I have to admit my bias in wanting to view this movie. It involves a deaf student and is dubbed by a deaf actress (Lexi Marman). It was offered by Fathom events January 31st and will be released on Blueray in the US on April 2nd.
The story follows a young man, Shoya, though his elementary years where he appears to be a bit of a class clown and a definite bully. His main focus of antagonism is the new deaf girl: Shoko.
What goes around, comes around, and Shoya becomes a victim of his own actions.
Without spoiling anything, the film covers some pretty heavy subjects with beautiful animation, a touching story-line and laughs thrown in at just the right moments. It is very good with timing. When it seems to be going slow, it picks up again with a plot point that pulls you out.
The subjects range from disability, friendship, bullying, forgiveness, redemption, suicide and self worth. Though teenagers and young adults will feel this resonates more with them, everyone can relate to someone in the story, maybe even more than one someone.
There are a few tropes, and there may be character tic’s that are annoying and remain unredeemed, but if you are a fan of anime, you will forgive them and appreciate the art and a few interesting ways the animators chose to tell the story. The perspectives are all brought into focus at the end, which ties the movie up nicely, but you might be left wondering what happens next–which is the point to any well told story.
If you know ASL, you won’t be able to make any of the signs out as familiar. You might, however, be able to figure out what a few of the signs are by the end of the movie–especially: Thank you, sorry and sister. I don’t know how far that will get you in the deaf community in Japan, but it’s fun to think about.
The Fathom Events show had an interview with the voice of Shoko, Lexi Marman, and it adds to the depth of the entire story. I hope the interview will be on their dvd release in April.
I would give it four out of five stars.