Shino Can’t Say Her Name Review

Shino Can’t Say Her Name Review

Shino Can't Say Her Name Review

Shino Oshima wants to make a good first impression on her first day of high school, so she practices her introduction… repeatedly. Telling herself that she can do this. When the day arrives and after the entrance ceremony concludes, the students chatter away in class while Shino stands shyly but with a smile on her face. The teacher arrives and, once everyone sits down, then says its time for introductions.

All of a sudden, all of Shino’s preparation is completely forgotten as her nervousness soars. The words from her classmates around her are loud and also seem incomplete as her state becomes one of anguish. Then the teacher asks for the next student, which would be Shino, to introduce themselves. And she’s unable to form any coherent words, much less say her name. And after being pressured by the teacher to stop wasting everyone’s time, the only thing she can say is “My” 14 times. The students in her class end up laughing at her.

Shino Oshima did not make a good first impression on her first day of high school like she hoped.

In the afterword Shuzo Oshimi mentions this manga is based on his own experiences. Don’t you think the name of our lead gives a bit of hint? But it’s those experiences that sell Shino Can’t Say Her Name, where Shino gets nervous to where she’s unable to say anything properly. It’s never actually said within the story, but she has a form of dysphemia, which, unsurprisingly, no one in her class understands. This even counts the teacher, who figures out she’s totally nervous, but isn’t really able to offer any sort of solution.

So school simply isn’t going well for Shino, until she ends up stumbling upon another seemingly lonely student in Kayo, listening to music alone. Their first introduction — Shino accidentally bumping into the bikes and causing one of them to hit Kayo — ends with Kayo biking away in annoyance. This time, as Shino resolutely attempts to apologize, Kayo slowly starts understanding how Shino is. This then leads to Kayo challenging Shino to write something funny on a notepad in 10 seconds. This act concludes by going to not only something common, but if timed right, never fails to make you chuckle.

And just like that, Shino meets someone she trusts at school.

This manga goes over the general challenges one experiences when nervousness and anxiety creep up repeatedly, whether it’s how Shino and Kayo interact or how classmates interact with Shino. You really do want to see these kids succeed, and soon enough these two connect thanks to music — Shino can sing while Kayo can play the guitar. This music connection provides a whole new set of challenges, both negative and positive, and it’s the driving force for the rest of the series.

We all know Oshimi from his work on Flowers of Evil, Happiness, Inside Mari, etc, which keep a horror or somewhat darker bent, and this manga is not horror, but the authenticity is real. You truly fear for what will happen to Shino as she’s unable to connect or get help from anyone, not even her parents, and she’s not able to express how she truly feels. The art has weight anytime we see her being unable to communicate, or her emotions when other characters appear in her sight. This is a page-turner from start to finish, and the climax that involves Shino and Kayo at the school festival puts a bow on all the bottled-up emotions for these two who’ve been made fun of due to their flaws.

There is one part where despite the set-up, the romantic implication from a character who initially laughed at Shino felt unnecessary, but by and large, Shino Can’t Say Her Name is a really fantastic read. Certainly worth your time.

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