Book Review: A Silent Voice Volume 2

A Silent Voice Volume 2 cover

I hope that everyone is doing well, and not getting bogged down by the daily grind.

As I already mentioned, while waiting for this month's preorders to arrive, I got some books from Amazon to tide me over, which gives me a complete series.

So far, I have covered one of those books and six of the seven remain.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those titles, which is called A Silent Voice Volume 2 by Yoshitoki Oima.

As I have given a series synopsis in the previous review, I will not go over it again.

Soya has made contact with the girl that he had hurt and has received forgiveness from her, which slowly changes his original plans.

However, even though the girl he bullied back in grade school forgave him, those close to her are aware of what he did to Shoko and are determined to keep Shoya away from her, and he must now prove that he is not doing this for selfish reasons.

After how well the series started off, I was kind of hopeful that things might head in a nice direction, but, from my experience with many other series, I always keep in mind that things could go downhill fairly quickly, especially considering that this series is only seven volumes long.

Fortunately, after reading this, I can safely say that I am still enjoying this series.

From the moment that I started reading this book, I did not want to put it down for any reason, even though I do have to satisfy the same needs that everyone else has in their daily lives.

Quickly impressing me with one work is a fairly nice achievement, considering that there are some books that either fail to catch my interest for much of the work, such as A Certain Magical Index Volume 1, or take too long to capture my interest, such as The Book Thief, but being able to keep me interested for multiple books in a row is not something that too many writers are capable of doing, since human beings cannot always create works of fiction that can be considered gems, otherwise the world of fiction would not be plagued with garbage produced by both people doing things themselves and works that are published through traditional means.

I know I have said it many times before, but this is what I want to see from works of fiction, because if I can be pulled into the story quickly, I would be more willing to overlook some of the most glaring issues, and I doubt that I am the only one, since most of the other reviewers and bloggers I respect acknowledge that nothing created by mankind is perfect, otherwise there would not be those instances that are similar to the snake example that I brought up in my review of Case Closed Volume 61 where failure is still possible in an outcome that is practically guaranteed to happen by simple math.

The thing that I think led this to being so engrossing though, aside having read the first volume fairly recently, unlike how I have to wait at least three months between Detective Conan releases or roughly a year for A Certain Scientific Railgun releases, the latter of which kind of makes sense because the publisher caught up to the Japanese releases, whereas more than one country outside of Japan has at least 90 of the currently published 91 volumes of Detective Conan, according to what I could find out through Detective Conan World's wiki, was that the volume started off right where the first volume left off.

Yes, this is not a huge problem in many of the manga that I follow, or even manga in general, but there are works of fiction out there that neither pick up from where the last installment left off nor explain how the characters got where they are, in case where it is critical to know what has already happened so far, since many other works out there, like those written by Agatha Christie and the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, where knowledge of what has already happened is not integral.

In the case of this book, since it started off where the last book left off, it makes the story easy to follow and also shows that Yoshitoki has carefully planned out in what direction he wants this series to go in, which is something that I have to admit that I should probably be doing with my own stories, and it makes me want to give him quite a bit off applause.

Now, some of you guys might be thinking that because this volume picks up where the last one left off, it would be difficult for newcomers to the series to be able to enjoy this volume, but this leads into another thing that I liked about the volume, which is the fact that I feel like I would not have been lost if I had started reading the series with this volume, instead of the first one.

Yes, it seems like a crazy thing to say, since I should know that this kind of thing is unique, especially in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, which I seemed to have some creditability to judge, though, not as much as Detective Conan, since I get a few visitors that come solely for my Detective Conan reviews, but this is still something that deserves quite a bit of praise because I know of quite a few series out there, such as Pandora Hearts, that requires knowledge of what has happened before.

If I had to say why it seemed like a good starting point for the series, I think it is because this volume starts off with Shoko's thoughts of what is currently happening, and how her sentiments kind of matched of with Shoya's original thoughts, though expressed in present tense, as opposed to the past tense.

From the moment that I read through these events in the previous volume, I wanted to know what her reaction was to what she is now experiencing, and, now, I am wondering why Shoya is trying to make contact with her, even though I already know from the previous volume that it was partly regret for what he did in the past, and it made me want to find out what kind of trauma that she experienced at Shoya's hand.

