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Shōya Ishida (石田 将也, Ishida Shōya?) is the male protagonist and main character of the Koe no Katachi series.

He was once the bully of Shōko Nishimiya during sixth grade, a fact he grows to deeply regret and struggles to come to terms with as he befriends Shōko several years later. Shōya attempts to overcome his own self-hatred and doubts as his friendship with Shōko continues to blossom, gathering new and old friends along the way. However, he is forced to confront the worst aspects of them and himself, ultimately creating bonds that push him to be a better person.

Personality[]

In his youth, Shōya lived life in a constant war against boredom, often acting rowdy and mischievous in an effort to keep himself amused. Although not a completely immoral child, his stubborn pursuit of entertainment led him to become the primary bully of Shōko Nishimiya during sixth grade. Shōya failed to realize how cruel his treatment of her was due to his inability to understand or empathize with her or her hearing disability.

After facing the consequences of his actions for the next five years, Shōya has become a very isolated and self-loathing person in his late teens. He has grown to deeply regret his past actions and believes himself to be unworthy of happiness. Even after befriending Shōko, Shōya is very self-critical and doubtful at first, unsure if his desire to be her friend is genuine or if he’s trying to satisfy himself. He is also shown to be quite dense to the feelings of himself and others, having outbursts of anger or crying without knowing why.

However, Shōya proves himself to be a kind and empathetic person at his core, becoming very close with several people he would have never expected himself to. He’s passionate about the people he cares about, often willing to disregard himself if it means helping them or making them happy, best seen in his bonds with Shōko and Yuzuru Nishimiya.

Although he still struggles to forgive himself, Shōya has learned to better trust himself and the people around him, slowly but surely opening himself back up to the world. He’s become a better person since his childhood, with his best self shining through the bonds he’s made over time.

Physical appearance[]

Shōya has messy, almost spiky black hair that appears to grow backward and flow upward. His eyes are round, although his eyelashes and underline give them a more angular appearance, with irises that are noticeably small compared to other characters. His eye color varies depending on the version of the story (dark brown/black in the manga vs green in the film).

Child[]

At twelve years old, Shōya was rather unkempt and often came home wet or dirty. He is of average height and weight for his age, although slightly taller than his friends Kazuki Shimada and Keisuke Hirose. His head appears slightly shorter compared to his future self, though still retaining a pointed face and chin.

Shōya’s most common outfit was a black t-shirt, beige cargo shorts, and sneakers or school shoes. However, he would sometimes wear a red and blue striped long sleeve underneath his black shirt, usually on days he had school. Noticeably, Shōya’s t-shirt always had the tag hanging out from behind his neck, something that would stay consistent as he grew older.

Teen/Young Adult[]

As a teen/young adult, Shoya's hair and face have remained mostly the same, though he has grown very tall within five years. He stands at 5 feet 10 inches, making him noticeably taller than nearly everyone around him. The only exception to this is Miyoko Sahara, who stands at 5 '11 herself. Due to his height, Shōya’s physique appears slightly skinny, giving him a bit of a lanky appearance.

Ishida Shouya uniform

Shōya in his school uniform

Shōya’s wardrobe is rather basic, consistently wearing variations of the same few outfits. Similar to his younger self, his casual attire consists of a black t-shirt, beige cargo pants, and sneakers. However, he will sometimes wear a black long sleeve or cargo shorts instead. Shōya’s other common outfit is his school uniform, consisting of a mocha brown blazer and dress pants, white dress shirt with black tie, and dark brown dress shoes. Sometimes, he’ll just wear his dress shirt and pants, without the blazer.

He also continues to wear his clothes a bit messily, usually having the labels of his shirts sticking out or having one half of his dress shirt sticking out of his pants while the other half is tucked in. This visual choice is to indicate Shōya’s lack of understanding of himself and others.

