A Silent Voice – Scriptwriter Reiko Yoshida Interview

This is from the A Silent Voice “making of” book published by Kyoto Animation in 2016. I translated this for another site, but it never got ran on it. With the ongoing incident at KyoAni, I wanted to share some of these translations that were finished, but never seen publicly.

Scriptwriter Reiko Yoshida
Animation scriptwriter. Has handled many TV series and films. Other works she’s handled have included the K-On! series (as series composer) and the Girls und Panzer series (series composer).

– When did you hear the plans to make A Silent Voice into an anime production?
It was about three years ago. I remember that time because it was placed at number 1 on the “This Manga is Amazing” rankings and was talked about around the world.

– What did you think when reading the manga?
It was a work that intensely pierced my heart. I also felt it would be difficult to handle the weight of a character that had difficulties hearing in animation. But, since it became such a challenging work, I feel like I would be able to accomplish something new in writing this story’s script.

– The film itself condenses everything from the manga into one tale. How did you go about that?
At the start of production, we thought about what the core of the story would be. Taking various points of view into account and due to the number of characters that appear, it took some trial and error to determine what the heart of the movie would consist of. Director Yamada was also worried and wondered if we could condense the 7 manga volumes down into a single movie.
At that time, the mangaka Yoshitoki Ooima-sensei was also participating in our script meetings and said “this is Shoya’s tale.” If we could show Shoya’s story, a boy who had closed his ears to shut out the surrounding voices to once again listen to someone’s voice, wouldn’t we be able to make A Silent Voice into a film?

– How did Shoya become the youth who shut his heart and stopped loving?
Shoya in elementary school was the kind of boy who always searched for something fun to do or something that stimulated him. Even though he had reached the age where he knew what is right and what is wrong, he continued to do horrible things to Shoko and went extremely overboard. And due to that, his classmates started bullying him and he was isolated…… With that kind of past, he became a high schooler and a protagonist who shut his heart from the surroundings due to the sins he carried and his regrets.

– The feeling of being wounded and shutting your heart is an ordinary emotion, wouldn’t you think?
I think a lot of people can certainly sympathize with feeling like you’re an out-of-place cog in society, feeling like there’s a discrepancy between you and the people around you.
For Shoya and Shoko to also share the same feelings, there would have to be something that they can sympathize together on, right? Both of them feel they’re to blame, and so because they feel burdened with that guilt, they can’t properly communicate with the people around them. However, there are cases where Shoya will become aggressive and Shoko becomes inclined to conceal herself. It was important to show that both of them have different ways they hide shut their hearts.

– Did you pay more attention than usual to the elementary time period for Shoya?
It’s a fact that Shoko transferred schools because of what Shoya did to her. Why did he start to meddle with her…… I wanted to firmly understand the reason why he did that. It’s obvious that she caught his interest, but as a result of not knowing how to treat her, he went overboard with his actions. I wanted to show that him going overboard and becoming isolated from his classmates afterwards wasn’t this harsh scene he imagined.

– What were some key words you used when writing the script for A Silent Voice?
Director Yamada said at the beginning “I want to make a work where it appears that the audience will forgive him,” so this became a work to make the people who saw it feel that way once they finished the film. Previously, a friend of mine said “people today forgive themselves, but they also place themselves underneath others for forgiveness,” so when I heard director Yamada’s words, I was reminded of “placing themselves under others for forgiveness.” I felt like that could resonate with people today.

– Was there anything in particular you were aware of when changing the medium of the story from manga to a film?
In contrast to a manga, video has sounds, backgrounds, and spacing. Due to where you place the camera, you can also show a character’s mental state. In order to represent all you want to convey in a single panel for manga, it’s inevitable that writers tend to use a lot of monologues. But because there was another type of language in this story, sign language, the manga wasn’t overly burdened with monologues; actually there were quite few of them.

– What did director Yamada talk to you about when depicting the interactions between characters?
Director Yamada was also worried over how to depict the tone of the film. There’s scenes in the work where characters shout in anger and have a lot of violent emotions explode out of them. There’s a lot of differences in this work compared to the works the director herself had handled up until now and a lot of characters fight with each other too. Also, there was a lot of drama between the characters in my head, so I felt the difficulty of depicting that limited to a single movie.

– Using Shoko as a reference, what kinds of things did you look for?
I was a member of a sign language group for a while, so I recalled that time period. There’s a lot of aggressive people in those kinds of groups. They would play sports together, they would go eat together after group activities, they would communicate without words at all. It was only bright people who brought a lively and fun atmosphere there. By living as positively as they did, we who could hear received such a healthier impression of them. It might be that they tried their hardest to have fun because they were burdened with a deficit. I think with having that experience too, Shoko also surely had various aspirations when she transferred schools.

– From what you’ve seen Yoshida-san, what do you think director Yamada’s charm is?
She’s a director who has made few films. Making an animated TV series is difficult, but the hurdle is certainly higher when completing a movie. When doing so, she carries along her own view of the world in production. Those kinds of senses aren’t mastered in a single day. I think director Yamada has a unique sense to form what she’s been charmed by and what she’s liked up until that point. That ties together with her ability to bring to life the charm in film.

One thought on “A Silent Voice – Scriptwriter Reiko Yoshida Interview

  1. Found this blog from surfing links from the sticky reddit thread, I really appreciate stuff like this right now, it really helps. The sentiment in the previous article too, it helps seeing bloggers and such articulate how we might be feeling, it kinda helps to vent a little.

    Yuuko Yoshikawa, whose pic is in from the previous article, I saw her Saiyou (Yamaoka, Yuri) released a tweet, I keep seeing notifications of Saiyous tweeting but the links are to the Japanese originals.

    I don’t know if it would be possible, but an article, or series of mini articles of the tweets from the Kyoani related personalities translated into English could be pretty theraputic right now.

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