Admittedly I have watched this movie a couple of times, the most recent being over the weekend, and I actually thought that I had already reviewed it, maybe I started to but got distracted and never finished it. I however went through my posts and realised that I hadn’t and I am a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t.
This film tackles some heavy themes with the main one being bullying though it does also cover suicide and redemption. It is not an easy or comfortable movie to watch, especially the beginning but it is still a really good story and it is beautifully animated though admittedly some of the minor characters could have bene fleshed out a little more and the run time of 2 hours is a little long.
It follows the actions of Shoya Ishida, who as a kid bullied a classmate, Shoko Nishimiya until she was forced to change schools. Shoko is deaf and though Shoya was not the only one in his class that bullied her he was the only one called out for it and he in turn was bullied when he tried to make this point.
Now a teenager in high school Shoya is an outcast, he has no real friends and has problems looking people in the eyes, so much so that everyone in school has a big X over their faces. He sees his past as a punishment and decides to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge but comes to his senses. He intends to make amends and goes to return a notebook of Shoko’s that he thrown into a pond and that he recovered when he was pushed into it. They begin to meet at a bridge and feed the koi together.
He also makes a friend in Tomohiro Nagatsuka, another outcast at school after he stopped a bully from stealing his bike. He also meets Shoko’s younger sister Yuzuru, who is a talented photographer, and is sceptical of Shoya intentions, but eventually comes around after he shows her kindness after she posted an embarrassing picture online of Shoya that got him suspended from school.
Though they all hang out and Shoya and Shoko reunites with some of their old classmates, both Shoya and Shoko are still carrying a lot of baggage. Shoko, in particular displays self-loathing for her disability and blames herself for everything that happened to Shoya. It climaxes with Shoko attempting suicide and Shoya saving her but in the process falling into a coma. After he comes to he apologizes for his past behaviour and ask her to help him continue to live.
Shoya and Shoko visit his school festival together where he is reunited with his new friends and old ones and for the first time he is able to look others in the eye and believes that he has finally found his redemption and forgiveness for his past actions.
As I said the beginning it might be a hard movie to watch especially if you have experienced bullying of any kind but it worth a watch. It is emotional and shows that redemption is possible if you want it and work at it.