This story is about depression, suicide, loneliness and bullying. It is everything that I don’t like. But you know what? I loved it. The story explores all those topics but the most important one that ties them all together is: Redemption.
The story follows a simple plot: When Shoko, a girl who cannot hear or speak joins a school, a carefree boy Shoya despises her and bullies her. His main contention being- she was disrupting their normal lives. A few of his friends are in on the joke too. Their pranks escalate to pulling out her hearing aids and that draws blood. Shoko tries her best to be friendly and fit in at school, but eventually she leaves the school, unable to cope with the constant bullying. As she leaves, the tables are turned and Shoya is targeted as the one who made and innocent girl leave school. His friends turn against him and he is ostracized. People who were once his good friends pull the same cruel pranks on him which he once pulled on Shoko.
Shoya is now a grown up, high-school boy and still lives a life of loneliness. He decides to end his life, marking the day on his calendar. On his last day, he shall find Shoko and apologize for his deeds. This is when his life takes a turning point and the real story begins.
The format of characters like Shoko being bullied by the likes of Shoya is not new, but the focus is on the victim. Here, we get to see the perspective of the bully. How he takes on a journey of self-realization is a heart-felt story, to say the least. There are some tear-jerking scenes and are very powerful in adding depth. The story progresses slowly and we experience the ups and downs that Shoya feels.
I consider the movie and manga a masterpiece because of the excellent character development of Shoya. Great work by Yoshitoki Oima. The manga is the better version because it goes beyond the movie and ties the loose ends together; hence more satisfying than the movie. Even if you have never read any mangas, I would highly recommend you to read this. At the very least, it will entertain you. At most, it will give you a whole new perspective on life.
Get the first volume!