Koe no Katachi (聲の形) / The Shape of a Voice
Manga-ka: Ooima Yoshitoki
Genre: Drama, School Life, Shounen
A one-shot about a grade school class that accepts a girl with impaired hearing.
Winner of the 80th Weekly Shounen Magazine Newbie Best Mangaka Award Publicized again on the 12th edition of the 2013 Weekly Shounen Magazine.
Okay so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything (over a year, really) but I’ll update anyone who cares about it some other time. Here’s some other information about the manga I got from MyAnimeList – “The vector of the content made it difficult for publication in any manga magazine, until it was picked up, after months of legal dispute, by the February edition of Bessatsu Shounen Magazine, where it got first place despite its being a one-shot.”
So! I’ll start with the one-shot that’s affected me the most since I went off on hiatus. Koe no Katachi, or The Shape of a Voice. There are some common themes with this manga that you’d see in others as well, but the way the manga-ka handles this doesn’t just make it realistic – he makes it believable. The story is so grounded it felt like a story you could read of your daily newspaper; a story you don’t want to believe, but somehow know that it probably is true. There are a lot of manga out there who have ‘realistic’ story lines, but making something believable – making it into something that you can see happening in real life – is something that takes a different sort of talent (and quite a lot of guts in this case due to the controversial content).
The issues throughout the manga that really intrigued me was special education needs (SEN), bullying and teaching. I’ve been pretty much working in a sort of special school setting this past year, so these issues really stood out for me. I did about 5 minutes research about SEN in Japan, and there apparently was a period of time when children with disabilities were placed in regular classes in regular schools. You can read the short article where I got this from here.
Like I said before, a lot of manga deals with this kind of story line, but there’s always something about it that can make you separate fact from fiction. Normally with manga, you end up caring for the character, but can detach yourself from that universe. In Koe no Katachi, maybe in the end you are able to detach yourself from the characters (if you can’t care for them, you sure are an a**), but you can’t detach yourself from the issues that were highlighted in the manga.
If you’re into a one-shot that chains you back to reality after all the floating away the fictional world has brought you to, here’s one for you. And despite everything I said, the manga does end on an extremely sweet note, so do give it a go!