On a world that resembles – and yet differs from – fin-de-siecle Europe, the end of a long international war brings peace – but also leaves in its wake many broken lives. One of these is Violet Evergarden: a former child soldier, she not only suffered horrendous injuries, but is crippled by PTSD. Moreover, Violet’s only protector and friend – the Major, her former commanding officer – has been killed in the fighting, leaving her alone in the world. Taken in by another army officer who was one of the Major’s friends, Violet begins work as an “Auto Memories Doll” – a scribe who writes letters for those who can’t write for themselves. But the emotional deficit that is the ongoing legacy of her trauma leaves Violet unable to express or understand feelings – a serious short-coming for someone whose vocation is to communicate on behalf of others.
Produced by famed animation studio Kyoto Animation and based on an award winning series of illustrated novels by Kana Akatsuki and Akiko Takase, “Violet Evergarden” first aired on Japanese television in 2018. A critical and popular success, it has spawned an OVA “special” and a feature-length sequel that screened in 2019. Characterised by Kyoto Animation’s trademark style that combines high production values with attention to detail, “Violet Evergarden” is aesthetically pleasing viewing, even if the narrative does, at times, spill over into the melodramatic. Nonetheless, through a combination of convincing characterisation and an effective back-story, the series as a whole still delivers an often moving exploration of the themes of trauma, identity, memory, guilt, and the nature of hope in the face of loss. A second series is scheduled for release in late 2020.
© Text Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.