It’s here! It’s finally here! Violet Evergarden made it’s limited Netflix Debut (more on that later) on January 11 and on television in Japan on January 10. Happy Birthday to me! I have been anxiously awaiting for Violet Evergarden’s release for months so when Mithandriel asked me what I will be reviewing I gladly volunteered myself as tribute.
The synopsis for Violet Evergarden reads:
There are words Violet heard on the battlefield, which she cannot forget. These words were given to her by someone she holds dear, more than anyone else. She does not yet know their meaning.
A certain point in time, in the continent of Telesis. The great war which divided the continent into North and South has ended after four years, and the people are welcoming a new generation.
Violet Evergarden, a young girl formerly known as “the weapon,” has left the battlefield to start a new life at CH Postal Service. There, she is deeply moved by the work of “Auto Memories Dolls,” who carry people’s thoughts and convert them into words.
Violet begins her journey as an Auto Memories Doll, and comes face to face with various people’s emotions and differing shapes of love. All the while searching for the meaning of those words.
Source: Anime Expo
Violet Evergarden is available on Netflix in certain territories. Much like every other American, I was dismayed to learn the anime was not available in the United States until the spring. However, people who have access to Netflix in at least Canada and the United Kingdom can rejoice because Violet Evergarden is available in both Japanese subtitles and English Audio.
I will never understand licensing issues. Sigh.
Like my other anime reviews, I haven’t read the manga which means I won’t be able to tell you how Violet Evergarden compares to the light novel series. If you are one of our readers and you have read the manga please let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments section below!
Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!
Violet Evergarden Episode 1 – I Love You and Auto Memoir Dolls
At the very beginning of the episode, we are given a glimpse of Violet Evergarden and Major Gilbert on a street market. The way Gilbert’s eyes widened when Violet replied “Your Eyes. It’s the same color as your eyes. The way I felt when I saw this… this feeling… What is it called?” I felt my heart instantly break into a million pieces and thought to myself “This anime is going to kill me emotionally, isn’t it?”
We cut to Violet Evergarden recovering in the hospital, struggling to do basic tasks with bandages wrapped around both of her arms to hide her prosthetics. A letter she is writing to Major Gilbert is taken away by the wind, but in return, the viewers are given a delightful look at the breathtaking animation.
As you may have read from my Citrus Anime Review, I live for stunning landscapes and Violet Evergarden goes above and beyond to deliver throughout the entire episode.
Lieutenant Colonel Hodgins is then introduced and fills us with some important backstory on Violet, but this is where part of the story felt a bit muddied up to me. Violet was kept as a secret weapon for the military. She isn’t human, but, she doesn’t exactly appear to be a robot either. There is a scene which zooms into a doll when he is explaining what Violet is so I am assuming she is a doll but it isn’t exactly a clear-cut answer. I do hope that is explained a bit further in detail as the anime progresses.
But before we can go any further, Violet Evergarden sinks its emotional dagger right into my heart when Violet asks Colonel Hodgins where Major Gilbert is at and if the Major survived. It is heavily implied Major Gilbert died on the battlefield.
Ah, Angst. My old friend.
Hodgins insists to Violet Gilbert has left her in his care and then they leave the hospital to go to the Evergarden Estate in Leiden. We get more detail of how the country Telesis changed after the great war on the train ride with even more luscious visuals. Hodgins introduces Violet to her new home where Tiffany Evergarden, a woman who lost her son during the war, agreed to take Violet underneath her care until Violet reached adulthood so Violet can fulfill Gilbert’s wish to “live and be free.”
But this is Violet Evergarden and there are no breaks on the feels train. Choo-Choo!
Not only is the emerald brooch, which reminds Violet of Gilbert missing, but also Violet refuses to stay at the Evergarden estate, exclaiming if she can no longer be useful to Major Gilbert she should be thrown away somewhere. And just like that, another emotional dagger stabbed my poor kokoro in the form of Hodgin’s reaction to Violet’s proclamation.
