「「君は道具ではなく、その名が似合う人になるんだ」」 (‘Kimi wa Dougude wa Naku, Sono na ga Niau ni Narunda.’)
“You Won’t Be a Tool, but a Person Worthy of That Name.”

The character arc of the titular Violet Evergarden is not a complex one. Here’s a girl who doesn’t much understand emotions. She is forced to confront her problem in her line of work. She comes away with a new understanding of herself and the world. Simple, straightforward, and familiar. A story purely about Violet cannot sustain many episodes without getting repetitive, and so the secondary cast has to step up, with Violet herself shrinking back from the protagonist role and shining the spotlight on someone else. That’s the main form of Violet Evergarden, more or less a series of case studies that each shed some light on the human condition and polish Violet’s character one facet more as it does.

This week’s subject doesn’t stray far from Violet’s circle yet, though: fellow Doll Iris Cannary (Tomatsu Haruka). Iris has been the slowest to warm to Violet in the company, but is still close enough to her to fall within her comfort zone so she makes for a good second client for Violet. The two are also fitting foils for each other; while Violet is perfectly aloof at most times, Iris wears her heart on her sleeve (I know she doesn’t usually wear sleeves at all, not the point). But ironically Violet is actually easy to read, because she always says exactly what she’s thinking without censor, while Iris is the one who insists on hiding her feelings, in vain though it may be.

This episode is about dishonesty, but then so are, fundamentally, many kinds of stories. Think of how many dramas and comedies of errors would be non-starters if every character in them were always open about everything at all times. In fact, it’s sometimes even frustrating when characters just can’t be honest. Think of all the anime you have watched. Think of every awkward dad who doesn’t bother correcting a misunderstanding until he is killed by a resentful son. Think of every romantic lead who can’t work up the courage to confess her feelings and lets the relationship go nowhere for the entire season. Violet Evergarden also seems to imply that honesty is the best policy, but there are many reasons to tell a lie. Maybe it’s common courtesy. Maybe it’s to protect another. Maybe you’re a politician. Lies are the grease of society; sure, it’s a bit slimy, but it keeps things running smoothly. To continue the ‘Violet is a robot’ metaphor, one of the things robots in fiction often cannot do or are programmed not to do is lie. The social lie is a very human thing. Children learn how to lie from a very young age. Even a toddler will say to your face that they didn’t sneak any snacks with their face covered in cookie crumbs. Sure, they’re not very good at it, but as they grow older they learn to lie better, with more nuance. More importantly, they learn better reasons for lying, beyond just the self-serving fib. Iris lies about her success as a Doll for more reasons than just pride. Her family lies about their request for more than just a birthday party. Simply stating the facts, as Violet did, is not the same as truth. Truth is a more cerebral understanding between parties. And in this case, beneath everything there’s a fundamental bond between Iris and her family that they will always be able to fall back on in the end.

What does this mean for Violet? There is on clear parallel between her and Iris: they were both named after flowers. What’s in a name? Or so the Bard would ask, but a rose by any other name may not smell as sweet. A name contains the hopes and dreams parents have for their child. The Major was obviously in some parts a parental figure. He picks up a child soldier, takes her with him to war, and throws her head-first into violence and death. But he names her, ‘Violet‘.


  1. This show is really trying hard to be “dramatic” and “emotional”, right? Really trying to make us “cry”, right?
    Well, it’s not working.
    The animation as expected is beautiful, but anything beyond it is kinda of plain. For me it’s not working. I’m not against changing the original, but this story is called “Violet Evergarden”, I want to know more about Violet, not hear what obvious thing irrelevant characters have to say about her (and boys and girls, how the characters of this story enjoy explaining everything in detail for us, maybe because we are too dumb to figure out by ourselves).
    I want to know what Violet have to say instead.
    This slow way of reveling her story with short flashbacks, the completely “autistic” behavior unable to read any emotions and the annoying and disrespectful responses, are not helping in making me like and care for this character.

