Violet Evergarden: Going Postal

Another anime series I’ve long to get around to, and only now finally got to it. I’ve always been hesitant to dive into shows like this, the ones that feel like they are meant to be ‘about something’ and generate think pieces instead of just, entertain. However I always want to give everything a fair honest shake here at Shallow Dives in Anime and, more often than not I find myself taking something good away from it. With that said, let’s take a dive into Violet Evergarden after the cut.

I was not being over the top with my comments before the cut either. The reason I have dragged my feet on shows like Evangelion or A Silent Voice is that sometimes I feel I have nothing new to add to the discussion. They are shows that have already been picked apart, skinned to the bone and milked for any content they can give. Another reason is that I don’t look at anime in an attempt to flex my own intelligence. I just tell you what I think, simple as that, and I find that more difficult with shows like Evergarden, because too often that show is trying to be ‘about something.’

I’ve watched anime for over 20 years off and on. I’ve never seen a show that felt as designed to win awards like this one did.

Still, I watched it and I need to give my thoughts which are pretty much this: Violet Evergarden is fine. Hell it’s actually good. It’s well acted, the story is mostly tight wound and the animation, I mean the proof is in the pudding. Still even though it is good I couldn’t help but feel I was watching Anime’s version of Oscar Bait. A show meant to win awards, to stir discussion and go for those low-hanging fruits of themes and ideas that always tickle the critics and think piece writers. That of course isn’t bad, there are many pieces of entertainment, anime or not, that are ‘Oscar bait’ that are some of my favorites of all time, but this was the first experience I’ve had in the anime fandom where I felt a show was specifically made for that reason.

Even the most jaded and cynical person will feel something when this episode comes along.

But let’s get into the actual show itself. At it’s core, Evergarden is a show about one simple thing: love. What it is, how people respond to it, and the different ty pes of it. Throughout the 13 episodes, as the titular Saber Violet Evergarden builds a life beyond the battlefields, writing letters for clients and getting insights into their feelings and emotions. We see shy love, unrequited love, rejected love, love bound my duty, love through honesty, forgiving love, bereaved love, regretful love. As Violet meets each of her clients we see each of these emotions on the screen and how it makes this former ‘doll’ realize her own emotions and her own grief when confronted with a harsh truth of war.

Who wasn’t tempted to run out and buy a typewriter after this show? I love the atmosphere and time this anime is set in.

It’s a very simple premise, and pulled back from its jaw-dropping animation, it is an idea that has been explored several times in anime. The ‘kuudere who rediscovers their emotions’ has cropped up in several shows and sprinkled throughout every genre. Yet Evergarden is probably the first show I’ve seen where that is the sole purpose. Yes there are hints other ideas in the story, such as soldiers unable to stop fighting, but the core is about Nero Claudius Violet seeking the answer to her question about love and it is a good story, just one I feel I’ve seen in some other form or another over the years.

I feel like I’ve see this character before, god it’s on the top of my tongue.

Of course I have to talk about the animation and honestly, you should just go watch any episode and see for yourself. Kyoto Animation hits their zenith with this series and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as beautiful and as well done as this. The level of detail, the background art, the time spent on little things like water, or strands of hair. It just puts everything else in the industry to shame. Even MAPPA and Ufotable, both top-tier studios feel like amateurs to what Kyoto Animation shows off here. These are not just animators, but artists at work, and I would have been fooled if you told me this shit wasn’t handcrafted. Like oh my fucking god.

I know this post may seem a bit negative to Violet Evergarden, but I assure you its not. This is a lovingly crafted, strongly written and too often tear-jerking of a show that tells the story of a girl piecing together a life after a war. I have no doubt the accolades and praise it has been thrown on it is a very well deserved, as it should be. However I cannot sit here and call it the greatest thing I’ve ever watched, and I can’t deny it feels at times manufactured to win awards and stir conversation. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, but I am the kind of person who finds enjoyment when an anime achieves greatness by just being itself, and the hidden hand is well…hidden. Still if you are looking for a heartfelt story about emotions, grief, and recovery, then the story of Saber Alter, Violet might just be for you. Give it a shot and see what you think, just make sure to pay for priority mail.

Two reasons why I think Cattleya is the number one doll. Two good reasons.

7 thoughts on “Violet Evergarden: Going Postal

  1. Emotional is the best way to put this series. It’s right up there with Angel Beats and Hanasaku Iroha as flicks that have characters employ brilliant lessons and integrate them throughout their journeys. For me Violet Evergarden succeded in touching various parts of love and immersing the viewer (both musically and plotwise) with everything she experienced, making it as if her feelings and situations were our own too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It accomplished what it sets out to do in regards to its themes of love, absolutely. I really enjoyed how it went into all the different types through the episodic format, very clever.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kyoto Animation’s interpretation of Violet Evergarden is an improvement overall to the original light novels, which had a much larger emphasis on the sorts of things that light novels are known for (heavy analytical fights, exotic weapons and military operations). By stripping this out, Kyoto Animation was able to focus on the more human side of things, which is to Violet Evergarden‘s credit. Tangentially related to you remark about Saber Alter, I’ve still yet to actually start Fate despite my original intention to do so. Life’s a pain like that sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My problem with Violet is that it feels like it has been drawn out too long. The series is a tour de force. The movies? Too many. And they don’t propel the overall story that far. I’m only a third of the way thru the final movie and I’m finding it slow. The series had better pacing.

    It might just be they are aiming for a particular sector of the shoujo/josei market who love shows that wring the emotions out of you. It will do well there. The animation is still brilliant and one really does want to see how it ends, so it is worth watching. I just need a little faster pace for maximum enjoyment.

    Liked by 2 people

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