A Silent Voice, Volume 4 – Review

Dear lord is this manga painful sometimes. A Silent Voice is just way, way too good at capturing the exact truth of anxiety both as a personal issue and as it expresses itself in social situations. Shoya’s overthinking and self-doubt is something I can way too vividly relate to, and single moments like the way his chance meeting with an old “friend” completely steals his prior confidence make old scars tickle in a way I probably wouldn’t have been okay with a few years ago. But these characters are also deeply endearing for their own sake and really do care about each other, and so the pain is mitigated by all the lovely moments of connection. It’s a great damn story, and I am really trying my hardest not to freak out about Yamada’s adaptation.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my chapter notes below.

A Silent Voice

Chapter 1

Shoko just diving onto her bed after confessing to Shoya is adorable and relatable. These are the scenes the manga needs – more scenes of Shoko being a person in her own right

The character designs in this story are so strange. Such an odd, wobbly style of characters, and the eyes in particular are very unique

Satoshi and Miki, two more classmates. Shoya’s wall of seclusion is crumbling faster and faster. It’s a good reflection of how engaging with the world goes – each step facilitates the next one

The story’s reaching the point where it can have a little fun with Shoya, specifically because there are characters that are close enough to the reader perspective that they can act as a counterpoint to his headspace

Shoko kicking her bed in happiness when she gets invited to their outing. This story is going to kill me

Chapter 2

And Naoka shows up

Miki invited her. Life is very swiftly moving out of Shoya’s hands. He’s all about revenge and repentance, but the events that were formative for him were just “stuff in the past” to the people he still resents

“Wow, just look at this group… am I the only one who feels awkward?” aaagh Shoya this storyyyy

“We barely know each other… isn’t this group more like the ‘pretend friends’ Naoka was talking about?”

Shoya wants to see insecurities and ugliness between Miyoko and Naoka, but they actually know and are comfortable with each other. He thinks he can see the truth of engagements even for the sake of making people more comfortable, but his position as the social outsider doesn’t actually lend him any real insight

“It’s hard to talk to Shoko with her here” Shoya is the most uncomfortable, and it’s brutal

“Is it okay for me to have this much fun?” LIFE IS TOUGH

The character art can still be pretty rough. There’s an awkwardness to the body composition, and the faces feel kinda labored and also too similar to each other. The art is unique, but it’s a uniqueness born of limited expertise

Chapter 3

Naoka tries to set Shoya up with his old shitty friend, the same way Shoya attempted to do for Shoko. And he recognizes this

His sudden plunge in mood, feeling awkward within the group, also very strong – as is the way his old associate triggers him

“After that, we talked on the train. I understood her, and regretted what I did, and now we’re friends” Naoka makes it look easy, but externalizes all problems

Shoya wants to know what happened with Shoko, but he asks Naoka, the one he can actually talk to. And he tries to defend Shoko from behind her back, without actually engaging with her

They get footage of the ferris wheel conversation. Naoka is unrepentant – she actually didn’t see her behavior back then as wrong. She saw it as an exchange of attacks, not a one-sided bullying

And Shoko just says “I don’t hate you, I hate myself,” and Naoka slaps her, seeing that as another defense

Chapter 4

Plotting to compliment Shoko to make her feel better about herself. These kids

All Shoya would need to do would be to actually engage with her, and tell her he likes her. Shoko’s insecure partially because Shoya is so afraid of hurting her feelings that he can’t reveal his own

“I need to meet Shoko head-on” there we go

Shoko of course overdoes the compliments

“Sis is changing little by little in ways Naoka can’t see.” Yep. Naoka does not see much

Chapter 5

Shoko and Yuzuru’s home life. Their grandmother is kind, but mother is always resentful

“You’re so focused on your sister, you don’t even try to learn about yourself”

Welp, this feels ominous

And they don’t come to the bridge, and then Shoya sees Yuzuru crying

Chapter 6

Only being able to talk to one friend when another friend is there

This scene between Yuzuru and Shoya is phenomenal. Her dancing around her grief while he tries to be kind to her is just so good on both of them

“How’s it got anything to do with you?” “Because I’d like to think it does.” What a beautiful step. Shoya’s learning to make impositions of himself for the sake of others. He doesn’t just wilt – he wants to help, and now he can actually push on others to do so

You could also critique this conflict as essentially using Yuzuru’s grief as a vehicle for Shoya’s development, but I’d say this conflict is offering such good Yuzuru moments that that’s not really fair

Chapter 7

This conflict does seem a little exaggerated. Too much convenience

It’s artificially constructed, but executed so well

Their mother thanks Shoya for being friends with Yuzuru

Their mother is a cold woman, but not an inhuman one. Good stuff

Chapter 8

Shoko’s father divorced her mother after learning she was deaf. And Yuzuru was born after that. So her mother has had it as hard as she could

Aw man, this final bit with the sisters is so cute