The aspect of videography in anime underwent a few major gains in 2019: great action scenes, unique character designs, gorgeous background settings, and every other beautiful thing that anime could offer. And generally, in TV series, an anime would present us with only one of those outlooks because, well of course, the studios limited time and budget. But every now and then, there’s an anime that try to be on top of the mainstream, an anime that has something for everyone yet was made with a little more effort so the show feels special. And in this case, it’s Violet Evergarden.
By the way, anime reviews have returned, everyone! Forgive me for not taking care of the blog, and for the future as well looks like I won’t be giving the same amount of attention and carefulness on managing the blog as much as before. But I will keep writing, maybe not as much; everything is definitely going so slow with me now, but I still love the blog now that I’ve begun pretending that my opinion is as important as everybody else’s.
Anyway, let’s talk about Violet Evergarden, shall we?
synopsis – auto memory doll and “i love you.”
The theme of the story revolves around Auto-Memories Dolls, a group of women who work to assist others by writing for them. But the job of these Dolls is not as simple as ghostwriting, especially with women’s social advancement and now the writing industry has been growing. Now, there are even several Auto-Memories Doll Training School to help women polish their skills and become a great one.
Auto-Memories Doll is a title that cannot be earned in an easy way, and you may be surprised that hard work is not the key to success in this industry. Instead, it’s a big heart that able to define how it is being a human, one that is kindhearted and warmhearted, thoughtful and able to put people’s feelings, beliefs, points of view, sentiment … everything into words.
Here we follow Violet Evergarden, a newcomer to a postal company known as CH, and is determined to become an Auto-Memories Doll in order to learn the meaning of words “I love you.” Let it be known that women tend to pursue their dream to become a Doll after they at least know what the said words mean, and yet here Violet writing letters to convey other people’s feelings without even knowing what love is.
Before she came into CH Postal Company, there was a great war between the fractured continent of Telesis, and back then Violet was a tool of war that doesn’t even have a name. She was an abandoned child, an orphan who was enlisted in the Leidenschaftlich Army and fought in the war. Before human, she was just a tool who doesn’t have a home, not until she was handed over from Dietfried to Gilbert as a gift for his promotion becoming a major.
Intended to be used as a weapon in his possession, Gilbert instead treated her as a human being; he thought her how to speak, read, and write. In proximately the age of 14, Gilbert named her Violet, whishing she could grow up to be as beautiful as the flower.
One day in battle, Gilbert and Violet were shot and exposed to a grenade, causing Gilbert gone into a near-death state, and Violet having lost both of her arms. In that near-death state, Gilbert told Violet that he wants her to be free and live happily, not as a tool but as a regular human being, to escape and survive, and to find a real home. Before succumbing to his injuries, Gilbert confessed from the bottom of his heart; “I love you” is one of the last words Gilbert had said to Violet.
So, I started watching this TV series without knowing anything about it except all the tweets which saying about how gorgeous the show is, while of course, I got to see a few pictures and GIFs of the show as well, but I knew nothing more than that. I didn’t know what the story is about, and even though I did expect to watch a beautiful show, I didn’t know what’s the genre of Violet Evergarden.
Turned out, it was a mistake — not the show, but my decision to not at least read the synopsis before I started watching the show. Because after I watched the first episode, I thought Violet Evergarden was gonna be a heavy show. A beautiful one, and a heavy one too I thought. But of course, later I found out that I was expecting too much. I should’ve known by now that the premises in the few first episodes don’t always represent the whole show. Also just to be blunt, the drama facet of Violet Evergarden is kinda childish for me, personally. And the character development is not my cup of tea this time.
Okay, hmm, I think that’s a little to much statement in one paragraph. Let’s talk about those one by one. First, let me tell you my opinion about the childish part.
Childish is not at all meaning that the show is boring, even though it is pretty close to boring now that I think about it, but I stand that it is not boring just to be completely fair. And also I cannot see this matter as lazy writing because, well, I don’t see Violet Evergarden as a show that’s written lazily. It is just that the two sides of the story are so contravened: one being a story about war, violent and pretty dark past, with another side being a story about love. Furthermore, they really try to push the prologue part of the show to be one of the forefronts of the story as well, which added the value of character development, but really messed up with the overall drama for me.
