Violet Evergarden (2018)

Directed By: Taichi Ishidate; Haruka Fujita

Written By: Kana Akatsuki

Voice cast: Violet Evergarden – Yui Ishikawa; Gilbert Bougainvillea – Daisuke Namikawa; Claudia Hodgins – Takehito Koyasu; Cattleya Baudelaire – Aya Endo; Benedict Blue – Koki Uchiyama; Erica Brown – Minori Chihara; Iris Cannary – Haruka Tomatsu; Dietfried Bougainvillea – Hidenobu Kiuchi; Luculia Marlborough – Azuka Tadokoro; Leon Stephanotis – Yuto Uemura

Language: Japanese                                                      

Genre: Coming of Age; Fantasy; War

Number of Episodes: 13 + Special

Run Time: 24 minutes each

Violet Evergarden begins where the war that ravaged the continent ends. Set in an alternate steampunk world with kingdoms that was torn apart by a four-year war. The war has ended but not without leaving its scars on the people. Not the least of which is Violet (Yui Ishikawa) herself. She lost her arms in the final decisive battle between Leidenshaftlich and the Gardarik Empire. A battle she witnessed at close quarters as the Leidenshaftlich soldier maiden or as she was considered, a weapon.

Post the war, she suffers from PTSD but doesn’t know it; purely because no one has treated her like a person. The one person who did, her superior officer Gilbert Bougainvillea (Daisuke Namikawa), is nowhere to be found and no one tells her where he is. His friend Claudia Hodgins (Takehito Koyasu), a former Lt. Colonel in the army who started a postal company decides to help her gets settled in because Gilbert asked him to look out for her. Especially if he did not return after the war. 

She decides to work for his company as an Auto Memory Doll – a female scribe who write letters on behalf of other people. Her reason to become one has to do with the fact that she wants to be able to understand people’s emotions. She feels if she does this, she may understand why Gilbert told her, “I Love You” – words she finds hard to comprehend.

A child soldier and an orphan, raised on the battlefield and growing up under violent circumstances that are barely hinted at but obvious in how she seems emotionless like the doll she looks like and is referred to due to her occupation.

Growing up as feral child and branded a weapon by Dietfried Bougainvillea (Hidenobu Kiuchi) who hands her over to his younger brother Gilbert as a ‘present’ – a tool to use during the war. Startled at the child he beheld, he decides to teach her to read and write, treating her as a person even though no one else does.

Her inability to perceive emotions comes in the way of her relationships with people as well as her letter writing but her guileless responses and innocently worded thoughts have a piercing clarity to them. Each letter writing experience helps the people involved tap into memories that they have not acknowledged to themselves and they also teach Violet how to understand her own emotions.

Since it is set right after the war, many of the letters have to do with coping with grief; grief of loss, grief of surviving, grief of being unable to communicate and the grief of not knowing whether you could survive. Much of the story is then about rebuilding; not just physically as a land but as a people.

With Luculia Marlborough (Azuka Tadokoro), Violet learns to write letters that while succinct touch the heart of the matter. With Leon Stephanotis (Yuto Uemura), she learns that recording words of the scholars past can preserve knowledge for time to come. Of course, not all the learning is from Violet’s side. Dietfried, who dislikes Violet for many reasons, not the least of which has to do with his brother’s disappearance, comes to understand the value of kindness.

A story about reclaiming, restoring and healing; Violet Evergarden restores letter-writing, heartfelt communication, the joy of the written word and love.