Hodgins decides to bring Violet to his business, the CH Postal Company, where Violet will work. Did I forget to mention Hodgins is the president? That sounds like a hell of an upgrade from a Lieutenant Colonel. Ahem. Anyways… Most of the people in the country do not know how to write so the CH Postal Company uses the Auto Memory Dolls to write letters for civilians.
Auto Memory Dolls?
Hmmm. I’m curious if the Auto Memory Dolls are similar to Violet. That would explain a lot.
We are then introduced to cinnamon roll Benedict (really – he is a cutie!) which is tasked by Hodgins to train Violet. The scene where Benedict shows Violet the ropes was an absolute delight, and all I want to do is to protect the smol and innocent boy. He is way too precious!
Hodgins shows growing concern toward Violet and he admits his regret of not stepping in for what the military was doing with the young girl. Remember, she was trained to be an emotionless machine. There are several graphic scenes which show how brutal she could be, but also, the battles she had to endure.
Hodgins shows concern for Violet and confesses his regret for never stopping what the military did to her. He expresses my favorite quote from this episode:
“You don’t know it, but your body burns.”
Can’t this statement be used for anyone working too hard? You don’t know it, but your body burns. Or, your body burns from all of the pain and suffering you have endured. Man. That is some deep meaning there. Even if Violet doesn’t understand yet, I believe she will know one day.
The anime comes to a close when a civilian enters CH Postal Service and requests Violet to write a letter to confess his love to a friend who is getting married to someone else.
Violet takes the man to one of the Auto Memory Dolls to write a letter for him and the Doll begins to write a love confession. In that very sequence, the final dagger to my heart would deplete my remaining emotional HP. In like every case where my emotional HP goes to and I can’t find a Phoenix Down I end up what I do when I’m emotionally killed… and that is cry. God. I watched this episode at least three times so far and cried.
We are blessed with a flashback of Gilbert’s full last words for Violet. Even after losing both of her arms, Violet was determined to save Gilbert. Gilbert shouts at her to stop and gives her the final orders to live and be free but… he also confesses his love for her before the scene ends.
Now all of it makes sense. For the first time in Violet’s life, she made her own free will decision to ask Hodgin’s permission to become an Auto Memory Doll herself to understand the meaning “I love you.”
How could you shatter my heart into a million pieces, Violet Evergarden? Please, keep doing it. I enjoy this pain.
I don’t even know where to begin. Violet Evergarden surpassed my expectations and then some. This anime has some of the highest quality animation I have ever seen, close to even Kimi no Na Wa in my humble opinion. Kyoto Animation paid extra attention to the smallest details which give Violet Evergarden a sense of realism. Also, all of the music heard in the anime was delightful and I am also in dire need of the soundtrack.
The stand out character for me in Violet Evergarden is Colonel Hodgins. I have a suspicion he is going to have to be the one to let Violet know Gilbert is dead and if or when that scene happens… man… the emotional burden he has to carry will be so heavy. Can I give him a hug? Please?
Everyone’s characterizations, much like the animation, also had a sense of realism. Even our not-quite-humanistic Violet showed what I would think would be realistic if I was a… well… I am still confused about what Violet actually is, but I want her to live free! It’s what Gilbert wanted.
Looking back at the episode now that my tears have dried perhaps Violet Evergarden is less about Violet herself, but, it is more about the realistic emotions we face when we lose someone. What is love, anyway? That’s a lesson everyone should learn. Thankfully we have Violet Evergarden to lead us on the journey of teaching us the answer.
- High quality animation.
- Story is full of emotions, be prepared to get hit with feels!
- Realistic characters.
- Amazing soundtrack.
- Some violence and blood.
- The explanation of what Violet is in the Episode 1 is not clear yet.
- Not exactly a con, but, I wish this was available in the US on Netflix.