Posted on 22 April 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by SuperMario, Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden’s existence has surely been a public one. Acclaimed before everyone lick a taste of it (it was awarded for grand prize in the fifth Kyoto Animation Award’s novel category in 2014 – read, KyoAni awards), it goes without saying that Violet Evergarden is one of the most anticipated show of the sparse Winter 2018 season. As with my first impression, I left the show feeling a bit torn about it. On one hand, the production is top notch and when the show hits right, it sweeps you right away. On the other hand, I don’t buy much of Violet’s central conflicts and the show has a tendency to go over-soapiness and try to explain too much, which I never fond of. To be fair, Violet Evergarden has never known for its subtlety, its intend is always to pull as many punch as possible. Violet Evergarden, therefore, is at its strongest when it uses Violet as an observer, to put her as a background for characters with their own struggles have to finds ways to overcome. When she stays in the spotlight, however, the amount of predictable development and cheesy moments always overwhelm the show’s own emotions.

Let’s begin our journey with the way KyoAni adapts these Light Novels into anime form. The Light Novels start with Violet as an already established Memory Doll, and makes it ambiguous as to whether Violet is a robot or a human. Throughout many encounters with clients should we learn more about the violent pass of Violet, and her super-soldier self. To put it another way the Light Novels uses her more as a reporter with set personality. In the anime version however, KyoAni decides to shift the focus to the whole character arc of Violet. Make her vulnerable at first, and then build her character gradually. I appreciate the intention (in fact about half of their episodes are original material. Impressive), since anime medium works different than written form so it’s always a wise move to modify the content, so it’d fit with the visual medium; BUT I’m not sure if these changes improve the narrative. The thing is, Violet as a central narrative is a boring lead and she’s utterly unrelatable. She doesn’t possess any personality traits and repetitive responses get pale really, really fast.

But to build Violet the character from ground zero also means that when she changes, the changes will be massive. Violet is suppose to be a robot, at least in terms of narrative sense. Everyone regards her as a killing machine, she sees herself as someone’s royal dog, the show visualizes her as a bleeding doll, and the novel purposely frames her as a robot, anything but a human. It’s also the show’s narrative that Violet needs to learn these emotions in order to truly become a full-fledged human. There are some neat ideas behind it, namely the way she realizes the bad deeds she has done in the past. When she doesn’t realize, it’s okay to live on, but when she does, the fact that she ends many people’s lives comes back to hurt her. Relying on someone else to live (in this case, Gilbert), is as sad and unbalanced as it might get, and her own arc has to do with her coming to terms with the fact that Gilbert is no longer there for her and raise independent on her own. It comes to episode 8 and 9 which feature one huge flashback to the day Gilbert died and Violet experiencing her grieving process. While I personally feel this flashback a huge waste of time given we don’t learn anything new, it feels like a complete arc for Violet. That is the reason why the real climax in the end doesn’t do much to me since we already see her arc done in previous episodes.

Violet Evergarden’s best parts are the standalone episodes where Violet doing her jobs – reciting or writing letters for their clients. At heart, these letters represent the desire to connect between people, they represent all those raw feelings that can’t be said out loud, and Violet is in middle of its own trying to translate those feelings into written words, and learn about emotions in the process. All these little stories, from a playwright making a new children-play, to the sick mother write future letters for her daughter, to write love letters from the heirs of two nations, each of them adds more layer to the concept of ghostwriting and her job of connecting the hearts of people together and most of them give a satisfying emotion to their story. The best episodes amongst them are episode 10 (sick mother and her daughter) and episode 7 (playwright).

The production by and large is impressive with detailed character designs (it’s one rare production where all the background characters are fully portraited with their own costumes and figures), consistent animation and striking background designs. Each story where Violet performs her jobs has different kind of settings, and Violet Evergarden really gives it their own on breathing life to those places. The lighting, however, doesn’t give the show a justice here. All interior scenes feel too dark, for one thing, and the way Violet Evergarden uses their focus lenses which make the centre of focus detailed and the rest blurred) hurts the show more than support it. It’s one of the case where I consider they over-playing with post-production. Such a shame since it feels like they don’t have enough confidence to their raw production.

