Australian Council on Children and the Media

A silent voice

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Short takes

Also known as ‘The shape of voice’. Not recommended under 14, due to scenes likely to scare younger viewers and themes, particularly that of suicide. The film is in Japanese with subtitles so may be difficult for younger viewers to follow

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A silent voice
  • a review of A silent voice completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 April 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to scenes likely to scare younger viewers and themes, particularly that of suicide. The film is in Japanese with subtitles so may be difficult for younger viewers to follow
Children aged 14 Parental guidance due to themes
Viewers aged 15 and over OK for this age group, but with issues that parents may wish to discuss

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A silent voice
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 130 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A silent voice is a subtitled animated Japanese film by Yamada Naoko focusing on the relationship between two school students, Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino) and Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami). When Shoko starts as a new student in an established class, delinquent Shoya begins to tease her as a result of her deafness. However, when he transfers to Junior High, his previous friends turn against him and Shoya finds himself isolated and lonely. He begins to become preoccupied with guilt over his past actions towards Shoko, and frequently thinks of how he could repent for his transgressions against her.

One day, he reunites with Shoko and the two become tentative friends. In an effort to help bring happiness to her life, Shoya sets out to reconnect Shoko with the other students from elementary school whom she never had a chance to know

The two gradually begin to develop strong feelings for one another, although Shoko still experiences feelings of hopelessness that eventually lead her to attempt suicide. When Shoya tries to stop her, he puts his own life in jeopardy and the two must both come to terms with their actions.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationships; disability; bullying; forgiveness; suicide

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence within the film, including:

  • There is both serious and playful fighting between school students at various points throughout the film. Male students straddle other males, grab and pull their clothes, throw baseballs at the back of someone’s head, and put another student into a headlock (in this scene, the student comments that he is in pain).
  • When Shoko extends an offer of friendship to Shoya, he throws dirt at her face.
  • When teasing Shoko, Shoya pulls out her hearing aids and blood drips down her ears.
  • One of the teachers slams his fist against the chalkboard when angrily asking Shoya to stand up and face claims that he has been bullying Shoko.
  • Shoya shoves Shoko and pushes her up against a desk.  Shoko then bites his hand, after which the two physically fight. Shoko ends up kicking him to throw him off her, and proceeds to straddle him in order to hit him.
  • Shoya slaps himself after saying something that he believes was stupid.
  • Shoya’s mother threatens to burn his belongings at the breakfast table because she thinks he intends to kill himself. She then accidentally sets his money on fire, and Shoya needs to remove his shirt to put the fire out.
  • Shoya’s best friend picks up another student by their collar in an effort to threaten and intimidate them. The two end up pushing and shoving one another. 
  • When Shoya walks Yuzuru home, her mother slaps him across the face.
  • Shoko tries to kill herself by jumping off a ledge, but is saved by Shoya who falls and is injured

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group may be scared by the above-mentioned scenes. They are also likely to be unable to understand the film which is in Japanese with subtitles

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to find the film hard to follow because of subtitling. They may also be upset by the above-mentioned scenes and the idea of suicide.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the idea of suicide and attempted suicide of a leading character. They may also find the death of the grandmother and scenes of her funeral disturbing.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the suicide discussion and attempt in the film

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references, including:

  • Students discuss their crushes, with one stating that they really like another student and think he’s ‘cute’.
  • There are references to students dating and having boyfriends/girlfriends.
  • Shoya’s friend lends him money when he goes on a trip – he tells Shoya the money is for meals, travel, and a ‘love hotel’ to spend the night with Shoko.
  • Shoko is told by her female friend Sahara that her ‘chest has gotten bigger’. Sahara then says, ‘I wonder what size they are?’

Nudity and sexual activity

There is partial nudity in the film, including:

  • When Shoko and Shoya jump into a lake together, Shoya is almost able to stare up Shoko’s skirt. He averts his eyes after staring briefly.

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in the film, including:

  • insults such as ‘jerk’, ‘turd-head’, ‘stupid, and ‘moron’
  • ‘holy crap’; ‘damn it’; ‘pissed off’; ‘crap’

In a nutshell

A silent voice (also known as The shape of voice) is a moving animated film about teenagers that tackles a range of individual and interpersonal issues. The film explores the nature of friendship and examines the idea that friendship is not something that is founded upon logic and reason, but rather, connection and vulnerability. It deals with important themes such as bullying, suicide and atonement and is therefore not recommended for children under 14. Parents may wish to discuss the issues raised with older teens.

The film is in Japanese with subtitles, so is likely to be hard to follow for younger children.

 

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