Callum Fox: I’m looking forward to the new Japanese animation about deaf characters, based on a manga comic book

Posted on September 10, 2016

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Popular Japanese manga Koe no Katachi, which translates into English as ‘A Silent Voice’, has been adapted into a film which is due to hit the big screen on September 17.

Kyoto Animation confirmed in October last year that they would be picking up the movie rights but it only now are we seeing it come to life in form of various trailers promoting the launch in two months’ time.

Regular readers of the Limping Chicken may recall that I covered the original manga by author Oima Yoshitoki back in October 2014 when it shot up the bestselling charts.

After an initial one-shot, it gained popularity after being picked up by Weekly Shonen Magazine – one of Japan’s leading weekly magazines – and received the support and backing of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf in the process.

A Silent Voice explores the impact of deafness within Japanese culture through the lens of ordinary high school life. The story centres around protagonists Shoya Ishida and Shoko Nishimiya and their journey from childhood through to young adulthood.

Yoshitoki covers a vast range of topics from typical high school slice of life to psychological and sociological drama. While the focus is very much on the two protagonists and their budding romance, the author pulls no punches when it comes to deaf-related issues which makes for a compelling read.

The seventh and final volume was released in November 2014 and given the manga’s success, a film adaptation seemed inevitable. As in the west, Japan is no stranger to giving popular books the TV treatment, following a tried and tested recipe that has seen the likes of Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing become global phenomenons.

However, the same concerns among loyal fans of book series when it comes to TV adaptations also apply here. Will the directors remain faithful to the original series? Or will they take the premise and run with it in a different direction? There is also the challenge of condensing a seven volume series into a 90 or 120 minute film.

Whatever happens, it will be well worth a watch. It is set to be a landmark moment for Japanese animation – the first major release by an animation company on the topic of deafness.

So far, A Silent Voice has been scheduled for release in Japan on September 17. It is very likely that a distributor will pick up rights to export it to the United Kingdom with English subtitles but that remains to be announced.

If you would like to read the original manga, UK distributor Crunchyroll currently has all seven volumes translated into English which is available on their website for members only.

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