Violet Evergarden was a light novel series that was released in December 2015, and continued for three years, ending in March of 2018. However, it didn’t take long for it to be adapted to an anime, with the first episode being released by Kyoto Animation in the summer of 2017. The anime was later picked up by Netflix in 2018, where I was able to watch it. Before I go any further I want to say that it lives up to all the hype, and Violet Evergarden was better than I expected. I recommend Violet Evergarden to anyone who is trying to introduce family or friends to anime. Warning: there will be spoilers.
The animation of Violet Evergarden is simply gorgeous, a feast for the eyes. Everything from the characters to the background, to the sky, is drawn with the utmost detail. Some of the scenes could be frozen in time and used as paintings.
This comes from a scene in episode 6 where Violet is star gazing with a translator at an observatory. Another way to see just how much time and care was put into the animation is to see how much detail is in the background as seen here in Episode 5.
Notice how they went so far as to include the wooden slats on the roof of the gazebo, and the moss growing on the bridge. Even the character art is highly detailed.
This also brings up the only negative thing I could think of about the artwork and animation style and that is that our main character Violet Evergarden (seen above) has something of a saber face. For those of you who don’t know, saber face is something seen among all of the Type-Moon works due to Takashi Takeuchi’s creating more versions of the character Saber. Now he was not involved in Violet Evergarden and while I didn’t notice it, (I don’t like Type-Moon) I can see the resemblance.
Characters and Plot
I found it hard to separate these two aspects of the show for this review, given how connected they are. First off, the story of Violet Evergarden is one that has been told countless times in all kinds of media from anime, to books, comics, and movies. And what is this story, it is the story of discovering one’s emotions. While the underlying story might not be all that original, it is the delivery of said story that makes Violet Evergarden truly shine.
We begin by meeting the female protagonist and titular character Violet Evergarden while she is recovering in a hospital due to wounds she received during a war (think WWI). At first glance she appears to be your typical emotionless soldier who is struggling to adapt to life outside of the military. However, over the course of the story we learn that her past is much more traumatic than expected, but at her core Violet is a survivor, and she slowly begins to adapt to life in the civilian world with both serious and humorous results. Her main motivation over the course of the story is to discover the meaning of a phrase that was said to her by her commanding officer before he vanished. Said officer, one Major Gilbert, plays a central role in the story despite only ever appearing in flashbacks.
She accomplishes this by becoming an auto memories doll, which is essentially a ghostwriter helping people write letters and other documents. This is where Violet Evergarden truly shines, as we see Violet discover new emotions and feelings through the letters she writes for the clients she meets. These clients range from a princess, a mother, a dying soldier, to a struggling playwright. I liked this approach of having Violet discover herself through the lives of others, which is something I hadn’t seen done before. At the same time, we learn more about Violet’s past before the start of the series, which is tragic to say the least. The non-client characters play a supporting role helping to guide Violet on her journey and provide some nice comic relief at crucial moments to provide some levity to a serious part of the story. While Violet’s discovering emotions is the main storyline, there is a secondary story element dealing with soldiers returning from war, and coming to terms with what has happened to them.
The music of Violet Evergarden is decidedly classical in nature, which is a perfect match to the tone and setting of the story. Now I am no musical expert, but I think it was heavily influenced by European classical music. This is fitting as the story takes place in a fictional Europe circa WWI. I could listen to the sound track all day and I think it would be perfect to listen to while doing paper work.
I never saw the subtitled version of Violet Evergarden, but I feel that the English voice actors really outdid themselves. Each voice fits the character perfectly, especially Violet. Erika Lynn Harlacher, who has voiced numerous other characters, including Videl from Dragon Ball Super, really nailed Violet’s emotionless nature in a way that did not feel robotic. Additionally, the moments when Violet becomes emotional, the voice acting is spot on and if the end of episode 10 and 11 doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then I don’t know what will.
If you haven’t already seen Violet Evergarden, I highly recommend that you add it to your anime watch list. If I had to give a number rating to Violet Evergarden it would be a 10/10. I can’t think of anything negative to say about it, and it was hard to write the review without giving away major spoilers.