Koe no Katachi review

Apr 17, 2021
*Warning: spoilers for Koe no Katachi (Manga) ahead*

Koe no Katachi is a story about bulling and heavy themes likes being ostracized, so you already know it’s going to make you cry.

It’s a really good story with a very gripping plot, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It explores the discrimination and ostracizing/bullying that takes place in school, and it’s not done with finesse and subtlety. It’s really open about this, and I find this to be an admirable quality of the story. It also isn’t drama and tragedy just for the sake of having it or to make you cry, it carries actual meaning.

It has a nice average length as a manga, and as such doesn't have problems with pacing and filler. Some people have found it to end abruptly, but that I think has to do with what they expected/wanted, not what the manga had set out to do. It says what it wants to say and ends on a strong note, with an uncertain but bright future. Think along the lines of Steins;Gate’s ending.

The main pair and how they interact is the star of the show. Given that Shouko is deaf and mute, everything she expresses is done so visually, both in hand language and facial features. It’s the extreme of visual storytelling, where the main characters interact without much text at all, in a similar manner to the main characters in Fujiyama-san wa Shishunki. The group dynamic when the whole cast is together is also great, and everyone faces their own monsters in the same way Shouya does. This is a story about redemption through and through, and about owing up to the past, or to oneself.

Given that the story revolves around this communication without dialogue quite a bit, I’d have expected the art to be cleaner. In that sense, I expected the artist to use fine lines to capture the subtly of human facial emotions. Instead, it’s rather rough on the form, and the lines themselves are very inconsistent. I don’t think it’s a bad art style by any means, and the way they adapted it for the movie was sublime. I think it suffers from that inconsistency, and the artist certainly did not make it easy on himself. He does the backgrounds beautifully, and the inking is great, and then the lines defining the characters don’t fit the mood of the scene. It’s some great art overall and the only real problem is that inconsistency, that and his choice of screentones can become repetitive.

Koe no Katachi a smooth read, and not an especially long one at that. It flows well, and the plot and themes make the story very engaging, at least it did for me. It’s the type of manga that can have you empathize with and understand the characters, while also making you utterly despise others. It’s a great quality to have, and for such a rollercoaster story with heavy themes, I’m glad it had it.

Overall, it’s really good, but it’s also pretty sad. Especially at the start, like holy shit what a way to start the manga. That first volume gets heavy right off the bat, and even explores some touchy aspects about the way in which children and adults act.

It’s a 10/10 from me, whatever merit that has.


Koe no Katachi
Koe no Katachi
Autor Ooima, Yoshitoki