After nearly nine months of anticipation, Kyoani’s latest anime, Violet Evergarden premiered on Netflix. In case you haven’t streamed it yet, Violet Evergarden follows its titular character after the events of the Great War. Here’s the lowdown:
Violet was a child soldier who knows nothing but how to kill.
That isn’t a joke—she is completely illiterate until Major Gilbert teaches her how to read, write, and speak. After an explosion puts Violet into a coma, she wakes up in a hospital with no arms. Major Gilbert’s friend and confidant, Lieutenant-Colonel Claudia Hodgins, visits and adopts Violet at Gilbert’s request.
Violet quickly gains employment in the sorting room of Hodgins’ business, the CH Postal Company. Only a short time later, she requests to work as an Auto Memory Doll—someone who writes heartfelt letters for others. She believes this will help her understand the final words from Captain Gilbert—“I love you.” But Violet has one major shortcoming—she is extremely emotionally stunted. A rock could give her a run for her money. And that aspect of the show is extraordinarily grating for the first three episodes. I thought that would be the entire story—Violet slowly learning to express herself and get through the grief of losing a loved one. (Luckily, I was wrong.)
The truth is, Violet Evergarden is a one-trick pony, but it’s one hell of a trick.
The show is a series of one-off stories consisting of Violet traveling the countryside to write letters for others. It is through these other peoples’ stories that Violet quickly grasps the impact of what emotions are. Granted, Violet’s journey could wring emotions from the dead. A good chunk of the remaining 10 episodes are absolute soul-crushers—you will find yourself crying… frequently.
But that isn’t all the show is, it’s just likely what I’ll remember it for. The overarching plot somewhat successfully navigates PTSD in soldiers and how one navigates their life in a post-war society.