It may have taken seven episodes but Violet Evergarden has finally adapted the light novel’s first chapter. Makes sense to me!
Okay, I suppose the timing does work. There’s no strict chronology in the light novel but Chapter 1 more or less starts things in medias res so seeing it at the midpoint of the anime seems a little fitting.
For the most part, this is the same scenario seen in the original text. Violet gets hired to ghostwrite for Oscar, a playwright addicted to alcohol and mourning the loss of his family. Some things do play out a little differently since it’s no longer the starting point of the story. For starters, there was originally some confusion about whether or not Violet is actually a real person or a life-sized version of the original robotic Auto Memory Dolls. Since we know Violet is human from the get go in the anime, it doesn’t really make much sense to keep that mystery. I also noticed that the anime takes a while to revealing the tragic fate of Oscar’s daughter, Olivia. The light novel spilled the beats immediately but you were able to let it slide since the chapter was entirely from Oscar’s perspective and was also keeping Violet a mystery. Since the anime is more keen on getting inside Violet’s head, I get that the perspective was reworked so that we have Violet gradually learn how Oscar came to be the drunkard he is now.
I have to say, these recent deviations from the usual letter writing are interesting to see. Last episode, it was copying down old manuscripts, meaning that Violet was writing down the thoughts of people from long ago rather than the client sitting in front of him. Ultimately, Leon’s feelings are instead brought up in a very personal and intimate encounter. In the case of this episode, Oscar is obviously not writing to a specific person but to a general demographic: children. At the same time though, Oscar’s need to see this play through is a personal matter. It’s based on Olivia’s promise to him that she would one day cross the lake by their house once she’d recover. The main character, Olive, is even based on her. The play may be for anybody but Oscar is writing it as a way for him to cope for his daughter’s death.
It does strike to me that Oscar becomes quite keen on giving his play a happy ending. From how it’s described, Olive is separated from her father but by the end of her journey, she uses some magic to jump across a lake to reunite with him. Just based on that description, it sounds a bit too perfect of a conclusion. Perhaps that is simply how Oscar is coping here; a way for him to give Olivia a happier ending compared to what reality offered. It was interesting that Violet is quite supportive of this artistic decision. One can infer from her relationship with Gilbert that she’d rather see loved ones reunited than be separated forever.
Now about that whole parasol/skipping on water scene. Yes, that is from the light novel and yes, it is pretty damn silly looking. Even if Violet had peak human reflexes (a detail that light novel was lot more insistent on), I still can’t shrug off how it looks like Violet took some cues from Princess Peach. And I’m pretty sure that if any of us tried this in real life, we’d just fall in the water immediately. I get what this scene was going for however. Violet’s physical appearance reminds Oscar of Olivia and her performing the jump allows her to both (sort of) replicate the ending of the play as well as fulfill Olivia’s promise to her father. I also can’t deny that this scene was stunning to read and watch. Violet Evergarden has consistently delivered on the visual department but this scene is especially gorgeous from its attention to detail and its use of slow motion. It’s even further accentuated by Even Call’s emotional orchestral soundtrack.
Perhaps the biggest omission from the original text was the fact that Oscar had Violet dress up as the main character from his play. It was basically a way for Oscar to better imagine the play in his head especially since Violet’s appearance is similar to Olivia’s. Admittedly, there is potential for the scene to come across as really creepy, especially since Oscar goes out of his way to buy clothes for Violet in the light novel. Still, I really liked how it made Oscar seem desperate to see his daughter again, even if through some sort of proxy. It was also a good scene for Violet as she very bluntly reminds him that she is not his daughter nor can she serve as a replacement. The reality check she gives contrasts well with how Oscar wants to envision a perfect ending for his play. Violet largely gives in, both because it’d help get her job done but also because she sees the importance of helping Oscar heal. This episode still works without that detail but I still wish it was kept in.
There is a part of me that feels as though this episode was cut short so that there was some time for Violet to find out that Gilbert perished in the war. For the record, this ending is not in the original chapter. Personally, I would’ve allowed for more time dedicated to Violet and Oscar’s connection and just end the episode right where Ms. Evergarden tells Violet the hard truth. Regardless, it was really fascinating to see Violet become more human in this episode. I think it makes sense that Oscar’s backstory would hit Violet the most. It resonates strongly with how she misses Gilbert, perhaps hitting far too close to home as this is the first time you see Violet shed tears for something.
This change in Violet ultimately plays into her behavior at the end of the episode. Now that she recognizes the pain of losing a loved one, Violet realizes that everyone she’s killed in the war must’ve had people who loved them. Just knowing the pain she might’ve caused for those families is too horrifying for her to think about it. When Hodgins told Violet that she’ll eventually burn up, the latter had no idea what he was talking about. Now she completely understands what he means.
At the same time, Violet is also faced with the knowledge that someone she loves is gone forever. Perhaps Hodgins should’ve been more honest about Gilbert’s fate but judging from Violet’s reaction in this episode, it’s easy to see why he wanted to protect her. Even though love is an emotion Violet wants to understand, the weight it carries just overwhelms her.
Thanks for reading!
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