Here at Anime UK News, we’re all fond of a good Kyoto Animation series and back in 2018, their adaptation of light novel series Violet Evergarden stole our hearts. Three years after its Netflix simulcast, the anime has now made its way onto home video and I’m here to tell you all about it.
The anime follows the tale of Violet Evergarden, a former soldier who lost both her arms in a brutal fight. Having recovered from her injuries (although now with mechanical limbs) she’s taken into the care of Claudia Hodgins, who runs the CH Postal Company and offers her the chance to work there.
Up until this point, Violet has known nothing but a battlefield. As an abandoned child, she has always had to fight to survive, even once she was taken into the military under the care of Gilbert Bougainvillea. Violet was with Gilbert when they were attacked and now she wishes for nothing more than to be reunited with her captain, but Claudia insists that his taking care of her is on Gilbert’s orders.
Now Violet must wrestle with a quieter life working for the CH Postal Company as an Auto Memory Doll, who are ghostwriters for those looking to send letters to their loved ones. There’s just one problem with this – Violet’s sensibilities are very limited and she struggles to understand the emotions of others. This even extends to Gilbert who, it’s clear to viewers, loved Violet dearly and wanted nothing more for her than to be safe and happy. Nevertheless Violet hopes to better her understanding of human emotions through her role and understand what Gilbert meant when he said “I love you” in their last moments together.
Based on a four-volume light novel series published by Kyoto Animation, Violet Evergarden is largely made up of episodic stories. After the first couple of episodes and some right at the end, we usually see Violet working with a variety of clients to suit their needs. This includes writing public love letters for a princess hoping to wed a prince, helping a playwright with his new script, and simply writing a letter from sister to brother to express unsaid feelings.
Ultimately Violet Evergarden is about coming to terms with your emotions and also handling the things that are difficult to put into words. As Violet works and grows from the people she meets, she begins to understand herself and the world that much more. Her growth is incredibly rewarding to watch and Violet is such a loveable character that you’re always rooting for her.
Perhaps most importantly, the anime is very moving. Kyoto Animation ensures that the emotional scenes hit hard and I’d be surprised if anyone could get through the whole 13 episodes without shedding some tears once or twice. Even if you don’t empathize with Violet, you’re sure to find something relatable among the clients she works with or through the surrounding cast of characters.
Speaking of the animation studio, in terms of animation I have to say that Violet Evergarden is one of the prettiest shows Kyoto Animation has ever put out – and that’s saying something! There is a lot of care and attention put into even the smallest of details and that brings the world to life in a way no other studio on a TV project could. The show is bright and colourful, which contrasts nicely with the emotions on display. It gives the viewer the message that even in the bleakest moments there is still hope.
All of this is backed up by a wonderful soundtrack by Evan Call (Appare-Ranman!, Tokyo ESP) who makes use of a full orchestral sound to enhance the on-screen emotions. Not only does it make for a great listen during the show, but I also find it a very relaxing soundtrack to listen to in my daily life. It stands up well on its own and that’s often the mark of truly great compositions for me. It certainly says a lot when I still seek it out years after first hearing it! The opening theme for the series is “Sincerely” by True, while the ending theme is “Michishirube” by Minori Chihara. Both songs capture the anime wonderfully and also make for good listens on their own.
As far as voice actors are concerned, this release includes the original Japanese audio and the English dub. While I find the dub okay, it’s certainly nothing special in comparison to the wonderful performance of the Japanese cast, especially Violet. Our protagonist is played by Japanese by Yui Ishikawa (Shigure Yukimi in Seraph of the End, Mikasa Ackerman in Attack on Titan) who starts by giving the character a very stiff and unemotional performance. However, as Violet grows and begins to show more emotion, so too does Ishikawa and I truly couldn’t think of a better fit for this role. In comparison, I find the English voice actor Erika Harlacher (Crusch Karsten in Re:Zero, Shinobu Kocho in Demon Slayer) gives a much more even performance that doesn’t suit the advancement of Violet as much.
Violet Evergarden comes to the UK thanks to Anime Limited and has been released as a Blu-ray collector’s edition. A lot of love has gone into this release with the company even having taken the time to retranslate the series, which many will be pleased to hear, given the Netflix subtitles were less than stellar! The set includes all 13 episodes of the TV series both dubbed and subbed along with the OVA episode, extended version of Episode 13, 4 compilation films and clean opening/ending videos. If that wasn’t enough, you also get 5 art cards, 2 replica stamp books and a 156-page artbook. This is truly a must-have if you’re a fan of the show.
Overall, Violet Evergarden is a series that deserves to be in every anime fans collection. This is Kyoto Animation at their best, filled with likeable characters and heart-wrenching emotional scenes that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Truly, this is a very special anime like nothing else.