Anime: Violet Evergarden
Season aired: Winter 2018
Number of episodes: 13
Thoughts: Violet Evergarden was set up as one of the most hyped anime to air during the winter season. It is produced by Kyoto Animation, a beloved anime production studio and is based on a short light novel series that won critical acclaim. Overall, it just looked beautiful. But to call Violet Evergarden hyped would not do it justice.
It far exceeded its status of a “hyped up” anime.
Violet Evergarden is located in a fantasy world that closely resembles Europe. Violet is a retired military soldier and becomes an Auto Memory Doll, ghostwriters who are largely female. The series follows her journey as she writes letters for her clients and learns to interact with different people. The stories of her clients inspires her to pursue her own goal and helps her grow as a person.
The synopsis sounds dull, but Violet Evergarden is so much more. The character development is stupendous, the stories are electrifying and enticing, the art and animation are beyond perfect, and the voice acting is incredible. To have 2018 start with such an anime will leave the rest of the year with large shoes to fill. Now, moving onto each point.
The plotline actually surprised me. Instead of a big overarching conflict and one big antagonist, the anime is episodic as it has stories that feed into the central theme of love. As a result, the anime successfully combines two worlds into one. It keeps a problem looming over the audience’s heads, but it uses short, twenty-minute stories to contribute to the problem and resolution. And each episodic story is very unique, perfectly crafted to draw different emotions from within the audience. There were times I found myself sobbing, but then there were other times where I found myself smiling with pure joy. Furthermore, love is a constant recurring factor to the story that is not made to be cheesy or cringey. Whether it’s sibling love, parental love, romantic love, or friendship love, each episode teaches Violet something new and helps the audience grow and mature with her.
Another thing I love about the plot is the use of letters and words as a plot device, and in a sense, a weapon. After watching so many action-packed anime, I sometimes forget that the real power actually lies within words. Violet Evergarden illustrates just that. A letter has the ability to stop a war, start a family, maintain peace, as well as the ability to hurt and destroy. The respect the storyline plays towards words is something I sincerely thank the anime for.
Character development, in my opinion, is the best part of the entire series. Violet Evergarden starts out as a soldier who only knew about war for her entire life. Her emotions are extremely muted and buried, she lacks social skills, and she overall doesn’t really understand herself. She is a completely different person by the end of the series, but best of all, her development is completely believable. It progresses at the perfect pace, and the series takes you with her on her journey of growth and self-discovery every step of the way. You learn to become invested in her as you come to love her as a person, wishing her the best happiness. The series also uses a combination of both positive and negative influences to help her reach that state of maturity, keeping her development even more realistic.
However, this character development could not have come about without Yui Ishikawa’s assistance in bringing Violet to life. Known mainly for her role as Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan, her voice acting as Violet has proven her versatility and how much she deserved the Seiyuu Award back in 2014. You can literally hear the changes in her voice through growing subtle inflections that start off as robotic and evolve into something very emotional.
Additionally, the art and animation are gorgeous. The scenic shots are worth screenshotting and framing in your bedroom. The characters are incredibly detailed, down to the very clothes they wear and their distinctive hairstyles. Any movement of water, sunlight, and even gunshots are meticulously drawn and animated. Yet, at the same time, one cannot help but expect this when it’s an anime produced by Kyoto Animation. The production company has set the bar very high on its own terms, which means producing anything below expectations would have an even greater effect on the anime. It is a good thing that Violet Evergarden did not fall into this trap.
If I had to talk about flaws, there can only be two, but they are very minor. The first is that the beginning can be achingly slow. Violet’s character development starts off at a turtle’s pace, which is likely to leave certain viewers who care more about social interactions to grind their teeth and cringe at her bad choices. The second is the small recurring cast. Aside from Violet and possibly Gilbert, you do not truly get to know or connect with any other characters. Many of the characters appear for only one story and then fade away into the background. Though I think the series made it work in this case, I am sure that it is still frustrating for others.
Other than that, Violet Evergarden is a beautiful anime. It was executed on an extremely interesting premise, and it had my mind and heart throughout the entire journey. I ask everyone to give this anime a chance. You won’t want to miss it.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 9
FINAL SCORE: 90