A Silent Voice, Vol. 3
Shoya’s struggles with his guilt over his shoddy treatment of Shoko in elementary school continues and grows in Yoshitoki Oima’s A Silent Voice, Vol. 3. In his latest attempt to make amends for his past, Shoya tries to reconnect with other kids from their elementary school class for Shoya, but he soon finds that not everyone shares his change of heart.
The series approaches guilt and shame in an incredibly real and honest way. At the risk of sounding pretentious, it’s hard to look at Shoko’s behavior and not think of a line from The Wire, “shame’s some tricky shit aint it? Makes you think you want tochange then beats you back down when you think you can.” So far that fits Shoko to a t. Motivated by guilt and shame, he spends a lot of time trying to change and make up for his past, but then his shame and guilt twists and beats him down so that every success he has comes with the feeling that he doesn’t deserve it. Amazingly, at no time does the story become overwhelmingly oppressive or depressing, this is thanks to Yoshitoki Oima’s ability to insert humor and lighthearted moments that don’t feel forced or detract from the theme and characters. It’s a fine line to walk and she does so spectacularly.
Yoshitoki Oima’s artwork is wonderfully expressive and the detailed backgrounds help ground the series and even help reinforce some of the awkward moments between characters. Shoko and Shoya’s ride home on the crowded train, standing apart really clicked and felt awkwardly real. The character designs, while contemporary, are interesting and varied enough that you can tell nearly everyone apart with a glance. Body posture, facial expressions, body shapes, head shapes, height and more are all used to differentiate the characters and help build their characters. A Silent Voice suffers from none of the sameness that often plagues contemporary, school based manga.
With a A Silent Voice, Vol. 3, Yoshitoki Oima continues to put on a clinic of how to handle deeply complicated subjects and emotions without descending into doom and gloom. Her characters wrestle and struggle with some pretty heavy emotions, but she never neglects the lighter moments and the result is a wonderful read that feels genuine, true and a surprisingly fun read too.
A Silent Voice, Vol. 3 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.