As for characters, it pains me to say that the supporting cast doesn’t reach their full potential either. There are many anime original characters, and most of them have their own episodes to shine. But Hodgins and Cattleya are surprisingly underdeveloped despite appear almost in all episodes. Gilbert is just a vessel for Violet’s personal growth and the appearance of Dietfried in the end doesn’t leave much impact either. There is a hint of the aftermath of postwar era, which I somewhat enjoy but I don’t feel that it reaches its full potential. And all the drama is over-blown, which kind of bang me hard in the head.

All in all, Violet Evergarden is a roller coaster of emotions, in more ways than one. It either sweeps you away with its grandeur approach, or it doesn’t (like myself). The central development is a conventional and predictable one, and the show’s best moments are the ones where they move away from Violet as the central conflict. Despite my grumpy it’s still a solid made and worth watching at least one, if only for the beautiful CG-animated mechanical hands of Violet.

Posted on 1 April 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden finally reaches its finale arc, and unsurprisingly, the Peace-opposition rebel and Gilbert’s brother Diethard come into play. In an essence, Violet is fighting two wars: the war against the bad guys who want disrupt the peace, and a war against Diethard to recognise her as something more than a war tool, as a human being. Not to say this episode totally won me over, but I can say at least I am invested enough to see how it all turns out. It’s inevitable to put Diethard as the main obstacle for our Violet here, as he has always seen Violet as a killing machine, and that conflict now is peppered with the pain that his brother died while she’s still alive. Diethard repeatedly regards her as “a tool”, and further despises her for her Doll job. He blames Violet for the loss of his brother, but we can see a lot more of emotions in him going on beneath the ground. Through the course of the mission, however, he can see that Violet has changed in a lot of ways. She’s more expressive, and now she refuses to kill anyone anymore. That is when the show lost me a little. Violet is basically going through Rurouni Kenshin’s arc now, and that makes sense. But the reason she gives, the reason why she doesn’t take orders from Diethard anymore, is because it’s an order from Gilbert entails that she had to live. WHAT? So all her development from previous episodes come down to this conclusion? That she still rely to some dead man’s words to live? Yare Yare

Putting that aside, I have a slight concerns with how Violet Evergarden portraits the Anti-Peace army. Most of them turn out just as ruthless, pathetic soldiers who can’t get on with the Peace because they stay too long at war. The bad guy from the last episode returns, and guess what, he’s even more merciless. It’s such a clear cut between good and bad that it leaves the ambiguity out the window. Nevertheless, the fights at the end really got me. For once, Violet decides not to kill any enemy, and it’s clear that it does her more harm than good. In a battlefield, basically everyone is an enemy and if she doesn’t kill them, they will all come fighting back at her. The way Diethard saves her was good because at a glimpse I almost think that it was Gilbert who saved her (thank God it’s not the case), and finally the closing shot where Violet saves him by her robotic hands really hit its powerful notes. It takes the mechanical hands to remind Diethard that Violet has grown into a fully-formed human. It takes the hands that write letters and save people in its own ways to save him. It’s certainly one of Violet Evergarden’s best moments.

Certainly not a bad way to start off the final arc, now that the anti-Peace soldiers are gone, the stakes might raise higher with the peace treaty (that might need someone’s letter here), together with Diethard and Violet’s own fights. She has done a tremendous development throughout the series, so it’s now the time for everyone to fully acknowledge it.

Posted on 24 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

It’s time for our doll Violet confronts the past with the present: accepting the job in the midst of the war zone. Seeing the war caught up to her while she begins to move on could serve as an interesting character study case, but in truth this episode runs much more straight-forward than that. She accepts the job (against the company’s decision) to meet the guy who happened to be named AIDAN whose whole unit, including himself, was ambushed right before Violet arrives. Violet Evergarden makes damn sure to tug your heartstring, I tell ya, and one of the easiest and most effective way is to make the characters likable and then kill them off. The only problem is, we don’t spend that much time to know this Aidan guy so it’s hard for me to feel for him on a personal level. To make a matter slightly worse, the whole time this guy was thinking about Maria, his childhood-turn-lover back home, but then when it comes to the time of writing letters, the show pulls stuff out of its ass and include his parents, whom we never have any proper introduction before. At first, the way he addresses it, I assumed that the parents are deceased but in the end, they have the same amount of screen presence as Maria, which for me is a bit weird on how Violet Evergarden decides to focus his feeling on only Maria beforehand.

