A mother cares for her children: it’s one simple sentence, yet A Silent Voice manages to express it beyond words.
There’s a breakfast-confrontation moment in A Silent Voice that lasted for only a few minutes, but its intensity lingered around my heart, even after the movie ends. I realise something from that scene: why and how the characters’ mothers inside this movie add much more depth to it.
Both from the perspective of the boy who bullies, and the girl who is bullied.
The Boy’s Mother:
Shouya, as a child was sort of a people pleaser and has a certain pride amongst his group of friends. But, when things turn against him, and the bullies that he’s done come to light—he first thought of his mother.
His mother, Miyako, is simply a barber; all the hearing aids that he snatched from the girl and threw away for fun, they rounded up to million in yens. He instantly knew that it’s a responsibility too great to be bear by him, or his mother. He feels fear, for the first time ever, in his bullying days. Not only because everyone throws him under the bus, but how he couldn’t do anything than to accept the blame.
For his naievety and recklessness, his mother pays the price.
She didn’t scold him; yet he knew how wrong he was.
And, I understand that feeling. I once punched a classmate of mine, for multiple times, in lavatory when I was in middle school. He was the class infamous trash-talker and was always spewing insults whenever he has a chance to, because no one would talk back to him. I snapped that day. My mother was called to the principal’s office to meet the parent of that classmate. And during the entire trip home, she didn’t say a single word. I was sitting on the passenger’s seat and didn’t dare to look at her. She only gently pat my head. I didn’t make any promise to her but ever since that day, I’ve not gotten myself into any fights. But to fair, it’s partly because I became much taller after I entered high school.
I got off easy but Shouya, in this case, didn’t anticipate that there’ll be such consequences from small acts of his. Ridden by guilt, he grows up trying to repay his mother; he managed to save the money through various part-time jobs and by selling his manga, bedding, cutting off his phone services. But, it isn’t enough. Money, couldn’t cover his regrets. He hates himself, but he doesn’t show it. He tried to kill himself, but he couldn’t do it.
The next morning, the day after he stopped himself from diving into the river, his mother confronts him: his room is empty, the rest of the calendar up till that day is torn, and only a letter containing money is left for her. She was always wearing a smile on her face, but that day, she cried.
She cried knowing that the child she raised wanted to end his life, and leave her behind with money he earned to die. She cried because she didn’t realise how much the sorrow and guilt has eaten away on him. But, she could only force him to promise her that he won’t harbour such thoughts again.
She hated that her son hates himself.
But, just what she could have done?
The Girl’s Mother:
Knowing that her hearing-impaired child, Shouko, has been bullied for months in elemetary school—both physically and emotionally—she confronts the boy’s mother, and left a reminder for her. It’s a mother’s protective instinct to go to a certain extent to protect their children, more so if their children couldn’t stand up for themselves.
Because that day when Shouko returns, she was sobbing and she made a suicidal hand signal.
Throughout the years after Shouko transferred to other school, and entered high school, her mother continues to protect her. Along with Shouko’s little sister, they try to keep the bully away from her; they didn’t want tragedy to repeat itself, and for Shouko to blame herself for her disability. Shouko’s sister has also been capturing dead animals/incests’ picture to remind Shouko the value of life.
Again and again, they only wanted her to be happy: they eventually accept Shouya because Shouko wants them to. Until one night, in a festive night draped with colorful fireworks, Shouko decided to end her life. If Shouya wasn’t there, none of them could predict what would have happened.
But precisely because it wasn’t Shouko that fell into the river, that they realised they weren’t the ones that save her. They did everything they can to cease the negative thoughts and feelings that Shouko fosters in herself, but they didn’t get across until the last moment—when Shouko chose to hang onto the balcony’s rail. Shouko’s mother, she wasn’t able to protect her.
And, she becomes the one who apologise to Shoyo’s mother.
She hated that her daughter hates herself.
But, just what she could have done?
Two Mothers, Two Children.
None of them care less about their own child, and love them more than anything. Their love holds the same meaning, but it’s the contrastful depiction of them that brought out the movie’s theme even further.
A Silent Voice is not simply a movie on seeking redemption, or bringing a sublimal message of appreciating lives; it’s also one about relationships, family, and most importantly—mothers. In essence, maternal love has various portrayal; but here, it draws no bound and shows no mercy. Which, I think is definitely worth a watch. (if you haven’t, that is)
Thanks for reading!