Anime Review: Violet Evergarden (2018)
Director: Taichi Ishidate
Runtime: 325 minutes
Availability: Streaming exclusively in English, Japanese, German and Spanish on Netflix
After a war, a young woman named Violet Evergarden feels she has no purpose other than being a soldier and following orders. She works for the CH Postal Company, a business that writes letters for other people and delivers them to the recipients. She tries to understand what love is and deal with the aftermath of her war experiences.
One Of the Most Hyped Anime This Year:
I know that Violet Evergarden has a ton of hype behind it. The anime community went crazy for it when it was airing in Japan and constantly complained about Netflix in the USA delaying it because they don't simulcast anime that are Netflix exclusives, only putting up the entire series when it finished airing in Japan before it was shown on U.S. Netflix while in other countries, Netflix had the English and Japanese dubs available.
I had no problems waiting for Violet Evergarden to finish airing before Netflix U.S. started broadcasting it. There are so many anime airing that kept me busy while I was waiting for it.
I’ve never liked the anime community and the tendency to forget that anime exist after they’ve finished airing because the next new hyped anime that has everyone excited has started airing.
I’ve had plenty of successful anime reviews that I’ve written long after the initial hype wave has “died down”, and Violet Evergarden is an anime that rode a huge hype wave, but now that it’s finished airing does it still live up to its initial broadcast hype and audience expectations? We’ll find out in my review.
The Consequences Of War And The Soldiers Who Fight In Them:
Violet Evergarden is a war story, but not in the traditional sense that the entire story is about the war she fought in on the content of Telesis. Violet Evergarden is known for being a child soldier, the “Soldier Maiden of Leidenschaftlich”.
While the anime does exaggerate her Woobie status by making her a child soldier, the PTSD she experiences is similar to what real-life soldiers go through, even if the anime ups the melodrama.
It reminds me of my older adopted brother who was a soldier and did have PTSD (he's fine now), but his experience was different from Violet Evergarden’s.
The anime deals with many adult subjects without having to be an “adult” anime with excessive gore, excessive violence or explicit content. It handles the subject matter respectfully and in a very emotionally moving way that captured the hearts of anime watchers all over the world.
Violet Evergarden (2018) Trailer:
The Animation Is Gorgeous!
Kyoto Animation is a studio that is always known for making beautiful, breathtaking anime. They’re known for making beautiful anime with amazing backgrounds and animation.
The animation is stunningly beautiful and the backgrounds are breathtaking. They look so real if you didn’t know it was an anime you’d think it you were looking at photographs.
The animation itself is very fluid and looks fantastic. Every frame is beautiful and is a testament to the talented animators behind the anime. You can look at a very large collection of screenshots here.
Overall Kyoto Animation did a wonderful job animating Violet Evergarden. But you shouldn’t just watch the anime because it looks gorgeous, there’s more to this anime than just looking pretty.
Will you watch Violet Evergarden (2018)?
Audio and Subtitles (Streaming Exclusively On Netflix):
Japanese (audio description)
Japanese (closed captioned)
The English Dub Is Fantastic!
There are plenty of anime reviews for Violet Evergarden that praise the Japanese dub, so I don’t really need to do that although I’ve heard some of it. If you enjoy the original Japanese voice cast I’m sure you’ll love the anime in Japanese.
I’ll talk about the English dub because not a lot of anime reviewers are talking about it. This was a fantastic English dub. Now Netflix has usually been good when they pick studios to dub their anime but there have been some misses when it comes to dubbing recently, but Violet Evergarden hit it out of the park.
Erika Harlacher is once again blowing my mind with her voice work as Violet Evergarden. I know that a lot of Netflix anime watchers are starting to notice her being cast in a lot of Netflix exclusive anime, but she’s a very talented voice actress and considering how difficult anime dubbing is, I’m not surprised she’s getting cast in these big roles for Netflix exclusives.