If only that prologue part of the story stays being just a prologue — told strongly in the first episodes and stay that way until the show reaches the end — my assessment would be so different. But instead, the show tells this background story of which actually happened to Violet and Gilbert in the past little by little throughout the show, a bit in this episode and another bit in the next episode; spicing us up with curious feeling. Well to be honest, a beautiful story of Violet Evergarden doesn’t need too much flavor of mystery.
In my opinion, just tell the tragic background story at the beginning of the show, and then move on with the beautiful part of the story; don’t mix them up together. This is not a shounen show. I really don’t like a tale as beautiful as Violet Evergarden having a story design like this.
But this is fine, okay, just to be fair that … having a story design like this is still okay. Except … well except, if their background story didn’t end up as important as the show wanted to be. There I said it; I wish I cared more about the story than I actually did. Violet Evergarden is an anime that focuses on a character, which is Violet, and therefore it’s an anime about character development. The sad part is that I don’t see enough character development, not just from episode one and after episode 13th, but also Violet as a character in her past and later in the present: not many things have actually changed.
The main dispute is that Violet now has become a creditable Doll instead of stay still being a tool of war. But hey, every woman can be a Doll; and there’s even a support character that goes through the same process of becoming a Doll, together with Violet at the same time, with her own problem to struggle with … and I see little to no significant difference, a reason of why Violet’s process would be more special than her process in becoming a Doll.
Of course, many things have happened, but the fact that I didn’t get satisfied at the end of the last episode speaks a volume.
Almost at the last episode, Violet developed strong selfhood to the point where she decides to never kill anyone ever again, even though they’re bad guys. Well guess what, I didn’t get the thought process of how Violet reaches this point, but I accept it because Violet expressed her decision vocally. Typical anime, right? I don’t understand even more since just a couple episodes earlier, she had no second thought to have her arms on someone’s neck and basically threaten a group of soldiers if they don’t let Violet and her client go. Of course, Violet did manage to get out of the situation without killing anyone, but that doesn’t lose the fact that she was ready to kill.
Now, what I’m trying to say is that if you want to develop a character like Violet, I don’t only need that contrast of before and after, but also the process in between. I need that thought process of why now Violet is not capable of killing someone.
The idea of Violet’s transformation from a heartless killing machine into a compassionate human being is, in my experience, failed horribly. Maybe because I didn’t get to see enough of Violet’s past, life before she was with Gilbert for example. Because from the moment I tuned in, the first episode of the show, Violet was already been capable of feeling, crying, longing, and as the story suggests, falling in love even though she didn’t know how to describe what she was feeling. But then again at the end, even though the story suggests that Violet eventually understands a little bit more of what aishiteru means, I still couldn’t follow the process of how Violet reached that point.
There’s even no scene in the show where Violet acknowledges, “Oh, so this is love,” or something. None of that. So, therefore, I didn’t get satisfied on the matter even at the end at the last episode Violet says that she understands a little bit of love. While it’s not sudden, of course a lot of things have happened throughout the course of 13 episodes: Violet has cried, smiled, and indeed helped and built a relationship with a lot of people.
I just wish for maybe Violet to do a monologue of explanation about what love is according to her right then, even if its just a couple of lines. Because make sure to underline this: Violet ‘says’ she understands what love is, but she doesn’t ‘express’ what love is, and I think that’s a little step Violet Evergarden should’ve made to execute the story a lot better. Or I don’t know, maybe I will find this kind of scenario in the extra episode of which I haven’t watched (and I will probably review it after I watched it).
There’s even a really important scene that felt a little bit off to me, right before Violet’s last moments with Gilbert — when Gilbert got shot the first time, and then again for the second time — if Violet was as impressive as the story suggest, they should have gotten out of that situation in a better shape. Unfortunately, I only remember much of Violet’s whining and yelling. Don’t get me wrong tho, I still remember it as indeed a touching scene, but I just thought that the scenario was a little bit off considering how strong Violet was at that time.
visual and arts.
The table has always been set for me to talk about its visual and animation, and it’s that one thing which everyone must agree on: the show is gorgeous. Even though it did go through the same path that many high budgets, beautiful anime, have took before Violet Evergarden, the path where the show got overrated. Not agree? Well then, let’s agree that the show was overhyped at the very least.
