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A Silent Voice, Volume 1: Learning to Listen…
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A Silent Voice, Volume 1: Learning to Listen (2013)

by Yoshitoki Oima

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Silent Voice (Volume 1)

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English (4)  French (1)  All (5)
Showing 4 of 4
A deaf girl enrolls in a new school, and is bullied by her hearing classmates, especially by one boy who later becomes bullied himself. Graphic novel, first in a series. ( )
  lilibrarian | Jul 5, 2017 |
This is my second ever Manga series ( Death Note was my recent first), and I am blown away by the depth of thought and subject matters explored. The main character, Shoya, bullies a new girl for being deaf. It is tough ( with intense themes) to read at first, but you will keep reading. The empathy for Nishimiya, the raw truth in its depiction of elementary school bullying and the social dynamic that arises from one person being targeted is unfortunately very realistic.

SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD

While people may feel disdain for Shoya at first, there is the need to know "why". Also, when Nishiyima is forced to change schools from all of the harassment she faces, his previously loyal classmates begin to turn on him, which in turn, makes gives him a taste of his own medicine and then eventually causes him to, a year/s or so later, self-reflect and face some pretty dark feelings
( suicide, guilt, etc.) I am only on book 3 so far, but am loving it. If you are unsure of how to approach Manga, and feel intimidated, start with A Silent Voice. Trust me, if you love classic English Literature, and/or any darker stuff, you will like it.
  libheroine | Jun 5, 2017 |
[A quickie warning for those who need it: This manga volume deals with the prolonged bullying of a deaf girl.]

Shoya Ishida is a kid who does stupid stunts because it gets him the attention he craves. However, when his friends start to move beyond all that, he begins to feel both alone and bored. And so he picks on the new girl, Shoko Nishimiya, who is deaf. He makes fun of her, takes her hearing aids, etc., until one day the teacher goes before the class and says that Shoko's mother has complained about the eight hearing aids that have been broken or stolen in the last five months – approximately $14,000 worth of damage. Suddenly, Shoyabecomes an outcast. After he and Shoko fight and Shoko transfers to a new school, Shoya becomes more and more of a loner.

This is ugly and awful and feels very realistic. Shoya seems to have problems at home – his mother is nice but works constantly to provide for her family, and his sister brings a new guy home every few weeks or so. Which gives some background, but doesn't excuse Shoya's cruelty towards Shoko. Shoko, for her part, is kind enough to try to keep Shoya from knowingthe full extent to which he is being bullied. Once she leaves, though, all the kids who did nothing while he bullied Shoko or laughed right along with him suddenly become his tormentors.

Basically, this is a condensed example of just how much school can suck. The teacher was no better than his students. In fact, I'd argue that he was worse, because he was supposed to be the adult in this situation. Yes, he talked to Shoya about his behavior, but his actions were half-hearted, and he too showed frustration at another teacher saying they should all learn at least a little sign language. The panel where he snarled at Shoya was kind of terrifying and, I think, a good example of just how bad a teacher he was. Shoya interpreted it entirely as his teacher being angry at him, but I think his teacher was also terrified that he might be considered partly responsible for the damages, since he did so little to stop it, and so he turned those feelings on Shoya.

While I liked this (although I'm not sure “like” is appropriate here), I did think that there was some clarity issues. A few things were a little harder to follow than they should have been.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Nov 29, 2015 |
(Review lost by server failure, rewritten less well)
You might like this if you enjoy the sort of depressing books assigned as school reading.

This book is full of lovely, realistic artwork. Unfortunately, it's not my sort of story at all. This is a grim, depressing story of an utterly obnoxious bully of a kid, who eventually gets his comeuppance and becomes the class victim instead, then learns something from it and tries to improve himself or something. This is the kind of book we were forced to read in English Literature - full of misery, "realism", characters nobody could like, and heavy moral messages about how everyone is basically awful and life is crap.

There are precisely two likeable characters: the protagonist's mother, who gets minimal pagetime, and the victim Nishimiya herself, who is essentially a plot device in this volume at least. Everyone else is basically loathesome. Most of the volume consists of Shouya musing, Shouya bullying Nishimiya, or Shouya getting bullied, making it pretty unrelentingly grim. There is no humour or relief from the misery, and no characters other than Shouya are allowed to develop, which is a problem given that he's completely unlikeable.

While it's perhaps realistic, I found it deeply depressing that Shouya's classmates, who take enthusiastic part in the bullying, are able not only to escape scot-free from consequences, but then turn their bullying on Shouya with equal lack of consequence, while acting like they have the moral high ground. None of the adults intervene meaningfully on behalf of either, despite really severe physical bullying and destruction of property.

I was somewhat intrigued as to what might happen later in the series; maybe this setup volume would lead into a much more palatable series as the relationships between the characters develop? But no. From the synopses I can find, the series consists of Shouya and Nishimiya working to reconcile with people who treated them like crap, for no reason I can discern. Life continues to be miserable, there are occasional The More You Know moments. It's not going to be fun. I see no reason to read it.

It's a huge shame, because I thought this was going to be a really interesting series about the experiences of a deaf kid and this boy who gets involved in her life. But no, she's essentially a Very Special Episode plot device as far as I can tell, serving only to motivate the protagonist in various ways. ( )
  Shimmin | Jul 2, 2015 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yoshitoki Oimaprimary authorall editionscalculated
LeCroy, StevenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 163236056X, Paperback)

LEARNING TO LISTEN
Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his  past mistakes, or is it too late?

Read the manga industry insiders voted their favorite of 2014!

“A very powerful story about being different and the consequences of childhood bullying… Read it.” -Anime News Network
“The word heartwarming was made for manga like this.” -Manga Bookshelf

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Jul 2015 01:19:02 -0400)

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