「「戻って来ない」」 (‘Modotte Konai’)
“‘Never Coming Back'”

A comment last week talked about how Violet Evergarden was using a ‘reverse Haruhi’ structure in terms of light novel order versus anime episode order, and that’s an interesting comparison to explore. For those who didn’t watch Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, it aired its episodes in a non-chronological order. It seemed to delight in shuffling up its timeline but it didn’t do this just for kicks (…mostly). The thing was, the source light novels the anime adapted were just one narrative arc and then a short stories collection, and if the anime used that structure without change it would hit the climax basically half-way through the season and then spend the rest of it on essentially omake episodes. You can see how that’s not really the best viewer engagement, so the anime team shuffled the light novel chapters around, spacing short stories in-between the plot-centric episodes. What made this actually clever was that the series was designed around this non-linear structure; tension in the series flowed naturally in this order, and even character development progressed according to episode order, causality be damned. So although later DVD releases will organise episodes by chronological order, I would always recommend watching Haruhi in broadcast order. There was a method to the madness, and holistically it made sense.

The Violet Evergarden light novel also doesn’t strictly follow a chronological order either. As I noted last week, it started largely episodic, starting with Violet already an established and renowned amanuensis. While doing that, it dropped hints about her circumstances, setting, and backstory here and there and gave readers a bit of time to piece things together before dumping Violet’s heavy past on us. Like in the Haruhi anime, Violet Evergarden the LN seemed to know that it couldn’t sustain full plot all the time, let alone straight from the starting line, and therefore spread out its narrative over the short stories. Violet Evergarden the anime, though, seems to be out to unravel that structure and straighten it out. Sure, it’s still hiding a few cards up its sleeve, but for the most part it presents itself chronologically, interrupted only momentarily by flashbacks, starting with how Violet got into the Auto-Memories Doll (do you prefer ‘Auto-Memories’ or ‘Auto-Memoir’?) profession in the first place. I’m not sure how I feel about this direction yet, mostly because it’s common wisdom that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and I think the light novel’s structure would have worked out fine. Perhaps the anime team was wary that a gentler start would lose audience share and wanted to show more of its hand so that fickle, anime-watching couch potatoes won’t tune out after a single week — this isn’t a novel, and it’s easier to turn the page than to come back to a TV show weekly. There is some merit to this thinking, since despite the title Violet wasn’t actually even the protagonist for the first few chapters of the light novel, just a recurring character, while the anime spells out very clearly that she’s the important person in this story. I think the extra subtlety is actually an advantage, though, since mystery is the very best audience hook, and Violet is definitely more interesting the less we know about her. Make us want to know more about her by using her less, keeping her enigmatic for as long as possible. As I talked about last week, trying to sell us on a character at the start of a story is very difficult. It’s hard to make us care about a stranger so quickly. So, leave a trail of bait for the audience, make us want to follow it because we want to peek through the cloak mystery surrounding the character, and then endear her to us along the way. Themes and setting can come first, with characters working their way in later.

I’m not going to say the anime is ‘doing things wrong’ per se; we’ll see more of how the anime plays with the ordering and what its long-term effects will be further down the line, so let’s talk about this episode now. As with many other anime series, episode 02 is a slower one, pulling our focus back to do more of the introductory work. In particular, we learn more about what these ‘Auto-Memories Dolls’ are all about. Here I must confess to a bit of trickery I did when I wrote the preview, which in my defence I only did because the LN did it too. The Auto-Memories Doll robots are these things. An entire industry of female amanuenses sprang up because of them and take their name. But they are not one and the same. The ladies at Violet’s company, like Cattlya Baudelaire (Endo Aya) are flesh-and-blood humans (that said, more in this later). We see that they’re a high-class, white-collar profession, aloof to the manual labour of a mere postman. We see what their work entails. And we see that their pride is not without reason, for the work is not easy. Turns out, most people are terrible communicators, and this should be taken as a reflection of the difficulty of communication. It seems that most of the clients of Auto-Memories Dolls want them to write what they mean, not what they say, which is a complex barrel of fish (…that was a weird metaphor. Think of a barrel full of an imaginary number of fish). Evidently more to this profession than mere typing skill, requiring also the skills of both mediator and translator.

