When it comes to the 2018 winter anime line up, the bar of quality is rather high. But even with that, there was one series that stood shoulders above the rest. Coming from the brain of Akatsuki, Kana and under the direction of Ishidate, Taichi and Fujita, Haruka. A series that at one moment had me so bored I was barely paying attention but then shortly after had me in tears. A series that ended up being some of Kyoto Animation’s best work, a vibrant, brilliant world known as none other than, Violet Evergarden.
The story follows Violet Evergarden, a girl whose sole purpose in life was to be a weapon. A devoid of emotion tool razing the battlefield of all her commanders deemed hostile. However, something tragic has befallen Violet, the great war is over she no longer has to fight, and the man whom she had become his right-hand is nowhere to be found.
Bound in a hospital she passes the time slowly learning how to use her new prosthetic arm before being discharged into the care of former Lt. Col. Hodgins. Avoiding her questions of where her Major Gilbert is, he is short and to the point that the war is over, he is retired, and that she is more than welcome to take a job at his private postal company.
Confused and only wanting to see her Major, Violet breaks down doing daily tasks all the way up to one point she discovers a department within the company, auto memory doll. Typists and writers whose sole purpose is to understand what people are trying to say, putting all their emotions into a letter to send to someone else. Fascinated with this and longing to understand what the term “love” Violet eagerly joins then fails to get the point time and time again.
Violet Evergarden is a fantastic show but good god is it the slowest burning boring ride I have been on in a while. So I attempted to watch this show back in 2018 when it dropped, it was blowing up so I’d figure I would give it a go. Three episodes, that was all I could take, Violet was annoying, everyone enabled her, the concept was a yawn fest and I didn’t care. Then, as it goes, one of my friends pleaded that I re-watch the show, giving it a chance so I did. I made it to episode 4 this time before I thought about dropping it. But really wanting to understand what this show was all about I forced myself through it and good god, what a story.
One of the best things this show does as mentioned is the animation, it’s gorgeous, every scene, every moment is aesthetically pleasing. But around episodes, 6-7 when Violet starts to get a better grasp on the emotion of humans does it just add another wonderful layer to this cake of a show. For the first time, the visuals are matched with equally as touching and heart-wrenching stories. I found myself hanging on to every word, glued to every scene as time and time again my eyes stung from the rollercoaster that was happening in front of me.
It was at this time I understood, I understood the hype and I understood the slow burn. What this show artfully does is by painting Violet as this devoid of emotion for the first boring part of the show it allows a different dynamic to occur. Once she starts to understand people’s pain and grief, simply by her, herself showing emotions at these things it adds a whole new element that was never at play in the earlier episodes. Suddenly people who only get one show as she travels to write letters for them have deep cutting tales that I was attached to. I was profoundly connected with these characters I just met because Violet was, she slowly becomes a conduit to convey the narrative and she was only able to do that because she was so void in the earlier showings.
Added with the scars of war still fresh on the nation tension builds up both inside and outside of Violet as her newfound emotions force her to start reflecting on the life she lived, the damage she had done. Violet Evergarden is like the turtle V the hare. The rabbit takes off, is way more interesting to watch, but he gets lazy, takes a nap, and in that time the turtle wins the race, becoming the victor and takes the stage to be the superior showing. Though I thought about it a lot I can say without a doubt the slow burn was worth it, Violet coming to, the pain she feels sees, and writes about. Is worth every boring minute I had to dredge through at the start and I am truly glad I stuck with it.
I will never say Violet Evergarden is a masterpiece, but it’s pretty damn close. 8/10
Thanks for the read!