At least Aidan experienced the true terror of war before he himself becomes a dead meat. Staying in busiest war zone, his team got ambushed and being killed one by one. Suddenly, Violet descends from the sky to save the day, defeating the whole enemy team without much sweat. If you have a feeling that Violet is playing a superhero type, let me inform you that the Light Novel does it in a way flashier fashion. In the book, she kills the enemies, writes the letter in the middle of the burning forest, and carries Aidan while killing the army units that surround them. This anime version tones down a lot of over-the-top set-piece, including the bits where Violet faces the enemies unarmed and manages not to kill any of them, and I’d argue it’s for the better. Having her transcript what he says in the abandoned shed at night, air-type his words work much quieter and more effective than if they go all out. The way the letters are formed, in a bit of stream of consciousness way where Aidan slowly slips away and where his memories blurs in with the present help transfer the emotional weight successfully. Aidan is also the first person to comment positively to Violet’s mechanic hands and asks for her hands in his final moments for a… ahem… human warmth. I believe the message here is that Violet has transformed from in robot in human body into a full-fledge human with emotions, and even now her mechanical hands have the warmness of human heat.

Violet Evergarden again makes a good use of it post-war backdrop. This week they delve on the anti-peace faction, which was first introduced on episode 8. I have a feeling they are going to be more prominent in later episodes, but for now I don’t like the way the show handles those characters. They’re one-dimensional as best and the only thing we learn from them is how ruthless they are. Maybe the existence of Violet the super-soldier mode was there for a reason: to kill those war-loving un-remorse bastards. But in here, we can see how far Violet has transformed. She’s not a soldier anymore (but these skills certainly help), she’s a Doll who would go ANYWHERE to meet the clients; and would do her upmost to write letter and deliver them. The last scene where she delivers the letters to Aidan’s parents and Maria, she meets with grief. She feels vulnerable because she can’t save life (she used to only taking lives), but as she learns from the thankfulness of the receivers, she has done enough. Without her, there will be no message and Aidan’s sentiments towards the ones he loves will be lost forever. Another job well done for Violet, and the show itself.

Posted on 18 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

It’s a neat (and cruel) trick Violet Evergarden pulled this week. I always have a soft spot for mature undertone story from a point of view of kids (that’s why I am always fond of To Kill a Mockingbird, for instance) so this story is right within my wheelhouse. Violet Evergarden’s melodrama approach can be a hit or miss but when it hits, it sweeps you away. This episode is one glaring example of melodrama that done right and it’s up there along with “the play” episode as one of my favorite chapter of the series so far. I must say though, bedridden character, KyoAni is in its comfort zone here. From Anne’s perspective, the appearance of Violet is nothing but bad news. Anne feels that our titular doll stole away her mother – all the amount of time that should have spent with her instead. What Violet Evergarden done right, however, is that this feeling never drives her narrative. She’s still a kid and she wants someone, especially her mother, to play with. Despite considering Violet “a bad news”, she grows on Violet and spends a great deal playing with Violet. I consider her one of my favorite character out of this series.

Ann’s furious comes from an understandable ground. She knows that her Mother will leave her someday and she wants to spend little time they have left to be together. Who cares about these letters anyway but it frustrates her that not only her mother sacrifices the time with her, she sacrifices her heath to do so. Violet assures her that writing those letters is for greater cause, but frankly, it sounds like an excuse since she refuses to tell the kid the content of the letters. Violet’s job, as it turns out, is to ghost-write letters for “someone faraway”, and as we learn later on, for Anne for the next 50 years on her birthdays. Those letters serve as the messages for Anne to carry on with life, but more specially, for her to know that loved one won’t never truly leave you away, that they will always by your side, spiritually. That is such a heart-warming message.

The visual motif is another winning factor of this episode. I like the repetitive nature displayed in many scenes, from Anne repeatedly calls out Violet name, to her mother says her name and to Anne stays in the middle of the field and she sits on the chair reading the letters as time passes. The match cuts of several background in different time frames also serve the same purpose to show the passage of time and it speaks very well to the unrequired love and loss and growing up. As Anne continues to grow up, meet a boy and have kid, those letters are still there, the place is still there and the feeling from her Mom is still apparent there. I am also affected by fact the that while Anne is someone special to her Mom and to Violet, she grows up to be a perfectly normal girl with a normal life. A girl that you might pass on the street or someone you always say hi to.

