I’m not too keen on watching on shows from Kyoto Animation, so this is one of the few times that I am glad that Violet Evergarden was hyped up. I mean, I love Chunibyou, but I wouldn’t have watched it unless my best friend recommended it to me. In a strange way, I am also glad that Violet Evergarden was put on Netflix as well. While I would complain about the fact that I couldn’t watch it was airing on Crunchyroll like almost everything else, I think Evergarden would have lost in the seasonal junk pile a lit. I do think that the fact the show looks gorgeous and Kyoto Animation was behind it would help send a lot of attention towards it, but it still wouldn’t be at the same level. At the same time, the hype behind this show was too great. I did enjoy Violet Evergarden and its strong emotions got to me, I still don’t think it’s the perfect show that a lot of people think it is.
The plot of Violet Evergarden is simple, but powerful. It’s about what happens to a powerful, but young orphaned battle maiden after a massive war that took place all over the continent. The series takes a far more realistic approach then you would expect from a lot of other anime, because Violet’s arms were replaced by medal prosthetics and she is still suffering from ptsd. The ptsd Violet is dealing with comes losing her father figure officers and stress of her many battles. At the beginning of the series, she is still contemplating the last words her dear major said to her “I love you” before he died. By working as an auto memories doll, some one who writes for those who can’t, she explores the many ways the phrase “I love you” could be said and meant.
Half the series is Violet traveling to different areas across her continent and exploring the lives of different characters. This works well because being a writer (an auto memories doll) is a great way to get episodes like this. The other half is Violet dealing with her war time ptsd. Its not exactly cut down the middle like that, but that’s the number of episodes dedicated to each part ends up. I prefer the former because those episodes felt stronger and better written. By experiencing other people’s lives, Violet used their experiences as a spring board for her own development. The wartime ptsd was solid and emotional, but this was material that I’ve seen in a lot of places. I can’t complain too much, because that’s the premise of this show though. I’m glad that Violet developed past her tragic moments and became a great person that helps people out whenever she can.
I talked enough about Violet’s character enough in the premise, so it’s a good thing that there are other characters to talk about. I am disappointed about a lot of the side characters. I do like the president of Violet’s company, Claudia Hodgins. Considering that this guy was a Lt. Col in the army, Claudia is going through the same stuff is Violet, but he’s more aware of it. He is the one that took Violet under his wing in the beginning and never have half assed his watching and parenting toward her. When Violet was at her worst point, he kept her going. He even docked his own pay for a month so that Violet can get the broach that means a lot to her back. You can’t ask for someone nicer to keep an eye on Violet. He isn’t a helicopter parent, but he gives Violet nudges that move her development in the right direction when they are necessary. I really like him.
I don’t know how I feel about a lot Violet’s coworkers though. They are given the bare bones relationships with each other, they obviously know what they are doing, and are given solid personalities, so I can’t call them card board cut outs. Still, I can’t help but think that more time could have been spent with each of them. Iris was pretty developed though, but then she is the one coworker that had an episode centered around her. Since thinking about it more, I don’t know how else Violet Evergarden would get an episode focused on each of these characters. The writers behind this show know what they are doing and probably thought that would slow down what the show is trying to say. It’s all complicated stuff.
Oh, the episodic characters are great by the way. They all left a clear impact on Violet and stayed around long enough to be developed without being exhausting. Just perfect.
This is Kyoto Animation at their peak. What else am I supposed to say here? Kyoto Animation is great with facial expressions, art design, subtle character movements, and art with their normal productions like Sound Euphonium. How is it possible that this one is better then that? It’s movie quality, but for thirteen episodes on end. HOW? HOW? I love this show’s setting. Besides Violet’s way too advanced mechanical arms, the art, the clothing designs, the technological designs, the well detailed locations, and so much more then that sell that Violet Evergarden took place shortly after World War One. I love all that detail, I love this time-period, and I like that it sells the theme of this story as well. I think that’s the reason why Violet Evergarden clicked for me.
I should also talk a little about some of the animation and the character animation here as well. The character designs are standard Kyoto Animation designs but cleaned up and changed up a little bit to adjust a little bit to the show. There aren’t a lot of action scenes, because Kyoto Animation is more centered around well executed subtle movements. Still, when action scenes happen, they are extremely well executed. Well-choreographed and seemingly grounded in reality.
I feel like I am the exact opposite with a lot of people, because I prefer episodic story telling if I am given the option. It seems that a lot of people prefer the opposite. (Just like how the first half of the Little Witch Academia was better then the second half for me). It’s understandable why. Still, I have a lot more to say about this aspect with Violet Evergarden. The singular episodes of Violet Evergarden have a lot more solid of an emotional appeal to me then all the war time drama material. I not only get a lot of great character stories that felt genuine and powerful, but Violet got something for all of it too. This is how the anime was designed, but it seems that these are the episodes which helped Violet go from just being a doll to become a human being. I wish the show was filled with more of these episodes then having the war time drama material.
That being said, I won’t say that all the war story elements were bad. Far from it. Still, I’ve seen all of this before in a lot of places that have approached it much better. Franchises like Gundam and Macross have covered this aspect better for me and make Violet Evergarden’s war story feel more basic in that regard. This show handles all of that in a basic manner because all of the war elements go the way you would expect them too with no suprises. Because of this, the emotional weight wasn’t completely there for me all the way through the anime.
Violet Evergarden feels like an anime with two styles of story telling that are on different levels of quality, but the ending product is very solid. This is an anime that speaks to the heart and is so much more than a story where a war orphan finds her humanity. Combine that all with the human stories, and the levels of emotion at play are very strong and incredibly grounded. I do not think that this show is as good as the level of hype behind it sells it to be, but it’s a very good watch. Worth everyone’s time. If nothing else, check it out for your own curiosity. It’s worth that and much more.
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