So first off, two things:
- Yes, this is another anime-original episode. It just seems par for the course now.
- How on Earth is Violet 14 years old?! I even double checked with the light novel and sure enough, that is her apparent age in one chapter. I know age and anime character designs can get weird but…seriously?
That all aside, I really enjoyed this episode. I think Episode 3 has been my favorite of the anime original episodes so far but I will admit that this episode had the more inventive scenario. With love being at the forefront of Violet Evergarden‘s thematic commentary, I think tackling it in the backdrop of an arranged political marriage is a really interesting angle to take.
I suppose one big nitpick I have here is the apparent timeskip needed to justify Violet getting hired for this kind of job. On one hand, even Hodgins wouldn’t think of sending Violet to write letters for a princess if she was still a rookie in the Doll business. But frankly, I’m a little bummed that the show just jumps from Violet’s initial struggles to her suddenly being a pro. I really liked seeing Violet gradually get better at her job, especially since that was not something shown in the light novel. It bugs me but I’ll admit that it was a small price to pay for this episode.
Princess Charlotte (Megumi Nakajima) herself is a pretty good addition to the supporting cast of Violet Evergarden. Admittedly, a lot about her character is conveyed through exposition but I really like how she walks a fine line between royal obligation and personal choice. She’s aware that she is to be married off but to her credit, she opted to marry Prince Damien based on her own research and her own reading of Damien’s personality. Particular emphasis is given to that latter detail as Charlotte really wants this marriage to work but is also aware that she’s only met Damien in person once and therefore isn’t sure if he truly loves her back.
I really like the role Violet plays in all this. At first, she does her job as normal, writing down Charlotte’s feelings while flowering up the language for public and political approval. But after Charlotte expresses concern that the letters she and Damien exchange aren’t genuine enough, Violet makes the bold decision to step out as a ghostwriter. Instead, she pulls some strings so that the two royals write the letters themselves. It’s an interesting decision on Violet’s part, not just because the girl usually follows Doll protocol to the letter (put not intended) but also that she’s still fulfilling her duties as a Doll. She’s bending the rules a lot here but a Doll does serve to help people convey their feelings and Violet’s plan still fulfills that purpose. That she also decides on this consciously really speaks to how much her sense of free will has evolved since Episode 1.
This episode might be the first time where the wording of the letters feels very on-point. At first, the letters the Dolls ghostwrite for the royals is as flowery and sugarcoated as love letters can get. Once Charlotte and Damien write the letters themselves, you can hear a big difference. The two sound far more blunt about how they feel about the marriage, both positively and negatively and the exchange becomes a lot more heated as a result. Unsurprisingly, the public is horribly baffled by all this but for the royals themselves, they get the transparency they’ve desired for quite some time. That final letter Charlotte does sound pretty impulsive and embarrassing but it’s as genuine as it can get. It’s no wonder Damien gets won over by it.
After helping Charlotte, Violet leaves to report back to the postal company. I completely get that Charlotte is a little bummed that Violet couldn’t stay for the wedding. Judging from her smile at the end of the episode, I think Violet would’ve loved to attend. That said, it does adhere to something I really like about the light novel. Once the job is done, Violet sort of just vanishes from the lives of her clients, leaving them to wonder who she really was and what she’ll do after the job is over. I suppose the mystery is a bit lost now that the anime has been more upfront about Violet’s backstory but it’s still a tone that I really adore.
Regarding that last scene in this episode, I’m a little shocked that Violet’s already meeting Gilbert’s brother, Diethard (Hidenobu Kiuchi). Thing is, Violet doesn’t meet Diethard until towards the end of light novel’s second volume and while I won’t spoil much, I will say that it made sense for the scene to happen that late in to the story. Who knows, the circumstances in this anime scene seems different so maybe things will play out differently…
Thanks for reading!
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