Review of Violet Evergarden

violetevergarden

Two weeks ago I signed up for a Netflix trial, in order to watch Castlevania season two. When posting my review of said series I asked readers what else I should check out on Netflix. My followers have good taste, so I was certain they would leave some excellent recommendations. A few of you suggested that I stream Violet Evergarden. Plot twist – I had already seen the series a few months ago, via less legal means. The series is so good however that I didn’t mind re-watching it again. On this occasion, to freshen things up, I decided to try out the dub version. For those of you who are unaware, Violet Evergarden is a thirteen episode anime based off an award winning light novel trilogy of books. Since its broadcast an OVA has been released and a movie is scheduled to come out early in 2020.

OVERVIEW

Violet Evergarden is a battle hardened orphan girl who was picked up by navy officer Dietfried Bougainvillea during one of his missions. He recognized that anyone who resembles Saber (from the Fate franchise) must be a kick ass warrior. Dietfried ends up gifting Violet to his younger brother Gilbert on his birthday. Gilbert is a major in the army and has recently been ordered to tour the front lines. Dietfried hopes that Violet will serve as his sibling’s bodyguard during the dangerous operations that are to follow. Unlike his bro, who treats the protagonist like a tool, Gilbert showers Violet with kindness. He teaches her how to speak, buys her gifts and makes the ultimate sacrifice in the war’s decisive battle. When Violet is placed in peril, Gilbert saves her and sadly perishes in the process.

Miss Evergarden didn’t escape from the incident unscathed. She lost both arms and had them replaced with mechanical appendages. After recovering from her injuries, Violet is placed in the care of Gilbert’s pal Claudia Hodgins (who is a bloke, despite what his first name may suggest.) Hodgins runs a post office and eventually hires Violet for the position of Auto Memories Doll. In the nation where this anime takes place, Auto Memories Doll is a title given to females who specialize in writing letters for others. Violet seems suited for the position because, as Ghost in the Shell has taught us, women with robotic hands are speedy typists. She hopes that putting people’s feelings into words will teach her more about human emotions. Eventually she may even learn what Gilbert’s final words to her “I love you” meant.

VERDICT

I am awarding Violet Evergarden a score of five stars. This series is a strong contender for best anime I have watched in 2018. Whether others agree with that assessment or not will depend on their patience levels. The early episodes are slow paced affairs that chronicle how Violet learned the tools of the trade and how she bonded with her new coworkers. After that the show settles into a more episodic format. Violet’s reputation rises, attracting work from across the land. She travels far and wide to help scholars transcribe ancient texts and assists royalty with the composition of love letters. Although there are moments that are sweet and funny, I would advise anyone who watches this anime to keep a handkerchief close by. Scenes of grief are never too far away in this show. The episodes about the sickly mother and the one about the drunken novelist, who is writing a play, will summon the onion cutting ninjas who we last encountered in Clannad.

Some critics have complained that Violet isn’t a likable lead, as she is someone who struggles with expressing emotion. That surprised me, given anime’s history. Last time I checked Rei Ayanami and Ruri Hoshino are very popular with audiences, despite having cold personalities. Violet’s demeanor is understandable given that she grew up as a battlefield slave. One of the show’s highlights is seeing how she begins to open up more, thanks in part to her interactions with others. Another positive in the anime’s favor is the stellar animation and artwork. That should go without saying though, given that beautiful imagery is something we all have come to expect from a production by Kyoto Animation. Whether it’s a blonde typist trekking across the picturesque countryside or half naked guys swimming in a pool, they really know how to make things look pretty onscreen.

 

 

30 thoughts on “Review of Violet Evergarden

  1. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    Thank you for reviewing this anime television show because I never heard of it before, which is sad, and even more sad is that there does not even seem to be an official trailer / featurette / et cetera of it on YouTube to help promote it; I am glad that at least someone uploaded a trailer for it (the one that you added to this post).

    The image that you used in this post looks great, and even the visuals in this lower quality trailer look great; and that and the tone that this anime seems to have from the trailer makes me want to see it one day, and it looks like it is indeed a good show.

    It is a shame that anime like this, well anime in general and some other good quality movies / television shows / et cetera, do not get much attention or proper advertising (even free advertising); and so thank you.

    -John Jr

    • Glad that I was able to bring a quality anime to your attention. I wouldn’t say the series is completely obscure. A few bloggers I follow wrote about the show, back when it aired. Now that we are approaching December I have also seen a few sites nominate Violet Evergarden for their best of the year awards.

      Although I couldn’t find an official trailer on YouTube, if you go to Netflix you can search for the series and find a trailer there. From what I saw their trailer is identical to the one I linked to, so I guess the channel in question ripped it from there.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        I would say it is obscure for the mainstream, I follow maybe over 100 YouTube channels and several blogs / websites and Google News and MSN News et cetera, and maybe 0 – 2 maybe have mentioned it sadly.

        That is sad, you would think that companies would try to share their trailers, especially when it is free for them to do so and when it is on one of the most popular streaming video websites in the world; thank you for mentioning that though.

        -John Jr

  2. Wow, the full monty eh? It’s odd I never picked this one up. I did downl… acquire the first couple of episodes but never got round to watching them then as the season progressed my viewing schedule was already full.