List of appearances[]

Volume 01[]

Volume 02[]

Volume 03[]

Volume 04[]

Volume 05[]

Volume 06[]

Volume 07[]

Story[]

Primary/Middle School[]

When Shōko Nishimiya arrives, Shōya's life slowly changes. He will be actively involved in the harassment that will arise against Shōko and does not feel guilt when he hurts her. He even makes fun of her by writing on the board that Miyoko Sahara, a classmate who befriended Shōko but no longer came to class due to multiple bullying done to her, left because of her. When she reads these words, he pretends not to have written anything and erases the board pretending to be surprised that someone has written such a thing. Shōko, unable to understand, thanks him, which surprises him. He will continue to multiply the bullying, until he physically assaults her by trying to violently snatch her hearing aids. It's the straw that breaks the camel's back: shortly after, the director intervenes on the fact that Shōko has broken or mysteriously lost eight hearing aids in the space of five months. Shōya, learning the amount to be repaid, worries about his mother. He is reprimanded by the entire class and in turn becomes a victim of bullying. However, he fails to apologize to Shōko and when his mother meets with the Nishimiya family to pay off the broken hearing aids, Shōya avoids meeting Shōko. Later, as she cleans her desk filled with insults, Shōya does not understand what she is doing and is annoyed by her extreme kindness, which will lead him to fight with her. Sometime later, Shōko is transferred again. It is then that Shōya realizes that Shōko was cleaning his table because it was filled with insults, and he now has to clean it alone every morning for the rest of his schooling. From then on, he began to regret everything he had done to the whole class and in turn became a victim of bullying. In middle school, Shōya attended the same school as his elementary school classmates. Kazuki Shimada makes everyone aware from day one of the fact that he bullied a young girl in elementary school, thus making him more alone than ever. He has lost all hope of reconnecting with his old friends.

High School[]

Shōya is solitary, introverted and suffers from social anxiety. He cannot look others in the eye and this perception is interpreted by crosses on the faces of others. Having lost all hope of a better life, he wishes to end it. However, he comes to his senses and tells himself that he must see Shōko Nishimiya one last time by returning her communication notebook that he got back from elementary school. She is surprised when he returns it as well as discovering that he learned sign language for her. In addition, she has tears in her eyes when he signs that he would like to become her friend, a sign that she made to him in elementary school but that he had not understood. However, he feels embarrassed because he hadn't planned to ask her for his friendship. Links of friendship will however be tied between the two people. Shōya, despite his lingering regrets about the past and the various obstacles he will go through, wants to give Shōko back the happiness he stole from her in elementary school, whether by reuniting with her friend Miyoko Sahara, introducing her to her new friends, by wanting her to love herself when he discovers that she doesn't love herself… Little by little, Shōko becomes an essential person in Shōya's life. He cannot imagine his life without her presence and wants to protect her. In the meantime, Shōya began to build a circle of friends and experience happiness. However, he confronts his past again from the moment when the errors of the past are evoked in his circle of friends. From then on, he thinks he has lost all his friends and only hangs out with Shōko. When she is about to end her life, Shōya is willing to sacrifice himself for her and even promises that he will change her outlook on life. However, he takes her place and falls from his building. After waking up from his coma, he only wants to see her again and asks her during their miraculous meeting on the bridge if she could help him live. At the high school party, Shōya again faces stares from his friends and reconciles with them. Having promised to listen and watch others now, his social phobia disappears after the high school party. He lives a serene, happy life again, and in the manga, during the coming-of-age ceremony, Shōko and him now move forward together, hand in hand.

Relationships[]

Love Interests[]

Shōko Nishimiya: Shōya first met Shōko when she joined his sixth grade class. He didn’t understand her or her desire to be friends, becoming Shōko’s bully and eventually causing her to transfer schools. Five years later, He finds Shōko so he could return her communication notebook before taking his own life. However, he unexpectedly asks her to be friends and she accepts, beginning a bond that would change both of their lives forever.

Though he initially doubts his right to be Shōko’s friend, persistence and circumstance allow Shōya to continue seeing her as he begins dedicating his life to giving her back the happiness he took away and developing their friendship. He faces adversity from several sources, including his own insecurities. However, he learns that Shōko wants to be friends as much as he does, both of them wanting to know more about each other. Shōya tends to overthink how to start conversations with Shōko, at first speaking to her a bit awkwardly. However, his behavior becomes a lot more natural after he becomes more comfortable around her.