She did a fantastic job, and not just in her vocal range either. She did an astounding job showing Violet’s different emotions, especially since she has to start off being very unemotional and stoic.
Ben Pronsky is really adorable as Benedict Bleu. He doesn’t show up often, but he is important because he is one of the first people who meet Violet at her job.
Kyle McCarley is great as Claudia Hodgins. I liked his voice acting in this role. He wasn’t doing another stoic character that was like some of his other roles. I liked his voce work and how he portrayed the character.
He also had good chemistry with the other voice actors who do not perform at the same time as each role is recorded separately for English dubbing.
Christine Marie Cabanos is excellent as Erica Brown. She was really sweet and adorable. She did an excellent job in this role despite not really appearing in the anime a lot.
Reba Buhr is great as Cattleya Baudelaire. She’s got a no-nonsense attitude that I really enjoyed. She also has a caring and compassionate side that Reba Buhr portrayed very well.
Cherami Leigh is always a pleasure to hear in anime I watch. I’ve watched her since her early days in Funimation’s dub of Ghost Hunt (2007) and I’ve always enjoyed her voice acting. I remember when she used to be in so many Funimation dubs, but now she’s in L.A. so I end up hearing her in other anime. Still, I love her work and she’s always good in whatever she’s in. I’m also enjoying her a lot in Steins;Gate 0 (2018).
Keith Silverstein is excellent as Dietfried Bougainvillea. He gave a first-rate performance in this role, showing how cold his character is towards Violet. There’s a lot going on emotionally with his character and Keith Silverstein did a great job portraying that aspect of his character.
Tony Azzolino gave a stellar performance as Gilbert Bougainvillea. He did an excellent job conveying his character’s emotions and how he cared about Violet. His performance was one that helped show why Violet was so attracted to him.
There are also wonderful side characters voiced by anime English dub veterans like Wendee Lee as Clara Magnolia in episode 10 and her daughter Anne voiced by Cassandra Lee, whose voice I did not recognize at all despite the fact that I’ve been hearing her in a lot of anime I’ve watched recently and her work in Persona 5 for the PlayStation 4. There’s also Johnny Yong Bosch as Aiden Field in my favorite episode, episode 11.
All the voice actors in the English dub did a fantastic job with this anime, and this one had big shoes to fill considering how big this anime was when it aired in Japanese.
Overall, no matter which choice you pick, English or Japanese, you’ll enjoy the voice acting in the dubs.
Violet Evergarden Soundtrack
The Soundtrack is Breathtaking:
The soundtrack for this anime is lovely. It captures the emotions of the story of Violet Evergarden. The composer Evan Call does a fantastic job composing emotional and moving music for the anime.
The soundtrack is fantastic, and it’s something I enjoyed a lot. There’s also the fact that they integrated the sounds of an old typewriter into the songs themselves throughout the soundtrack.
The entire soundtrack is available for download on U.S. iTunes but it does not let you purchase individual tracks, but the music is so beautiful, it’s worth it to just buy the entire album anyway.
The Anime’s Melodrama Can Annoy The Audience:
Violet Evergarden is prone to being melodramatic, and there’s quite a bit of it in the anime. While some people like melodrama, others don’t. I do notice that the anime attempts to draw an emotional response from the audience, and while that can be a good thing and getting emotional reactions is often something creators want, I do feel like Violet Evergarden tries too hard at times to evoke emotion, most of it comprised of tear-jerker moments.
Now I’m not one who is easily moved to have strong emotional reactions to anime, I’ve only cried on a handful of anime and Violet Evergarden wasn’t one of them. I found quite a few episodes to be emotionally moving, but I never broke down and cried.
Now there are people who feel that the anime is too emotionally manipulative, that the only way Kyoto Animation is selling this anime is as “It gave me the feels” or “I cried watching this anime”. While your emotions are important when consuming entertainment, if you expect to cry watching this anime every time, it’s probably not going to happen.