But Violet Evergarden is gorgeous, I’m never gonna lie about this sort of thing. I always fond of an anime movie that took one step further in their art direction for good reason, and even more when it’s actually a TV series instead of a movie. Those scenes are like gems as mostly in TV series, you can only see the beautiful animation and thankfully amazing slow-motion scenes in the few starting and few end episodes … it’s the kinda same thing with Violet Evergarden, even though not really. Eh, uh …
When I was watching the show halfway, Violet started to travel to places that are predominantly plain, which I mean the color and objects of everything around Violet. At the 7th episode, we visit a rundown house which inside has nothing like what we used to see in the building of CH Postal Company in the previous episodes, now there is no bright furniture and no large spaces where sunlight can come in and put a shine to everything in it. Hell, even the part when the Great War is told in the 8th episode, it all happens at night so therefore we don’t get to see any other backdrops but plain night stars, bricks, and tents.
But Violet Evergarden is such a well-balanced show, and the people behind it definitely knew where to cut loose their money, and when to keep em tight. So that’s probably why I still love the show’s art direction even though it has the same formula as any other anime TV series. But in Violet Evergarden, there’s no episode where the show doesn’t show off how gorgeous a plain scene actually can be: how jumping on the water can be beautiful, how a nagareboshi can be as fascinating, how saying goodbye in the morning can be as touching. Even the CGI had bought the 3Dness into my attention, and it’s all worth it.
The visual is great, there’s nothing else to it. The music is not great, yep, but it’s still something to look for. Also, the real cast behind all the characters sounds great as well, especially the Violet; there’s not many seiyuu that doesn’t make me irritated when at one point their character whine almost too much about something that’s so little. Violet doesn’t know what love is, that’s pretty much the premise of the story, and I respect that take off … I still do. Anyway, their performance is simply great.
sets – somewhere, under a starry sky.
Violet Evergarden ended up to be one of the standout anime released in 2019, maybe because Netflix pushed the show pretty hard into everyone’s radar. But even before it was adapted into an anime, Violet Evergarden has won three categories of Kyoto Animation Award in 2014: it was Best Novel, Best Scenario, and Best Manga. And after it was adapted into an anime picture, the show got nominated at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards of 2019 for Anime of the Year, Best Protagonist, Best Director, Best Character Design, and eventually won Best Animation.
And when the Violet Evergarden light novel was released, the jacket band announced that a new project was in progress and that it will be completely new work for the anime, which is a brand new film. It was scheduled to premiere in the second quarter of 2020. It is a spin-off film called Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll, and at the end of the movie it credits feature the names of those killed in the Kyoto Animation arson attack.
What is this Kyoto Animation arson attack? Well, it was an attack that occurred at Kyoto Animation’s building called Studio 1 in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto, which was killed at least 36 people and injured an additional 33, and destroyed most of the materials and computers in the Studio 1. It is still one of the deadliest massacres in Japan since the end of World War 2, and the deadliest building fire in Japan since 2001. Anyway, I don’t want to get into the detail, but turned out Violet Evergarden is an important franchise for people who have a connection with the tragedy; this is one of many testaments of how much Violet Evergarden had affected people’s lives in the real world.
I opened a few Wiki pages of Violet Evergarden, and divided into a few forum threads on reddit to learn more about Violet Evergarden, also specifically to see people’s point of view, how they view the show, and how it affected their life. And of course, I visited YouTube as well, and there in the front page, recommendation tab, YouTube recommended a video of a real-life ex-marine reacting and commenting to Violet Evergarden. Amazing, right?
closing – nesha’s final verdict.
So, my final verdict.
For many people, Violet Evergarden is an amazing show, one of the greatest, and I can understand that. And if you haven’t watched the show, and you just read all my criticism in the previous subjects of the story and its characters, maybe I should explain to you how Violet Evergarden could actually be an amazing show for you to watch as well. Just to be fair, right?
Personally, I would give Violet Evergarden a 6.5 score out of 10, which is a super fine score to give from me, but it isn’t great. So alongside that, I should also admit that I’ve been harsh and been saying things a little bit out of proportion, even though that was all because I did my review as honestly as possible. So that being said, I don’t want the general people who haven’t watched Violet Evergarden get discouraged from watching the show. Because like I said, I’ve been harsh.
The truth is, Violet Evergarden is an easy to follow journey of adventure, it doesn’t require you a lot of involvement, and despite the show theme that inclined to have a cruel background story or at least something that’s bitter to tell, there’s actually none of those in the anime, or very little at the very least. Violet Evergarden is a beautiful show. But, this summary is a two-direction commentary; it’s really up to you to see those as advantages or disadvantages.
