Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > A Silent Voice, Vol. 1

A Silent Voice, Vol. 1

A Silent Voice, Vol. 1A Silent Voice, Vol. 1
by Yoshitoki Oima
Kodansha Comics, 192 pgs
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Being a new transfer student is never easy, but for Shoko this is especially true to her deafness. Her lack of hearing quickly attracts the attention of Shoyo, a young boy who will do anything to keep himself entertained, including bullying Shoko relentlessly. I had heard some very good things about this series, but beyond the basic premise I really had no idea what to expect from it. What I got was a powerful and emotional tale about a bully and his victim. From Yoshitoki Oima comes the series that won her the “New Creator Prize” at the 19th Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, A Silent Voice, Vol. 1

Make no mistake, while A Silent Voice, Vol. 1 is a very good read, it can get pretty rough at times. The bullying and the subsequent reactions to it from the students and the staff felt brutally honest and was difficult to sit though. Not because the acts where so shocking, but because of how real it all fault. The apathy and band wagon jumping, followed immediately by the throwing the instigator under the bus while claiming to be innocent. It’s stomach turning in just about every way. From Shoya’s initial bullying, to the class getting on board with it, to the ostracization that follows. Likewise the faculty’s responses are equally as apathetic and rage inducing. While it certainly presses a tone of emotional buttons, one of the most notable things about the first volume is that there are almost no likable or sympathetic characters in it! Shoya and his classmates are all fairly heartless bullies who stab each other in the back at the drop of a hat, meanwhile Shoko’s shown to be fairly passive, meek and lacking in personality throughout the book. There are one or two moments where she shows more character and personality, but those come fairly late in the volume, leaving one of the main characters as little more than a blank slate for much of the first volume. This is something that will undoubtedly change as the series goes on, but I did find myself wishing we were privy to her inner thoughts in the same way we were to Shoya’s.A page from A Silent Voice, Vol. 1

Yoshitoki Oima’s visual fit the material and the story perfectly. There’s a little cartoonishness to them, something that seems really emphasized on the cover, but not enough to detract from the emotional weight of the story. The characters’ posture, body language, expressions and more are exaggerated just enough to heighten their impact and presence, but not enough to make it look goofy and silly. Slouches, disappointed looks, heartbreaking moments and more are all wonderfully rendered and heightened by Yoshitoki Oima’s lovely artwork. It serves to make the emotional beats that much more powerful and memorable, such as Shoya hiding the true state of the his social life from his mother, or when Shoya’s cheery facade finally cracks and we get a glimpse of the anger and frustration she’s quietly been carrying throughout the volume.

All in all, A Silent Voice, Vol. 1 has to be one of the better first volumes I’ve come across in the last year. It’s intriguing, it’s gripping, it’s real and is an emotional gut punch in places. If Yoshitoki Oima set the bar pretty high for this series with volume one, and if he can keep meeting and passing it, then this is going to be one incredible tale.

A Silent Voice, Vol. 1 will be available on May 26th from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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