Keep that box of tissues close to you. You’ll need it for this anime. At the end of the war, Violet, previously a soldier, becomes an employee of the C.H. Postal Company. There, she joins the department of Auto Memory Dolls who write letters on behalf of clients to convey their feelings. Violet Evergarden invites viewers to observe the growth of Violet as she learns to understand and experience various emotions that she could not comprehend in the past. It is a journey tracing her growth from merely a weapon of war to a true human who empathises with others and learns the meaning of love.
The anime tackles the contradictions of people’s feelings. Letter writing thus plays a role in conveying these hidden feelings. Though the main theme revolves around love and Violet’s quest to understand it, it is largely focused on familial love. Indeed, the greatest tearjerkers in this anime involve the expressing of love, apology and gratitude towards family members, which people usually fail to do. As a friend told me, this is a rare anime that makes viewers shed tears for side characters who have appeared for only fifteen minutes. I agree. Each episode ends with a quote that is heartwarming. My favourite is the one at the end of episode 4, stating “Don’t be a tool. Become someone who matches their name.”
Strangely, episode 9 ends off looking like the last episode, summing up how Violet’s letters have touched the lives of her clients. It would seem like ending the anime then would have been perfect, and that four additional episodes may disrupt the flow. Nevertheless, episode 10 hits us with the ultimate tearjerker. Episodes 11 to 13 flow well, reminding viewers that the war in Violet’s country is still not completely resolved, and highlights Violet’s conflicted feeling as an Auto Memory Doll in the present, but a weapon of war in the past. The last episode ultimately allows Violet to forgive herself and relieve her guilt for not being able to save Major Gilbert.
“An optimal Doll will be able to decipher the person’s true feelings and express it on paper. You were able to express a feeling. Violet, I hope you become an optimal doll.” – Instructor from Auto Memory Dolls’ Training School
The portrayal of Violet’s character development is exceptional. While it initially appeared that Violet was unable to be an optimal Auto Memory Doll due to her incapability to understand others’ emotions, her interactions with the side characters helped to transform her worldview. Gradually, Violet not only transitioned from robotic report writing to humanistic letter writing, but improved the spirits and relations of her clients and those around her. It is moving how Violet no longer becomes alone, especially after the loss of Major Gilbert, who was the only one who ever treated her as a person. She has evolved to being able to empathise with others and make her own judgement instead of mechanically relying on orders.
Kyoto Animation never disappoints, bringing yet another aesthetic masterpiece. The scenery of Violet’s travels is impressive. Overall, the animation adds beauty to the vast field of emotions portrayed in the anime.
The ending song rounds off each episode perfectly. The singer’s singing is so similar to a vocaloid that I originally thought she was one. However, she is human. It serves as a good parallel to how Violet was introduced as an expressionless weapon of war who merely follows orders, almost like a robot herself.
With the combination of a touching character development, the strong emotions evoked and beautiful animation, Violet Evergarden is truly a masterpiece.