A Silent Voice is an anime film produced by Kyoto Animation that was based on the manga by Yoshitoki Oima. This Blu-ray/DVD combo release of the film has both the English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

A Silent Voice
English Publisher: Shout! Factory
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: April 2, 2019

The film begins with a high school student named Shoya Ishida, and it appears he’s about to kill himself. But before he can jump off of a bridge, he comes to his senses and starts remembering a time when he was in the sixth grade and the events that took place then to lead him to this point.

At that time, a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya transferred into his class. Shoko tried her best to fit in with the class, but Shoya and his friends became annoyed with her because they couldn’t easily communicate with her. He, along with some of his friends, start harassing and bullying Shoko. A girl in the class named Miyoko Sahara tried to become friends with Shoko, but Miyoko ended up transferring to another school. The bullying toward Shoko got so bad that word reached the principal, and Shoya was singled out for his involvement. Shoko transferred to another school, and Shoya became an outcast. Even his friends who joined in the bullying turned their backs on Shoya. He was an outcast throughout middle school and is still an outcast in high school. In the film, Shoya is depicted as not being able to look anyone in the eye, and this is shown by the “X”s that appear on other people’s faces.

After trying to commit suicide, Shoya tracks down Shoko at the sign language center to return something of hers that he’s had all this time. When Shoko finally agrees to see him, it’s revealed that Shoya has been learning sign language. He also wants to make amends for all the things he did to Shoko when they were younger. At the same time, Shoya starts to change when he helps another loner at school named Tomohiro Nagatsuka when he’s being bullied by another student. Tomohiro wants to become Shoya’s friend, and once Tomohiro can break through Shoya’s “wall,” the “X” comes off Tomohiro’s face.

A former sixth grade classmate, a girl named Naoka Ueno, becomes the main antagonist of the film. She helped bully Shoko back then, and it turns out Naoka hasn’t changed a bit in the intervening years.

The relationship between Shoya and Shoko develops and changes over the course of the film. Admittedly, Shoya’s intentions may not have been entirely noble at first when it came to trying to be Shoko’s friend (since he appeared to be doing it more to absolve himself of guilt), but by the end of the film, he truly wants to be friends with her. But even though the relationship between Shoko and Shoya changes a lot over the course of the film, we learn that Shoko has some of her own issues to deal with.

When I watched this Blu-ray/DVD combo release for A Silent Voice, it was the second time that I watched this film. I really appreciated how Shoya starts out being an unsympathetic character when the audience only gets to know him through the flashback to sixth grade. However, as the film progresses and Shoya works on building a friendship with Shoka, the audience sees how much he changes and he becomes a much more sympathetic character. By the time the climactic moment of the film arrives, I found myself really caring about Shoya. Fortunately, he was able to prevent a tragedy from happening at that moment. With this second viewing, though, I still found Naoka to be a very selfish and unsympathetic character.

By the time I finished the film, I realized that I had run through a gamut of emotions as I watched it. There may be a long run time, but it needed to be that long in order to tell its story. I found myself being completely drawn into the story and becoming invested in the characters. The animation for this film was also well done, and this also helped to pull me into the movie.

When it comes to the Blu-ray included in this release, it has 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) video. For audio, it has Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The DVD has Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) for the video and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 5.1 for the audio. I only watched the Blu-ray that was included in this set, but I had no complaints about either the audio or the video on the Blu-ray.

The bonus features included in this release appear on both the Blu-ray and the DVD. The first bonus is the “Speed of Youth” music video. This is one of the instrumental pieces of the film’s soundtrack, and all of the footage comes from the film. Most of the footage is of Shoya and his two friends hanging out together back in sixth grade before Shoko transfers into the class, but the final shots included are of Shoya and Tomohiro when they first become friends. I thought the footage chosen to correspond with the music worked well.

Next is the music video for the theme song of the film. It uses footage from the film, as well as footage animated specifically for the video. The newly animated footage shows Shoya and Shoko in a field of flowers, communicating with each other through sign language. Again, I thought this worked well for the video.

The final bonus feature are the original Japanese promotional videos and trailers for A Silent Voice. The videos and trailers made for the Japanese release didn’t have any English subtitles used for them. However, the final two clips were done for the North American release of the film, and English subtitles are used. I found it interesting that the video to promote the dubbed screening of A Silent Voice didn’t use any audio from the English dub. In fact, no dialogue was used for that video at all. I definitely wasn’t expecting that for a promotional video being aimed at an American audience.

These were decent bonus features, but I wish there had been some kind of interview included to hear someone involved with the film talk about what they think of it and what they got out of it. Something like this may not have been produced for the Japanese audience, but I’m surprised that Shout! Factory or Eleven Arts didn’t try to interview someone who was involved with the English dub to include as a bonus feature. I’m not very familiar with anime releases from Shout! Factory, though, so I don’t know if that’s something that they’ve ever done for their anime releases.

If you’ve seen A Silent Voice and want to add it to your anime home video library, I would recommend picking up this release.

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