    1. Violet is the same, the same plain character. Just “feel bad for this cutie!” – the main idea of KyoAni work.

      And creators work really hard to inbreathe as many episodes as it possible in the story, till it burst like a soap bubble.

    2. An attempt at the dramatic, perhaps, but I don’t think this episode was ever meant to ‘make us cry’. Why should it try to ‘make’ us do anything? I saw it more as building up to an empathetic moment. If you ever had experience with a set of well-meaning but overbearing parents, or a rebellious but insecure child, then you can have a human connection with these folks.

      Also, that’s not how autism works, that’s not how quotation marks work, yada yada.

      1. “Why should it try to ‘make’ us do anything?”
        Errrr… because that’s what episodes do? That’s what storytelling does? To formulate some kind of visceral connection between the characters and the audience so that the suspension of belief can continue and the audience would watch until the end?

        “If you ever had experience with a set of well-meaning but overbearing parents, or a rebellious but insecure child, then you can have a human connection with these folks.”
        I had and continue to have experience with a set of well-meaning but overbearing parents, and I was and still am quite insecure, but all I wanted to do was tell Iris to stfu. I just felt pure annoyance. I understand that she’s supposed to be a foil character to Evergarden, but the writing and pacing was just so poorly done. I’m sure there are a million other ways the execs could have chosen to make it work.

        “Also, that’s not how autism works, that’s not how quotation marks work.”
        Please enlighten us on how Evergarden is not at least somewhat on the spectrum, which is defined by lack of knowledge and ability to have empathy with other people and their feels and therefore project appropriate social skills (until taught). I assume the commentor wasn’t sure whether it was okay to use said word since he doesn’t have a professional clinical background.

        Little Tangerine
      2. @Little Tangerine
        Wait, I thought you were using bold text for quotes? Never mind. We do have blockquote html you can use, though. Give it a try!

        Let’s address your points one by one.

        1. Not sure if you’re agreeing with me or not. Yes, stories build connections between us and its characters all the time (though I think they can be equally visceral or cerebral). But they can’t make us do anything. They’re just words. Your response to those words and what they mean is a personal thing that no author can dictate. An author may try to invoke emotion or sympathy, but they’re not going to predict how you as an individual will react to that. Not everybody will shed tears out of empathy, but that doesn’t mean they have no empathy.

        (I don’t think we should see suspension of disbelief as something writers actively continues. I think it’s better conceptualised as a compact that author and audience enter into for any piece of fiction, and the author has to take care not to break it.)

        2. If that’s how you feel, more power to you. Irritation may well be your response to people who don’t act like what you consider to be proper, and nobody can deny you that.

        3. Being bad with people does not make you autistic (and even then, Violet is a perfectly functional communicator. She’s just inexperienced with emotional nuance). It’s been a trend in America to pounce on any sort of behaviour that deviates from the median and call it a disorder, which may have fueled the surprisingly persistent hysteria about, say, vaccines causing autism. I would rather we not follow it.

        I do not presume to guess what Panino Manino’s intent was with the quotation marks. They were simply incorrect.

      3. Different lengths of posts, different emphases, different intents = different formats. And block quotes in the comment section? Hell no. Let’s leave that for original blog posts.

           Stories sure as hell make people do stuff. Ever see people change their rooms to match a setting from a book? Ever seen people go vegan after a story on animal abuse? Ever seen women feel empowered after reading a story on speaking up on rape or going through abortion? Or even choosing mates they feel are similar to a character they fancied from a book or film? Or even as simple as spending the time to write fanfiction? You know as well as I that words are definitely never “just words”.

           I’m sure Manino’s “made us cry” is just a hyperbolic representational phrase for “made us feel the feels”, aka. feel empathy. No one actually had to be sobbing; I thought that was obvious.

           My whole point about the Iris Cannary situation is that this episode’s deliverable intent (Evergarden learning a bit more on what love is via Cannary going love- and family-related challenges) was executed in mediocrity. The premise is extremely generous and allows so many ways for the audience to connect to the story’s characters. And yet it chose one that didn’t leave much impact. My personal experiences don’t actually matter.