Enter Violet. She seems as unsuited to this job as one can possibly be. This episode makes a clear point of distinguishing Auto-Memories Dolls of the past and present, inviting comparison between mere machines and actual people. The machines are probably good enough for simple speech-to-text, but evidently there was demand for a more human touch. And here we have Violet, who lacks the human touch in more ways than one. When I talked about Violet Evergarden really being a robot story at heart, this is what I was talking about. It matters little what the truth of Violet is, whether she is biological or mechanical. What makes human is in the mind, and there Violet is lacking. What is wanted in the Auto-Memories Dolls is discretion, subtlety, an ability to read the subtext — all skills that Violet lacks. But the mark of intelligence — be it human, be it artificial — is the ability to learn, and our protagonist is at least willing to try.

More on that next week, I expect. We still seem to be in prologue-mode right now (no OP/ED, for starters), but once we get out of that our horizons should expand a bit. When I read Violet Evergarden I always considered the stories of her clients more important than her own, or rather, they form an important part of her own. It is when Violet starts to receive them that her story will begin in earnest.

Full length image: 39.


  1. So, as the title suggests, the Major is more likely to be dead than severely injured or unable to appear for any other reason. Still the hope never dies!

    Overall, animation and soundtrack are again doing their job, especially loved some ost tracks this time. Pacing is so good so far, admire the fact that they cut op&ed again to deliver more story, but wonder how the different order will eventually work out. I didn’t quite like the fuss with the romantic letter, clearly done to make some drama (like really no one would check the letter written by Violet before sending it? Erica? anyone?), but apart from that, loving it.

    If you ask me, Auto-Memoir somehow sounds better.

    Also, Unlimited Budget Works round 2 (credits to Reddit): https://i.imgur.com/BlI1hJN.jpg

  2. There’s some soap-opera-style drama going on in the Doll service. Cattelya (is that her name?) has got the hots for Violet’s caretaker. :3 I wonder how that woman gets away with that heavy cleavage in the workplace? Eh, it’s a different time period anyway, and also because Animu.

    Why do they have a strange written language? I mean wouldn’t it be too much to use English since the written word is so crucial to the show?

    Poor Erica. Do your best!

    Violet reminds me a lot of Nagato Yuki, which is probably why I find her so endearing. She is NOT good at transcribing letters since she does not understand humans well.

    1. I’m not so sure about who Cattelya has the hots for. You notice that she was all over Claudia only when she noticed that Postman pat Benedict was watching. She seems to have slept with Claudia though.

  3. Didn’t knew about the out of word narrative in the LN.
    Well, what I do know is that Iris and Erica are two original characters created by Kyoto Animation. Is this correct? Then let’s see how they changed and “improved” the story. I suspect that they changed the order of the LN to be more easy to follow by the general public.

    There’s two things that I “don’t get it” from this episode.
    If that client went the specifically looking for Cattleya to write a really important letter for her, how can she let a person that she never seen before write it and not check the contents of the letter? It’s part of the manual to speak what you’re typing after the client? How that error could happen?
    And I don’t really understood Erica. What exactly is her dream and what exactly inspired her and how exactly Violet motives her. I feel that I misunderstood quite a bit about her.

    1. IT wasn’t really Violet’s mistake. She’s a trainee and doesn’t really know what she is doing Erica should never have let her do it. Violet is struggling with wanting to be useful and wanting to know how to be human again rather than some animal killing machine which is what she was treated like prior to meeting the Major.

  4. As the goal of their job is to compose a letter I would say that Memoir, rather than Memory, is the more appropriate term.

    This show continues to impress. The story deepens and gained strength this episode. After I considered it for awhile I must say that I cannot honestly guess how Violet will react once she finally learns about Gilbert. I suppose it will depend upon how long it takes her to learn, as the longer it takes the more time she will have to grow and develop her personality.

