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A Japanese Manga with Deaf People: A Silent Voice

English translation: Ixone Sáenz Paraíso


Deaf people and Sign Language inspire a wealth of stories in the world of art and creativity. Although Unusualverse shows a large number of success stories and contributions, Deaf people also suffer from difficulties and barriers that society is imposing on them, which probably makes their successes more worthwhile. The situation of bullying or harassment of Deaf students inspired the creation of the manga and movie A Silent Voice.

The film A Silent Voice (photo: © Yoshitoki Oima, Kodansha / A Silent Voice The Movie Production Commitee)

A Silent Voice, The Movie

The synopsis of the film is as follows:
A young man is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption (IMDB)
The English version of the film was re-released on January 31, 2019 in United States. This is the trailer with English subtitles:


The animation studio in charge of bringing comics to the cinema is Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), one of the best Japanese studios and with great prestige today. This studio had already achieved great previous successes, but the film A Silent Voice became their highest grossing film: shortly after the premiere in 2016, they had already sold 1.7 million tickets and grossed around $20 million.

In this anime music video (AMV) about A Silent Voice you can see the quality of the animation in the film

The film was released in 120 cinemas in Japan in 2016 and has received rave reviews: 8.2 out of 10 on IMDB, 7.4 out of 10 on FilmAffinity and 94% of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hollywood News said the film is "powerful, emotional, and surprisingly well presented". The film was nominated for the 2017 Japanese Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and won the Best Picture Award at the prestigious Tokyo Anime Award in 2017, among other awards.

Adaptation from the Manga to the Film

The film is an adaptation from a manga comic to the cinema. The comic has seven volumes and currently the comics can be purchased at many bookstores.

Faced with the static images of the manga, in order for the Sign Language presented in the film to be true to reality, the film had a Deaf supervisor during its making. The film's director, Naoko Yamada, was very meticulous with this regard and said that:
Under the thorough guidance of the supervisor from pre-production, during production and through post-production, we had confirmed and had been given specific direction on every aspect of the sign language, including the meaning, the reasoning and how it looks. Therefore, Japanese sign language is at its utmost accuracy.
The sign of Friendship / Friend in Japanese Sign Language in the manga.

Fans and the critics of A Silent Voice praise the good construction of the characters and the depth with which it addresses issues such as bullying, suicide, social acceptance, etc. Even resorting to sad aspects such as the high school bullying suffered by Deaf students anywhere in the world, Deaf people and Sign Languages serve perfectly as a background to build stories of friendship and improvement as seen in A Silent Voice. Kotaku, an influential blog of video games and manga with millions of followers, said about A Silent Voice:
This is a movie that will stretch your sensibilities, and while it is certainly a plunge into darkness, its exceptional plot and animation makes watching it like eating fistfulls of candy vitamins



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