           No one here ever said Evergarden is on this journey to improve upon her elocution skills. Having problems with emotional nuance is already a red light for some kind form of mild autism. Even seasoned soldiers need to “read the room” in order to thrive in a strictly hierarchy-based system. I don’t know what vaccines have anything to do with this conversation, but putting weariness of “American trends” as a reference point to what constitutes as autistic behavior or not doesn’t exactly make your point persuasive. Then again, “Born Sexy Yesterday” has been with us since pretty much the dawn of storytelling. I’m not surprised if this were just another subtle attempt on the trope. In which case, whether she’s actually a bit autistic or not is irrelevant.

           I, like many others here, are staying for “the pretty colors (and the beautifully drawn heads)”. Let’s hope that won’t be the only reason people are staying for much longer. I desperately want to like this series.

        Little Tangerine
      4. @Passerby
        I’m not sure what problem Violet has, but I imagine that she has indeed a problem. For what I see she clearly can’t read expressions, she hears the words and ignores all types of corporal expressions. So imagine that I’m doing Dr. Evil signature hand gesture when I said that Violet seems “autistic”. It’s just a “generic” expression for the lack of a definitive diagnostic.

        You can’t say that an episode isn’t meant to make us feel anything.
        In this case “of course” they want to make us cry. It’s a drama, it’s an emotional story. “Of course” they want to make us feel something for those characters, how can you say they don’t mean anything?
        This episode was full of emotional outbursts, be Iris falling to the ground crying or the rare facial expression Violet shows at the end.
        “Of course”, you may not cry, but you should feel something, anything, if you don’t then the episode failed in part.

    3. This show is really trying hard to be “dramatic” and “emotional”, right? Really trying to make us “cry”, right?
      Well, it’s not working.
      The animation as expected is beautiful, but anything beyond it is kinda of plain. For me it’s not working. I’m not against changing the original, but this story is called “Violet Evergarden”, I want to know more about Violet, not hear what obvious thing irrelevant characters have to say about her (and boys and girls, how the characters of this story enjoy explaining everything in detail for us, maybe because we are too dumb to figure out by ourselves).
      I want to know what Violet have to say instead.
      This slow way of reveling her story with short flashbacks, the completely “autistic” behavior unable to read any emotions and the annoying and disrespectful responses, are not helping in making me like and care for this character.

      I certainly didn’t cry, if that’s what you expect the episode this week should be doing…

      I see this as building up how Violet should see relations – whether parent-child ones that needs to be reconnected, siblings getting back together emotionally after a war, awkward childhood friends after rejecting/being rejected – along with the emotions them all, cause Violet NEEDS to understand them all from the heart, not just some knowledge or muscle memory thing like type-write 200 letters a minute or someone’s self-introduction; And she want to understand, even going as far as blundering haplessly to do it.

      I might be mistaken here, but Violet might be trying to be less stoic than when she was enlisted as a child soldier. (Though it’s going slow enough that I can’t notice it.)

      KyoAni’s doing a good enough job so far to get this doing so far fleshing out Violet’s (rather gradual) journey to understand what she should be ghostwriting.

      1. And I feel that her behavior was a step back from the development we see her get last episode. Maybe you could justify this like, “she was doing the opposite of what was told by Iris on purpose exactly because of last episode, she acted like Iris wasn’t saying what she really wanted and did the opposite on purpose”. Maybe, maybe, but still hard to swallow.

  2. The show’s not really working, focusing on other characters than Violet doesn’t make anything fresh week after week, nope, it’s still feeling like the same episode about a girl who doesn’t what “I love you” means and it’s boring…

    I want more ~~

  3. This episode is anime-original, bar some flashbacks to Violet’s past.
    There’s been a lot of negative feedback on the net on this episode; that the original content pales to the source novel’s, why couldn’t Kyoani just stay faithful to the excellent source, they’re butchering the material, they never learn from their original-content flops, etc. (and that’s after removing the expletives).

