Manga Review: 聲の形 (Koe No Katachi)
This is no tale of Martian exploration or larger-than-life heroes slaying dragons, but a story that could be yours.
I’m not usually a big fan of mangas. I feel overwhelmed by the number of volumes in most series, and more often than not the story doesn’t catch my interest. Of course, this is all subjective and I don’t doubt there are many quality works out there, it’s just not my cup of tea.
Nonetheless, I decided to review a manga that moved me. This manga is 聲の形 (romanized version: Koe No Katachi, English title: A Silent Voice), by Yoshitoki Ōima.
I first discovered 聲の形 thanks to the anime movie that was adapted from it. The plot is about a boy in elementary school (Ishida) that bullies his new classmate (Nishimiya), a deaf girl. He steals her hearing aids and makes loud noises in her back to shock her, among other things. The situation becomes such that Nishimiya has to transfer to another school. After that, however, things go bad for Ishida: his schoolmates start to ignore him or bully him, the same way he used to do with Nishimiya. Gradually, Ishida gets to understand how much wrong he has done her. The story is that of his path to redemption, breaking through the barriers of guilt and loneliness that he’s built up all around himself.
Now, why did I like this manga?
The story is credible. It could be anyone’s story, my story, your story, the story of the guy seated in front of you in the bus. It also tells about growing up into an adult (not necessarily an easy thing, ask your parents). Whether you’ve enjoyed your childhood or not, whether you’ve been bullied, bully or another role, you can relate. If you’ve ever wondered about the true meaning of friendship, you can find some pieces of insight here. It may even drive some memories back and leave you basking in nostalgia.
The characters are not dull, flat people. They each have a different way of dealing with hardship (or of dealing out hardship to others). There is the bullied girl, an Everest of empathy that goes as far as feeling guilty for making others feel guilty of having bullied her in the past. There is the guy that has cut himself off from the rest of the world to the point that he cannot look at anyone in the eyes anymore.
It’s subjective, but I like the drawings. The pictures put the emphasis on the faces and expressions of each character to better convey their feelings. Sometimes, a grimace can cover up to half a page. As a reader, it’s easy to immerse yourself in their world and to identify with them.
All in all, I recommend this manga. It has seven volumes, so it’s short enough (for the attention span of a millennial) and still long enough to enjoy the ride and miss the characters when you’re finished. If you don’t have the time to indulge yourself with it, check out the movie, it’s worth a watch too.