Alright, my college campus got power back (although there is another storm projected for Wednesday…). Anyway, I still need to play catch up here.
It’s time to take an extensive look into Violet’s past. I’ll admit that there are some things you kind of have to take for granted here. Violet’s a murderous orphan, everybody except Gilbert (and to a lesser extent, Hodgins) doesn’t question having her in the army, and the show doesn’t really elaborate beyond that. Frankly, I think it’s a little odd considering how young Violet’s supposed to be and the fact there are no other child soldier besides her. I’d also even go as far as to say Gilbert’s inner conflict about using Violet could’ve been more nuanced. Surely, the man could do more than shoot a bunch of sad looks at the poor girl. But in typical Violet Evergarden fashion, as clumsy as it can be at times, there are still a lot to like here.
For the record, all the present-day stuff where Violet investigates Gilbert’s fate is entirely new and that does affect how the text gets interpreted in anime form. This episode’s chapter equivalent was the last chapter of Volume 1 and it served as payoff for the reader after keeping Violet a complete mystery for the chapters preceding it. Suddenly, Violet’s strange, sometimes even doll-like behavior begins to make a lot of sense. And it was also shocking to read; the light novel may get a little overbearing with its descriptive language but it managed keep me engaged, especially with this chapter. I was so shocked to learn that Violet had lived such a sad life prior to becoming an Auto Memory Doll.
Naturally, with the narrative restructured, that kind of payoff would frankly be lost here. You probably were still curious about Violet’s past as a soldier for the past seven episodes but with a lot more context provided from the start, this episode would’ve lacked a lot of the original chapter’s punch. I feel that adding the present-day stuff was a way for which this chapter can remain effective. As you may infer from watching this episode, Violet’s life does revolve around Gilbert. The Major was the first person to develop a resonating bond with her and even her desire to ghostwrite stems from the impact that man had on her life. So to watch how that attachment originated against Violet slowly facing the reality that the man who gave her purpose has perished is pretty ominous. We may already know Gilbert’s fate but the framing of his role still sells its importance.
I really like the direction in this episode. Right from the start, there’s some really smart restraint on showing Violet’s facial reactions when Diethard confirms Gilbert’s death. It’s a remarkable use of “show, don’t tell”, letting Violet’s body language, Diethard’s dialogue, and our understanding of the characters to fill in the blanks. Later, when we see an example of Violet kill all those soldiers, the field of grass gets set ablaze. Not only is it a nice callback to one of the more stunning shots in the OP, it also refers to Hodgins’ statement that Violet will find herself “burning up”. Symbolically speaking, Violet world has always been burning and at the time, she didn’t even realize it. Finally, I love that KyoAni chose to end the episode right when Gilbert gets shot. Episode 1 already shows us that Gilbert ends up in bad shape and the dialogue has lately made it clear that Gilbert is dead. The abruptness in this final scene helps retain the emotional punch of the original text. Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to end this episode. What a way to go.
So for those who have not read the light novel, the way Violet fights is a lot different in the anime. See, in the original story, Violet fights with a giant axe….named Witchcraft. In fact, if you go back to the original light novel commercial, you can see her using that axe at around the 17 second mark.
I’ll be honest: I’m kind of glad KyoAni changed it to just guns. I think giving Violet an axe was a way to show how brutish and inhumanely strong she is in spite of her appearance but yeah, it’s a little too silly to picture.
Of course, I say this now and next thing I know, the anime does show Witchcraft.
Thanks for reading!
Violet Evergarden is officially available on Netflix.
For more Violet Evergarden posts, check out the show’s archive page!
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