Disclaimer: Spoilers are unavoidable in an unfavourable critique. Because one has to explain themselves in far more detail than just the basics. I know there is a manga version. But not all people have the desire or the time to read all seven volumes. A movie, in contrast to an anime/manga lover like me, is quick stop. Especially, when Netflix allows you to watch it offline. The point, I am treating this review as an independent movie review, with no relation to the manga. This is not a movie VS manga contrast review.
So we have Shoko, Shoya, their respective mothers, and Yuzuru (Shoko's younger sister). We also have Tomohiro, (Naoko) Ueno, Sahara, Miki, and Satoshi. With the exception of Tomohiro, and Satoshi, all the other characters were in the same class as Shoko and Shoya in elementary school.
Shoko is deaf, and that becomes the apparent reason as to why Shoya and the rest of their classmates bully Shoko. The worst cluprits were Shoya and Ueno, but the others were not far behind. Sahara was sympathetic to Shoko's plight, but she was more or less a bystander. Miki, while not violent, was a vocal backstabber.
It gets so bad, that when Shoko gets into a physical altercation with Shoya, she ends up transferring. In the midst of this, when this behaviour reaches the higher ups, Shoya is hung to dry as the only perpetrator by his own friends. He literally becomes the victim of bullying. This, as he rightly states, karma isolates him to the point, that even five years later, he is still a lonely person. Something that leads him to considering suicide.
(I truly did appreciate his mother's reaction to this).
He accidentally bumps into Shoko, and apologizes for his past behaviour. He also tries to befriend her, and reconnect her to their past classmates. Ironically, the same class mates who they were both bullied/isolated by.
Most of them end up befriending each other (not strong friendships yet), with the exception of Naoko Ueno. She still hates Shoko and blames her for certain things. This leads to Shoko hating herself to the point that she tries to commit suicide, and she would have if Shoya did not save her. This ends up paralyzing him. An accident that causes Ueno to hit both Shoko, and even Shoko's mother. They, of course, retaliate, but if I remember correctly, Ueno started it.
And at this point, I don't even care anymore. I am mentally out.
Of course, I am skipped out on certain details, and only focusing on the bullying.
I get that this movie aims to show case the perspective of a (troubled) bully. But I do think that the movie fails to deliver that troubled perspective. And the reason for that in my book is that the movie does not show/translate the reason behind Shoya, and Ueno's initial bullying very well. The rest were simply sheep following the leaders, I guess.
What I am trying to say is, why did Shoya even start bullying Shoko? In the movie he came from a loving home. So was Shoko's disability the reason? It truly does make me question a parent's upbringing.
Loving and providing for your child is not enough, teaching them kindness, and to pay attention to their behaviour. And not having time is no excuse. You had a child, you must make time.
And even later on, Ueno's reason for still hating Shoko is so flimsy and immature. I truly wanted to female dog slap her, real bad. It was obvious that she blamed Shoko for Shoya's bullying. Well Ueno, if you cared so much, why did you stop talking to him?
Now admittedly, I am not very sympathetic to bullies, cheaters, or any other kind of abusers. In real life (emphasis). I tend to stop thinking about them and ignoring them entirely.
But I can read/view/write a fiction piece where the main character is some sort of abuser, and finds forgiveness. I have even enjoyed certain works with this theme. I know how to separate my real world from the fictitious world. And the main reason for that is I don't want to read/view reality when I am looking for entertainment.
On a different note, there is also our need for the idealistic belief that no one is truly born evil. You know babies and innocence? And that is why we always look to redeem people with problematic behaviour. I personally think that violent tendencies is genetics, and science still hasn't came up with a solution. But the ideal does make for a good story. If done right.
This, to me, was not. Because I did not relate to anyone's behaviour. Most of all Shoko. I myself, as a bullied/isolated individual, could not grasp how quickly (emphasis) Shoko not only forgave everyone, but fell in love with Shoya. Not an impossibility, I know. But still, is a little bit righteous anger from the victim, too much to ask for?
Yuzuru from the whole bunch is my favourite character. She's the kind of friend I would love to have.
Long story short, in real life I can understand bullying to a certain extent. Home background, mental problems etc. I can even see why some people choose to forgive and move on. My personal medicine is to forget, and move one. To each their own. But what I can never understand is how this behaviour can slide right pass adults for long periods of time. Both in the education system, and the parents themselves.
The one thing, perhaps the only thing, I do appreciate about this movie is how isolation makes someone suicidal. Been there, done that. It is a real fact and symptom of being bullied.
But I am not sure if this is the movie, I would urge people to watch in order to understand the extent of what victimization does to someone.
Now, I personally was not entertained, as explained, by the diatribe above. But I can objectively see why it is entertaining. While I did not find even the ideal of bully-perspective done right, many would disagree with that.
If you're looking for common sense in characters, which is entirely possible to do, in an ideal and made-up fiction piece, I personally cannot say this is the one.
However, seeing that I am of the minority, perhaps you might want to give it a shot.
On a positive note, I want to read the manga now.