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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Silent Voice Review: Thank You, Kyoto Animation.

5 stars
I remember hearing a lot about A Silent Voice when it was released.
The film got a lot of praise as one of the best animated films of 2016 and there was much controversy (entirely warranted in my opinion) that films like the Boss Baby were nominated at the Oscars over it.
However, despite the praise, I never got around to watching it.
In fact, prior to a few days ago I had never watched anything Kyoto Animation had made, as far as I am aware.
This changed when news of the horrific arson attack at their studio, which has currently claimed 35 lives, hit me.
Along with this news, I heard countless statements about what a wonderful studio it was and how it not only put out amazing anime but also provided progressive working conditions for its staff, which is unfortunately a rarity in the anime industry today.
This motivated me to watch A Silent Voice and experience the emotional roller coaster the film is.
And, after seeing it, I can say that I regret not watching the movie when it first came out.
A Silent Voice is an incredibly thoughtful and tear jerking movie that can only be described as an experience.
Directed by Naoko Yamada, and based off the manga by Yoshitoki Ōima, our main character is Shoya Ishida (Miyu Irino), a student riddled with guilt over his relentless bullying of a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya (Saori Hayami) years ago.
Struggling through depression and isolation because of his actions, Ishida sets out to makes amends and pursues a friendship with Nishimiya.
And so the emotional tale unfolds.

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The emerging friendship of Ishida and Nishimiya is heart warming, as Ishida tries his best to make up for what he did, while not believing he deserves forgiveness.

I have to say that choosing Ishida for the main character was a risky move since showing the perspective of a bully could have failed miserably.
Had A Silent Voice gone the cliche route with Ishida simply being misunderstood and acting out because of a bad home life, it would have done so.
Thankfully, Ishida’s actions are portrayed naturally with reasons given for why he treated Nishimiya so horribly.
But, this does not excuse Ishida of what he did and he knows this.
His guilt manifests in such a harmful way that he can no longer look anyone in the eye, ingeniously shown by a blue X over his classmates’ faces.
The journey he goes through to make amends with those he has hurt and to forgive himself is moving.
Along with him, we are also given the struggles of Nishimiya as she deals with her hearing impairment in a world that struggles to understand and often lashes out.
The growing friendship of her and Ishida, and both of them moving towards self acceptance, is the emotional core of the film, resulting in many tear jerking moments.
I am not ashamed to admit I cried at the film’s ending.

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I teared up a lot in the last half hour of A Silent Voice, making it one of the most emotional third acts I have seen in a long time.

However, A Silent Voice is also an anime that deals with harsh material like suicide so it is not for the faint of heart.
Even if you think you will be alright watching it I still suggest preparing the tissues before doing so.
A Silent Voice may be my favourite anime film.
I know I have just seen it but I cannot remember the last time an anime affected me on such an emotional level.
I am just sad that it took the tragedy at Kyoto Animation for me to finally watch it.
I will leave the link to the GoFundMe page for Kyoto Animation down below.
Over two million dollars has already been raised and it would be great to see this number rise.
I hope the money goes to helping the victims and their families, and I hope this is not the end for Kyoto Animation.
I could say a number of things to sum up A Silent Voice and what an emotional experience it is but, after thinking it over, there is really only one thing that needs to be said.
Thank you, Kyoto Animation.

 

To help Kyoto Animation you can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-kyoani-heal