The story revolves around Shoya Ishida, a former delinquent who bullied Shoko Nishimiya, his deaf classmate, alongside his friends back when he was in elementary school. When Nishimiya transferred, all of his friends and teachers turned against him, making him isolated well into high school to the point that he decides that there is no point in having friends. Having no plans for the future, Ishida even contemplates on committing suicide until he suddenly reunites with Nishimiya, who is still lonely due to her shyness. Realizing that both are suffering due to his past sins, Ishida sets out on a path of redemption by trying to reconnect Nishimiya with their old classmates that Nishimiya never had the chance to befriend back then, including Ishida's former comrade, Naoka Ueno, who holds a grudge against Nishimiya for "causing" Ishida's isolation; Miki Kawai, their narcissistic former class president; and Miyoko Sahara, a kind girl who was the only one attempting to befriend Nishimiya years before. They also make new friends in Tomohiro Nagatsuka, a similarly friendless fat boy who owes Ishida when his bike was stolen; and Satoshi Mashiba, Kawai's crush.
The seven begin to work together when Nagatsuka's plan to create a film for a competition, which he plans to only include Ishida and himself, attracts the attention of Ueno, Kawai, Sahara, and Mashiba, with Ishida additionally inviting Nishimiya to join the project. Throughout the filming, the seven face through their personal challenges and conflicts. They also have a falling out when Ishida tries to isolate himself again by insulting the crew, leading to Nishimiya's attempted suicide as she feels that all of the problems are caused by her. Ishida's successful action to prevent the suicide gravely injures him; this impacts the other six start to resolve their problems while suspending the project until he awakes. Once he recovers, Ishida reconciles with his film crew and finally completes the film, which, while a failure, has greatly helped him and his friends.
Years after their high school graduation and their subsequent parting ways, the seven reunite for the Coming of Age Day. By then, Ishida has stopped ignoring the people around him and now has a lot of friends.Shōya Ishida (石田 将也, Ishida Shōya)
The main character and narrator. He bullied Nishimiya in elementary school and when she transferred away was ostracized and bullied by his former friends. Ishida started to ignore those around him (imagining them with a large X across their face) and was driven to the point of suicide, however, he changes his mind after he apologizes to Nishimiya and begins to spend time with her. He learns sign language specifically so he could apologize to Nishimiya and is shown to be very talented in it. Ishida feels like he has not been punished enough for bullying Nishimiya and often wishes he could kill his younger self. He seems resigned to the fact that he will never be able to have friends again. Eventually he thinks he is an unreliable narrator since he fabricated most of his memories of other people bullying Nishimiya as well to make him feel better and think he was not the only one in the wrong, however, others actually did bully Nishimiya; they turned Ishida into a scapegoat so they would not have to take responsibility for bullying Nishimiya. As the series progresses, Ishida helps Nishimiya reconnect with their classmates that Nishimiya never had the chance to befriend before, in the process making amends with them and moving on from his ignorance of having friends. At the end of the series, Ishida reunites with Nishimiya, who has been studying in Tokyo after high school graduation, during the Coming of Age Day, having made a lot of friends since then.
Shōko Nishimiya (西宮 硝子, Nishimiya Shōko)
A deaf girl who was bullied by Ishida in elementary school to the point where she had to transfer away. Her father left because his family filed for a divorce after they learned Nishimiya was deaf. Years later, Ishida searches for her to apologize. Although Nishimiya held a bit of resentment towards him, she accepts his apology and starts to spend time with him. She is shown to almost never get angry with her attackers; in fact, she often smiles at her attackers. Others, however, in particular Ueno, think she only fakes them and call her out to stop doing them, as they only make her seem weak. Nishimiya holds some form of self-loathing about her deafness and is suicidal, at one point attempting to commit suicide when she learns that Ishida lost his friends due to her, though Ishida manages to save her almost with the cost of his life. After this incident, Nishimiya realizes how selfish she is, and resolves to do herself better for Ishida. She is in love with Ishida and tries to declare this, but due to her speech impediment, he fails to understand her and remains oblivious of her feelings. At the end of the series, after having studied in Tokyo for a while, Nishimiya returns to her hometown and reunites with Ishida for the Coming of Age Day.