  5. I find the extreme whiteness filter (no idea what that is called) to be very hard to look at. It’s like I’m looking at the screen with grease smeared over it. Am I the only one who finds this very distracting?

    1. “Am I the only one who finds this very distracting?”
      You’re not alone, is dumb and wrong.
      Use the equalizer of your player of choice to lower the brightness and increase the contrast.
      Lowering the gamma is optional, it hurt the black scenes really hard.

      1. Like it or not. You’re stuck with it. Like others have pointed out many times, playing with the contrast/saturation levels will just make things worse. No matter how much you tweak it, you cannot manipulate it to become as clear as the master(unedited). Chances are, if you mess with it you’ll sacrifice more details just to try and darken it a bit.

      2. Another thing to take note of is that the poster seems to imply he did not change any settings at all. So you shouldn’t be screwing up anything here by default.

        Now whether this was the native broadcast, I actually don’t know. If this was mastered with HDR in mind, Netflix is known to have HDR streams. Probably worth a shot to watch it there on a TV screen. So to clarify it seems to have been tested on IPS and CRTs.

    2. Maybe the show airs in HDR in Japan/Netflix? Dunno, but it would explain why we’re seeing clipped highlights on downloaded versions which (afaik) aren’t in HDR encoding. Doesn’t bother me as much as the bloom though.

      I wonder if the animators spend all their free time playing dating sims, because the only scenes where they get depth of field right are in those person-facing-camera ones. Everything else is an insult to optics, made worse by their amateurish attempt to weasel out of it by going free-4-all on the bloom sliders.

  6. “Baudelaire”, really… that’s a bit too much for me hahaha

    I like the pacing of the show, one thing I don’t get tho is : if Violet is a robot (most likely), are there other ones? Because, if I got it right, Iris, Erica and Cattleya are all actual humans, aren’t they?
    As a robot then, how do they “work”?
    I just struggle with this whole thing.

    1. There are no robots in the series, the “doll” thing is only a title based on the device we see in the shop (the typewriter with the doll on it), becasue they ghost writers pretty much do the same role, same with Violet, she is no robot or doll, she is just an emotionally stunted young girl who was found by Gilbert’s brother abandoned somewhere (and probably abused by him), she probably belonged to some Germanic-style tribe as seen in this concept art -> https://i.imgur.com/Ob9ELgAr.jpg

      Only her arms are mechanical which kinda fits with the level of technology in this pseudo-steampunk version of Europe which doesn’t seem to have any tech that could create full robots, i can’t deny the promotional material gave me the false impression that Violet is some sort of self-aware robot/doll/automaton but after watching the first three episodes it became clear to me that’s not the case, in fact ALL the characters in the show are humans.

    1. Well why do you like shows that others don’t? It all comes down to differing perspectives and personal preferences. Some people get more out of stories than others. Just as how you are getting nothing out of violet evergarden, someone could find nothing of value to a show you think is anything but perfunctory; them’s just the breaks. Passerby has expressed with two blog posts what he finds enthralling about the show so I’m sure you can lift something out of that. If you’re still unable to understand why others may find something of value to the show then either it’s because it doesn’t work for you, there are elements to the narrative that you perceive as flaws interfering with providing you an immersive experience, or you just have better taste in shows.

    2. “Its so boring and slow and the plot is nonexistent.”
      The mystery is right here. If you don’t like this style/type of story/series you just don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s “boring”. It is, but just for you. And “nonexistent plot” is a ridiculous claim. Again, you just don’t like the style, there’s a lot in these two episodes that people are discussing.
      The problem with Violet Evergarden is not that “too many people like it too much”, is that there are some people that just can’t seem accept it being liked. For what reason I’ll never understand.

    3. The Book won a critical prize that had never been given out before an overall winner. Thus we are getting what I expected an art type movie with slow development. If a film award-winning but not a blockbuster. There are things going on and hinted but in these type of stories you can expect for things to develop slowly and without to much flash. I love this type of arty type show just as much as the action type if done well but these type of shows can be an acquired taste. Think stuff shown on Public Broadcasting in the US.

