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The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
A Silent Voice Complete Collector's Edition

What's It About? 

A deaf elementary school girl, Shoko Nishimiya, upon transferring, meets a boy named Shoya Ishida in her new class. Shoya, who is not deaf, leads the class in bullying Shoko, because she is deaf. As the bullying continues, the class starts to bully Shoya for bullying Shoko. After graduating from elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other… until later, when Shoya, tormented over his past, decides he must see Shoko once more. Shoya wants to make amends for what he did in elementary school and be Shoko's friend.

This deluxe, large-sized hardcover includes the first half of the story of A Silent Voice, extending from Vol. 1 through half of Vol. 4, as well as over fifty pages of content never published in English before, such as the early drafts of the story, behind-the-scenes details from creator Yoshitoki Ōima, and color art and concept sketch galleries. Collectors and new readers alike won't want to miss it!

A Silent Voice has story and art by Yoshitoki Ōima, with English translation by Steven LeCroy, and Kodansha Comics will release this first volume in hardcover on May 24.

Is It Worth Reading?

Christopher Farris


Meriting a momentously massive Collector's Edition release such as it does, even if you haven't yet read it yourself, you're probably at least generally aware of A Silent Voice and whether you want to check it out. The heavy topics of ableism and bullying that it springboards its story off of remain as painfully realistic and hard-to-watch as ever. But as notably strongly-constructed as those introductory elements are, simply rubbernecking at that kind of trauma isn't the real point of this series, as it's only after that prologue that the denser complexities of what A Silent Voice is really about start to become clear. That's an appreciable advantage to a colossal compilation like this, that there's still so much book to read through after the introduction that it provides plenty of space for someone experiencing it to glom onto its other themes: The questions of how much people can change if they want to, the way trauma ripples out through families and friend groups, and interior interrogation of what even constitutes 'friendship' in the first place.

It speaks to the success of Yoshitoki Ōima's storytelling that even as a triple-length tome presenting the whole first half of the story, A Silent Voice is still the sort of page-turner that flies by faster than you might think. The tonal pacing helps, I'd say, notable in how this story very much is not a message-massaging Very Special Episode the whole way through. The manga is happy to make time for more everyday, almost slice-of-life style interactions between Shoyo, Shoko, and the other people they gradually let into their life. There's a realistic arc to their interactions that let the more serious dramatic developments land with impact without feeling like trumped-up manipulation. If there is any arguable shortcoming at this stage, I'd say it's the story's insistence on focusing on Shoya and his point-of-view. Don't get me wrong, as the core of figuring out all these feelings and friendships, he and his personal arc work. But just a couple of times in this first half, the story flashes to momentary highlighting of Shoko's own interiority, providing a tantalizing glimpse of a personality that we feel could carry this story just as well. I wouldn't say it's a case of the manga preferring to use Shoko as a sympathetic prop the way lesser stories might utilize a character like her, she still comes off as extremely compelling in her own right. It's mostly just that the writing of her (and others in the story) is so good anyway that it's hard not to consider what could have been apart from the concentrated focus on Shoya.

But as I said, you probably don't need me to spend any more space explaining to you that A Silent Voice is pretty dang good. If you're already aware of that, this fancy new edition makes for a deserving iteration of the series (or the first half of it, anyway). Those big glossy pages are a great fit, letting you appreciate some of the smaller, more subtle details in the art depicting things like character movement (all the sign-language in the story and otherwise). There's also a fair amount of new bonus content packed in here. The original 'pilot' one-shot version of A Silent Voice is appreciable for anyone who likes seeing the process in iterations of manga like this. I was personally interested in seeing how the device of Shoko's perception of what people were saying about her wound up adapted into Shoya's habit of superimposing his own impressions of people talking about him in the full version of the manga. There's also a neat little Q&A portion where Yoshitoki Ōima notes even more incidental details, including some absolutely teeny ones she laments readers didn't really catch. Conversely, some of the interview details, particularly the 'Long Interview' this book ends on, might arguably over-explain some elements of the story at this point only inferred or left to the imagination, which could ring particularly odd for first-time readers. But as a bonus, it's still the sort of material that's interesting to see. A Silent Voice is the sort of work whose reputation feels like it deserves a prestige edition such as this, so whether you already appreciated the work, or were waiting until the best way to read it to check it out, this set earns a pretty easy recommendation.

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