Seriously, if I had not read the previous volume, I would have been looking forward to finding out what kind of trauma she experienced at his hand and seeing how the relationship between her and Shoya would develop from this point on, instead of just wanting to see where things would develop from here, and, for that, I want to give Yoshitoki a ton more applause than I originally did for not making me feel lost.

I also liked how it was revealed what Shoya was originally planning to do after making up with Shoko.

While there were some hints in that last volume that he was going to leave everything behind somehow, most likely suicide from the scenes shown of what happens just prior to him meeting Shoko again, there was nothing really concrete about that suggestion, especially considering how nice of a job Agatha Christie of illustrating how behaviors and thoughts does not mean that what we believe is the truth in A Pocket Full of Rye, in comparison to other works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres that I have read that utilize red herrings.

Here, it is revealed that up until Shoya asked to be friends and Shoko said that she had once given up, Shoya did indeed intend to commit suicide after apologizing for what he had done.

Throughout most of the duration of the previous volume, I was wondering what Shoya's intentions were by trying to meet with somebody he had hurt, because it seemed more like he was doing what he was doing because of selfish reasons, and it was not one of those moments in which the selfish act turns out to have been the selfless choice.

And, thankfully, Yoshitoki did not force me into making assumption about what little there is to go, while still leaving room for the question of what will happen in the future, which is something that is very important to maintain in the early volumes of a series.

Then again, this series is not as long as a few other manga titles that I know about, so I am also a quarter of the way through, so the excuse of what happens in an early volume in not going to be very convincing, since things need to be established before the end is shown.

Still, that does not mean that Yoshitoki does not deserve some praise for making things clear before it is too late, unlike what happened with D.N. Angel, where hardly anything happened as I got closer to the end.

Another thing that I liked was how Shoko's family was suspicious of Shoya's motivations for trying to see Shoko, even going so far as to do things that were similar to what he did to Shoko.

Now, while I do not really condone what they did to Shoya, nor do I condone what Shoya did to Shoko, I have encountered a lot of people that think that everything will be all better if the people wronged just forgave others and themselves right then and there, without realizing that the pain is still there and needs to be overcome, even if it will never go away, and because Shoya hurt Shoko, just like all the other people in her life that knew about her disability, they were also hurt either indirectly or directly and are determined to keep her safe and make sure that she is happy.

This is why I feel that forgiveness is a process that, like overcoming grief, takes take time, though there are people can get over things relatively quickly and not every situation is as serious as murder or abuse, so there is not always an exact set process that everyone must go through before they can forgive themselves and others.

If they were not suspicious of Shoya's intentions, I would have been mad because Shoko's family has come across as a family that is as caring as Nagisa Furukawa's family and the delinquents that could be considered Yukine's Miyazawa's family away from home that is seen in Clannad's visual novel, as opposed to the way Tomoyo Sakigami's family used to be prior to her brother's suicide attempt, and by not looking out for her, that would have ruined the impression that I got of them, even though I know that things are not always as they seem to be, and it made me want to see even more how the relationship between Shoko and Shoya would progress.

Yoshitoki may have done some impressive work in the last volume, but this alone seems to have outdone it, because this makes the reactions of the characters much more believable than a lot of other instances or characters found in fiction.

Hopefully, Yoshitoki can maintain this kind of quality in not only the volumes to come, but his other works too, though I do not think that I would immediately jump at the chance to read anything else he creates, like I would Jun Mochizuki, since this is the only title of his that I am familiar with.

It was also nice how there did not seem to be unnecessary humor.

Even though I do expect to have some moments that make me laugh, since this series is considered a comedy, I have encountered moments in my time following anime and manga where the humor presented was either inappropritate for the situation, like what happened in Rewrite episode 10, or completely unwarranted, both of which making the thing that was supposed to be funny not funny at all.

However, Yoshitoki continues to blend the comedy aspects of this series fairly well with its more serious to the point where it comes off as hilarious, even more so in this volume.

For example, when Shoya and Shoko are having a serious talk in sign language, though I do not know whether Yoshitoki is using JSL, which is what I would expect since this story since it takes place in Japan, ASL, or any of the other various sign languages out there, Yuzuru, Shoko's sister, makes the person that asked her to interpret that they were talking smack about that person and it matched up so well with what was happening that I would have seriously believed it, since I do not know any of the various kinds of sign language to know for certain which one Yoshitoki is utilizing, and the person she talked to, who did not know what sign language even was, realized that she was possibly yanking his chain, I could not help but laugh.