Through their friendship, Shōya’s capacity for kindness and empathy become clear, with the better parts of his personality beginning to show themselves. Even so, he fails to understand Shōko’s feelings for him, believing she was referring to the moon rather than confessing. Despite this, they continue to grow closer, with the culmination of their bond being Shōya saving Shōko’s life and having a heart-to-heart with her when they reunite. He finally apologizes for his past behavior and empathizes with her feelings of doubt and self-loathing, ultimately asking her to help him live. Shōko is touched by his words and makes a promise, with them finally beginning to truly understand each other.

Although whether they are or will become a couple is purposely left ambiguous at the end of the series, it can be inferred that Shōya may have underlying feelings for Shōko based on some of his thoughts and actions throughout the series. Key examples include him choosing to give Shōko his cat pouch despite several others wanting it, wondering how Shōko feels about him before his thoughts about her are cut off, and panicking over Shōko’s desire to move to Tokyo after graduating. Dialogue and reactions from his own mother, Yuzuru, and several others imply this possibility as well. However, Shōya is likely unaware of these feelings until the end of the series.

Friends[]

Yuzuru Nishimiya: Shōya was not on good terms with Yuzuru at first, with her initially acting hostile towards him out of hatred. Despite Yuzuru actively trying to keep him from developing his friendship with Shōko Nishimiya, Shōya treats her with kindness when he finds her fatigued and hungry at the park, even after finding out she purposely got him suspended from school. Yuzuru’s opinion of Shōya begins to change when he acknowledges what he did to Shōko, showing sincere regret for his actions and wanting to make things right.

The two become good friends as Yuzuru spends more time around Shōya, her growing to greatly trust and appreciate him for the positive impact he’s making in Shōko’s life, even being surprisingly supportive of him dating Shōko. Shōya bonds with Yuzuru even further when he helps her work through her fear of loneliness after her grandmother passes away and the lingering resentment she has towards her mother.

Over time, the two have established a connection similar to an older brother and younger sister, shown when Yuzuru looks to Shōya for help so she can do better in school. The two help each other come to terms with Shōko wanting to move to Tokyo and decide to support her decision.

Tomohiro Nagatsuka: Tomohiro was one of the first people Shōya connected with after many friendless years, being the first person to have the “X” removed from their face in Shōya’s mind. Their close friendship began when Shōya prevented Tomohiro’s bike from being stolen and sacrificed his mother’s bike instead, later finding Tomohiro returning the favor by finding the bike after school and giving it back.

Tomohiro's more outgoing personality allows Shōya to warm up to him rather quickly and enjoy his company. He helps Shōya work through his doubts about being Shōko’s friend by sharing his belief that friendship is something deeper than words or logic and later confronting Yuzuru when she tries keeping Shōya from seeing Shōko a second time. Tomohiro notices the growing bond between Shōya and Shōko, attempting to help his friend at several points, including monetarily.

Tomohiro proves himself to be a really kind and loyal friend, though he can also act rather pushy and possessive at times. In particular, his behavior surrounding the film he’s making for the amateur contest can really irritate Shōya, who is made to do a lot of grunt work despite not even wanting to be involved at first. Despite this, the two get along really well and are able to easily reconcile their differences after Shōya wakes up from his coma.

Miyoko Sahara: Though they aren’t shown interacting during sixth grade, Shōya remembers Miyoko and begins searching for her after Shōko expresses a desire to see her again. Though his first attempt fails, he bumps into her by chance and reunites her with Shōko. Miyoko never knew about Shōya’s bullying of Shōko due to her leaving the class. After their first hangout together, Shōya decides to be honest and tells her everything. He notices that Miyoko looked upset as she left, but is reassured when he receives a message from her that night, thanking him for reuniting her with Shōko.

