Image Source: 映画『きみの声をとどけたい』‏ on Twitter

Silence may be golden, but voices have a power. Madhouse’s new film Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai is all about how the power of voices and words can save a friendship—and maybe even a life.

Produced by Madhouse, Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai (lit. I Want to Deliver Your Voice) was revealed years ago as a project to train aspiring voice actresses. Six girls between the ages of 17 and 20 were chosen to play the film’s main six characters, and also formed the voice actress idol unit NOW ON AIR. Hence, it makes sense why the film—which premiered on Friday—has a story mainly based around the power of voice.

Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai takes place in Shōnan in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, which is beautifully portrayed in a series of pastel colors and thorough backgrounds. The protagonist, Nagisa, is on the lacrosse team with her friend Kaede. Along with their bespectacled friend Shizuku and captain of the rival school’s lacrosse team Yū, they were all childhood friends that attended preschool together. However, Kaede and Yū had a falling out around elementary school due to Kaede not liking that Yū was able to do everything perfectly, and also because her grandfather was the owner of a big company—something that seemed to give her an unfair edge.

After school one day, Nagisa, who believes in the concept that words have souls and can actually see them manifest in the air as light, comes across a mini radio station with an abandoned cafe. It turns out that the radio station used to be hosted by the mother of a girl named Shion. Ever since her mother went into a coma, the radio had been silent. However, Shion starts running the radio with Nagisa again in order to have the program reach her mother’s ears in the hospital, hoping that their “words filled with soul” will make her finally wake up after so many years unconscious. They are later joined by Kaede and Shizuku, as well as radio enthusiast Ayame and music school composer Otoha.

While kind of cheesy, the theme of voices and words bringing people together and making an impact on someone’s life is not one often explored in anime, spare specific voice acting industry ones. In Japanese society, so many things are left unsaid due to society’s nature of “tatemae,” or basically putting on a good face in front of others in order not to cause problems. In fact, this silence can and does cause problems.

Image Source: 映画『きみの声をとどけたい』‏ on Twitter

It could be said that this is represented with protagonist Nagisa, who constantly bottles up the words that she wants to say to her friends. The only way she can let them out is by screaming them at the top of her lungs whenever she hides away inside the giant Buddhist bell at the neighborhood shrine—something she has made into a routine. In the beginning of the film, she even uses the abandoned radio to let out her feelings when she thinks no one is listening. It’s only when she speaks her mind to her friends that things begin to change for the better.

The focus of this film is mainly on Nagisa and Shion, with the conflict between Kaede and Yu being the second main point of interest. With the radio as their tool, they learn to understand each other and come together, as well as move toward their final goal of making Shion’s mother wake up. There’s just one problem: the other characters are pretty much inconsequential. The only thing we know about Shizuku, for example, is that she likes baking and wants to study abroad in France.

And by far, the two least developed are Ayame and Otoha, who suddenly appear out of nowhere and just kind of hang around for the rest of the movie. Ayame is knowledgeable about radio, making her anger about the girls’ lack of said knowledge and interest in joining them understandable, but we’re never given any explanation as to why she’s knowledgeable. The official website says she loves radio programs, but she never shows any such passion within the movie itself. Even worse is Otoha, who is literally not there one scene and then suddenly there in the next, with an abrupt and quick introduction from her best friend Ayame. But after this scene, there is absolutely no development for their characters, spare one brief one where Otoha is assisting Nagisa to record a theme song for the radio.

Image Source: 映画『きみの声をとどけたい』‏ on Twitter

The main characters—excluding Shion—are all played by newbie voice actresses in what are their debut roles, and it shows. Most performances are fairly acceptable, but protagonist Nagisa and her friend Yū’s performances are extremely underwhelming. I’m actually baffled as to why they chose Nagisa’s voice actress as the lead and didn’t choose someone else amongst the cast. Yū, luckily, doesn’t show up in the film that much, but when she does, whoo boy, does she sound forced. The script writes Yū as a high-class lady, and as such, she speaks with speech patterns of one. Obviously, Yū’s voice actress was not used to this pattern of speech, and it is painful how forced it is.

Popular semi-veterans Yūki Kaji (Attack on Titan’s Eren) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Free!’s Makoto) are billed pretty prominently for this film, but they only have a few lines. Heck, the voice of Goku from Dragon Ball Z—veteran voice actress Masako Nozawa—also plays Nagisa’s grandmother… in a scene that lasts for less than a minute at the very beginning.

Overall, Kimi no Koe wo Todoketai is a visually appealing, fairly corny, but good-hearted film with a surprisingly deep message about the importance of words and voices. If it had given a bit more development to its other characters or even decreased the number of characters it had, it would have pushed it to be an even more of an emotional and heart-warming film than it already is, and it’s pretty enjoyable already.

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