Manga: Koe no Katachi

If you read my post on Harlem Beat 2 days ago, you might remember how I started that post very excited over a manga that was going to be getting an anime adaptation soon. WELL… I got the date wrong on when the last chapter was serialised; Thought it was today… but apparently it was LAST WEEK, goddammit OTL Oh well, I’m a week late, but here goes…

Manga: Koe no Katachi 「聲の形」 a.k.a. A Silent Voice

20140120115355!Koe_no_Katachi_Vol_1

Koe no Katachi vol 1 cover

Koe no Katachi is a Shounen, romance, slice of life, drama written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Oima. It was originally published as a one-shot in Feb 2011 and later began a full serialisation in Aug 2013. The manga ended on Nov 12, 2014 with 62 chapters published in 7 tankobon volumes. Koe no Katachi received an award for “Best Rookie Manga” in 2008. An anime adaptation of the series was just announced.

The story of  revolves around Nishimiya Shoko, an elementary school student with impaired hearing. She transfers into a new school where she is bullied by her classmates, usually led by ringleader, Ishida Shoya. His, along with the rest the class’s bullying, goes to the point that she transfers to another school. As a result of the complaints the school received from Nishimiya’s mother, he is ostracised and bullied himself, with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future. Years later, he sets himself on a path to redemption.

The content of Koe no Katachi made it difficult for publication on any manga magazine and was only picked up after months of legal dispute by the Feb 2011 edition of Bessatsu Shounen Magazine, where it won first place. The manga has been reviewed and supported by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf. Its reception has been pretty darn great.

WARNING: Choked full of emotional and psychological angst.

Regarding the 7-volume series, I’ve currently only read up to chapter 21 because I wanted to wait until it was finished serialising to start. This will just be what I think of what I’ve read so far.

I don’t remember how I came across the one shot early last year, but I’m so thankful it happened. I have never had so many emotions for a 61-page one shot in my life. At that time, I didn’t know that it was going to be fully published into a series in Aug, so when I actually saw volumes 1, 2 and 3 on sale in Jan 2014 when I was in Japan, there was no question… I NEEDED THEM. And will continue to collect the remaining 4 volumes when I can.

Koe no Katachi is a very heart-wrenching and heart-warming series where the characters go through much emotional and psychological turmoil coping with their actions, regrets and ‘what could have been’s. This is mostly on Shoya’s part. I really like how you see most of the story from Shoya’s point of view and understand his side of the story even when he was a bully at the beginning up to when he soul-crushingly regretted his actions. The flawed characters make the story interesting. Besides feeling the need to stick my middle finger up so many of the characters’ asses, I also felt like crying a number of times. (I think I did. More than once.) You understand some of their povs and admire them, but there’re always the exasperating ones you feel like slapping. Multiple times.

The one shot and the first few chapters of Koe no Katachi are pretty much the same story. Yoshitoki-sensei made full use of the freedom in length and basically expanded the gist of the one-shot plus cleaned it up: Adding in more details, progression scenes and character thoughts etc. It’s definitely a more complete build up of the plot and Shoya’s character. Although, if you liked the quick-pacing of the one-shot, you might find the slower start a little frustrating. Being a ‘slice of life’, the overall pace of the series is pretty mellow and even.

Koe no Katachi Chp 5 Pg 17

Koe no Katachi Chp 5 Pg 17

The manga has very clean, contrasting and eye-catching art, with distinct character designs. I really like this art style. It’s amazing how so much of the manga rides on the portrayal of emotions and actions on the page to convey the depth of emotional turmoil, especially when one of the main characters don’t speak at all. Having a character who can’t communicate properly really brings into light how being able to hear and speak doesn’t automatically mean you’re communicating effectively to someone. Anyone can have trouble. It’s also crazy cool to see sign language so heavily used in an actual print story in images.

Reading something like this, some might think it might feel kinda preach-y by forcing certain morals down your throat or trying to gain sympathy, but I … Uh… I didn’t really think much about that, honestly. Thinking too deeply about it just feels like I’m imposing certain beliefs on the manga itself. It’s a fantastic piece of work and I’m just going to enjoy it for what it is.

Enough with the rambling, I’m go back to reading it instead of writing about it.

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