Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation in Koe no Katachi

The Koe no Katachi movie starts out with the song My Generation by The Who…but what’s that got to do with anything?

“…life is a war against boredom.” – Shoya Ishida

The opening song to the Koe no Katachi movie superimposes the song over the initial scenes of Shoya and friends jumping into the river, exchanging secret handshakes and doing all those other things those young boys did for kicks. It’s quite the simple montage, but it shows how Shouya is disaffected from his life, how he was the ringleader of his friends and the devil-may-care (or rather “I can do anything and get away with it”) attitude he gets from that.

The interesting thing about this song shows his mindset before he gets weighed down by maturity or the blowback of his bullying. In the manga, Shoya adds some narration to this montage, stating he’s doing stupid things to “defeat boredom”, but by having a song that has the same feeling, it’s saying more with less. Most notably, the song stops just before Shoko’s introduction, as a non-verbal demonstration of his loss of innocence as well as bringing attention to how life-changing this event is for Shoya.

Paying attention to the lyrics, this song could be interpreted to be about youth and irresponsibility – the very things that lead Shoya to believe bullying was the way to solve his problems in the first place. In fact, it comes off as quite self-centred, as a stand-in for Shoya’s narration. However, the most prominent line is “talkin’ ‘bout my generation”, as if he blames everyone else around him for the way he is, rather than taking all that blame unto himself like he does as a teenager. The songwriter said to Rolling Stone,My Generation was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost,” making the montage and the song a perfect match in regards to the sentiments being put on display.

Furthermore, it also plays the pivotal role of introducing all the other eventual players in Shoya’s game of life, even though it doesn’t involve naming them. Most of the focus is on Shoya, since this is his story, but the camera gives some focus to main players like Miki and Naoka as foreshadowing (and of course it focuses on Kazuki a lot, itself foreshadowing for the end of the movie). This kind of insular portrayal is similar to how the crosses work later on in the movie, although the crosses are Shoya’s deliberate ignorance of people as noted here.

In the end, I believe the song choice causes Shoya to be portrayed in a more sympathetic light, even though I do not condone bullying myself. Indeed, the manga and the movie do not really choose to punish Shoko and Shoya’s viewpoints, but instead take both, as flawed as they are, and present them to the audience in all their glory, which I think is the most powerful thing about this work. Normally bullying causes people to throw blame around (as seen with various characters in the movie, both adults and children/teenagers), so treating both sides as equal allows people to take sides for themselves, as both oppressor and oppressed.

Koe no Katachi is a powerful work, regardless of whether it is experienced as a manga or a movie. So, for those who’ve seen the movie and/or the manga, is there anything I missed when talking about that opening montage? For those who haven’t seen either of them, what’s the most memorable usage of the OP you’ve seen in an anime?



2 thoughts on “Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation in Koe no Katachi

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  1. I never actually paid attention to Koe’s OP, so it was interesting to learn about the audio cut, the lyrics and it’s significance.
    What’s I understood from both the movie and manga is that Shoya is the kind of person who “lives in the now” and doesn’t actually plan very far ahead. When he was younger, he thinks that his gang revolves about him and for that matter he spends a lot of them with them (although his idea of entertainment aligns mostly to what he is interested in) – it isn’t actually wrong to point out that Shoya bridges the guys in his gang together because of his behaviour, but then to the extent that he is easily replaceable and kicked out if he’s a liability to the gang itself. Plus that gang is his identity, without it he’s just a nobody (which we do see after Shoko’s incident).
    That being said, I don’t get the feel that the OP paints Shoya in a more sympathetic light (I will have to rewatch the movie to get a proper feel, but this was my impression for my first viewing). It gives the viewer an idea of how Shoya was a brat when he was younger, and that his ‘sentence’ to suffering is justified. Following which, he has to prove and show himself to be worthy of redemption after his behavioural changes. This in some way suggests the difference in maturity and the areas which he became more thoughtful of – but at the end we still see that he is a selfish person, just in a different way from before.
    What do you think?
    The opening for movies like KnK does allow for a few interpretations in both direction and how we intend to perceive the film in its entirety.

    Liked by 1 person

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