Because for one person, and this including me, the adventure aspect of Violet Evergarden has failed, I definitely couldn’t enjoy it as a fantasy, the show has failed as an action story, it has failed as a psychological drama, and etcetera-etcetera … because like I said just above: the show really doesn’t require you a lot of involvement, so it doesn’t really give you a reason to care about the characters, doesn’t really make you care about the post-war situation, etcetera-etcetera. The only thing I can agree to is that Violet Evergarden is a beautiful show, but nothing more.
I have not read the light novel yet, but I already could tell that reading the light novel would get me more involved in the story rather than by watching the anime. Because you get to see a lot more of Violet’s past in there, you can get to know that before she was handed over to Gilbert, the story implies that she fell in love (without knowing, ofc) with Gilbert’s cruel brother Dietfried, which is the reason why Violet was incapable of killing him even though his crew members attempted to rape her. Unfortunately, these elements of her pasts kept hidden in the anime, and that made me sad.
To be completely honest now, Violet Evergarden is a completely balanced story, there’s an adventure in it, there’s drama and slice of life in it, there’s fantasy in it, and there’s even a little bit of action in it … the show is a lot. But that being said, Violet Evergarden is not impressive in any of those aspects, it’s kind of jack of all trades, if you know what I mean. I don’t know how to articulate this but, I wish Violet Evergarden had a lead category of what the show is actually about. I know that if that’s being the case, the show won’t make money as much as it is now as it is being available to a broader audience, but at least for some people like me, that would make us appreciate the show a lot more.
That being said, in its league, being an all-rounder anime show, Violet Evergarden is actually contrary to many other all-rounder TV show, which is good. Let me tell you this: there’s no scene or episode that’s messy in Violet Evergarden. I already tell you from the beginning that there’s no lazy writing in Violet Evergarden. From one episode to another, everything is consistent (maybe too consistent), and the flow is always great even when we visit Violet’s remembrance about the day she lost Gilbert in the Great War, and then quickly go back to the present time.
I need to express as well how good Violet is as a character: her delivery is always on point, and a few times when I watched the show I wonder, is it time for Violet to smile? considering that I never saw her smiled before. That’s how great she is as a character!
So, Violet Evergarden … I don’t really like the show. I know that Violet’s past is kinda dark, but I really thought that I would enjoy the show a lot more if that background story was included in the anime. Also, I think there are ways around to have all that and still being a PG-13 anime; I’ve seen a lot of show that contains violence, nudity, and even more suggested themes, and still being a PG-13 anime. And even if there’s no other choice but go R rated, I think that will let us explore even further the atmosphere of how the world is in post-war circumstances.
Also, I don’t have PTSD, but a lot of people in reddit thought that Violet Evergarden addressed PTSD extremely well, so imagine if the show is R rated, I bet it would have more impact as it would be produced for adult audience all the way. Also, by the way, I already assume that the material source is R rated since it tells about Violet’s past that contains rape and a lot of killing. And by the way, just for your information, even with this current state of Violet Evergarden, the show is already rated 16+ on Netflix.
Really, one thing that I hate the most in anime is hasty writing and directing. But I don’t hate Violet Evergarden, I just wish … that it could be better. So like I said before: personally, I would give the show 6.5 out of 10. But since I understand how the show could be amazing for a lot of people, how the Violet Evergarden actually did influence a lot of people, I’ll now give the show a 7 out of 10. There you go.
additional pieces of information.
- Violet Evergarden
- nesha’s review of an anime tv, 13 episodes
- from the studio of Kyoto Animation
- tagged under the genre of #slice_of_life, #drama, and #fantasy
tagged also under the subgenre of #science_fiction, #living_dolls, #military, #steampunk, #tragic_past, #war, #novel, #seinen, and #tragedy
- the age-rated as PG-13 – Teens 13 or older
Well, I guess that’s my review of Violet Evergarden. This was requested by Will Sirius on Twitter @moenotfound since I asked her what to write, and I guess she’s interested in my thought about the show, so there you go. Though I’m sorry if my review now is a little messy, it’s been a while, and it looks like my English hasn’t improved at all, sorry for that too.
Anyway, the next review going to be Dr. Stone, because someone else requested the show to be reviewed as well. So maybe next week, maybe next month, or maybe next year, I don’t know … but I will see you guys in the next one. Also don’t forget, as usual, keep watching anime! Anime is fun, guys, binge-watching anime is always fun! I wish I had more time..,..