After her own arc for the last two episodes, I’m glad to see that the focus this week isn’t about Violet, yet we can still see how much she has grown since the beginning. Violet cries, and better yet, she shows empathy. Maybe what it takes is the smile of a young kid to crack this tough nut, but I don’t lie when I say I prefer this version of Violet than the robotic Violet or the moping Violet. At least now she feels like an actual human. I have been quite harsh about the show, but this episode marks a nice transition to it.

Posted on 11 March 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

If I haven’t known beforehand that Violet Evergarden has 14 episodes, I would easily assume that this is the conclusion of Violet Evergarden. And in some ways, there is a strong sense of closure in this latest episode. This last two episodes have their full attention to the core development of Violet, that includes an extended flashback that makes it way too clear about Violet’s time with Gilbert, and Violet moping around in the present. I’ll be franxx that I’m not a fan at all with this extended flashback, in fact I consider it amongst the worst episode we’ve seen so far in Violet Evergarden. Its faults aren’t in the details. These sequences are carefully constructed, and the visual presentation is always at the better side, but these flashbacks add extremely little new things to the table that we haven’t known before. We already knew that Violet is a war tool, a killing machine many times before and the army beside Gilbert treat her like a tool, so is it necessary to have a random captain repeat that same point to Gilbert? We already knew Violet received the brooch as a present from Gilbert and it was the only object that remind her of him, so why repeating this whole festival night again? We already knew the event led to Gilbert’s death so I feel rather repetitive and dull to see the night unfold again. “Dull” because I don’t know how I should feel when the bullet gone through his eye in that Hollywood-tearjerking-inspired moments (It’s a lie. I laughed). The only new detail I learn is Violet indeed lives in Gilbert’s house, but then again it adds so little to what we already know. It pains me to say this but I consider the whole flashback a huge waste of time.

Episode 9, appropriately titled “Violet Evergarden”, fares better because we see Violet in a present day. At first, she’s in the state of denial, refusing to believe that Gilbert is gone for good (well, there is 10% probability that he still makes it alive, in which case I swear I’ll drop this show for good). And then she realizes she’s metaphorically burning. It’s important because she was merely a robot in human form before, and like robots she had no guilty conscience towards the people she kills. Becoming a full-fledge human is to feel remorse towards her sins. But like Hodgins puts it, Violet needs to learn about her dark past not because she needs to know what is wrong or right, but to embrace her scars as part of herself and keeps on living.

Apart from realizing the deeds of her dark past, her other issue has always been Gilbert himself. She’s over-reliant to her boss to the point of totally dependable to him, emotionally. Imagine what would Violet do if she learns Gilbert’s death right after she wakes up? I bet she’d lose it. She’d kill herself for good since her life before had only one purpose: to follow Gilbert’s orders. She does try to strangle herself in a state of desperation and does lock herself up for few days even after becoming a Doll. While I was rather cranky with the flashback, the sequence where she learns to get over it, for me, redeems the show greatly with many nice, warm moments that rely more on visual-storytelling than saying it out loud.

And Violet Evergarden knows how to pull an effective resolution to Violet’s conflict. Let’s take first, the letter from Erica and Iris to Violet. The first letter she has ever received. Suitable to the spirits of the show, that letter transfers those feelings that cannot express by words to Violet. In addition, Violet learns about the importance of letter – the meaning behind deliver those letters to its destinations, not unlike bringing pigeons back to their homes. And moreover, she receives a request from her friends, the people she has influenced for the better, and the people still care about her and think fond of her. Violet’s presence is there, she learns about the love for writing letters that bring people together, and the people that through her assistance, becomes more willing to embrace life. It’s now her turn to take that step.

Posted on 24 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

It’s a full-blown soap opera in this week’s Violet Evergarden, in more ways than one. On one side of the coin, we have a playwriting and a process of bringing a children story to life, the story that tied very well to his feeling towards his deceased daughter. On the other side of the coin, this week marks a clear improvement for Violet’s emotional growth and put a catalyst into her personal arc. It’s the goddamn time that Violet need to learn about the death of Gilbert, but then why make him only disappearing huh? Learning and accepting the death of her love and moving on will be Violet’s own personal growth from this point on. One thing we did learn from Hodgins is that it’s Gilbert who pushed her away before the bomb exploded and saved her life. Violet Evergarden often deals with loss, and more specifically, the loss relationship between parent and their child. For once I believe that theme is appropriate within the settings of Violet Evergarden, the post-war era where there is a clear gap between young and older generation; the settings where the consequences of war still somewhat linger around, like in the form of the robotic Auto Memory with mechanical hands.