Naoka Ueno (植野 直花, Ueno Naoka)
A girl from Ishida and Nishimiya's elementary school and the girl that Ishida was closest to at school. Ishida remembers her bossing him about and also being his main helper in bullying Nishimiya. After having separated from him since middle school graduation, Ueno runs into Ishida years later, herself now working in a meow-meow shop. It is revealed that Ueno is in love with Ishida and originally picked on Nishimiya to impress him, however when she learned that Nishimiya was cleaning the offensive words off Ishida's desk before he could see them she convinced herself that Nishimiya also loved Ishida and was using her disability to get his attention, leading her to grow jealous and resentful towards Nishimiya. However, unlike Ishida, Ueno never learns her lesson and continues to hate and bully Nishimiya once she reconnects with her through Kawai and Sahara (whom she remained friends with). Ueno watched Ishida suffer through middle school - still being bullied for what he did to Nishimiya - and feels bad herself for being unable to do anything. She claims that their sadness, from her having to cut off contact with Ishida to him hating everyone, including her, has all been because of Nishimiya. In truth, however, Ueno is irritated because Nishimiya never defends herself whenever she is bullied, thinking her as a weak person because of this. Despite being within the group of friends, Ishida still imagines Ueno with an X over her face, showing his disgust with her, until after his release from hospital, after which Ueno is dragged by Sahara to become her assistant as a model.
Miki Kawai (川井 みき, Kawai Miki)
Nicknamed "Kawaiichi", Kawai was the school representative at Ishida's elementary school. She is popular and normally takes charge of situations and is shown to be kind to everyone, however all her actions seem to have her academic reputation in mind. Kawai is also a narcissist who believes that everyone should love her, as well as wanting to be the victim in every problem she face. Ishida paid little attention to her in elementary school and thought she bullied Nishimiya too. Though she never actually insulted Nishimiya, Kawai did nothing to intervene and even laughed alongside her friends, making her also responsible for Nishimiya's transferring. Kawai's accusation of Ishida being a bully is a catalyst to his isolation among his classmates. Kawai becomes Ishida's classmate again in high school and takes part in Nagatsuka's film shooting, bringing Mashiba, whom she has a crush on, in tow. It is revealed that Kawai has always been scared of Ishida and accuses him of not wanting to face the truth, again a catalyst to his falling out among his film crew. Later, when she tells the class that they will make paper cranes as a wish of recovery for Ishida, who is hospitalized after saving Nishimiya, her classmates are disgusted and secretly bully her. Having to experience the feeling of getting bullied for the first time, Kawai resolves to become more empathetic with others. At the end of the series, Kawai presents Ishida with the paper cranes made by their classmates and follows Mashiba to study to become a teacher.
Miyoko Sahara (佐原 みよこ, Sahara Miyoko)
A kind girl from Ishida and Nishimiya's elementary school. She was the only person willing to make an effort to learn sign language and befriend Nishimiya, however, this singled her out for bullying too and started to take all her classes in the nurse's office. Ishida finds Sahara several years later so she can reconnect with Nishimiya and she becomes her friend again. She was always and is still bullied by Ueno for her unorthodox sense of fashion, however the two remain close even after they separated and Sahara boldly claims they are now best friends. Sahara has grown very tall during the time-skip and due to her high heel boots appears even taller. After Ishida, Sahara spends the most time with the Nishimiya family; however, their relationship is briefly strained when Ishida decides to cut off all ties with his friends by insulting them, claiming that Sahara is always the first to run away from a problem. Sahara later texts Ishida asking how he could prove that he has grown up; this motivates him to risk his life saving Nishimiya during her attempted suicide. Fed up of Ueno always blaming Nishimiya for everything, she chooses to take Nishimiya's side and defends her from being attacked by Ueno during Ishida's hospitalization. After graduating from high school, Sahara goes to Tokyo to become a runway model, bringing an unwilling Ueno with her.
Yuzuru Nishimiya (西宮 結絃, Nishimiya Yuzuru)
Nishimiya's younger sister who is currently a middle school student. She cut her hair short so their mother would not cut Nishimiya's and has kept it that way ever since; due to this, she is often mistaken for a boy, with Ishida even thinking that she is Nishimiya's boyfriend at first. Yuzuru is extremely protective of her big sister and has a deep hatred of all the people who ever bullied her, in particular Ishida - however, upon learning that Ishida has changed, she mellows down, accepts, and even encourages him to go out with her sister, though she is frustrated of their reluctance to do anything about their feelings and never moving past their relationship as friends. Yuzuru often bunks off school to take photos of dead animals and insects, which causes her and her mother to not get along. It is later revealed that she only took these photos so that when her sister saw them she would see how horrible death is and not try to kill herself. This is proven to be a futile effort, however, as Nishimiya attempts to commit suicide anyway, though she is rescued by Ishida in the last minute.
