May 26, 2017
Koe no Katachi is dangerous because it is exploitative. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about deaf people. I don't. This movie certainly does not allow any greater understanding into the mind of deaf people is the point I want to iterate. It uses a serious problem as a plot device constantly and reduces Nishimiya to one-dimension. She is the textbook definition of a mary-sue as well as a damsel in distress. This is clearly troublesome when trying to explain deafness to an able-bodied audience.

Nishimiya's entire character is her illness. She is paper thin with her sole character trait being she likes to feed fish. She is so inhuman it is gross. Moe being used in this way is offensive. Including deafness or any other handicap into anime is an exciting idea, and I laud the attempt. Sadly, the execution is simply sickening. A personality-less self-insert male character who wants to repent for mistakes he made when he was a child falls in love with the object of his errs. It's inherently questionable to approach this topic from a romantic perspective because it's hard to sympathize with an object. And that is what Nishimiya is, an object. To be affected on, for us to pity, for us to see illness in a "new light," to justify against bullying, to see the indomitable human spirit. A show like Monster works this concept excellently because it uses the object of interest (Johan) as more of a symbol. This work tries to make Nishimiya a character as deeply developed as Shouya but they foist too many roles on an underdeveloped symbol, not even mentioning her role as a character.

Shouya, Ueno, and Ishida are all flat. Their motives are drawn to plot points not to logic. Ueno shows up when things finally start moving in a direction the audience would be satisfied with in tacky KyoAni fashion. Drama in this work is so over-the-top and predictable it's borderline cringe-worthy. Even if you could swallow the unbelievable developments that lead to the saccharine mid-section of the film the way it dissolves is so inauthentic. Shouya shows no signs of development and no effort to change throughout the work and then magically obtains a group of friends.

As for the abstract? The art? If you polish it up enough and use a voice technique the audience is unfamiliar with you have the safest ticket to visual and audio praise you can muster. Are there creative shots in this work? Impressive blocking of characters? Fresh setting or new takes on animation/style? No. This is a typical KyoAni work. They stuck with what sells.

What the point is thematically I can't tell you. I can tell you that this film is successfully doing what it wanted to do. Capitalize on disease using moe with the highest budget in the industry. This work is not even average, it is bad. Please stop and think about why you feel the way you do when you watch this work. If you're crying is it because Nishimiya is a person you have become endeared by or are you crying because she's like an injured puppy? Affection for things like this a wonderful human trait, but this work is dubious.
Reviewer’s Rating: 3
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