    4. There’s two things going on here. One is called “bloom”, and it’s basically fuzzy light that surrounds backlit objects. So basically instead of everything being one simple color, you have light creeping into things that are technically in shadow. This is how our eyes see things in real life, so it adds “realism”. Google “video games bloom” for good examples.

      2ndly there’s a lot of white “vignetting” going on. This is a photographic technique usually used to make the edges of a photo darker than the middle, but here it’s used to add white. This is an attempt to add atmosphere by giving everything a smoky, dusty, desaturated look. We are usually used to seeing anime that is super high contrast with super high saturation, so it looks odd. Think of a Wes Anderson film vs Tron.

      1. The focus will be on Violet. However, it is a story about Violet learning about love, emotions and herself through the stories of others. We haven’t reached that point yet, as this episode was anime-original (since Erica and Iris are anime-original characters) to flesh out the setting of C.H. Mail.

  7. Benedicts’ lewd pants that’s for sure.

    But on a serious note: If you have to ask why people find enjoyment out of something, then honestly that show isn’t for you. If you already have the thought process of thinking its boring and slow then honestly whatever we tell you wont change your views as you most likely wont understand why WE like it.

    Verdict: Just drop the show in your case. It won’t do you any good to torture yourself on something you don’t understand.

    1. There was also Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (which was their previous show), and to an extent, Amagi Brilliant Park. If they are going to keep on adapting their line of light novels, I hope they publish stories with more varied premises. Granted, they have been in varying genres (sports, romantic comedy, urban fantasy, battle harem) so far, they are all set within the realm of high school. It’s just the material that is not originally theirs that have been outside school.

  8. God VE is really one of the three animes (KoiAme, Yoribasho) that i must watch in 1080p, mere 720p really cannot satisfy my thirst! XD

    That said, i really enjoyed ep2 like how i enjoyed my Endo Aya’s Cattleya this week. I guess we had our first curiousity checked in this anime: the ladies arent actually robot after all like the name suggested (really, i had some struggle with the A.M.D whether they are human or dolls since my sister kept on asking about them esp Violet). Theyre just the inspiration behind the story about a man who built a doll to help his blind wife to write again.

    Cant wait to see Violet further explores her clients’ stories in the future. I really want her to learn fast and venture out like in 1st and 2nd PVs. Am i the only one who prefer Violet in her old attire rather than the new fancy one they gave her? Too standout if you ask me, like theres a favorism among Claudio’s girls XD

    Ps, Cattleya and Claudio moments are really the best thing that happen in this episode lol. Gotta love those two hoho

    onion warrior
    1. that’s not a kyo ani thing; that’s an anime thing. it’s always been easier to accentuate the bottom lip in animation than it is the top so detail is usually placed there

      1. “It’s always been easier to accentuate the bottom lip in animation than it is the top.”

        How so?

        “That’s not a kyo ani thing; that’s an anime thing.”

        Errr… except it’s not? I understand that upper-lip lipstick is usually more subtle, to prevent the chars from looking too pouty. But to say that it’s just an anime thing is being very… dismissive.

        Little Tangerine
    2. how is it dismissive? While i will admit that it was an overexaggeration to say it’s just an anime thing (it mostly comes down to who’s handling character desigs), you saying that kyo ani characters always wear lipstick on just the bottom of their lips is over generalizing, especially since most of their characters do not wear lipstick or make up and that this is not just a Kyo ani thing. Kyo ani shows like fumoffu and the second raid have characters with lipstick on both lips. Look at love live or to-love ru- or Haganai; the characters are mostly seen with the lipstick at the bottom lip and not the top. Sure a quick google search of anime lipstick is going to show you more results of accentuated anime lips but in your generically produced anime (which is in abundance), you’ll find yourself seeing characters who are wearing light lipstick have that detail on their bottom lip only, especially if their lip is nothing but a line.

      “It’s always been easier to accentuate the bottom lip in animation than it is the top.”

      How so?”

      Rather than saying easier, it would be more appropriate to say “advantageous”
      1. because usually when we watch someone talking we tend to focus on the lower part of their mouth than the upper, which lends to facilitating that effect in animation by placing more detail on the lower lip than the upper.