The two become good friends following that night, hanging out several times during the series once Miyoko begins joining the others to feed the fish on Tuesdays. Like a few other characters in the series, it’s implied that Miyoko believes Shōya might have feelings for Shōko, even teasing him about his concern over Shōko’s absence from the bridge in Chapter 29.

During the group’s fallout, Shōya criticizes Miyoko for being “quick to run”, which she appears to take to heart and later messages him asking how one can prove they’ve changed as a person. Although he never replies, Miyoko’s message lingers in Shōya’s mind as he struggles to answer her question to himself. They finally speak again after Shōya recovers from his coma, where he reassures Miyoko about her effort to change and they reconcile their friendship.

Naoka Ueno: Naoka was one of Shōya’s friends during sixth grade until he was solely blamed for the bullying of Shōko Nishimiya. Like the others, she ostracized him as his life began going awry. Years later, he encounters Naoka by pure chance and decides to see if she could be friends with Shōko. When she expresses a clear hatred for Shōko, Shōya’s dislike for Naoka becomes apparent as he doesn’t want anything to do with her. Despite this, she continues to try to be around him, so they continue to interact as time goes on.

Shōya’s next big clash with Naoka is when she forces him to encounter Kazuki Shimada at the amusement park, trying to see if the two will talk. Naoka believes that she’s a lot like Shōya in wanting to repair past relationships, though she fails to recognize how different her approach is from him. Shōya becomes even more upset when Naoka takes Shōko on the ferris wheel to have a serious talk, the latter returning with a blemish on her cheek. He realizes that she got violent with Shōko and confronts her about it, though it ends with Naoka yelling that it has nothing to do with him before leaving the park in anger.

Shōya never realizes that Naoka has feelings for him, both due to his own density and her never clearly expressing them. However, he doesn’t show any romantic interest in her anyway, although they do become friends towards the end of the series.

Satoshi Mashiba: Shōya begins to trust Satoshi after being told by Miki that Satoshi thinks he’s cool and wants to be his friend. The two get along rather well and become great friends, with Shōya enjoying Satoshi’s company and believing him to be a good guy. However, their friendship is dampened for a while after Shōya’s past as a bully is revealed by Miki.

Due to Satoshi previously expressing a desire to punch Shōko’s former bullies, Shōya allows himself to be struck in the face during the group’s fallout on the bridge, believing he deserves it. After Shōya risks his life to save Shōko, Satoshi recognizes that hitting Shōya was purely for his own selfish satisfaction and apologizes to him, even saying that Shōya can hit him back if he wants. Shōya declines and is just content with restoring their friendship.

Miki Kawai: Miki is Shōya’s classmate and someone he has some history with. During sixth grade, Miki never clearly expressed her disapproval of Shōya’s behavior towards Shōko, nor did she accept any responsibility when he pointed out her involvement. Due to this, Shōya dislikes Miki and harbors resentment towards her for a long while, even thinking to himself that Miki pretends to have integrity.

Miki begins to hang around Shōya after Satoshi becomes his friend. Shōya finds Miki’s nice behavior a bit annoying at first, but realizes that she’s primarily there to be around Satoshi so he decides to tolerate it. During the group’s trip to the amusement park, Shōya begins feeling uneasy about how much Miki has told others about his past, which culminates in their argument in Chapter 38 and the group’s fallout on the bridge.

In truth, Miki resented Shōya for accusing her of wrongdoing, genuinely believing herself to be innocent. When he asks if she’s told anyone about the past, she creates doubt in his mind by causing a scene in class and telling him not to fabricate memories. It’s only after Shōya falls into a coma and recovers that the two are able to reconcile their differences. However, the two begin to sincerely get along from this point on.

Kazuki Shimada and Keisuke Hirose: Shōya was close friends with Kazuki and Keisuke during sixth grade. They jumped into the river and got into mischief together as part of daily daredevil contests. After Shōya was solely blamed for bullying Shōko, his friends began to distance themselves from him and became his bullies. Seeing Kazuki again at the amusement park’s takoyaki stall, Shōya stiffened as he met eyes with his former friend. He was not happy with their meeting and found it aggravating that Naoka had purposely set him up. When Shōya fell from Shōko’s balcony, Kazuki and Keisuke were the ones to pull him out of the river and help save his life, though he would only find this out from Naoka some time later.

