The story focuses on high school girl Nagisa Yukiai who lives in a seaside town. She has believed her grandmother's story that spirits dwell in words and they are called "kotodama" (word spirit). One day, she strays into a mini FM station that has not been used for years. As an impulse of the moment, she tries to talk like a DJ using the facility. But her voice accidentally broadcasted reaches someone she has never expected.
I'm not sure if this is actually an adaptation, but "Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai" sure feels like one. You can almost see before your mind's eye the numerous subplots cut and character development missed during the film's roughly 90 minutes of runtime. It feels like a small slice of a much bigger whole, trying to do much but ultimately accomplishing little.
The story has way too many characters, and thus most of them remain largely undeveloped. Their personalities and roles can be described in a single sentence. Heck, the girl with the pigtails seems to serve absolutely no purpose aside of serving cookies to the
others and being shy. The plot itself also seems to go in way too many directions for its own good, attempting to juggle numerous plot threads at once (just to name a few: the comatose mother in the hospital, the estranged childhood friends, the amateur radio station, the main protagonist's plans for the future), but ultimately not giving most of them the time and attention they deserve.
The art style is... let's say minimalistic. It was hard to tell at times whether I was watching a series or an actual film; if this actually had a significantly bigger budget compared to you everyday anime, they didn't do much with it. It surprises me, because I tend to associate the Madhouse studio with higher quality.
That said, the film is not at all unwatchable. It's more like a "cute trainwreck"; the overall message and content is generally fun and heartwarming, but behind it all seems to hide a one-cour series or OVA that would have had enough room to do this concept justice, and which never actually got made.
One of the things that can really tackle down my enjoyment of an anime is when it present itself in an original matter, but falls into the classic pattern of it's own genre once it actually starts. Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai is also one of those cases. A well made slice of life movie, pushed down by it's unability to make itself different.
But let's start from the scratch. I was really looking forward to seeing this after reading the synopsis, which seemed a bit inovative compared to all other slice of lifes. I expected a story about how broadcasting can change lives of a
lot of people and I thought the movie is gonna focus on the bigger picture. In this case, on all the people that can get to listen to our main heroine's voice. Did that happen? Sadly not.
The movie itself starts off almost the same way as every nowadays movie does. It's end of the year, summer vacation are coming and our presented friends are planning on what to do. However, on her way home, Nagisa, our main heroine, stumbles upon an abandoned café. She tries to explore it and finds an old radio station. She can't resist and makes her very first broadcast. Sadly, that's where things start going down.
Not down in the matter of quality, but in the matter of how is the story presented. Until now, even if only in details, a lot of things seemed a bit original compared to others. The girls are playing lacrosse, Nagisa does a lot of personal things like shouting her problems into a ringing bell and, of course, the plot is about broadcasting. Honestly, was this idea ever even used as a main plot device? Even if yes, you can't but say that it sounds interesting.
However, what the movie does is, instead of focusing on the broadcasting itself, it goes down to the classic cute girls slice of life. Nagisa is maybe the main heroine, but in about the third of the movie, membership of the "radio club" suddenly jumps up from two to six. And with that, the plot losses a lot of it's originality. It doesn't feel like something impactful anymore, it seriously feels like just another school club setup, which wasn't the case early on, and shouldn't have been the case even later on, if you ask me.
The characters themselves, while having decent chemistry, act in a very generic matter. We have the maid-like girl who serves café and says dumb things. We have the Tsunderish aggresive type that always wants to compete with her childhood friend even though she's better at everything. Then there's the obsessive girl, and the always calm one. You see, I don't tend to brag about originality all that often. However, this movie really doesn't do a very good job at making characters diverse. Or original, for this matter.
A big problem that relates with the characters not being top-notch comes up when they want you to feel for them. Actually, talking about emotions, the whole movie doesn't do a particulary good job at making you care when it matters. For the most part, it's pacing is quite good. However, there are about two or three moments which drastically change the set tone just in order to make the characters shed some tears. Not only these moments feel indredibly forced, it also damages the impact of the last minutes, which, looking from todays perspective, was the only time tears were supposed to pour.
Also, while it's almost a necessity to end up a slice of life in a happy matter, this whole movie was one of the most straight-forward I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. That in itself isn't really that big of a problem. However, I have a hard time not critisising the movie for it's predictability when I could literally picture the ending scene 10 minutes after it all started.
Art is, on the other hand, an area in which the movie pleasantly suprised me. Every scene looks very clean, polished, some of the background shots were borderline beautiful. Even moments that tend to be very sloppy, like bike riding, were animated in a respectful manner and added to the fact that is all is very nice to look at. Sound was OK.
I took this review from the negative side of things more often than not, but please, don't let it mislead you! Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai is definetly not a bad movie. Just a one that ended up a bit bellow my expectations. And that has to affect my rating in one way or another, no matter how much I wanted to love it.