Tomohiro Nagatsuka (永束 友宏, Nagatsuka Tomohiro)
A short, fat and lonely boy who is a habitual liar. When someone tries to steal his bike, Ishida offers his to be taken instead. Nagatsuka sees this act of kindness as a unbreakable act of friendship and swiftly becomes Ishida's self-proclaimed best friend and starts to idolize Ishida. He is shown to be quite obsessive and protective of Ishida and often dislikes him befriending other people. However, Nagatsuka is also supportive of Ishida and often offers advice. He has plans to become a millionaire so is willing to hand out money to friends and is keen to become a film director - entering himself and Ishida into a film competition. It is shown both Ueno and Kawai find Nagatsuka repulsive, while Ishida is uncomfortable that Nagatsuka is so willing to take his side when he knows so little about him. Though his film proves to be a failure, this only made Nagatsuka resolved to take up film studies as his college subject.
Satoshi Mashiba (真柴 智, Mashiba Satoshi)
A boy who becomes interested in and joins Ishida's group of friends upon learning they are making a movie. He is eager to be the leading actor and is considered handsome and talented enough to do so. Mashiba was lonely as a child and the other children took him for granted and bullied him, now he is completely intolerant of bullies in any form and while generally calm and level headed he reacts violently to any random act of bullying he sees. He is oblivious to Kawai's crush on him until Ishida pointed it out. It is later revealed that Mashiba befriends Ishida because of his social awkwardness and never being able to fit in at school despite trying to; by hanging out with Ishida - believing him to be even stranger than he is - he would appear normal. However, this only makes him feel that he should be the least important amongst the group. Thus, when Ishida asks Mashiba to hit him after the former reveals his bullying records, he calmly does so. Mashiba is the first to reconcile with Ishida upon his release from hospital and later studies to become a teacher after graduation.
Shōko and Yuzuru's mother (硝子と結絃の母, Shōko to Yuzuru no Haha)
A cold woman, who after catching a virus from her husband during pregnancy, left Nishimiya deaf. Her husband's family quickly filed for a divorce. When her husband left, she was pregnant with Yuzuru and her mother helped her raise both her daughters. Eventually, her mother cares for the children permanently while she works - causing problems in her relationship with Yuzuru - not helped by the fact Yuzuru frequently skips school to take photos of dead animals. She made Nishimiya stay at the elementary school where she was bullied for so long in the hopes it would toughen her up and prepare her for how people would treat her. She planned to cut Nishimiya's hair like a boy to make her look tougher, but Yuzuru cut her own hair instead in protest. She hates Ishida and feels he can never atone for the happy school years he stole from her daughter. Upon seeing him again years after he left school, she slaps him. However, after her mother's death, she begins to warm up to Ishida and thanks him for being Yuzuru's friend.
Ito Nishimiya (西宮 いと, Nishimiya Ito)
Shōko and Yuzuru's maternal grandmother. A caring, wise woman, she cared for Nishimiya and Yuzuru when their father left and their mother was at work. She bought Yuzuru her first camera and tries to convince Yuzuru that her mother means well for both her and her sister. Ito dies of old age and leaves a letter that Yuzuru asks Ishida to read at the funeral. The letter tries one last time to convince Yuzuru to forgive her mother, but she grows angry and does not hear the end of it.
Shōya's mother (将也の母, Shōya no Haha)
A kind and loving single mother of Shōya and his older sister who owns a hair salon. She became disappointed upon learning that Ishida bullied Nishimiya and had to pay 1.7 million yen for all the hearing aids Ishida broke. When Ishida pays her back with the intention of killing himself afterward, she reveals that she had been aware of his plans and threatens to burn the money if he tries to kill himself again - leaving her with nothing. Unfortunately, she accidentally burns the money anyway. She cares for her granddaughter Maria as well as Ishida and often lets Yuzuru stay around the house. After Ishida ends up in a coma, she becomes awkward around Nishimiya, despite trying to remain polite, but reconciled after Ishida wakes up and becomes close with Nishymiya's mother, often drinking together with her.
Kazuki Shimada (島田 一旗, Shimada Kazuki)
Ishida's best friend in elementary school. He helped him bully Nishimiya. When Nishimiya moved away, Shimada placed all the blame on Ishida and soon became the ringleader of the people bullying Ishida: frequently stealing his shoes, beating him up, and writing threats and cruel things on his desk in chalk every morning. Ueno wants Ishida and Shimada to be friends again and gets Ishida to the amusement park were Shimada is now working, but Ishida storms away, deciding he does not care about Shimada and does not want to be his friend again. It is revealed that when Ishida falls while saving Nishimiya, Shimada sees him and saves him from the river. However, Ishida never learns this because he is unconscious at that time and Shimada asks Nishimiya, who witnesses the event, not to tell him about it. Even so, Ueno tells Ishida about what had happened anyway, but the resulting factor is left unknown since the manga ended before they saw each other again.