    Ah well, since it was such a popular title I’m sure one of the UK distributors will pick up it – let’s hope it’s one who supplies me with review discs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Great thoughts! This show really stuck in my heart. I think those who say she is unlikable really don’t understand the characters. Maybe they can’t relate to not being able to feel. I think she was set up so well in her character her reactions made sense and that is what made her quest so heartbreaking.
    To not understand what the words meant at the times really adds that added twist and you have to hope that he, even though dead, understood her feelings.

    • I’m not very good at expressing my feelings so I could relate to Violet on some level. Perhaps the people who didn’t like her are extroverts who cannot imagine someone being so emotionless? I wonder if the major miraculously survived somehow. We never see the client at the end, which causes her to make a surprised expression. It would be great if he returned and saw how much Violet had grown in his absence.

  4. Great review on one of the best anime season at the time. Too many tears when I remember it again. At first, I watched this show just because that gorgeous stunning artwork by KyoAni and didn’t really care about what the story was. But, damn. It’s just way, way better than any slice of life and drama anime.

    Yeah, people really didn’t understand about the characters in this anime. Just amazing this anime was and it still the best. Charming, sadness, heartwarming, heartbreaking, tearjerking, all of them. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • You are not alone. A lot of people started to watch this series because of the beautiful visuals shown in the promotional material. Later on they realized that the series has substance and isn’t just something that looks pretty. Watching the episodes does trigger a gamut of emotions. I found the feels hit me harder on the second viewing.

  5. From the overview, I could tell this series was going to be a tearjerker but I’ve got to admit, I kind of expected to read a revenge story. I’m not sure why though. Looking at the other comments, it seems this is really worth the watch.

    • Based on the flashback scenes and Violet’s admiration of Gilbert, this could easily have been a revenge story. If the identity of his killer were revealed I could picture Violet tracking him down and murdering him. As she spends time with regular people however Violet mellows out. There is some action in the later episodes, but by that point Violet has sworn off killing.

    • Without wanting to set your expectations too high, I highly recommend Violet Evergarden. Not watching the series until now isn’t a bad thing. The OVA came out recently so once you finish the show you can watch that too.

  6. I haven’t seen the series yet, but plan on finally getting to it sometimes this upcoming week. I feel like it would be on my top anime of 2018 list. I’ve seen the pilot episode and I really enjoyed what I saw from there. I tend to like unlikeable characters because their fallibility makes them more appealing to me, so honestly, it just makes Violet even more intriguing to me to hear that she’s a bit disliked. Thanks for such a great review!

    • Fingers crossed that the rest of the series matches your opinion of the pilot. Thank you by the way for giving this post a shout out on your site. I wonder if the light novels will get translated some day. They sound like something a book reviewer like yourself could tackle. Based on when the anime started airing and when the books finished I believe there is some content that didn’t make it into the show.

      • I would love to read and review the light novels! I actually enjoy light novels quite a bit, but I don’t get a chance to pick them often as they can get quite pricey, and are difficult to find at libraries. Maybe next year, I will be able to review more of them. ๐Ÿ™‚ And i always appreciate extra content from source materials that don’t always make it to the anime. It makes reading the source material that much more rewarding.

  7. Pingback: November’s Blogsphere Highlights #2 (2018) | BiblioNyan
    • Thank you for stopping by! Yes, I recall you being a fan of the show. I see you still have that post pinned defending Violet from the folks who branded her too robotic. I hope the recent OVA also met your expectations.

  8. More Evergarden praise I see. Not an insult. Just that everywhere I go this show gets major lovins’. One day may be my turn to shower it with love. I’ll let everyone know when that day is on Twitter or something.

  9. I’m currently watching this series, just finished the author episode last night actually, and I’m really enjoying it. When I first heard the name, I misheard it as “Violent Evergarden” and thought it was about war, so I started watching with a very interesting set of expectations, which the series strangely played into at first, and then rapidly left behind.
    I find that I really enjoy series like this, stories where the “protagonist” becomes a vehicle for exploring different people and communities for a single episode. Other titles that also do it well, in my opinion, include the original Kino’s Journey series, Mushishi, and Restaurant to Another World.
    It’s very relaxing, and provides a nice contrast with the more epic and interwoven stories I’m currently watching.
    I like how the character of Violet is herself struggling with the same issues of communication and understanding that often leads others to hire her, and I am very impressed with the animation style as well. Definitely a fun title, and refreshingly different from the many protagonist/antagonist narratives that frequently dominate fiction.

    • I’ll have to check out those three shows. Sure I will love them, if they are anything like Not-Violent Evergarden hehe. Watching a hero travel across the land helping people with personal problems is a good way to relax after a stressful day. Makes me think of the times when I would watch The Littlest Hobo.

      Yeah, it is neat how someone who struggles with their own feelings can help folks with their own emotional concerns. Sometimes a third party has an easier time jotting down someone’s true thoughts than said person themselves. Violet progressed a lot from the days when she would type up unintentional offensive letters.

  10. Shamefully, I started watching this anime, but got distracted half way through the series, by another show on Netflix named “Switched” ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
    Despite that, I agree with you. This anime is really good, the characters eyes are so sparkly and beautiful. It really makes them stand out from other anime characters. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ll most definitely finish watching this anime after I’m done watching Switched hehe ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
    Great Review ๐Ÿ™‚

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