Violet Evergarden was one of the most anticipated Winter 2018 anime shows, which naturally, rose my expectations. Was that a mistake? Keep reading.
Violet Evergarden’s story revolves around the life of Violet, a humanoid (even though her state of being is not very clearly defined in the anime) whose purpose is to perform as a flawless weapon of war. For some reason, she is also blonde, with luscious long hair and looks like less than fourteen years old.
Controversial choices of character design aside, Violet falls in love with her superior in the army, Gilbert, because of the affection and care he shows towards her. However, given her state of mind, she does not comprehend this feeling, and before she gets a chance to do so, she is gravely injured and loses both her hands in an effort to save Gilbert, who dies anyway.
The war is over, and Violet is being taken care of by Claudia, an old friend of Gilbert’s, who offers her a job as a Doll ghostwriter, a fictional profession that is basically about hot women writing letters for random people if they can match the price. Violet hopes to understand what love is through expressing the feelings of others, but her past in the army won’t let her go.
Plot & Story
If we are to separate a show into visuals, sound, and scenario, I believe the story was Violet Evergarden’s weakest point. Looking back at it, there were a few things that I found to be inadequate around the narrative and setup of the show.
Superficiality: The transition of Violet’s personality happened too fast and without proper ground. The background of a child who has been taught how to kill, all along being exposed to the aftermath of death and reacting in that way because of love is just… unstable. And so is the way she deals with it; it’s surprisingly easy for her to switch from full-on crazy war tool to sensitive empathizing lovelorn young woman who carries herself in elegant clothing and sophisticated manners to write letters of sensitive content.
The role of writing in the show’s society is an overused anime trope that I’m personally not fond of. Everything revolves around it, from industry to people’s personal lives, war, peace and important government decisions. It feels as if it is given an unreal importance just to enhance that of the characters’ and especially the protagonist’s, and give her vocational choice more stability. Eventually, we end up watching an attractive woman riding a train with a government envoy to write a letter about peace – as if war is decided by such frail details.
The show feels like it constantly seeks the viewers’ empathy in a very violent way. I felt as if the ultimate goal of every episode was to make me cry, and yes, I will cry every time a daughter loses her mother, and every time a young woman loses her loved one in war, and every time a father needs to live after his daughter perishes; but what is Violet’s role in this? Her way of being the catalyst is not convincing; in simpler words, I could have watched most of this show side stories as independent segments, without Violet being there, overdressed and somehow offering teenage wisdom to people who genuinely suffered.
Art & Music
There’s not much to be said about the show’s art quality – it was pretty much flawless. Everything was taken care of to perfection, polished to the extreme, and every single shot is characterized by a unique fluency in light and color. Especially the daylight’s emulation into the environments was really a masterpiece. If there is anything to be commented on, that would be the choice perfection as a stylistic one; is a show about war, death, and the clumsy adaptation of a naive character to society supposed to be so beautifully polished? As I mentioned in several reviews, I found the beauty in the show to be redundant many a times – it felt as if it failed to grasp the moments where the choice in illustrating a situation should have been directed towards decay rather than gloss. The war, the bitter tears over loved ones; I guess it felt like all the painful imagery had been overprotected in this glorious setup.
Music and sound wise, the show is good. The soundtrack does not particularly stand out but the opening and closing tracks (maybe the closing one even more so) are memorable. The voice acting is where it needs to be, with Yui Ishikawa (yes, that is Mikasa Ackerman, y’all) being the protagonist, and an all-star cast contributing to an overall good result. If there’d be anything to complain about, that would once again be moderation, but this is more or less due to the overall character of the show.
Themes & Trivia
Violet Evergarden is yet another show (Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, etc) very influenced by the World War, and specifically German culture, architecture, and history. This is rather prominent during most of the anime. There are, however, small doses of Asian culture in the mixture, which I mostly noticed cuisine-wise and in the character’s’ body language.
The story is based on the light-novel series by Kana Akatsuki and Akiko Takase. It has been the first work to ever win a grand prize in any three categories in the Kyoto Animation Awards. It is produced by Kyoto Animation, that also brought us The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, and K-on!!.
What is love anyway?
Great animation and production
Some hot pieces of ass
Violet is 14
Action scenes very redundant
Long story short? If you like to look at great animation techniques applied on screen and content is not important to you, you’re gonna love this show. If not, try your luck somewhere else.
What did you think of Violet Evergarden? Let us know in the comment section, and don’t forget to check more anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!