Keisuke Hirose (広瀬 啓祐, Hirose Keisuke)
Ishida's other best friend in elementary school. He is a fat boy who often went alongside Ishida in his "life-challenging activities". Like Shimada, Hirose shunned his friendship with Ishida and bullied him for having bullied Nishimiya. Hirose stays close with Shimada (and possibly Ueno as well) after graduation and along with him brings Ishida from a river after he falls down from saving Nishimiya.
Ishida's teacher at elementary school. He is a shallow man who finds Nishimiya's presence in the school unfair on the other pupils. While he was disappointed in Ishida for bullying Nishimiya, he still laughed at the jokes made about her and once Nishimiya left he prompted the class to turn Ishida into a scapegoat for all their bullying. He refused to believe Ishida when he claimed he was being bullied too. Years later, Ishida runs into Takeuchi again when looking for locations for the film. Takeuchi says that Ishida has grown into a fine young man and all the bad things in his past have changed Ishida for the better. Mashiba dislikes how Takeuchi talks about Nishimiya and throws his drink into Takeuchi's face, costing them the chance to film at the school, though with Ishida's later hospitalization and Mashiba's apology to him, Takeuchi allows them to shoot anyway.
Ishida's music teacher in elementary school. As Sahara was among the students, Kita was the only one among the teachers who was willing to get along with Nishimiya despite her deafness. She attempted to make the class learn sign language for Nishimiya's sake, but her proposal was rejected because she herself did not know about it. Later, Kita also included Nishimiya to take part in the school choir, but despite trying hard to teach her, Nishimiya ended up ruining the song and made the school lose the choir competition.
Maria Ishida (石田 マリア, Ishida Maria)
Ishida's young niece who lives with Ishida and his family. Maria is half-Japanese from her mother's side and half-Brazilian from her father's side. She gains a constant wonder about the difference between things that are dead and alive after Ishida's fall and fearing he might be dead, Yuzuru takes it upon herself to teach her the difference - being an expert on the matter.
Shōya's sister (将也の姉, Shōya no Ane)
Ishida's older sister. She is significantly older than him as she already graduated from college when he was still in elementary school. Curiously, she is the only character with lines whose face is never seen; even her husband and daughter are shown and get more screen time than her. According to Ishida, his sister had dated numerous men, one of whom has a younger brother who was bullied by Ishida; this event probably led to his breakup with her. Later, she dated a Brazilian man named Pedro, this time, her relationship stuck and she had a daughter, Maria, with him. The final chapter reveals that she is expecting her second child with Pedro.
A Silent Voice began as a manga written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima and was originally published as a one-shot in the February 2011 issue of Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine. It was later turned into a full manga series and began serialization in the combined 36-37th issue of Weekly Shōnen Magazine, released on August 7, 2013, and ended its run on the 51st issue of the magazine on November 19, 2014. The series was compiled into seven tankōbon volumes which were published by Kodansha in Japan between November 15, 2013, and December 17, 2014. Kodansha Comics USA licensed the series for an English release in North America with the first volume being released in Q2 2015 and with subsequent volumes released every two months following. Crunchyroll Manga had earlier obtained the series for a digital English release.
The final chapter of the manga, published in the 51st issue of Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 2014, announced that an anime project for the series was in its planning stages. The seventh volume of the manga revealed that the project would be a theatrical film. It was later revealed in early October 2015 that Kyoto Animation would be producing an anime film based on the series, directed by Naoko Yamada and distributed by Shochiku. It was announced on the adaptation's official website that Reiko Yoshida is writing the film's scripts, Futoshi Nishiya is designing the characters and the film is scheduled for release in Japan on September 17, 2016.
A Silent Voice received an award for "Best Rookie Manga" in 2008. The vector of the content made it difficult for publication on any manga magazine until it was picked up after months of legal dispute by the February edition of Bessatsu Shounen Magazine, where it won first place. Due to the subject matter, the serialization has been reviewed and supported by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf. The first volume sold 31,714 copies within the first week of release, ranking number 19 on the Oricon manga chart. Its second volume ranked 12 selling 60,975 in its first week. As of March 2014, the volumes have 700,000 copies in circulation. It is nominated for the 8th Manga Taishō.
In February 2015, Asahi Shimbun announced that A Silent Voice was one of nine nominees for the nineteenth annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize. The manga went on to win the New Creator Prize.
In April 2016, it was announced that A Silent Voice was nominated for the Best U.S. Edition of International Material-Asia award in the 2016 Eisner Awards.