Interestingly, this episode is almost entirely anime-original. In fact, two of the characters introduced, Iris (Haruka Tomatsu) and Erica (Minori Chihara), weren’t in the light novel. If I recall, the flirtatious and skilled Cattleya (Aya Endou) is the only other Doll besides Violet who appeared in the book. I’ll admit that knowing that this is new material did make me look at this episode as filler but I’m glad that KyoAni is offering a more expanded look at the CH Postal Company.
In the light novel, you find out how Violet got hired by Hodgins but not much is really revealed of what becoming an Auto Memories Doll was like. It was a shame because given Violet’s emotional range, it’d be worthwhile to read about how she initially struggled with converting other people’s feelings into words. With this episode, I feel like that blank spot has been filled a bit. Granted, I question why Hodgins didn’t send Violet to Auto Memory Doll training courses from the start though seeing Violet so ill-suited for the job was interesting. Typewriting doesn’t seem like an issue but Violet fails miserably at connecting with the clients she meets. This is especially the case when she writes a letter for a woman who wanted to play “hard to get” towards a man she loves and accidentally words it in a way that’s too literal, too blunt, and too rude. It’s here that Violet learns that not everything people say necessarily mean what they actually feel. The fact that the letter was meant to be one of love also really stings for Violet. She wants to understand what love is and already, she’s failing at doing so.
I do kind of have to question the inclusion of Iris and Erica as it’s hard to imagine them appearing in this story on a frequent basis. Because the light novel was episodic and often had Violet traveling and meeting different people, I can’t imagine the anime-original characters showing up that frequently. There might be more anime original episodes but I’d hate to see KyoAni putting them in scenarios that ought to just focus on Violet and her clients. I also can’t help but wonder if these characters were created for marketing reasons. Let’s face it, KyoAni has done a lot of CGDCT shows and they know the success that genre has brought them.
Still, I think these two characters are pretty decent. Iris is a little annoying but to be fair, there ought to be someone questioning Violet’s employment. Erica’s character is more elaborated and her relationship with Violet has its moments. At first, Erica shares Iris’s assessment that Violet should be fired but her opinion changes after Violet explains she wants know what love is. Wanting to become a more emotionally open person herself, Erica can’t help but admire Violet’s goal and refusal to give up. In the end, Erica comes to Violet’s defense when the latter is faced with possible termination. Even though Erica is a new character for the anime, I thought her interactions with Violet was in line with the contents of the light novel. A lot of the characters in the book make observations about Violet and they also learn more about themselves as a result. The same effect is seen here with Erica as Violet reminds her of her own personal goal.
I was wondering if the Violet Evergarden anime was going to bring up the history behind Auto Memory Dolls and sure enough, it’s brought up by Erica in a narration. The term originates from an engineer who created a robot of sorts that could transcribe speech to text. By the time this story takes place, the term now refers to any person who writes letters for customers. For the most part, the little robot typewriters aren’t terribly important in this story. For a brief moment in the light novel, it was used as a red herring, tricking you into thinking Violet is a robot only to later reveal that she is a human being. Where I think the term works though is how it speaks to Violet’s humanity. The blank expression on her face and the way she systematically types does make her seem like a robot or a doll even. I’ll admit that it would’ve been fascinating if Violet was actually a robot but nevertheless, the way the phrase, “Auto Memory Doll”, refers to her personality is still a striking piece of characterization for me.
At the end of the episode, Hodgins locates an emerald brooch that Gilbert gave to Violet. It was missing in her belongings but after forgoing a whole month’s worth of salary, Hodgins manages to secure it. This scene does play out differently in the light novel though why the item means a lot to Violet remains the same. It’s ironic that the brooch means so much to Violet. Even though she doesn’t fully understand what love is, that brooch signifies how much Gilbert means to her. Violet has experienced love, it’s recognizing and understanding it that seems to elude her. What I’m more concerned about is what happens when Violet gains a grasp on the emotion only to then find out what happened to Gilbert. Hodgins claims he’s alive but his private conversation with Cattleya at the end suggests otherwise…
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