Violet Evergarden Review: Prepare to Cry.

4 and a half stars
Well, this left me an emotional wreck.
Seriously, I had heard what a tearjerker Kyoto Animation’s Violet Evergarden was but that in no way prepared for the multiple cry inducing episodes.
Directed by Taichi Ishidate, and based off the light novel written by Kana Akatsuki, the anime is set in the complicatedly named, fictional country of Leidenschaftlich, which is dealing with the aftermath of a war.
The story follows the titular Violet Evergarden (Yui Ishikawa, the voice of Mikasa from Attack on Titan), a child soldier who lost both her arms in the war and knows only of orders, and nothing of emotions.
After the death of her commanding officer, the only person she had feelings for, which she does not understand, Violet decides she wants to discover what “I love you” means.
To help learn this, Violet decides to use her mechanical arms to become an Auto Memory Doll, someone who ghostwrites for a person who cannot put their feelings into words.
From here the anime takes an episodic approach as Violet writes for multiple people, resulting in tear inducing episode after tear inducing episode.
Episode ten in particular is an emotional gut punch.

Epiode 10.jpg
You will often find yourself crying alongside the characters in Violet Evergarden.

If you are not crying at the end of that episode, like I was, then I would wonder if you are as emotionally separated as Violet at the beginning of the series.
Speaking of Violet, I have heard some people criticize her for being completely emotionless in the first few episodes, thus, making her unable to relate to.
Personally, I found this be untrue.
While Violet does indeed appear to be lifeless in the first few episodes, with her constant deadpan expression, this ties into her inexperience with feeling emotions and, as she grows throughout the season, you see a change in her.
When you compare how Violet is from the beginning of the season to the end, the difference is like night and day.

violet-emotionless.png
Violet’s journey to discover what “I love you” means takes her from being an emotionless doll to a feeling human being.

Accompanying Violet’s great character arc, through this emotional story, is the fantastic animation.
My jaw dropped on multiple occasions in the first few episodes because of how amazing it all looked.
The animators definitely deserve applause.
There is one aspect of Violet Evergarden that I did find to be problematic, though.
This was the relationship between Violet and her superior officer, Gilbert Bouganvillea (Daisuke Namikawa).
It is revealed in episode five that Violet is only 14 years old, and, concerned by this, I went to check online and, yep, Glibert is 29.

Gilbert.jpg
The fact that Gilbert is 29 while Violet is 14 makes their potential relationship problematic for me.

Now, I know their relationship is not technically illegal because the legal age of consent in Japan is 13 but, for someone who comes from a country where that age is 16, I find their relationship to be slightly creepy.
It was only slightly because the relationship does not feel exploitative but rather just the writers exploring a relationship that is legal in their country.
All in all, the nature of Violet and Gilbert’s connection left me with conflicting feelings because of this.
Again, I understand it is legal but Violet’s age still bothers me, and I wish they would have made her a bit older to clear up this feeling.
However, despite my issues with the main relationship, Violet Evergarden is still a masterful work.
It has a fantastic story, with amazing characters and themes, all supported by gorgeous animation.
This all combines to create a brilliant anime that will make you cry multiple times.
Unfortunately, season two has been delayed due to the tragic Kyoto Animation arson attack but, hopefully, they can bounce back and deliver another great season in memorial for all the lives lost.

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