As I drew it, I thought, “as long as it can hit home with anyone, yet it still remains a story about one person, that’s good enough for me.” - Shuzo Oshimi, Shino Can’t Say Her Name, Afterword
This is a book that lives up the promises of its author. Shino Can’t Say Her Name draws from Shuzo Oshimi’s childhood experiences with dysphemia, commonly known as stuttering. The character’s name, Shino Oshima, is even similar to the author’s. This personal touch leads to an insightful story about one girl’s journey to find her voice.
The story starts on Shino’s first day of high school. Shino tries to put a smile on her face, but she’s anxious; will she make new friends or will her stuttering get the best of her? During class introductions, Shino starts sweating and shaking. The manga panels become more tilted and angular to communicate Shino’s unease. It creates great tension until it's released when Shino shoots straight from her chair, mouth open, nothing coming out. Her classmates break the silence in laughter, sealing her fate. No one will talk to her. Except for Kayo.
Kayo has her own kind of impediment; she’s tone deaf. Which is a problem when you love creating music as much as she does. Kayo can play the guitar pretty well, but she needs a singing partner so her music can soar. As Kayo and Shino start hanging out and learn more about their troubles, they realize how much they can help each other. Through music, Shino’s stuttering goes away, and Kayo has a voice for her feelings. They give each other a voice, and suffer when they’re apart.
As you can tell, this is very different from Shuzo Oshimi’s horror manga he’s famous for. First and foremost, the character designs. I know him through his latest works Blood on the Tracks and Happiness. These series have realistic-looking characters with strong attention to detail. Shino Can’t Say Her Name’s characters are closer to a stereotypical manga art style, with characters having large and/or angular eyes. That’s not a knock on the manga’s art at all, it was just such a big departure for me. This change could bring in a larger audience who prefer that style. The content is much toned down from Ohsimi’s other work. People with queasy stomachs will feel just fine picking up this manga. Also, I dare say this manga ends on an upbeat note.
Shino Can’t Say Her Name is a strong one-volume manga that accomplishes what the author set out to do. By telling the specific story of Shino, the manga is able to resonate with anyone. This is a book anyone can pick up and enjoy, including me.
Shino Can't Say Her Name Manga features story and art by Shuzo Oshimi.
Shino Oshima is so shy she cannot even say her name out loud.
High school can be a stressful time for many young people. The change means a new commute, new friends, new courses…new teachers. For Shino Oshima the change could have meant an opportunity to blossom into adulthood. Unfortunately, things go wrong on her first day - she fails to even say her name during her homeroom introduction. From then on Shino is a part-mute part-stuttering mess. Ostracized and afraid she struggles to find her place in this new world... But thankfully for her, she finds her voice through music and some unexpected new frienemies.Add to CartLearn More