Recap | Violet Evergarden – Episode 1-3
Violet Evergarden is the streaming giant’s worthy attempt to provide a weekly Anime series. Ever since the atrocious Manga adaptation Death Note and the okay but overlong series Erased / Boku dake ga Inai Machi it is abundantly clear that the media empire is in it for the long haul to crack the Anime and Manga adaptation market. This comes as no surprise; just last week they reported record profits and an eagerness to provide more original content. Netflix is here to ensure that all genres are covered to grab every type of audience. Honestly, I believe it is a good move.
Okay, but what is Violet Evergarden about?
Violet Evergarden is a Japanese light novel series written by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase. Netflix have licensed the volumes for a weekly Anime series. It follows the story of a young girl called Violet, formerly known as the “weapon” of war, who has become injured and is recovering in rehabilitation. She has become empty due to her inability to serve and also, the war is over. Trying to find a new lease of life, and serve a purpose, she decides to join the CH postal service. Whilst there, she becomes intrigued by Auto Memory Dolls, who have the ability to carry people’s thoughts and convert them into words. Violet wants to become an Auto Memory Doll.
Due to the fact that my interest in this Anime series arose a few episodes late, I have decided to recap the first three episodes. Every Thursday there will be a recap per episode.
What happened in episode 1?
This is an emotional pilot preparing you for a character arc. Violet, completely in denial to her post-war condition, is adamant that she needs to serve. There is something tellingly saddening watching her as she keeps on requesting communication from Major, the man she served in the war. One of the first aspects I recognised in the first episode is that visually, this is one of the best Animes I have seen in this form. It is vibrant, colourful and has a wonderful shine to it. There are certain scenes that show the transparency and fluidity of drinks, whilst sunlight beams through it. Visually, it is impossible for it to not strike the audience.
In terms of the plot, episode one is blatantly trying to gauge a connection with its audience. You instantly feel sorry for Violet, despite the fact that her old acquaintance Colonel Hodgins describes her as the “weapon” using the classic Anime narration. Hodgins is an important element to the pilot because he allows the audience to understand the seriousness of Violet’s position. She is lost, has no immediate use from her previous abilities, and cannot overcome her connection with the elusive Major. The episode makes a fine point to show her hands, which are fake due to the fact they were blown off during the war. There are also tentative moments where she repeatedly asks if “major is okay”. Hodgin’s reaction tells a story.
The ultimate turning point, leading the core story, is when she joins the CH Postal service. Her intrigue for the Auto Memory Dolls is clear. Violet Evergarden manages to provide a deep background to the lead character whilst ensuring the key plot point is introduced. All this is provided with an engaging and thought-provoking score so the audience understands the emotions.
Does the strong pilot continue into episode 2?
It does. I must add, however, that it is not as emotionally striking as its predecessor. Episode 2 picks up right from where it was left. With Violet attending the postal service and learning how to type.
It continues the themes of the first episode, with Violet struggling to adjust. Violet Evergarden has a compelling idea to represent post-traumatic stress disorder. Violet is structured, repetitive and keen to continue a routine until she gets her typing skills correct. She called her typewriter a weapon. This has all the bearings of PTSD, however, with this Anime, it manages to soften the perception in a way that doesn’t glorify it. Episode 2 makes a great effort to allow you to understand her actions. Due to the fact that Major said “I Love You” during the war, she wants to understand what that means. This is why she wants to become an Auto Memory Doll.
You really become attached to Violet because of her obvious struggles. Her metal hands mean when she types fast it sounds ridiculously loud. Her colleague is also flawed. She becomes struck by nerves so they represent a perfect partnership. Violet is physically struggling, her friend is mentally struggling.
The fact remains is that it is clear in this episode that Major is actually dead. Violet is very much unaware of this and I wonder as she embarks on her Auto Memory Doll training, how her acquaintance Colonel Hodgins is going to break it to her.
And episode 3?
The last episode in my catch-up gets rid of the formalities of the pilot. Violet clearly has a friend in Luculia and both embark to Auto Memory Dolls school. This is the least eventful episode so far, however, it has the most major character progression.
Violet is still struggling to come to terms with her post-war tendencies. For instance, when practising to write meaningful letters in the classroom, she instead writes a report. Almost as if she is providing an update to a war general. Episode 3 continues with the same themes of Violet struggling to adjust to normal life. There is a scene in particular near the end where Luculia opens her heart regarding her brother, and Violet clenches her fists. This was a clear representation of Violet trying to suppress feelings.
The impressive character leap comes at the end, where Violet takes it upon herself to write a letter to Luculia’s brother without her knowledge. The letter works. Luculia was the friend that Violet needed for a nudge. What this means now for Violet is unclear, but the episode makes it clear that she aspires to be an Optimal Doll. An easy prediction to make is that there are going to be many peaks and troughs in order for her to achieve this.
So what’s the verdict on Netflix Original Violet Evergarden so far?
Despite each episode being 30 minutes each, it has a wonderful effect from a storytelling perspective. Violet is a closed book ready for her pages to be turned. You can tell early on that with each episode she will make some mistakes but also offer sweet moments where her character develops.
The fact that Violet Evergarden is beautiful to take in means a lot. From a visual standpoint, it helps when the character can be admired amongst a colourful world. Surprisingly, the score stands out too, and complements the emotions of the story at the time.
Netflix has so far found a wonderful story here that is worth sticking around for. Episodes 1-3 was a fantastic start to the Anime series. It is worth the time and dedication to zone out and watch. I’ll see you for the next episode.