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How ‘A Silent Voice’ Tackles Forgiveness

Forgiveness. An idea that stretches back as far as humankind and is featured in many of the world’s more prominent religions.

What is it? Personally, forgiveness is letting water under the bridge be exactly that, water under the bridge. Not trying to get back for the sake of getting back. Letting the past go. 

This is not to say that forgiveness exemplifies the mentality of forgiving and forget because mistakes should be learned from the past. For example, if a man is unable to pay his monetary debt to a friend, there is very little the friend can do. However, if the man asks for another loan, the friend will be more reluctant to give him the loan because of his history. 

When receiving bad news, forgiveness is a more desired response then rage, but people generally base their judgment on emotions rather than reason. Personally, despite my attempts to better myself, my emotions still get the best of me. In the end, the phenomenon that changed me for the better was the work of art titled A Silent Voice. (Disclaimer: Spoilers Ahead!)

At its heart, A Silent Voice chronicles the story of a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya and her complicated relationship with a boy named Shoya Ishida. In grade school, Shoya Ishida relentlessly bullied Shoko Nishimiya to the brink of suicide. The issue became so serious, the mother of Shoko had to take action against the school and Shoya is publicly denounced. 

After this denunciation, Shoya is shunned by his classmates resulting in trauma for him. This trauma leads to him not being able to interact with his peers and his guilt from the bullying torments him for years until one day he decides to end it all. As a last attempt of redemption before his ultimate demise, Shoya decides to track down Shoko, now in high school in order to apologize to her. 

Although she has not forgotten what he did, she ultimately decides to forgive him, convincing Shoya not to take his own life. Later in the movie, Shoya and Shoko undergo a process of forgiveness and redemption which ends with an emotional and heart-wrenching climax, unparalleled by most other movies. I thought it was a masterpiece, but the unfortunate decision to release it on a date near the debut of the blockbuster Your Name led to this film being overlooked by many. 

While tackling many other themes such as bullying and suicide, the most impactful theme was forgiveness. The act of forgiveness on Shoko’s part led to the saving of a life. Shoya’s eventual ability to forgive himself led to him being able to move forward with his life. 

While Shoko was initially hesitant, she quickly opened up to the idea of a non-antagonistic relationship with Shoya which highlights the idea that certain people respond well when given a chance. People change. It is a fact of life. This movie displays the absence of a second change could lead to negative consequences.

Even with a simple message, this film masterfully depicts the power and impact of a single act of forgiveness. Besides being extremely well written as it was adapted from the award-winning Manga of the same name, it is one of the best-animated anime movies of all time. It was animated by the famous Kyoto Animations, who are responsible for other well-animated anime such as Violet Evergarden. I highly recommend watching this movie as it has the power to change people’s perspectives on forgiveness.

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