7:30 PM, 7th September, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ANU COLLEGE OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
ORIGINAL JAPANESE LANGUAGE VERSION
Shoko is a largely deaf student who is mercilessly bullied when she moves to a new school, and the worst of her tormentors is a boy named Shoya. When the abuse becomes too much and Shoko has to change schools again, all Shoya’s friends and accomplices turn on Shoya himself – the nearest available target, and someone it’s possible to pick on and feel virtuous doing so at the same time.
By high school, the teenaged Shoya is utterly alone, guilt-ridden, and flirting with suicide. Then he runs into Shoko a second time, and wonders if he can somehow redeem himself.
This is the director’s third animated feature (already, at the age of 32), but her first stand-alone work – as in, the first that’s not just a continuation of a TV series. Accordingly, she and Kyoto Animation have lavished extra care on it, bringing a jewelled loveliness to the quieter moments. There are touches that might ordinarily be excessive – koi, raindrops and cherry blossoms like you wouldn’t believe – but here seems scarcely enough for the characters’ wounded feelings, and our feelings for those feelings. The story (adapted, with some liberties, from an acclaimed manga some years earlier) does not simply follow lines of least resistance, and takes us places we don’t expect.