This really reminds of the pointless debate between watching anime subbed and watching it dubbed.

In the anime community, there are people out there that say that you are not a true anime fan unless you watch the show subbed, and while the difference can be seen in a live action medium, since many movies, like the live action Death Note movies, obviously do not have a dub that matches the lip movements, it does not apply that much to the animated medium, especially anime, where mouth movement is not as complex as some people wish it were.

However, people do not realize that subtitles can have problems that are nonexistent with dubs, nor is it guaranteed to be any more accurate, as illustrated by a video on Youtube, where the creator purposely put in subtitles that would make Jimmy Kudo's initial exchange with Haibara, where he found out that she created APTX 4869, into something parents in the USA would not want to expose the children to, and those problems can greatly affect a work, much like they affected my enjoyment of Toradora!.

Unlike the video that I linked to though, whose humor could only be enjoyed by those that understand Japanese or what is really going on, because of knowledge gained from reading the Detective Conan manga, the humor is this one can probably only be fully recognized by somebody that does not knows the kind of sign language used in this work, while those that do know it might only be able to enjoy the humor in an animated medium, such as the movie, which a page on IMDB says came out in September of last year in Japan.

This stuff made me laugh a whole lot more than what happened in the previous volume, especially because the atmosphere between Shoya and Shoko was not ruined, and, as a result, I am hoping to see more of this occurs later in the series, as long as Yoshitoki does not begin to slip up.

The thing that I liked the most though was how Shoya himself is beginning to change and become a better person.

Back in the first volume, because he treated Shoko, who was deaf, poorly to the point where the police might have become involved, Shoya was isolated by everyone and he began to have a negative view of people to them point where he would not really acknowledge them as people, nor would we be able to see the person's face, aside from some boys who used to be his friends and a few others, even if he got what he technically deserved.

However, in this volume, when Shoko's mother slaps him and then sees a classmate sitting alone, whom he does not initially want to associate with, he starts contemplating what friends really are and if he and Shoko really are friends now, and then he helps the boy out by offering his bully his bike, which the kid returned, and Yoshitoki removes the x from the boy's face, showing that Shoya accept that the boy was not like everyone else, as well as the fact that the boy accepted him.

Shoya, like Shoko, had given up trying to associate with people, and, when realizing that they shared the pain of loneliness, he wanted to change, and this is the first sign that Shoya is becoming somebody other than the jerk that he was shown to be in the first volume.

A great story has protagonists that grow over the course of the series, whether they change in character, like how Yusuke Urameshi went from a delinquent with a terrible reputation to a respectable member of society, or start to accept themselves and/or their limits, much like how Edward Elric from FMA thought that anything was possible with alchemy and then learned that, even with alchemy, there were still things that he and his brother could not do, and it seems like Shoya is finally embarking on a journey of his own.

Seeing this, I am even more interested in seeing where this story is going to go over the course of its seven volume run, even though I kind of remember what happens in the end, and makes me want to give Yoshitoki the kind of praise that I cannot really describe with words alone.

Nice job, Yoshitoki, I hope that you do not do anything to ruin this as much as A-1 Pictures ruined Boku Dake ga Inai Machi in the final episodes, though I would not be totally surprised by its downfall with how high Yoshitoki has already set the bar for this story.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that cannot be added in with what I already brought up.

Because Yoshitoki has made the reactions of many of the characters relatively believable, considering the past between the protagonists, and continues to avoid unnecessary and/or inappropriate humor, as well as the fact that he gave me plenty of reason to continue reading the series and I did not get the impression that the previous volume was absolutely mandatory to be able to enjoy the experience, this book was very enjoyable.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor talk and even one that can be inferred from what I already talked about being a positive aspect, there was nothing that really bothered me all that much.

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

Considering that, yet again, there was more to like than hate, especially being given a ton of reasons to keep reading, this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of Yoshitoki Oima and A Silent Voice, as well as though that want to read a story where characters grow over the course of the series.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, because I did not feel like I was missing anything, but because I do remember if the past between Shoya and Shoko is ever explored again in future chapters, I strongly recommend reading the first volume before this, so that that backstory does get explained.

What are your thoughts on A Silent Voice Volume 2? Did you like it or hate it? If you know what sign language Yoshitoki is utilizing, did you find the purposefully misinterpretation funny, like I did, even though I do not know any sign language, or did you think that it ruined the atmosphere between Shoya and Shoko? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.

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