    1. I feel like the only person enjoying this show. Maybe because I avoided the hype and am putting off reading the novel. It suits my tastes since I like seeing violet act more and more human as the times goes on. People are insulting the plot, the op an ed, and I’m here absolutely taken in by it. How strange.

      1. For months I nurtured an “anti-hype”, and this is becoming everything that I feared.
        Let’s be honest, the story and script till now is just passable, there’s nothing really noteworthy neither in content nor in delivering. When we look at other anime from this season there’s plenty of stories that are more interesting in content and narrative.
        Of course there’s people who will enjoy it like you, but is comprehensible the “disappointment”.

    2. @zztop
      We can view this entire start to Violet Evergarden as anime original, really. For one, there’s not actually that much light novel to adapt, so maybe they want to pad things out a bit. And then there’s the issue, as the redditor you quote further down elaborates on.

      The problem, I think, is that many anime viewers are expecting this big narrative arc, which is not entirely their fault since these first few episodes have set themselves up alone a mostly chronological line. But that’s not really Violet Evergarden‘s strength. For example, the ‘narrative’ of first volume of light novel was basically just the mystery of Violet’s background, and for the anime that’s already been largely expended. This is one of the reasons why you will see me, in the previous posts, objecting to the anime starting from Act I where the novel started from Act II. It is, by and large, unsustainable.

      The anime is trying to have its cake and eat it too, trying to develop a traditional narrative arc while sticking with the spirit of the light novels i.e. being mostly a series of character studies connected only by the presence of Violet. I don’t think they actually have enough to work with to pull that off, though, and makes the episodes feel a bit too much like filler. I do think Violet Evergarden will eventually grow out of that, though, and this slow start makes for some interesting analysis for me, at least.

      1. @starss
        The LN is actually complete at 2 volumes.

        I’m enjoying the series in terms of bringing to life the world of the light novel and adding some additional flavor to it, but so far it is quite lacking in terms of adapting the source content.

        The light novel features mostly vignettes focusing on different encounters Violet has with her clients, interspersed with flashback chapters that drive the primary plot. I feel like they would have been much better off sticking to this format, as it reminds me of Cowboy Bebop which worked out quite well.

  4. An interesting comment by a Redditor, ryorp, defending the anime-original content:

    “[I felt V]olume 1 (is) a really good STANDALONE book…it was clearly written and structured to be standalone, and have no further content. It leaves us with a hugely intense climax that I personally love to death.

    The problem starts with volume 2, and the fact that it even exists. It’s purpose is to expand and continue the story, but because of the way volume 1 is written and how it ends, it’s like trying to eat a burger after eating at a fancy restaurant. Can you do it? Yes. Will you enjoy it? Most likely. Will it be the same? Absolutely effin’ not. Volume 2 even ends in what I find personally a quite lackluster way. But that’s just because it has to compare itself to volume 1. Volume 2 was still good, but it just wasn’t the same.

    So what do you do as KyoAni? Well, you adapt it. And I do mean adapting. You change so you can bridge volume 1 and 2 in a more natural way. So how do we do that? Sacrifices must be made though. Volume 1 thrived on keeping us in the dark at the start, but we can’t do that if don’t wanna make a huge climax at episode 7 and then just ride it out for the rest of the cour. But that sounds dumb doesn’t it? It’d be basically coming down from a high for 6 episodes. What about only adapting volume 1 if it’s so great?… it leaves the problem of not being enough content for a cour, but impossible to make into a movie, leaving KyoAni no realistic way of getting people onboard.

    So…you do what KyoAni is doing now. Properly set up the world and characters, introduce things that will serve a greater purpose at the start. The light novels do not do this. This is why so much is anime original. We need this start if we are to adapt both volume 1 and 2. Light novel content will come. We’ve seen it in trailers.

    1. And as a result you end with a whole that it’s not interesting as Volume 1 alone, neither elevates volume 2?
      No problem in adapting and adding to it. The controversy here is about if this new material is good or not. It’s just so-so, probably ending as a somewhat forgetful show with some good moments.
      Trying not being unjust here, I perceive that I need to watch it till the end to give a better judgment, example, the parallels with roses and names. I don’t need it, but Violet does. That being said, the experience thus far is not a good one.

