Mar 13, 2018
Lucabratz (All reviews)
Wow... This film, is truly a work of art. This film is hard to put into words of it's brilliance and beauty, but I'll try to express my love for this movie which has now become my favorite animation work of all time. Disney got nothing on this one.

Spoilers are going to be hard to avoid when discussing this film so consider this a warning. But PLEASE seek out this film, it deserves your undivided attention.
[SPOILERS Here on out]

So the basic premise of the film is the tale of redemption of a young man name Shouya Ishida when his past actions of bullying a deaf girl (Shoko Nishimiya) come back to haunt him in the form of his insecurity and outlook on the world that he believes he no longer has any use for him.

Immediately this film sets the depressing yet beautiful tone by showing Shouya attempting to commit suicide. The moment is well paced and directed as it breezes through events that are discussed briefly later in the film, they aren't just throw-away moments. The attempt is thwarted as the sound of fireworks interrupt his jump off a bridge and bring the audience into his backstory to set the premise of the film, being what he did leading up to this point. A surprisingly upbeat tune "My Generation" by the american rock legend The Who is playing as we see Shouya's everyday life with his buddies, in this scene he is depicted as the cool kid, the big man on campus who everyone knows and wants to be friends with. The montage fades seamlessly into what seems to be a regular school day for him and his class, until a new student is introduced, Shoko Nishimiya who reveals to the class that she is deaf, to which Shouya replies yelling "Holy Crap!". Followed by a collection of scenes in a montage that shows the class bullying Shoko for her being deaf and how she can't understand the world in the same way, which is a key theme in this film, how we interpret the world through sound and communication. The montage continues to play with a light-hearted tune, as this montage is Shouya's point of view, he doesn't see much wrong with "messing" with her. Then the hammer is dropped on him, Shoko gets transferred out of the school because Shouya has destroyed her hearing aids, the teacher says that they don't want to get the parents involved, and that line encourages Shouya to slowly raise his hand to confess, but his half-baked act of righteousness is cut short by the teacher calling him out directly. Now the tables have turned, the class starts telling Mr. "four-eyes" that he did it, Shouya tries a primal attempt to share the burden by saying that others bullied Shoko as well, to no avail. Which starts his descent into depression and anxiety, his mother actually does get involved. Shouya's mother goes to the Nishimiya's to apologize with money to pay for the hearing aids, but Mrs. Nishimiya doesn't seem to coy about it, the two mothers walk off screen and the next time we see Shouya's mother she's bleeding but still tells her son to be a good boy from now on. That is actually another theme you may not pick up on, you can change starting now, you can be a good boy/girl starting now, become a better person in the future which is the driving core of this story, redemption. However this brings the flashback to an end as it brings the audience to a captivating dream-like sequence to communicate what has happened since childhood, "I pushed everyone away" and now everyone in his school dons a blue X on their face and Shouya does not look at them in the face, instead he plugs his ears and drowns out their voices, he even self-deprecates his own social life by making up what people are saying about him. All of these barriers are later lifted when he starts opening up to his first few friends in years, Nagatsuka and an older Shoko.

I tried to sum up the plot, but then I realized I was just doing a awful job at spoiling the entire film until I found so many other things to gush about in the film. Such as the direction and animation. KyoAni (Kyoto Animation) is known for being masters of creating the best looking anime in the past few years, even this year's Violet Evergarden which just looks... Oh so amazing, so you get the idea of how well this Studio can animate. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they will stick to their conventions in this film, there are plenty of dream sequences that change the entire art direction while still looking stimulating and beautiful. Also the inclusion of metaphors with just using their characters as subjects (especially in the last scene) are brilliantly executed.

This is a fantastic character study and character drama. Shouya Ishida is such a great role-model and character, he is what drives the film, pushing it to such great heights. His drive to "not make Shoko cry anymore" is something that anyone can not only get on board with but root for him even more. At first I personally just felt bad for him simply because nobody including a bully should experience self-destruction and isolation because of them not knowing any better because he was still a child. We finally see him redeem himself by not only apologizing but even going so far as to save a life he once harmed. Not only do we get a taste of his happiness at an amusement park with his friends but also seeing him build barriers again, is heartbreaking as the audience was thinking he was out of the woods. Simply put, you want to see Shouya succeed and see him smile with the friends he made by hiss side, as... Well, he deserves it in a way.

The only downside to the film is very brief, the character Mashiba was not only unnecessary but also boring to watch, his character design might hint at a personality but the real meat of this film are the others not him. He simply doesn't need to be in the film because Nagatsuka fills his role way better.

The film is simply a marvel in all aspects. This film made me ball during Shouya's depressed state and at the end. Other films, I can't say the same. To put this into words, this film broke my heart, picked up the pieces, mended it together, and gave it a hug. BTW no other film made me say "give these people a hug" more than this film because every character deserves some reassurance that things will be ok, which surprisingly was actually a motive behind the director. Naoko Yamada has stated that she wanted to make a film that says, "Everything will be OK" and that is something that gets me just by thinking about it. Yamada, I got to say, well done! Your film is a masterpiece. PLEASE give this film your eyes, ears, and money if possible, it deserves it!

Wow, this film... Is just incredible.