I understand the complaints about the anime being emotionally manipulative, but I did enjoy it, it just didn’t give me “the feelz” every episode.
The Pacing is Slow:
Violet Evergarden’s pacing is extremely slow. It takes quite a few episodes for Violet to develop as a character and while some people don’t mind the slow pacing, others will feel like the anime doesn’t go anywhere for a long, long time.
It has Steins;Gate (2011) levels of slow pacing, and like Steins;Gate it doesn’t kick in the major conflicts until much later in the anime. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the audience will stick around for the payoff.
If you’re not drawn in by the character of Violet Evergarden, you’re not going to be interested in how the story ends. The story and the characters make or break the anime, not just the stunningly gorgeous visuals, the amazing dubs or the breathtaking soundtrack.
They Left Out Some Of The Darker Elements of the Story:
There has been debate among people who have read the light novels about whether the anime is a good adaptation or not. Most people complain about the ending, but I noticed they left out some of the story’s darker aspects.
Kyoto Animation toned down just how bad Violet’s life was. When she was found by Dietfried Bougainvillea, his men tried to rape her so she killed everyone but Dietfried.
There’s also the reason why she stays so close to Gilbert Bougainvillea, it’s so his men wouldn’t try to rape her and having her retaliate by killing them. They also don’t address the large age gap between the two characters and Violet’s romantic feelings towards him, probably because they don’t show the light novel’s ending in the anime.
Also missing in the flashbacks is Violet’s giant battleax Witchcraft that she used to fight with.
It seems they left these out because these aspects compound on the depressing atmosphere of the story.
There’s also the chapter they didn’t animate the chapter where Violet helped a woman escape a cult, which is something I would have loved to see animated, it might happen, we’ll have to see.
There’s also the novel’s true ending, which wasn’t animated, whether it was for a sequel hook or not, I don’t know, but I won’t spoil that for you either.
Not A Perfect Adaptation, But I Did Enjoy It:
Violet Evergarden is a very well done anime with a lot of positives that I really enjoyed. It was dragged down by the slow pacing and they left out story elements I really would have liked to see ever since I read about them on TV Tropes.
It has a lot of good things going for it, although everyone hyping it up as the best anime this year is premature, while I do enjoy it a lot and I do see why people like it, I do not subscribe to the “Anime of the Year” mentality a lot of critics use when they review and critique anime, why? Because when next year rolls around, you aren’t going to care what my favorite anime was last year anyway.
What Doesn't Work:
Great story, characters and world-bulding
It can be ridiculously melodramatic
Stunning and gorgeous animation
It can feel emotionally manipulative
Fantastic English dub
It has very slow pacing
Left out darker story elements
It can evoke a strong emotional reaction out of the viewer
It left out a chapter I would have wanted to see
They did not animate the true ending of the story
Final Grade: A:
Violet Evergarden has many great things going for it. The story is very well done but has pacing issues and the melodrama won’t appeal to everyone. It has stunning animation, stellar voice acting, a wonderful soundtrack and can evoke emotions in the audience.
It can feel emotionally manipulative because it can be emotionally draining on you, but if you want a great story and an understanding of people and their emotions, Violet Evergarden is worth your time if you can be patient with the slow pacing of the series.
There are things from the original source material I would have liked to see, but we may still see more from Violet Evergarden because of how popular it is.
It does have the problem of being overhyped by the anime community, so please don’t go in expecting the best anime you’ve ever seen, don’t set your expectations low, but don’t set them too high either.
If Violet Evergarden piques your interest because of this review, go check it out on Netflix. It’s worth your time and money if you’re attached to the characters and the story.
I do hope that the original light novels will be licensed I would be happy to purchase and review them, but so far there’s been no announcement from any publishers licensing the light novels by Kana Akatsuki.
KyoAni has recently announced a Violet Evergarden movie project to be released in 2020, I am hoping it will be the conclusion to the story.
The special Violet Evergarden episode that was released on blu-ray is streaming on Netflix.
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