Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Silent Voice (2017) [Koe No Katachi]

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Well, what do you know. After such a while, I still could remember the way of doing so.

Hi again, remember me? I know its been a while since I have last posted on the blog, but a long time it has been, and, like most other people, I have been simply thumbing ratings, like most users on a rating site would do. Has one ever given a thought about why they would give ratings to titles of shows? Or do they realize why they would watch the show? As I am enrolled in university, I have taken up classes in psychology. One of which, the theory of the subconscious has taught me one thing, that most of us humans, have been doing things without realizing why we are doing it. Another question remains: Are they interested in recording/remembering what they are doing? Well, apparently I am, as well as most of time I must be, and am, aware of what I am doing. Are you?

Well then... quote this: "Oh, captain, my captain," who knows where that comes from? ... It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Abraham Lincoln. Where would I have found out about it? Nowhere else but Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989), and I already own a copy. If one is aware, they'll pay attention to a picture that they are watching. One other aspect is the question regarding WHERE did they watch it, WHY did they watch it would be second in hand in this case. Anyway, WHERE is my highest priority, because that is where it begins, the respect that the audience hold towards cinema and whenever do they decide to choose ethics over money. I can understand that in cinema there is an endless number of titles, and therefore this is not always kept. Nevertheless, in my case, I kept my word for this title, see for yourself, although I have made up my mind not to go in for LUXE Cinema unless its absolutely necessary. Which, in this case, it is. The result? Extra cost for a comfy seat. A reminder, though, that when I was speaking to someone before and after the show started and ended respectively, two new facts can be drawn. Indeed, I still remember.

Before the show, it was a casual conversation. I started speaking to someone next to me (Anonymity must be maintained here). We started talking about several films. When I mentioned Your Name [Kimi No Na wa] (Makoto Shinkai, 2016), I wasn't surprised to hear that the other person (as I said, no information will be revealed about the other person) had watched it online. That is when I would be dropping my news to others; that Your Name [Kimi No Na wa]  (Makoto Shinkai, 2016) is already available in local stores in my country of Malaysia. It seemed, that my patience from the moment that I have known about the film from last year, one of which is from the MAL (My Anime List) site, has paid off. To be honest, it was a surprise, because on the day I bought the disc,  I wasn't expecting to find it in stores. When I did, *Gasp!*, no hesitation!

See for yourself.


After the show, I brought up the subconscious theory I mentioned earlier in this essay. To which the person replied: "I think a lot about movies," and nothing else. I kept my silence, and muttered to myself all the way back to my vehicle, thinking about how much people would appreciate the movies and how ethical will they be regarding how they would watch them. I guarantee you, that the same situation with Your Name, I will go through the same scenario with A Silent Voice (Naoko Yamada, 2017). That is, to wait for its disc, regardless of whenever I have seen it in cinemas or not. I have, and it is as simple as that.

Read it from here if you wish to skip my opening monologue.

Now then, after that long opening monologue, the fun is just beginning. Shall I begin, say, by addressing that I am NOT a fan, or frequent watcher, of Japanese animation? Well, lets just say I hate it for a reason. Some of them, notably Studio Ghibli's pictures, will catch my attention. Others, not so much. I don't have the resources, wealth, or least of all, temptation to access many titles. But if fate, just like Your Name, brings me to it, I will take up the opportunity. I take the opportunity to search for the right titles, inspecting what they are and what they mean. Rather than watching in the state of Otaku, Ecchi or Manga, the last of which I hardly read. Well, you should try reading Arrival (Dennis Villeneuve, 2016)'s baseline story called "Story of your Life" by Ted Chiang. Which asks the simple question: "What would you change if you could see your life from start to finish?"

Specialty isn't my point either, because I don't 'bash'. Understand? I simply state humbly why I think, whenever I like it or not. So, here is my two shillings of opinion: I don't think Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)'s anything special, but My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988), it is really quite something. Regarding A Silent Voice, yes, it is really something.

It all started with the person who took the photo, who mentioned the film to me when he came over to watch Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988) with me. He mentioned the film's title to me, and says who I did not heard of it. Then he drops his words on me, he told me his friend said that the film is more moving that Your Name. Well, after watching the film myself, I can tell you firsthand that it is quite true. I'll say, compared to someone who is not a Japanese animation fan, the reaction which a regular gives would be totally different, and who knows what kind of reaction would Your Name provide.

While Your Name addresses romance, and, perhaps subtly, gender envy; A Silent Voice addresses bullying... and redemption. While I have not seen The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)), it's number one position on IMDb's Top has intimidated me and I still believe it is overrated, despite having seen a small portion legally. Back to the subject at hand. I see now that A Silent Voice is among the top rated features of MAL, yet... who cares? I, for one, do not care about either. What I want to see, is what the audience would think.

Certainly, the animation, as I recall, is quite simple. Yet, what I believe holds the highest power, is the construction and intentions of a mediated material (Yes, I take media studies). Unlike most titles that I have seen, Clannad, Toradora, just to name a few, plus most of Studio Ghibli's titles, with the exception of Studio Ghibli, most of the titles that I have seen catches my bad side (yet I do not hold grudges) due to certain things I do not agree with. Fan service is one example, which is why I avoid so many titles. But A Silent Voice is different. It avoids such, plus there is something about it's female lead that reminds me of Taiga Aisaka from Toradora. For all I know, there is still some language, subtitled on screen. That will have to pass, for the other things that the film can say.

What a mediated material is about will be also why people go watch it. Trying not to spoil, although I do not mind spoilers myself, it is, as mentioned about, bullying, suffering for one's misdeeds, and redemption. Indeed, this is a very strong story, and I have to say, very impressive. Nevertheless, it is not always a strong story that drives an audience to impression, it is also entertainment, sometimes guilty pleasures, that do so as well. This boy, whom bullied a girl who is deaf in elementary school, meets her later in life when he is isolated from much of social interaction, punishment for his misdeed. Then, as he makes amends for his mistakes, he starts to see the light once more, and what it means to have a friend. You'll never get that impact of experience if you're watching on a small screen, with or without earphones.

Still trying not to spoil, during the boy's process of redemption he discovers many meaningful things as well. An example is: "What it means to have a friend." That, dear reader, is a way that a mediated material can be empowered, imparting certain ideologies and meaning across, instead of like everyday news broadcasting certain bad news and propaganda. And though little romance is implied in the film, the main topic addressed is still the subject of a boy with a history of bully and his path to redemption. Romance, like Your Name, gives the audience exactly what they want with the 'woah's, the 'ah's and 'oohh's. No, this film is primarily focused on its subject matter. Keep watch, and you will see the subtle mention.

If you have read the whole thing, did I correctly answer your condescending questions? Feel that certain titles are too superior? Well, just be calm. You are not alone. Take a balanced stance, like me. And you'll find something, like this film, quite something.