Family[]

Miyako Ishida: As a child, Shōya acted somewhat abrasively towards his mother, though she always seemed to find his behavior cute. However, Shōya is shown to truly care for Miyako, developing a deep sense of guilt after she loses 1.7 million yen and gets her right ear injured because of his actions.

In his senior year of high school, Shōya intends to take his own life, having spent a decent amount of time saving up enough money to pay his mother back to help tie loose ends. Though he decides to keep living after meeting Shōko again, Miyako confronts him after deducing what he was originally planning to do. Shōya frantically apologizes and promises to not commit suicide when his mother threatens to burn the money, her valuing his life over what he feels she’s owed.

Despite Shōya’s closed-off nature, he has a rather pleasant relationship with Miyako in his late teens and young adulthood. Shōya clearly has a soft spot for his mother and appears to have a lot of trust in her, seen when he asks her how he can stop Shōko from moving to Tokyo. Miyako is also the one to inspire Shōya to become a hairdresser, him wanting to take over the family salon someday.

Sister: Due to her scarce appearances, Shōya’s relationship with his sister is mostly ambiguous. From what is known, she was actually the one who told him that life was a war against boredom, a philosophy he would take to heart at the time. They also seem to share a mutual interest in manga, seen when Shōya goes to borrow some from her room before meeting Pedro.

It’s unclear how close their bond is, especially after Shōya reaches his last year of high school, with his sister’s face and name never being revealed. It’s possible that there’s a disconnect between the two for several reasons, including Shōya closing himself off from almost anyone who isn’t his mother or Maria, or that his sister constantly works to provide for her daughter and isn’t around too often.

Maria Ishida: Maria is Shōya’s niece and someone he shares a close familial bond with. Shōya looks after her fairly often and picks her up from school. Maria is one of the few people Shōya is fond of at the beginning of the series and appears to enjoy her company.

Pedro: Pedro is Shōya's brother-in-law. When they first met, Pedro politely introduced himself before telling Shōya that he’d protect him. Not much is known about their relationship, but Shōya seems to like Pedro a lot.

Quotes[]

Yuzuru: "How's it got anything to do with you?"
Shōya: "Because I'd like to think...it does. / ...Because I don't want to have any regrets."
― Shōya to Yuzuru Nishimiya in Chapter 30

Etymology[]

  • The name Shōya means "leader, commander, general, admiral, or, and again, soon, from now on, just about" (将) (shō) and "to be, also" (也) (ya).
  • Shōya's surname Ishida means "stone, volume measure" (石) (ishi) and "field, rice paddy" (田) (ta/da).

Trivia[]

  • Shōya’s characterization in the anime film is fairly different from the original manga:
    • The major difference being that the film’s version of Shōya emphasizes more of the anxious and reserved aspects of his personality while removing the angry and resentful aspects.
  • Shōya and Shōko Nishimiya share the same nickname of Shō-chan.
    • Their birthdays are also one day apart, Shōya's being the 6th of June while Shōko's is the 7th.
    • It is worth noting that Shōya's birthday, June 6th, is the Hearing Aids National Memorial Day in Japan since 1999.[2]
  • When Shōko confessed her feelings to him, Shōya misinterpreted her saying "suki" (like/love) as "tsuki" (moon) due to both words sounding very similar, along with his lack of emotional understanding.
    • Because of the similarity between "suki" and "tsuki", the phrase "the moon is beautiful" in Japanese can be used as a proclamation of love given the proper context. This phrase was originated by Natsume Sōseki, a Japanese novelist who also worked as an English literature teacher in Japan.

References[]

  1. A Silent Voice Chapter 42; Events take place after June 6th, Shōya's canonical birthday.
  2. 私たち日本補聴器販売店協会と日本補聴器工業会は、6月6日を「補聴器の日」と制定します。 (in Japanese) ー Japanese Federation of the Deaf.
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