother’s passing didn’t help much to anybody’s immediate growth, it came and went by without much weight to the main story. Maybe, at a degree, it helped Yuzuru going back to school; but nothing in grandma’s last rambling indicated that it was her wish, or I just don’t see the correlation.
  • Yuzuru’s reason to leave school was never explored outside of “a little siblings fight”.
  • We have the mystery of the grief from Shoko’s mother, Yaeko, which was never explained, expanded or touched upon. We could get an idea that she was overprotective with Shoko because of her condition but, why did she act so cold towards her? Did she loved and hate her at the same time because she could never have a normal life?
  • Then we have Shoya’s mother which also has a mysterious past and the reason Shoya has an absent father. If we go by psychology, this could’ve explained part of Shoya’s bad behavior as a child… again, it was never brought up. Because of this, it left me wondering if Miyako did a bad job raising Shoya or if there was really something bothering Shoya. “I am bored” and “He bullied her because he liked her” isn’t enough for me.
  • The weird encounter between Yaeko and Miyako: maybe it is a cultural thing, but I think that Yaeko tearing Miyako’s ear was a bit extreme and awfully childish. Maybe she did it for honor to make her accept the apology and it was not enough for her, but come on! They are both adults to try to do things Mike Tyson’s way. Also, it left in the open how forgiving and spoiled Shoya is.
  • The last thing I noticed was Shoya waking up immediately after being unconscious only to run a few blocks to find Shoko, seems like a stretch. Getting out of the hospital without being seen in the middle of the night seems even sketchier.

This little list of holes in the story, are more personal nitpicks than legitimate complaints, but they are still there and they added to my reasoning behind not being so impressed with the movie.

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This scene makes it seem like Yaeko is a crazy entitled woman and Miyako is an awful protector: teach Shoya a way to accept responsibility for his actions and make him apologize, woman!

After I watched the reviews of Koe no Katachi, I started to skim through the original material. Let me tell you! The amount of information, structure and format of the movie is very different.

Yoshida’s pen was able to translate, rearranging the events to make something that fit the flow of the story. The approach to make a linear narrative, unlike the manga, helped for us to get used to the cast very quickly. As a result, there was no need to re-introduce them later; she was also able to reduce the amount of dialogues needed by erasing the lengthy explanations.

So, what was the problem?

My complaints regarding everything I have talked about in here, fall under Yoshida’s jurisdiction as screenwriter but it’s not her fault. I would quickly turn to Ooima’s pen as the original author, but it’s also not her fault as many things that were left out of the movie are clearly explained in her manga.

Most of my issues stem from one thing and one thing alone, and I am sure you already know what it is: the adaptation to movie format. Because of this stubborn idea to make a movie, there was a high price to pay to abridge it. There are 7 volumes of manga, with an average of 9 chapters each and 21 pages per chapter (1st chapter is the one shot that goes on for 60 pages).

That is a lot of content.

If I thought the story divagated from the main storyline at many points, the abridging would explain why. If I had a problem with not understanding certain characters, the abridging explains it as well. If I had problems with things that were easily overlooked, the abridging is at fault.

In manga form we see a lot of exposition that was absent from the two hour and ten minutes movie. A two hour and ten minutes animated movie. Let that sink in. Not even with that runtime was enough to pack everything that happens with the characters. It even had to leave out the last volume of the manga and the backstory of all the characters.

There is no way to do something amazing without plot slips when you are abridging content to fit a determined runtime and include all the stories, all the exposition, all the narratives and all the characterization if the original content goes on and on for 7 volumes. It is not possible without leaving out vital information behind.

The sad thing is to come to the conclusion that this work was only a way to advertise the manga and at the same time misrepresenting it: the manga has first person narration, the structure of the story is different, there is a lot of flashbacks, there is a lot of events that happened in between, it is more dramatic than the movie and Ooima is more explicit to let you know what the characters are thinking and what they went through.

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After her death, Yuzuru continues to be a NEET so… why was this important?

When it comes to the characters: Sahara’s role is consistent, the grandmother does have a direct effect on Yuzuru, Yaeko’s grief and love-hate relationship was explained, Miyako’s situation with her husband was slightly brought up and Yaeko’s overprotective mode regarding Shoko is more believable.

Then we have little details that the movie could have lived without, yet they weren’t ignored and were added with no real payoff, like Yaeko’s cold shoulder or the grandmother’s death: to me, those could’ve been toned down or removed entirely from the script and nothing much would’ve changed.

But they had to add it because that is in the original content and taking them out of there would be also a misrepresentation of the original work. It’s a conundrum.

Answer 4: The Title and Reason

I know I shouldn’t be the one talking about titles, since the titles of my entries in this blog are… lame. Or at least, I think they are. However, for stories, everything that you have experienced has to tie in directly with the title. Sometimes is the key element for people to be interested in the content and it is the most difficult thing to get across when you are writing anything.