This episode is an adaptation from the very first chapter of the light novel, but if you catch on KyoAni’s pattern by now, yeah, they alter a lot from the original story. The playwright, for example, is completely original and it’s one of my favorite part of this episode. Maybe it’s just me who like children’s story but I like what we heard about their story so far: a girl who fight monsters, befriend with all kind of friendly spirits and she must get home because her Dad is waiting at home. Well, what makes this story resonates lies in how well it connects to Oscar’s own story. He’s not alright to begin with, he’s now in a pitiful state, drunken and messy. The play is obviously inspired and modelled after his lost daughter, and he determines to write a story to finish her one-day wish that he’s always longing for. In one of the show’s most beautiful moment, Violets cross the lake by jumping and hopping from fallen leaves on the lake. Oscar’s story is compelling in its own right, but this climax further elevates the drama and strengthen the emotions in the best possible way.

Violet is surprisingly active and expressive throughout this untitled episode. Not only she cares for the play she transcript (She actively asks how the story will go. The old Violet wouldn’t even care to bother), she expresses empathy towards the main character of the play. Empathy plays another big role in Violet Evergarden, as the whole premise is about learning other people’s feeling through the power of writing. It also struck me how the plays from Oscar personally parallel Violet. The play at the beginning ends with “I must live with my sin now for the rest of my life”, and Violet experiences exactly that. She has grown to realize the bad seed from her time at war, killing off countless people, ending countless “one day” dreams. She comes to feel the pain of her own action, and plus to the fact that now she realizes Gilbert is as good as death, it further pushes her into some sort of despair. That isn’t bad by any means, given at least she has a strong feeling towards something. This episode is a clear step up from last week and for me easily the strongest episode to date, coupled by strong visual presentation and a neat story, even it still feels heavy-handed at times.

Posted on 17 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

This episode of Violet Evergarden, Violet learns the feeling of loneliness, AND I find myself largely indifferent to it. Not a bad episode by all mean but when the show makes same old beats and adds little thing to the table, it doesn’t leave much lasting impact. Let’s get to the positives first, I really enjoy this new setting Justilia Province, a mountainous place with cable cars, dome and star observatory. This episode also marks the first time that Violet doesn’t ghost-write other people’s feeling, in fact she transcripts whatever materials the guy she assigned with recites. No doubt that Violet is the perfect person to pull this job off, as writing at the speed of sound is always her speciality. This week is in fact, the story of her partner, Leon, as he able to move forward with the help of Violet. I’m not that keen of his story to be honest. While his backstory about his Mom abandoned him has its merits, the way Violet Evergarden brute-forces those details to our ears in the form of these boys in the library is just…bad storytelling. It was obvious and dull to the point of dragging his backstory down. Remember Violet Evergarden, viewers don’t like to be spoonfed because it’s just an indication that you don’t trust us enough. Jeez

As for the story, Leon has always felt awkward towards girls in general and the Dolls in particular, mostly because of his issues with his own Mother and his current status within the Manuscript Department. His way of view changes the moment he meets Violet though, since Violet is neither your regular Doll, nor your regular girl. Despite his low-esteemed, she sees him as an equal, and remarks that they are similar in many ways. Our young Leon opens his heart for once and invites her to watch the Ally Comet, which appears only one every 200 years. And from the moments they watch the comet together he decides to travel the world to learn new things and hopes to see Violet again, if ever. The development is frankly, conventional and predictable but I have to note that this is the first time someone has a bit of romantic feeling towards our Violet.

As for Violet, her range of emotion has varied gradually from when we first met her and this episode is the first time she blends in well with the rest of group. Her expression becomes more natural and she can clearly express many things that she’d have troubled addressing before, mostly when it comes to her feeling with Gilbert. She claims that she only knows loneliness on the conceptual level, but by Leon’s observation she indeed feels lonely. Despite my lukewarm feeling overt his episode, I still think Violet Evergarden goes in the right direction: episodic nature about people who affects by Violet’s letters with the steady development of Violet as its cornerstone. Step by step, Violet grows right before our eyes.

