This Women’s History month celebrate by watching an anime that doesn’t use women as a sexual prop, but rather displays them as complex individuals. Warm your feminist heart by watching a woman be both powerful and feminine at the same time. Be a champion for diversity as you cheer for the strongest person in the show – a disabled, soft-featured girl. Watch Violet Evergarden.
What is Violet Evergarden?
Produced by Netflix, Violet Evergarden is an adaption of an award-winning light novel series (a Japanese novelette). The anime manages to keep all of the book’s charm and elegance, if not enhance it.
Violet Evergarden follows the titular character as she tries to learn to live a normal life. When we are introduced to her, she is a retired soldier trying to find her peace after the heinous reality of war. Having grown up on the battlefield, she is emotionless and distant, like a beautiful doll.
After the five-year-long war is over, she is given a job as an Auto Memories Doll. Essentially, Violet is a pretty girl hired to ink peoples’ thoughts and feelings into letters. A ghost writer of sorts.
As she begins to interact with people outside of her soldier persona, Violet awakens to her humanity and all the pain that comes with it. She chooses to put herself through this pain to connect with other humans and learn the meaning of the phrase, “I love you.”
As you follow Violet Evergarden through her journey of self-discovery, you might discover a little of yourself, too. You’ll question your own emotions and philosophies. You’ll weigh your values. You’ll empathize. You will feel. A LOT. (And maybe shed a tear or two.)
WHAT MAKES VIOLET EVERGARDEN A GREAT ANIME?
Honestly, I don’t typically like romance anime or slice-of-life anime. However, as I stated before, this isn’t your typical story.
Here’s why even I could get into this show:
I’m a sucker for a great mental debate. That’s why one of my favorite superheros is The Question. Any anime that requires me to do mental gymnastics will probably be on my list. Violet Evergarden falls nothing short of that.
While it doesn’t bang you over the head with the questions like Death Parade, each episode deals with a complex human emotion you have to examine.
Some of the questions you will ponder:
What is the right way to deal with anger?
How does depression impact both the depressed and their loved ones?
When is killing another human just? Is it ever just?
What is considered peace? Is war ever truly over?
How can you comfort the grieving?
What is love? Romantic, platonic, and brotherly.
Another large theme of the show is overcoming your past to face your future. We grow but it can be impossible to right all your wrongs from when you were immature. How do you deal with it when your past comes to slap you in the face?
That’s what Violet Evergarden is forced to do after coming face to face with her past. She has to answer to her Major’s brother as well as the soldiers whose comrades she slew on the battlefield.
I love the artistry within the storytelling. Each episode encapsulates Violet’s journey into human emotion in a way that feels very organic. The art itself is pretty good, too. While this show’s art isn’t as detailed and beautiful as say Cowboy Bebop, it still has it’s moments.
First-person narratives of the people Violet Evergarden encounters carry each episode. Watching this show is like having the novel read aloud to you and seeing it animated at the same time. Just wonderful! I feel like I’m five again and my mom is giving me a dramatic reading from a picture book.
That dramatic reading part is honestly what makes the storytelling so great. Speaking specifically for the English dubbed (voiced) version, the actors are superb. I usually avoid English dubbed animes because they tend to be overacted, however, Violet Evergarden’s dub is spot on. I have no critiques on the voice acting. Considering the amount of crying in this show and how hard it is to cry convincingly, that’s saying something.
NON-STEREOTYPICAL, STRONG WOMEN LEADS
And then there are the characters.
Anime tends to suffer from fan service. That is, there are a lot of camera angles and plots designed to sexualize characters (usually women) for the enjoyment of the audience; they don’t actually do anything to drive the plot forward.
In Violet Evergarden, this isn’t the case. There are a lot of contributing characters in this anime but, for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the main women.
Violet Evergarden is missing both of her arms and is still the most skilled person in the show. She is beautiful and smart. She has soft features but is a trained fighter. She is feminine and fierce all at once.
Cattleya Baudelaire is Violet’s coworker and the most popular Doll in their agency. Before being a doll, Cattleya was a show girl who performed for soldiers. Many of those soldiers she came to know died during the war. Cattleya presents a different kind of femininity. While Violet’s appearance is more sweet, hers is sultry. She is also socially smart, which is what makes her great at ghost writing.
Iris Cannary, another coworker, is more strong-willed and outspoken. She conceals her true emotions and acts more hotheaded. Iris has her own reasons she became an Auto Memories Doll which I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil it for you.
As a teaser, here’s the highlights from episode 11, one of my favorite episodes:
IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE ANIME, YOU’LL HAVE TO GET NETFLIX. IT’S A NETFLIX EXCLUSIVE. DEFINITELY WORTH THE FREE TRIAL THOUGH.