Even before I got the chance to see the first episode in October at MCM London, there was already so much hype around this stunning anime and so much controversy at Netflix for owning it. Original fans of the light novel rejoiced to see this amazing story come to life with Kyoto Animations beautiful vision. Now the first episode has finally aired…and everyone is losing their fucking minds and all for the wrong reasons. It’s the pilot episode…
So what is “Violet Evergarden” about? Waking up in hospital months after a war which Violet (Also known as ‘The Weapon”) has spent the better part of her childhood fighting, has finally ended. Off the bat you would assume then the Anime would be about a soldier struggling to fit in with civilian life? Well yes, but in typical Kyoto fashion its not what you think. Violet instead finds herself haunted not by horrors of war, but by the last words of someone she held dear, words which she can’t understand. Its this moment the first episode builds up to from the very beginning. The Anime is very much a coming of age story, focused on a girl who doesn’t know how to live as shown by her words when she can no longer go back to military life; “If I’m no longer of use, throw me away”. Now, this is of course something that has been done before, and anyone who hates what is essentially Slice of Life will most likely be disappointed as Violet’s Journey of self discovery takes her from “Weapon” to a person.
However, Violet’s Journey hasn’t even begun yet, as I mentioned in the intro…it’s the pilot episode and it’s 25 minutes long. Not enough happens to allow Violet to change, we simply learn about who is now…a broken tool trying to get used to her situation. Yet even in this I could find small moments which show great character. In the last moments of the war, Violet lost both her arms of which are now replaced by synthetic ones and understandably she has lost the ability to feel with them. When confronted with a choice of choosing a stuffed animal by her new guardian, retired Lt. Col Claudia Hodgins, she cuddles and chews on the toy to understand what it feels like. The rest of the episode is mostly her struggling to civilian life as she salutes anyone she meets, filling her time with routine tasks, trying to cope with what she’s lost…
Most of the episode is filled with flashbacks of her last moments with Major Gilbert in gruesome and heart-breaking manner. We know already that despite her disciplined routine manner, she certainly has feelings beyond those fight. At the beginning of the episode, she ponders over the feeling she gets from looking at an emerald broche as it reminds her of Major Gilbert…but she doesn’t understand the feeling. Throughout the episode, she really only shows emotion whenever she is reminiscent of the Major. The next time she feels it is when she is reminded of her last moments with him…and so her Journey begins as an Auto Memories Doll, delivering the thoughts and feelings of others whilst trying to understand her own. It may be a trope, but there so much potential with Violet Evergarden.
There is so much I already want to see develop down the line. If Kyoto Animation is known for anything beyond it’s visuals, its for turning a simple trope into a well fledged and enduring story and interesting characters as shown with Hibike! Euphonium and A Silent Voice. I’m really interested in finding out more about Hodgins, his motives for wanting to look after Violet are made clear as a chance for redemption, but he certainly seems like there is more to him with his military history. One seen in particular shows him observing Violet in a very disturbing manner, what he witnessed exactly her do is not yet known. The flashbacks were used well and seems as its going to be occurring throughout the series to show characters past which already seems emotionally heavy, and the score perfectly captivates every single moment of it. Some were disappointed “Violet Snow” wasn’t played in the first episode, but I’m glad they didn’t as there is bound to be a moment where they will. The use of orchestral violin, piano and even a typewriter to capture emotions really shows the thought that goes into building this character and this world.
Lets get this out the way, Kyoto cannot be understated when it comes to the quality of its Animation. This doesn’t just mean that the Anime looks good, it looks spectacular but that’s not what makes it great. Whats great, is the attention to detail that goes in every scene, object, stance and colour. Violet Evergarden is was described in so much detail in the Light Novel, not only did they nail her look perfectly but it really brings her character to life. You can tell clearly what she’s feeling and what kind of person she is. It’s not just vibrant, everything in the animation tells a story of it’s own, just look out how Violet carries herself, or the acorns she keeps in her bag (even reminded me of one scene in Saving Private Ryan), or the flower in her tea.
Listen I may not of covered everything that lovers of the show will want me to, or shown too much love for the show myself for those saying it’s overhyped. I would be lying if I said I didn’t think the show has too much praise already as it was already the most sought after show for 2018…but if every anime that came out this year is as good as Violet Evergarden is looking to be, them it’s gonna be a damn good year for anime. This wasn’t meant to be an analysis of the first episode, nor an actual review really, its just my thoughts on how I felt watching it and that people really should just ignore everyone else (yes even me) and watch it for yourself. Personally, I loved the first episode, and I cant wait to see where Violet Evergarden will go from here on.
Since Netflix hasn’t released any OST as of yet, the best piece I can find on this episode came from this talented Prince of Anime. It honestly captures the moods of the first episode perfectly.