Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > A Silent Voice, Vols. 4 – 7

A Silent Voice, Vols. 4 – 7

A Silent Voice, Vol. 4A Silent Voice, Vols. 4 – 7
by Yoshitoki Oima
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

As Shoya continues to struggle with his guilt for bullying Shoko his circle of friends continues to grow, expanding to include more former classmates and even a few newcomers. Unfortunately, thing’s aren’t as peaceful as they appear and the past continues to haunt Shoya in new and unexpected ways, threatening to tear his new, burgeoning friendships apart. Will Shoya ever find what he’s looking for, or will his inability to forgive himself doom him to a life of solitude? Yoshitoki Oima’s amazing story reaches its climax with A Silent Voice, Vols. 4 – 7.

Yoshitoki Oima’s done a fantastic job crafting enjoyable and realistic characters, dealing with incredibly heavy themes of bullying and shame, and keeping the tone light enough to not become oppressively depressing or disheartening. These final four volumes continue to delve into Shoko and Shoya’s lives and relationship, but we also get a single volume dedicated to fleshing out the rest of the cast as well. It’s a huge help and does wonders for the supporting cast, a few of whom were little more than blank slates before this. She also takes the opportunity to delve into the dissolution of Shoya’s family, something that’s incredibly emotional and also brings to the forefront an underlying theme that’s been in the series since it started. Namely, the way people react to disabled individuals.

A page from A Silent Voice, Vol. 5From the get go A Silent Voice has touched upon this, going so far as to show professors criticizing disabled students as an imposition and a burden. When Yoshitoki Oima shows Shoko’s family coming to an end, it’s made clear how some people view the disabled and even those who give birth to the disabled. It’s an incredibly brutal and heart wrenching scene, but one which echoes throughout the series and even into the final few volumes. Shoko’s father and his family espouse views we’ve heard from other students and teachers, showing that this isn’t simply a problem that exists in the isolation of the schoolyard, but one that’s present through the larger society as a whole.

A Silent Voice works, not only thanks to Yoshitoki Oima’s fantastic writing, but also her amazing art. Whether it’s her use of X’s over peoples faces to represent Shoya’s inability to connect or befriend others, or the lines around chubby Tomohiro’s body everytime Naoko, one of Shoya and Shoko’s former classmates, is around to denote his fear of her, Oima’s artwork manages to convey the emotionally fragility of the character’s mental states beautfilly.

Yoshitoki Oima’s done an absolutely amazing job with A Silent Voice and has crafted one of the best manga series to hit the U.S. in years. While it’s been receiving much critical praise, the series still feels like something of an overlooked gem. It totally deserves the praise it’s getting and is easily one of my favorite releases from Kodansha. With it’s conclusion, I’m very curious to see what else Yoshitoki Oima’s done and whether or not any of it will land stateside. If her other work is anything like this, then they absolutely should.

A Silent Voice, Vols. 4 – 7 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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