Like it or not, the title holds a level of meaning before you watch a movie and, at the end, that meaning is transformed. Other titles tie in the context of the movie, series, books or even blog entries.

So I ask, what does A Silent Voice or The Shape of the Voice has to do with the plot?

Is it friendship? Is it the same anxiety? Is it Shoya’s inner voice? Is it the fact that he doesn’t let anyone inside his heart? Is it the voice of love? Is it just because Shoko is deaf? She can still talk (badly) but she does… so I don’t see the correlation.

Do you know what A Silent Voice or The Shape of the Voice means? If so, how does it tie into the content and context of the movie? I am genuinely asking. Please, if you know the answer let me down in the comments.

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The Shape of Voice, The Silent Voice… I truly do not understand.

As it stands, the title card at the end of the movie didn’t tell me anything about the content and it left me bewildered rather than having a Eureka moment.

There is another thing that kept bothering me, the reason behind selecting animation to tell this story. I would like to highlight that this is another nitpick.

Aside from budget (which is debatable), I don’t see any other reason as to why this was done in animation form. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of a film that could’ve been translated into a 2 part live action and still be successful (it is possible with this kind of screenplay and the right director).

Nothing in the content of the movie requires heavy special effects or needs any heavy production; the screenplay Yoshida made was fine the way it was and if the essence of the characters remained the same… a live action seems more fitting for a production like this.

But, who-are-we-kidding?

I can’t shake the feeling that a production in Live Action would look worse than your average low budget Japanese movie that includes everything my cinema-nightmares are made of. Unless it is a director who knows what he or she is doing (they are not cheap directors, though), I am sure it would look something like this. (It’s not real) or Danshi Kokosei no Nichijou live action levels adaptation.

So, to me, a short TV series would’ve been more fitting to include those subplots that were not expanded on keeping the structure of the film throughout the series. (Although I don’t know how the individual arcs would be added into the narrative.)

The Final Hit

So… it was a Bad Movie? Not at all.

If it wasn’t clear enough, these “cracks” are based on my nitpicks and trying to understand why I didn’t think it was as great as it was sold. That doesn’t mean it was a bad movie.

Maybe the greatest criticism I had was regarding Shoko and her role throughout the movie when she could’ve taken a more active role. She is silent in many ways, not only because of her condition but also because of her clean, submissive and agreeable persona. This was surprising and disappointing, considering that the most important people within the staff were women and it comes across as trying to self-insert themselves or making people to insert their own personality onto Shoko even if it wasn’t the intention (but we all know it was).

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Adults who fight in the middle of the streets says a lot about the kind of people they are. It’s even worse thinking that Naoka is younger and Yaeko is the adult in this situation.

Which brings me to the final issue that had nothing to do with the production and more to do with the original source: Ooima doesn’t shy away to make women fight or showing them acting unreasonable plenty of times in situations where all of them could’ve talked about their problems (except Shoko, she is the living saint); so of course, this would be translated in some way.

For example, if Naoka was antagonizing in the film, she is despicable and downright evil in manga form and sometimes the author is obstinate to put her there to fuel the spreading fire. In this sense, toning down her role in the movie was a better decision to portray her as someone who is complicated and not a villainous, poisonous snake.

You might think that my problem resides in my idea of feminism and you have the right to criticize me for it, but I am just not a fan of women being displayed so openly reinforcing ideas like “All women are crazy and scary.” Not only is a regressive idea, but the Soraya Montenegro-itis is a boring role to take, not because she is a villain but because it has been done, burnt, washed, wasted and recycled. One false step and we are in cringe-worthy territory.

With everything I have noted here, it’s obvious that I am not the desired audience for the manga or the animated film. If I had to choose which one did it better, I’d say the movie did. Yes, you read it right.

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Yes, Shoya, I also felt betrayed by the ratings.

The active decision to remove a huge chunk of the characters’ backstory and malicious events gave the movie a less dramatic tone. I still had a great time when it came to explore psychological issues and the technical side of the cinematography.

Keeping the visual indication on how Shoya shut people out of his life due to trust issues it was a great way to let us know about his thoughts without him speaking or thinking about it. The timing, transitions and cuts had a great rhythm throughout the movie and it helped to keep the story evolving in every scene as it continued to give us new visual information.

So let me finish with this: I mentioned that I had a favorite movie out of two productions people keep comparing, unfortunately, Koe no Katachi wasn’t my favorite for the reasons I described here. To be honest, it had more to do with those little flaws within the original story that ended up eroding my belief in the 8 to 9 points of ratings in critics’ sites, than my actual desire to put both of the films against each other.

If you like, I can put it this way: Koe no Katachi is everything Kimi no Na Wa isn’t. (You will understand why this upcoming week.)

I rate it:Rating System 4

 

After watching it twice, the underwhelming feeling I got the first time doesn’t go away, it only gets worse when I start to analyze the themes. I also stand by the claim that this movie is for everybody. For being considered one of the best animated movies, it sure does have a lot of flaws.

 

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