Violet Evergarden is the story of a girl learning what emotions truly are, and why getting them across is so important. In the aftermath of a great war, the country of Telesis is finally at peace. One day a girl named Violet Evergreen wakes up with arms of metal, devoid of emotion and waiting for orders. Violet was originally a “weapon” given to Major Gilbert Bougainvillea to help win the war, mostly by killing or decimating troops. In the final battle of the war, when both Gilbert and Violet were gravely injured, Gilbert told Violet “I love you” and ordered her to live. Violet, collapsing in battle, didn’t understand these words. When she awakes, former army commander Claudia Hodgins tells her that Gilbert entrusted her care to him, and that she should do her best to find a job and live a normal life. Violet becomes an Auto Memory Doll, someone who writes letters, scripts and the like for people on a typewriter. The show then follows Violet’s journey to learn more about emotions and the meaning of the words Gilbert left her with.
I became aware of Violet Evergarden back when it was first announced, and initially the summary didn’t intrigue me, but when I noticed the studio in charge was Kyoto Animation it was quickly added to my ever-growing list. I don’t have much time or motivation to watch anime on a weekly basis, so once they finish airing and Netflix picks them up in English Dub, I finally check them out. I saw that Violet Evergarden was available, but I wasn’t really feeling it until after I’d caught up to a few others. I’d watched the promos so I knew I was in for some gorgeous animation, but I had absolutely no idea that an anime like this could pull me in and leave me a sobbing mess after thirteen episodes. I LOVED Violet Evergarden!
This show starts off slow, and I mean sloooow. Half of the first few episodes are mostly worldbuilding and setting up the characters and their occupations, without giving much actual development into any of the characters. This does not help because Violet initially starts off being completely emotionless and blunt, to the point where it’s frustrating how she can’t do things or talk to people properly. This is obviously intentional, and it makes sense for Violet to be that way, but the show still feels slow for the first few episodes.However, the show gets more interesting as it becomes more episodic; Violet goes about her job, introducing new characters and stories that are concluded by the end of each episode. Once Violet shows her first sign of growth — as simple as it is — she becomes easier to emphasize with, and Violet Evergarden hooks you in and keeps you in. The show then focuses on a series of subplots where Violet grows by writing messages and interacting with different characters. These subplots, revolving around close relationships, are engrossing, heartwarming and relatable, letting you care for the characters in the short time they’re around.
Take A Silent Voice’s animation, decrease the precision linework quality for the TV budget, replace it with a more stylised, wavy, paint-like aesthetic, add the lighting and colors of an artist’s painting, and give it impressive sakuga-like animation that emphasizes the small details and movements in almost every scene, and you’ll get this show’s art style, and it stays at that quality the ENTIRE TIME. I’m not kidding when I say this is easily one of the best looking animes, if not the best looking, that I have ever watched. The art style is nothing less than amazing; it’s like cocaine for your eyes. The animation is downright gorgeous; from the color usage, designs, detail, and movement, it’s almost like like an animated painting. I have honest to god trouble imagining how the heck Kyoto Animation did this, especially with the budget. They seem to have changed the art style to be more inconsistent, yet beautiful and stable, making it easier to animate rather than cut back on the art itself. The lighting is perfect, and scenes look convincing and real. Kyoto Animation have absolutely outdone themselves.
The music is mostly serene, with really well played tracks that use a variety of sounds. There isn’t a lot of quick-paced music, and only occasionally are there some dramatic tracks with orchestra for scenes that require intensity, but most of it works to either set the tone or to pull at your heartstrings. None of them particularly stand out because they all perfectly accompany their scenes. The opening piece, “Sincerely,” is quite good; True’s vocals are godlike here, reaching a smooth, classy tone that works well with the instrumental. The lyrics convey Violet’s emotions so well, and I found the song more emotional as the show went along and I got to understand Violet herself. The ending song also deserves mention, and while I personally like the OP more, I can’t deny that it’s done just as well, with vocals that give it a feeling of nostalgia and maturity. The insert song, “Violet Snow,” really helps some scenes shine, with a feeling of youthful hope similar to a fairy tale. The sound effects and foley are great too; little details are realistic and sound convincing, in particular when Violet uses her metallic hands.
The characters are simply amazing, although it’s not apparent right off the bat. In the first two episodes, Violet is absolute cardboard, with no personality and blunt to the point where it’s inhuman. The recurring cast are more character types than characters; they don’t have a lot of depth and, with a couple of exceptions, don’t develop much.This is made up for by the guest cast in each episode, who make the show great through their interactions with Violet. By helping the supporting characters sort out their problems, Violet herself becomes more relatable, learning more about emotions, what it means to be human, and what love truly is.
Violet Evergarden is a story about the importance of emotions and conveying them through words, about the importance of relationships, where people grow from the actions and support of others. While I would have liked some more stories of Violet doing her job, the story ends on an extremely conclusive and satisfying note. By the end of the show, Violet has evolved so much, and that is why I hold Violet Evergarden in such high regard. I highly recommend it to everyone, even though you’ll have to trudge through the first few episodes, because once you do, you are in for an extremely emotional, and touching ride.