Book Review: A Silent Voice Volume 1

A Silent Voice Volume 1 cover

It has been a while, huh?

I am still waiting on more of things that I preordered, and decided to continue working on my manuscript, but I did not forget about this place.

Recently, I got some books from Amazon, so it looks like this month will not be as dead as I thought that it would be.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called A Silent Voice Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima.

Shoya Ishida has been having a rough time in his life because of things that he did to girl that had hearing troubles and is having troubles making friends, and has decided to try and make amends with her.

However, even if he can find her, he will have quite a bit of trouble fixing those mistakes and possibly even his own problems.

While this is not exactly the first time that I have read this series, since Crunchyroll has the complete series up on its site for subscribers, I must say that I really liked this book.

From the very first few pages, I was pulled right into the world of the series and did not want to stop reading for any reason, which was thankfully nonexistent at the time, considering how much noise pollution is around here a lot of the time.

Now, a lot of you are probably annoyed and are saying that hardly anything does not hold my attention, especially since the major premise of this series is not that original, but I think that we can all agree that if something can capture one's attention quickly, it makes it easier to overlook all of the little problems that a work can have, not to mention that it makes the work much more enjoyable than the worse works of fiction out there today.

Yoshitoki has done a great job in that department and comes off as a fairly interesting writer, even if not too much happened in this volume.

Then again, I am not as familiar with Yoshitoki's work, unlike Jun Mochizuki, Hiromu Arakawa, and Kei Sanbe, the writer behind Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, so I am not too sure if I can really put him into the same league as the former two.

Still, I have come across enough work of fiction in my life that has bored me or failed to catch my interest enough that Yoshitoki deserve a good amount of applause for making the first volume of this series as interesting as it was.

I also liked how the story involved a person with disabilities and showed how rough their lives can be.

In my whole life, I cannot think of too many works of fiction that even feature characters with some kind of disability, and those that I do know about always seem to show them living peaceful lives with the help of family and close friends.

However, as somebody with a permanent disability, though not as bad as the many other kinds of disabilities out there in the world, since I can still do quite a bit myself, life is not always as pleasant as it might appear to be, especially when the disabled person is young.

While my life has been one of those that have been relatively peaceful, there are those abused by the people that should be taking care of them, end up being killed by those same people, or bullied.

In this work, Shoko Nishimiya is deaf, and because of the negative side effects, such as having troubles speaking and singing, though not all deaf people have these problems, from what I could gather looking around, she was treated poorly by her classmates in many schools, and seeing her go through this made me feel sad for her, even when was apologizing for things that she did not need to apologize for, such as her appearance, or even initially trying to help the person who bullied her and is now being bullied, only to be pushed away.

Not only was it nice to see a person with disabilities, albeit one of the disabilities that are least likely to affect a person's ability to be mostly independent, but seeing the hardships that she endured also made me feel a little more sympathetic to the protagonist when he realized that he had been a jerk to her and made it understandable how he got into his current predicament, even if he did kind of deserve what he got.

And seeing this history between them makes me want to see how things will develop from this point onwards, even if I do not see this ending well at this point in time, as it has been a while since I have read this series.

Nice job, Yoshitoki, you have so far been delivering everything that the first volume of any series should be delivering.

Hopefully, things stay this interesting throughout the entire seven volume run, but my original impression of this series could drastically change, since there are things that turn out to not be as good as we remembered them to be.

Another nice thing about this volume was that there was hardly anything to laugh about.

Even though this series is considered a comedic series on a page at Baka-Updates Manga, I do not expect a story like to feature too much comedy at this point, aside from a few of the things that happens just prior to Shoko being bullied and the way one panel was drawn after the matter became a huge deal, because everything seemed to have a serious vibe the moment we see that Shoko is suffering and we even get to see why the protagonist was doing what he was doing.

I am all for comedy of any kind, whether it be high class humor or low class humor, but there are times when the humor that comes up utterly ruins the atmosphere, like what happened in Rewrite episode 10.

Writers need to realize that there are times when comedic moments can be inserted to become utterly hilarious, and when they must remain serious, or even what kind of humor is inappropriate for a given situation.

Here, Yoshitoki never glorified anything that occurred and even had the humor that was present not feel out of place throughout the entire time, which makes me want to give him even more praise than I already want to give him.

There were two things that I liked the most though.

First, there were absolutely no honorifics to be found anywhere.

While there are some people that would be annoyed about this, because the honorifics can show what kind of relationship the characters have with each other, and/or it would give off more of the original feelings of a work, honorifics can really affect the flow of series.

For example, when I read The Seven Deadly Sins Volume 1, I was turned off by the usage of Japanese honorifics because the usage did not feel even remotely natural, and the world presented was not one in which the usage of Japanese honorifics would make the least bit of sense.

However, seeing as Kodansha did not have any Japanese honorifics in this volume, things came off much more natural than that minor usage of honorifics in The Seven Deadly Sins, and I really feel like giving them a major round of applause.

What really makes me celebrate the lack of Japanese honorifics though is that it makes it that much easier for people not familiar with manga and anime to get into it.

Throughout my time following the titles that Kondansha USA has released, Kodonsha has kind of had a terrible track record of explaining the significance of the honorifics used, with only brief mentions in translation notes, while Del Rey, the people who used to release the Negima! manga, always included a page or two dedicated to explaining each of those honorifics.

Because of the lack of an honorific definition list, the Japanese honorifics seem to be nothing more than something like titles used for positions of authority or something like ms., mrs., and mr., when they are not always the case, and the people just getting into manga would not be able to pick up too much on their own, which would make manga more of a niche item than it is.

On the other hand, with the lack of honorifics, Kodansha made this series friendly enough for people to be able to see what manga is like and if they want to pursue more of it, though not all manga titles feature serious subject matter, such as ill-treatment of children or the disabled, or even what life is like for a person suffering from depression, and, as a result, I feel like giving them a major round of applause, especially because I feel like I am getting the whole story.

The other thing that really caught my attention though was how the book ended where it began.

Yes, this is nothing new to the world of fiction, otherwise the term circular story would not exist before now, but they do not always make things interesting, especially when the predicament that is shown in the beginning is not all that interesting to begin with.

As such, it can really hurt a story if there is no incentive to find out what happened in the past.

In the case of this volume, it plays out perfectly because in the beginning, when I see what is occurring between Shoya and Shoko, I am interested in finding out what happened in the past, and when these events play out again, though not as long, I am left wanting to find out what would happen next and see what obstacles Shoya would have to go through to finally make amends with Shoko, which is what I expect to see in the kind of story that is being present.

If more things were able to pull off what Yoshitoki was able pull off here, there would probably be a lot more shows and stories that I would be interested in seeing.

Then again, this does not work for every kind of story, so all I can hope is that anybody writing a story out there takes a route that suits the story instead of making things as boring as the sitcoms that are on continuous reruns these days.

Nice job, Yoshitoki.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked.

Because it was able to grab my attention from the very beginning and that there was somebody with a disability that was not treated well by her classmates well, as well as the fact that there was no inappropriate humor and that how it ended makes me want to see more of the ending, this was a pretty enjoyable book.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from problems too minor to talk about, such as the usual things found in the first book of a series, which are even less of an issue here, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was more to like than hate, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this series to fans of Yoshitoki and those that want to are a little different from the norm, yet are not ready from something truly unique.

As for everyone else, I think that this is worth giving a try, since the lack of honorifics will make it easier for newcomers to get into manga.

What are your thoughts on A Silent Voice Volume 1? Did you like it or hate it? Did you feel sorry for what the female lead went through, like I did, or did you not care? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.