“The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down”: Koe no Katachi and The Anxious Classroom Environment

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An expressive and enriching meditation on redemption and scars shared, Koe no Katachi is a cinematic triumph and perhaps Kyoto Animation’s most celebrated offering yet. Boasting what appears to be a cloyingly feel-good spectacle certain to reward those in search of penitence, The Who’s ‘My Generation’ elevating a kaleidoscope of youth, that the film’s central conceits would be as cheap as the premise feels ought to be something of an inevitability. An experience tenderly crafted by the studio’s finest however, Koe no Katachi highlights more achingly poignant modes of guilt and redemption with scars running deep between victim and victimizer as they struggle to transcend cyclical modes of abuse; moistening an arid interpersonal wasteland. Shouko is deaf and subjected to a particularly ruthless form of systematic ostracism carried out by protagonist Shouya and the rest of their class, ridding her of agency through discarding the notebook which serves as her primary form of communication along with ripping out hearing aids with such venom, it scars. So callous is their treatment of Shouko that it eventually results in her transferring schools – an entire five months after she first set foot in their classroom. And yet the notion beggars belief.

Why did the school let the bullying go on for as long as it did?

Why didn’t the homeroom teacher reprimand those jeering at her in plain sight?

Why were her peers so reluctant when it came to actively dissuading Shouya’s harassment?

Why did they mostly amount to passive spectators, in turn contributing to Shouko’s pain?

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