  5. Iris is in the running for becoming my favorite Doll, but this ep may have decreased her winning chance. BOY did she frustrate me. Her mother clearly meant well but I am very close to my own parents even when living away from them, and so maybe this episode hit close to home.

    1. I understood where she was coming from. Her mom was being really dismissive and shitty, in my opinion. “Oh, you clearly love what you’re doing, well I think you should get married so I’m going to force it onto you”, mother of the year for sure…

  6. I do not like the fact with all the glamor, effort and hype KyoAni gave to this show, the worst thing that could happen in the end of this series is giving the audience just a shrug. Which is going to be one hell of damnation, and they’re going back doing Free and that archery boy series to “recoup” what they lost.

    1. To be fair Free! is an absolutely huge series for Kyoto Animation. And it’s not like they just decide on the spare of the moment to produce an anime for that season, they would have planned to produce both Free! and Tsurune for some time.

      If they haven’t run out of material for Violet Evergarden by the end of this season, it’s very likely they’ll produce a movie or a second season at some point.

  7. “A pretty looking cardboard.” – Gigguk, 2018
    Aside from the audio visual and animation, it’s not that bad and Violet is learning what love is little by little. I will still follow it to completion.

    One Pinch Man
  8. Hmm, i was pretty happy with last week’s episode. But ep4 kinda went a little…down, i think?

    Am i the only one who feel like VE anime is a side-story version of the whole VE story? Something more like a peaceful afterstory (after the war?)kinda feel since most of the huge story is from the source material itself. I dont wanna bash this anime after reading everyone’s comments here cuz i still love the anime regardless.

    Anyways, IRIS.

    onion warrior
  9. Here’s my take on this week written in the reddit comment section before reading Passerby’s (longer and more elegant) take:

    – Iris is forever going to get karma’d a lot if she continues like that (lol).
    – …and Violet is clueless on being hurt from words (ie. she doesn’t feel them)… Oh yeah, add straight as an arrow to that too…
    – Dat introduction from Violet.
    – The self-contained story was just Violet blunted her way into Iris’s problem, not knowing the feelings behind the center of the storm. Also, extra salt sprinkles. At least Violet learned a bit about the complicated feelings involved in the declaration of love…

    OTOH, I didn’t realize Tomatsu-san was the VA for Iris…

  10. This is striking me as a similar anime to Hyouka or maybe Kino no Tabi. A string of stories tied together by the main character. The MC provides an outsider POV to the events of the story. The gist I’m getting from the comments is that the LN was structured in a different fashion to reverse the objective of the story. The various stories are meant to provide a narrative to explain Violet and her past.

    1. In the LN each of the short character stories offers a glimpse of Violet’s journey to understand love as well as an array of other emotions such as grief, jealousy, frustration, etc that are often associated, as she experiences them vicariously through her clients and sometimes as the direct recipient. They are self contained vignettes for the most part, though a couple of the characters do appear outside their respective introductory chapters. There are also chapters dedicated to her backstory as well as ones set in the present, with the rest skipping around in terms of the timeline.

      In terms of intent the anime isn’t all that different from the stories in the light novel — it’s just not of the same quality or presented in the same order/format. As others have mentioned though, given the scenes in the promotional material, it does seem at least a good chunk of the light novel’s stories will be covered, so hopefully this will be the last of the anime original episodes (though that was my expectation after the previous episode too…)

      I also hope that their treatment of certain flashback scenes, such as when Violet is introduced to the major for the first time, will be expanded upon later, and that they are only teasing them at the moment…because there is much more content there than covered. If they don’t, I must question why they sacrificed it for the anime original content instead…

    1. Well, for the purple violet, it symbolizes that the giver’s “thoughts were occupied with love” about the recipient. Rather fitting really.

      Also, a blue iris represents faith, hope, wisdom, courage, and admiration.

  11. I think the story is terrible and the message behind it. If you want to apologise to someone you would say the words in person and not get an outsider to write a letter of apology.


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