A Silent Voice ★★½

There really is a lot to like here, but something did not click for me. The most obvious thing about A Silent Voice is that it truly is stunningly beautiful. The visuals are lush and vibrant, with an elegant hand-drawn style so unique to anime. Yamada chooses to insert Ozu-like cutaways, nearly always to nature and flowers, that are deep calming breaths throughout the pretty intense picture. There is also what feels like a very authentic and thoughtful depiction of mental health issues that don't see a lot of screen time. The visual conceit of Ishida's social anxiety threatens to be on the nose, but I think it works in this context.

What held me back from this one was some of the more unfortunate tropes of anime. Some of the humour was handled in a strange way. The film needed levity, but I felt it could have been introduced more elegantly. There was also a sense of self-aggrandizement that I often feel with films of the genre, a sense of languid self-importance and thematic obviousness that makes me wish they were a little more grounded and intimate. It works in a film like Your Name, but I hoped Yamada was a little more subdued. Then again, the film does tackle some really intense subject matter, so maybe it is as important as it thinks it is.