Once again, I went in totally blind with this one. I didn't even know what genre this anime fell under before I started it. The art style that I saw when I pulled the show up on Netflix made me think it was a shoujo romance or something. This was not the case; Violet Evergarden is a melancholic wartime introspective story. And yes, this is a pretty big genre by itself.
Really? Name one other anime in this genre.
Grave of the Fireflies.
Oh, oh fuck me... Is Violet Evergarden that sad?
Violet Evergarden is sad, yes, but NOTHING is Grave of the Fireflies sad. VE will make you tear up a bit while watching it though. It will NOT make you want to kill yourself out of grief, like Grave. It's safe to watch.
Okay, so what's it about then?
VE is about a young girl (who had no name until she was like ten years-old) who is looking for her place in the world, as well as her raison d'etre after the war that she's been fighting in for the last four or five years has ended, and her only link to humanity (her caring commanding officer) supposedly died in the final battle where she lost her arms. This girl (who at the start of the series is around fifteen years-old and has been given the name "Violet") begins to put the shattered pieces of her life back together again as she starts to work for her C.O.'s friend in a new postal service and letter writing business that he founded. Violet, in an effort to discover what love really is, wants to become an Auto Memory Doll (a typist/writer who gathers the feelings of her customers, and converts them into deep and meaningful words).
Wait... She lost her arms?
Both of them, yes. And she lost them quite violently, because pain is life.
And she wants to become a typist? Is this the setup to one of your cruel jokes?
Thanks to the strange, but cool, automail available in this world, it's really no problem for the poor girl. In fact, I love the steampunky bionic arms that Violet is given for being a war hero in this WWI-inspired world.
But anyway, yes, she wants to become a "typist." But because Violet was a cold, unfeeling, killing machine prior to the ending of the war (we're never given any real explanation as to why this young girl was a murdering savant and was sent into battle to take out entire platoons by her lonesome, and I don't care), she kind of sucks at discerning her clients' actual intentions, and instead provides letters that are way too blatant and forceful in their thoughts and desires.
Ugh. So it's a show about "feelings" then?
Yes... As most dramas are. Seriously, were you raised by people who only found weakness in feelings? Where's this bitterness towards basic human emotions coming from?
I was taught that unfeeling robots would soon rule the world, and our only chance of survival was to become as cold as they are.
So Violet continues on her path to understanding what makes humans humans so that she can figure out what the last words her commanding officer said to her meant. This short 13 episode series features powerful tales of Violet learning about love, loss, and loneliness through interacting with others as she also (eventually) becomes the best darn Auto Memory Doll in the world! Because of course she does.
That was perhaps my favorite part of this series: Violet's inability to never give up. It's hinted that she's had terrible conditioning done to her in the military in order to become the ultra-killing-beast that she was during the war, but this is the only good thing that came of her "service": this total drive to never surrender. Yeah, every episode brings about a new character or group of characters for Violet to interact with — like most semi-anthology series like this — but the vastness of these "guest stars" and their differing plights kept shit fresh and kept me interested all the way till the final episode. This finale being very rich and fulfilling, and wrapping things up perfectly.
Rich in emotions and drama though, right?
Once again, YES. This is a drama. That is what good dramas do. And this is a really good drama.
The characters (even the guest stars every week) are all great, the world is vivid and believable, and the tone of this show is pitch perfect. It knows when to toe the line between sweetness and teary-eyes perfectly, and as I said before, it ties everything together thoroughly in the final episode. And it is breathtaking to look at. Not only is the animation superb and fluid, but each character design is extremely detailed, and it must have cost a fortune to draw this thing.
And if that doesn't convince you, let me try this... Violent Evergarden has EVERYTHING you like in it: war, cybernetic enhancements, hot chicks with bulging cleavage, and new adventures every week! See it! SEE IT! SEEEEE IT!
You sold me!
Of course I did.
Ugh.... These Asian drama series are just sooooo melodramatic nowadays. Live action or anime, they're worse than soap operas. Hell, they're worse than MEXICAN soap operas.
"Oh no, I had a rough life and now I don't know how to love!" It's easy, toots, you just get nekkid and let the man do all the work! HEY-OH!
But seriously, how many times have we seen shows with a female lead who has seen some shit and can't get past it in order to open up her heart again. Yeah, this time the main character has been through a literal war and had her arms shot off... That is a dilemma that might actually be worthy of a show about a woman overcoming shit, but I just thought that the idea of this woman overcoming her emotional inadequacies by learning through others' hopes and dreams (through their letters that she's writing for them) was a bit estrogeny for me. 'Cause I'm a man. Testes and all.
Holy shit! And I thought that I went through a lot to save a few peeps! At least I never got my arms blown off! I mean, yeah, I was thumb-tacked to a tree, but that only caused me to miss a weekend. I never lost all my emotions and two out of four limbs. Damn!
Lots of good feels in this thing. Lots of triumph over tragedy and all that hullabaloo. If you have time for a good story and a little love in your heart, I say give it a shot!... oh... Oh dear. I didn't mean that in a punny way, like how Violet got shot... Over and over... And lost her arms... And all those people died........... I'm making it worse, aren't I?