I had heard so much about this anime when it had first come out, that it was at the top of my list to watch when I started to get back into anime. While the show wasn’t bad by any means, it definitely didn’t resonate with me like it did with others, and it has a lot more problems in it than I think people are willing to admit.
This review is going to be a general overview of my feelings about the show, because honestly I can’t really put how I feel about it into categories.
My biggest problem with Violet Evergarden, is how much it tries to hit the viewer emotionally. It’s not that it just happens to be emotional while you’re watching, but that the show just feels like it’s trying so hard to elicit a certain reaction from you. The plot itself is more on the melodramatic side in general, but sometimes you’re just like ok, I get what you’re going for here, can we move on? The theming of the show is so hard hitting and heavy-handed that after about the halfway point of the show you’re just done with it. You get what they’re going for, it’s fine, but you’re already halfway through the show so no way you’re going to drop it right? It took me twice as long to finish this show simply for the format of the thing: When violet was dealing with writing the letter of the week, and we saw different characters through her perspective, those episodes were super interesting and captivating to me. It was a nice episodic setup that reminded me very much of Kino’s Journey, and it was really enjoyable to see Violet evolve because of these one off episodes. Whenever we decided to not focus on Violet being a doll, and actually focused on her inner turmoil, and the obligatory war plot, was where the show lost me.
The overall plot of the show deals with a war. We don’t get enough details about this war to really care, it’s more of a backdrop for the story. But for some reason halfway through the show, we decide to ignore Violet’s journey and just…go to this war plot. Like I get war is a major part of Violet’s backstory, and if it was fleshed out more that it was effecting her and that eventually she would have to deal with that I think it could have worked. But what we really get is them mentioning it here and there, her backstory in flashback, and then this rather hastily done resolution so we can get back to what the show really wants to be talking about: Learning how to feel emotions, and dealing with grief. And although I said those more emotional episodes were heavy-handed at times, that is truly where the show shines and is most engaging. So why throw in a subplot that only partially effects the characters?
This lack of focus is what makes the anime a bust for me. If we had a different format, instead of letter of the week, then going into a bigger plot, it would have been a more cohesive show. As it stands it just feels like the show can’t decide what tone it wants to take, or what story it wants to tell and that’s where it falls flat. I would have much preferred a letter of the week format that was more finely woven into the tapestry of the story, and then perhaps Violet writing letters would somehow lead to this war plot that would somehow get fleshed out. Perhaps through Violet writing letters for some military? Who knows, I just really enjoyed the letter of the week format, and would have preferred the entire show to be that way.
The characters are fine, the music and setting are gorgeous. As much as I can take or leave Violet as a main character, her storyline and coming of age story starts and ends satisfactorily. The English voice cast is amazing…like everything about this show is really well executed, and to that end is where it falls apart. It’s just trying so hard to be so polished, so perfect, so emotionally moving that although I liked about half of the episodes, after a certain point I thought any emotional beat was just being forced and overly dramatic.
I know a lot of people like this show, and that every anime isn’t for everyone. On paper, I should like Violet Evergarden, but I’ve seen far better anime in this genre executed way better that actually moved me to tears because of its plot and characters, and not just because it was trying really really hard to.
I’m glad people can resonate with this show, and I’m sure plenty of people resonate with Violet and what she’s going through. It just isn’t the show for me.
That review got a little rambly, sorry about that! I guess I had more thoughts about this show than I realized, but it’s super frustrating to me to really want to like a show and it just not click with you. Has that ever happened to you with an anime?
Have you seen Violet Evergarden? I’d love to hear how you feel about it in the comments!