Posted on 9 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

That’s more like it Violet Evergarden. With this episode I have the feeling the shows find its right footing. Violet Evergrden works best when it weaves the emotion of human relationship into its larger-than-life narrative. Everything feels grandeur and it’s the right kind of grandeur. Take this episode, we have the Princess and her Prince Charming, we have the marriage to bind the two nations together, we have the “love at first sight” story that could rival Romeo and Juliet, and we have the whole nation expecting their exchanged love letters because… eh… “The King’s Speech is for all to hear”, I suppose? It’s structured exactly like a fairytale love story if we ever have one. In all honesty a royal wedding is indeed a grand event so I enjoyed throughout how the two lovebirds eventually come together.

Narrative-wise, there are two improvements from this week’s episodes including 1) the necessary time-skip and 2) Violet Evergarden goes extra details to the settings, which is a welcome sign. The time-skip allows Violet to be a full-fledged doll who write beautiful and skilful love letters (Can you believe that? I still don’t) and I’ll be honest to say she’s better this way. Violet is plain as a character and she has a predictable and not-that-good character arc so the more she stays out of the show’s focus, the better. This episode uses her just about right. Always lurking in the background supporting the love nest, but at the same time gives some crucial actions that positively advance the plot AND underline how much she has matured. Secondly, while the war itself and the post-War life have been mentioned several times before, this is the first time we see other countries, along with their politics and their own cultures. This country Drossel (or to be more exact, the royal palace-part of it), for example, is glorious with flowers and rich backgrounds and the visual is certainly the best looking one so far. This is the direction I want to see more of.

The story of this week centres around princess Charlotte of Drossel, who apparently is arranged into marriage the Prince of Flugel, whom she met only once before. Violet is there to write love letters to sway the heart of the Prince. Plain and simple. The more these letters exchange, the more we see the story goes beyond that. I like the fact that it’s Charlotte who pushes forward on picking the suitor that she loved – the one who consoles her under the moon when she got all frustrated. She’s not the character who waited to be pick up by some random Prince, thank God for that. The letters at first are written beautifully and the reception seems favourable, but there’s a lack of sincere in the letters. It’s Violet’s job to write letters that bring the heart of the sender to the receiver, but sometimes too much big words, flashy writing that make one feel taken aback. Charlotte can’t tell if those feelings written in the letters are genuine anymore and the letters that Violet write aren’t really her letters anymore. Violet’s resolve – making the Prince and Princess write their own letters – really hit it home because how clumsy but honest those exchanges feel. It certainly is feel-good fairytale romance but when its heart is on the right place I don’t have much complaint.

I start to see the patterns from the show regarding developing the main girl-of-the-week. Usually there is a main arc, the one the girl is currently dealing with (this week it’s Charlotte’ relationship with the Prince) and there is a sub-character arc that shed some more light about her character. This subplot for this week is her bond with her maid Alberta, the one who raised her since she was born and her fear of moving into the new place, leave behind her previous life. While it has some merits, this plot thread still leaves a lot to be desired. But I have little else to grumble, except for a subplot which attempt to boost Violet’s personal journey about Gilbert’s brother who accuses Violet for being a killing machine, in which you already know how much I give a damn for. It has been a rather long way, but I can finally regard Violet Evergarden as a heavyweight title of this Winter season.

Posted on 2 February 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

Slowly and gradually, Violet Evergarden keeps getting more powerful. This episode’s main success has to be the fact that it gives a proper emotional story to the characters around Violet. Iris takes the main stage this week with her first request, which “coincidently” comes from her hometown and our Violet joins in as a typer for this request. Violet is still annoying as hell but at least now she has a self-awareness of not be able to read the full context. It might not be the most subtle approach but at least now I feel like we aren’t following a robot talking and writing letter. I’m not 100% sure on this but based on the fact that Iris is an anime original character, there’s a high chance that this episode is third original anime material in a row, makes me wonder when and in what ways KyoAni approaches the light novels’ materials.