      2. drawing lips on animated characters and keeping them consistent is time consuming and requires more skill; therefore, it’s easier to ultimately just neglect accentuating the upper lip since most of our attention will be focused on the lower part of the jaw when watching characters move their mouths.

      1. Oh I wouldn’t know; I don’t watch “generically produced anime”.

        If this method has been done frequently in many other series, they must have been done better and more subtly.

        Remember that all humans’ upper lips are naturally darker than their bottom lips, even though the bottom ones are plumper (this is why girls never put on lipstick on their bottom lip first. Always starting at the top…. and then smacking the lips together to share the pigment with the bottom and blending it in). So accentuating the presence of lipstick only the bottom lips make the face almost uncanny-looking… Like I’m looking at faces of those who chronically bite their lower lips to the point where they’ve become bruised and swollen.

        I assumed this implication was obvious.

        Little Tangerine
  9. https://randomc.net/image/Violet%20Evergarden/Violet%20Evergarden%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2007.jpg randomc.net/image/Violet Evergarden/Violet Evergarden – 02 – Large 24.jpg https://randomc.net/image/Violet%20Evergarden/Violet%20Evergarden%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2029.jpg

    The production value of this show is astounding from the intricate mechanical animation to the fluid character animation and the luscious backgrounds. This world is really starting to feel alive. It’s also a treat to have essentially an extended episode yet again, and it seems that the show will be 14 episodes (the BDs being split into 4 volumes, vol 1 having three ep, vol 2 with four ep, vol 3 with three and vol 4 with 4). It makes me curious how the story will turn out given this unorthodox TV episode length.


    The Netflix translations seem a bit off in this scene. Left me a bit confused. Claudia is the one with a female name.


    This was an original episode, but the events up to this scene felt a bit weird to me. The woman was not being forward about her feelings, yes, but she should have at least had Violet read the letter back to her before she confirmed for it to be sent, or at least Erica should have supervised (and intervened, though she may be too timid to do so). Just earlier, the mustached man was dissatisfied with his letter after reading it back.


    And finally, Violet is in her signature dress.

    All things considered, this was a nice follow-up episode to the previous, and we are posed with more questions than answers, and I am intrigued in the Major’s story. Next week will be the last episode that has already been aired previously at events, so hopefully we will see an OP and/or ED sequence by then.

    1. Logical hole here

      Why do this “Clients” go to this Dolls?

      – They can not read and write?
      – They are like Viloet, not capable to pack their hard harsh words into blooming flowers?

      Well, for this men and woman i think it is the latter

      If this Men read the letter then he can read, but perhaps not write.. But he understand the meaning of the words…

      They should be Careful, they are on the boarder of the illiterates that separate them of the others

    1. and my guts was right.. some “Gunslinger girl” background was there.. Nice, now we see how she grow up on the “battlefield” called “Life and be free, i love you”

  10. Welp, Violet – a girl as subtle as a wrecking ball – is about to get schooled once more…

    …and hopefully be more … graceful?

    OTOH, dat typewriter sequence. (it sounded like a radial engine starting up xD)

  11. Wow. Is this really the same show from last week? How come I didn’t notice the OST last week. I don’t know if it was the change of pace or what, but I was totally floored by this episode.

    1. i found the audio theme, where she begin to use the Typewriter, a bit to “good”.. or the timing was not right, when the music began to inspire the fast movement, Violet started it 2-3 seconds later… yes. i found the timing a bit off or to “good” for this scene

  12. Ep 03:

    This time Violet got help from an “friend”.. Perhaps she even do not knew the meaning of Friend yet. But she…she made an little step into this direction

    Yeap… Also, perhaps it is me. But seems like they reduced the “fog” of the Cinema effect on the Episode. Sure there was here and there some fog, but the great wide landscape scenes where “clear as the Blue sky”

    Violet made an small step progression, with some help

    p.s. Of course this focus on ex-soldiers that come back from the War.. with all visible and hidden scares on their Heart and Body

    Thats why it remember me a little bit of “From Up on poppy hill”


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