In continuation of last week’s Violet Evergarden, its second episode is here to extend our background knowledge of the characters and further confuse us about the nature of Auto Memory Dolls.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 「戻って来ない」
After Claudia’s half-hearted approval, Violet starts training as a typewriter, aiming to achieve becoming an Auto Memory Doll and comprehending the meaning of the word ‘love’. As it is her first time using a typewriter, she is instructed on how to operate one by master Doll Cattleya, who has massive and permanently exposed tits (it was too hard to refrain from commenting on that). Apparently, she also seems to be sleeping with Claudia, to young Benedict’s disappointment, who struggles to try to seduce women with takeaway yakisoba (again, the mixture of eastern and western cultural elements can be observed here). We are also introduced to Iris, a typical tomboy loud character who takes everything way too seriously, and Erica Brown, a shy Doll who appears to be suffering from some form of social anxiety – which really makes me wonder about her career choices. After hanging out with Erica to get some insights on how to do the job, Violet takes the initiative to write a letter for a woman who wants to play it hard for a wealthy suitor. Naturally, she messes up big time, yet Erica defends her for some reason and convinces Claudia to keep her working for minor Doll tasks.
Later, by the end of the episode, after Claudia admits to Cattleya that he spent his monthly salary on getting Violet’s precious brooch back from the black market, he also reveals that Violet’s beloved (in spite of her knowledge of what love is) is never to come back. I’m not sure if this is a point worth making, but he doesn’t really say that he is dead. Let’s see.
Themes & Trivia
Cattleya Baudelaire: I initially thought her name to be a mistaken Japanese translation, but it actually is a type of orchid originating from Latin America, specifically Costa Rica and Argentina. Yet another mixture of international culture. In Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, to ‘do a cattleya’ is a metaphor for making out, hence the prominent bosom. Also, her last name belongs to the 19th-century poet, and a personal favorite, Charles Baudelaire, who has a particular interest in lustful pursuit and the sexuality of the female body. His most known work is, conveniently, Les Fleurs du Mal, (eng: The Flowers of Evil) a title that has been used in the 2013 anime Aku no Hana, which makes me think that he may be more popular in Japanese culture than I thought. Last – but not least – orchids represent love, beauty, luxury and strength, and in ancient Greece were a symbol of virility, with the word ‘orchid’ originating from ‘όρχις΄, the Greek term for ‘testicle’, probably because of the flower’s shape.
Erica’s fashion sense: Out of all the Dolls, despite appearing as plain, reserved, and insecure, Erica’s choice of clothing is absolutely stunning. It combines elements of Harajuku style and culture with this odd multi-layered corset-fastened Victorian-inspired dress and is something I could imagine seeing on a contemporary catwalk.
History of the typewriter: Unlike what is mentioned in the show, the typewriter was not invented by some guy named Orland who wanted to give his blind wife the ability to keep writing. Its first historical traces can be found in 16th century Italy, 18th century England, and then its form as it is known today was patented by the American William Austin Burt in the early 19th century.
Another episode that was gorgeous to look at. The movement of the sun during the scene after the rain was mind-blowing to me. When Violet activated her fingers, it made Edward Elric’s automail look like a kids’ toy. If you carefully observe, you will also notice some amazing lip-sync rather than mouth aimlessly opening and closing (it especially noticeable when Cattleya is talking). Yet, my favorite visual was by far the comparison of the newly acquired green gem to the ice cube in the whiskey glass.
However! I am yet to be amazed by the story. Even though it seemed to begin touching on some sensitive themes, such as the way Violet is presented to Gilbert as a commodity in the beginning of the episode and Cattleya’s comment on the human weakness of wanting to test others to verify their intentions, the story is, so far, a bit pedestrian, and I haven’t yet found it challenging or dramatically original (to which my sister argued: ‘BUT HE TOLD HER THAT HE LOVES HER’ – how can I find a comeback for that?).
That glass of whiskey seems like a good idea.
As I haven’t yet figured out whether to me this show is the highest quality of illustrational eye candy or not, I can’t yet recommend this, but if you just want to shower your eyes in visual pleasure, pour yourself a glass and enjoy the stunning work the animators have put into Violet Evergarden. I believe the tone of the show will be changing soon, but until we get past the initiations to what it is actually happening, I can only comment on the quality of production.
What did you think of the Violet Evergarden’s second episode? Did it live up to your expectations? Let us know in the comment section below! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Winter 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!