Not that I have any issue with this original-anime episode. Violet Evergarden the anime makes it quite clear that this is not necessary story about Violet but more of the stories about her clients that eventually develop our main robotic girl; and they will pretty much follow the same formula of the past 4 weeks. Meaning we still have to endure the amazement of the clients whenever Violet takes her gloves off (I am getting sick of it) or her Auto Memory Doll bow (which is breathtaking), but when the clients are much more well-grounded than this Doll, I’m happy to be on boat. Majority of us has been gushing about the show’s impressive visual and complaining about Violet’s Evergarden’s lackluster script, so I want to take this opportunity to address another strength of the show that not too many viewers noticed: the audio. I’m not the biggest fan of the score, but the sound mixing has been spectacular so far. Take Violet’s bowing for example, the sound of her moving steps, of her clothes blowing in the wind make her action feel grandiose. Or the sound of the typing last week makes up the right tone and atmosphere for this show.

While last week was an examination about the inability to communicate what they want to say from Luculia to her brother, this week it’s all about “lying”, as in people use excuse and reasons to conceal what they feel and think inside. Take Iris’s parents for example, using a pseudonym to lure Iris back for her birthday party, which is a disguise for choosing a future son-in-law. Or even Iris, who lies about being popular at her job and who gets real angry like a teen girl when her crush joins the party. It is because she had a feeling for him, then being rejected that she doesn’t want to meet the guy. Another contradiction that make human such a fragile and illogical feature. The letters written by Violet this week are a marked improvement from last week’s simple-but-to-the-point letter, and demonstrate that she has gained a better grasp of at least empathy with the feeling of her friend. And wouldn’t you know? Not only the share a history with “I love you” statement, their names also come from flowers’ name, which handily gives Violet another character development thread: finding out the true meaning of her name given by HER MAJOR, subtlety be damn.

Posted on 26 January 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Violet Evergarden

Well, we have another original anime-material this week and I consider this episode slightly stronger than last week, although its main shortcomings still remain. The biggest improvement in terms of narrative, is how Violet Evergarden shifts their perspective to another secondary character. I still have issues with Violet the character, so it’s a nice change (and more bearable) to see her issues through someone else’s lenses. This week, our Violet attends the Auto Memories Doll class and we have a pretty much Violet’s routine here: her salute, her precise at receiving orders and her mechanical arms. And like all of us could have predicted, she excels on typing and grammar, but totally fail on transferring emotions to the letter. Only three episodes in and I’m already tired with all those same beats. It doesn’t even make sense to me how Violet ghost-writes Luculia in such a dry report-like, given her personality she could just write exactly what the girl says. The thing is, Violet not only has difficulty of expressing her own, or other’s emotions, she has a hard time understanding the feeling others have. She hardly expresses any emotions at all except when it comes to Major whathisname. As a result, her letter in the end, and her graduation because of it, don’t feel earned to me. They feel too quick, too compressed for such a change from Violet.

Thankfully, aside from our little Violeta’s development, we also have the story of Luculia and her own struggles with her brother. In a way an indirect victim of the war (the War settings are put into good use here), her brother is tormented for the dead of their parents, whom he feels that he failed to protect. That lead to his own destruction: drinking, fighting, being useless. Luculia feels unable to communicate with him, as all the raw emotions are botched up inside that it becomes impossible to be normal again. Communication, or to be more precise, the ability to communicate, is by far and large the central theme of Violet Evergarden and Luculia story succeed of deepen that theme with some emotional affecting moment and the strong visual flair that brings out the emotions just by the way they tone down the melodramatic moments. Most of my complaints about the show so far come from its script, namely its obvious and predictable narrative beat and its boring titular character. In fact, Luculia herself sometimes feels like a vehicle to unlock Violet’s emotion, thus she doesn’t really flesh out as a true character. We never know her own reason for becoming a Doll, for example, or why she becomes invested to Violet – the driest girl on Earth. Even the Auto Memories Doll workshop itself seems too rushed for its own good.

It’s the masterful visual storytelling so far that raised the bar to this material. The settings are beautiful and gorgeous. When Violet and Luculia get into the top of the tower and see the city from up high, the city looks attractive and impressive, yet somehow bring the strong feeling to the forefront. The visual focuses more on the character’s little gestures and their eyes than any big emotional overacting, which for me fare much better in terms of emotional impact. The first “letter” that Violet is decidedly simple; but express all the feeling that Luculia want to transfer across to her brother. I suspect this is the format we will get as the show moves on from its prelude phase, Violet encounters different people with different stories, and ghost-write and learn about their emotions in the process. I’m fine with that, as long as the show doesn’t get repetitive and gives a reasonable development to Violet to get her out of this robot shell.

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