Tackling bullying, depression and disability: a review of A Silent Voice

Last night I attended the packed screening of A Silent Voice at the Exeter Phoenix which was being aired as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme here in the UK. For any of you who happen to find yourself in that part of the world, it’s a quaint, arty cinema which is incorporated within a larger arts centre that I can happily recommend. That said, if the women three seats to my right who was on Facebook for the duration of the film is a regular I think I might be a little put off in the future… anyway – I’m getting sidetracked.

A Silent Voice, or Koe no Katachi as it is known in Japan, is not an easy film to watch. The themes it covers are wide ranging but generally focus on the culture of bullying in the Japanese school system. As a result of this, the film draws upon ideas surrounding depression, dealing with disability and ultimately suicide. Knowing that then, it might surprise you to know that I found the parts of this film that focused on bullying much harder to watch than those that focused upon the resultant depression – I’ll come to why after I explained the plot and some of my more general thoughts around it.

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Review: A Certain Magical Index, The Miracle of Endymion

Having watched both seasons of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun, this evening I watched the Index film: The Miracle of Endymion. Now, you get the review!

Recap

Happily for those that have never seen any of the TV show, The Miracle of Endymion pretty much stands alone by itself. Chronologically, it comes after all 4 seasons in the franchise but isn’t affected by any of the events that have gone on (unless you’re desperate to know Kuroko is still in a wheelchair). Let’s say you haven’t seen anything else in the franchise, what do you really need to know? The backdrop to our story is the most forward thinking scientific city in the world, Academy City. It’s principal purpose is to train the most gifted young people with scientific abilities called espers. On the other side of things, are magicians who on the whole despise science and everything it stands for. Both sides in the show have a lot of power and have fleeting quietly on the edge of war for a while. The main character is Toma, a pretty average Level 0 esper with apparently no power. Apart from the fact that his right hand can dispel anyone else’s power whether it be scientific or magical. His nun friend is Index, a member of the English Church and a magician of sorts- she has memorised the whole of the grimoires of the Catholic Church often making her a target for anyone and everyone around the world.

That should be enough to get you going through this.

She can sing, make miracles happen, you know, the usual.
She can sing, make miracles happen, you know, the usual.

Plot

As I’ve said, the film doesn’t have any bearing on the TV series and works really well as stand alone feature. It’s based on a space plane crash that happened 3 years ago in Academy City; against all the odds, all 88 people on board survived- it was seen as a miracle. Meanwhile in the present day, Index and Toma befriend a street singer called Arisa. Soon after that, they get attacked by their magic friends (I know, some ‘friends’ they are) as they try to capture Arisa. It turns out that she’s extremely powerful and could start a war between science and magic or worse yet, destroy half of the world if an immortal crazy magician gets her hands on her (!). The leader of another group trying to protect Arisa arrives called Shutaura. The two sides have a bit of a battle but in the end the three escape.

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