「「愛する人は ずっと見守っている」」 (‘Aisuruhito wa Zutto Mimamotteiru’)
“Loved Ones Will Always Watch Over You”

I just finished writing about Fate/EXTRA Last Encore yesterday. It was something of a downer episode featuring a very unfortunate little girl. I just wrote a spiel about the anime industry milking its sad kids, and now comes Violet Evergarden, which obviously didn’t read a single word I wrote. Rude. As far as drama goes, I consider crying children to be taboo. It’s cheating. It’s entrapment. Mostly because it’s so effective. The episode director this week was Ogawa Taichi, bringing his experience in creating unhappy children while working on Koe no Katachi to inflict on us in Violet Evergarden. And oh, it stings. Children are more than the precocious shounen heroes or the innocent blobs of cute. They have it rough. They go through a lot very quickly relative to their age, and don’t yet have the life experience or cynical outer armour needed to rationalise their emotions. In drama children can be caricatured or overused, but when done well there is something raw about their tears. Commendations to Morohoshi Sumire, something of an expert on voicing little girls, for a powerful performance as Anne this episode. She really wrang the emotions out of this one.

More than crying children, though, I’m affected by crying mothers. I am fatally weak to stories of parental devotion (CLANNAD slew me, but I got better); there’s just something beautiful about unconditional love. When mothers actually show up in anime, they usually come in one of two flavours: either they’re of the wicked stepmother variety or they’re stalwart bastions of love and stability (that said, watch Mushishi). So when a mother breaks down, it’s usually a very big deal. As it was here. No doubt Anne’s mother wished to spend more of her remaining days with her child. Keeping her away must have been painful. Yet, in the way mothers do, she gives and she sacrifices for the future of her daughter. It’s powerful stuff.

This episode was based on what was perhaps my favourite chapter of the light novel. The anime has adapted it quite well, but you may have noticed that Violet does not play quite as large a role here as earlier episodes. This is faithful to the light novel, and in this episode we get a peek at its original form. In the novel, especially the earlier chapters, Violet was often not our point of view. Rather, she plays background (yet still important) parts in the stories of others. So we have this episode about Anne and her relationship with her mother, told from her perspective, with Violet playing a supporting role in more ways than one. While this is the base state of the novel, the anime does this now because as of last episode Violet’s character was essentially complete. We can pull back from her, have her enable other stories, and reflect. In that vein, two important changes from the novel: the positioning of this chapter later in the series as episode 10, and a small scene for Violet at the end. While in the novel we got this chapter early, but here Violet has already gone through a lot. Anne’s story is a reflection of her own; Violet, having been orphaned herself, can finally say that she understands love, both of Anne and her mother. And lo, empathy. Violet has come a long way from being a metaphorical robot. I think we can safely say that she is human after all.


  1. I was actually quite surprised, having a look at the previous KyoAni works. I always thought of Clannad as one of the best works of this studio (and one of the first anime I’ve watched as well), but since its airing (2007-2009), they’ve been mostly focusing on more comedy vibes during recent years, including shows like Nichijou, Hyouka, Amagi Brilliant Park or Hibike Euphonium (let’s say with a small exception of Kyoukai no Kanata, which still was ‘light’). And sure all the recent KyoAni’s shows had some tearful moments (I mean, who didn’t cry at the K-On!! finale), but this seems to be the first more dignified and serious show since Clannad. And I don’t really want to count how many times I’ve already cried during Violet Evergarden (while I rarely cry at all), but well, today was another one.

    Thank you for making these comparisons with novel Passerby, it’s quite interesting to see how the anime adapts its source material. Surely this episode felt a bit different, but I really enjoyed this, Violet being way more in the background than usual, serving its purpose of the story. Even though one might say the secret behind letters was predictable, I just didn’t think about it at all during the episode, being so moved by what was happening on the screen. Another solid episode, and I can’t express how satisfied I am with the pacing this show has since its beginning.

    1. It’s curious that while the modern Kyoto Animation is associated with its dramas, it was historically strongest at comedy. FMP Fumoffu and Haruhi, series which put KyoAni on the map, were comedies, and the veteran KyoAni directors were masters of comedic timing first and foremost. Even their dramas (like CLANNAD et al), as you may have noticed, as built on a comic foundation that makes drama more effective later.

  2. Certainly a bittersweet episode. All I can think about during those timeskips at the end is how is Violet doing…

    I was actually surprised that Anne didn’t hire Violet as her ghost writer.

  3. Holy geez, this episode. I mean just STOP, KyoAni! Why do you make me cry like this?? The ending is the moment most people imagine everyone crying at, yes. But I get kind of sensitive whenever a show or movie shows a little kid trying to understand the world around them and hoping hoping hoping nothing bad happens in front of them. All though this I was so nervous the mother would fall and die at every second. I guess some genre-savvy sharp viewers would get who the letters were for way early in the ep, but I didn’t. So I was so emotional in the montage of her growing up by the end. This is hands down the most crying I have ever done to a Violet Evergarden episode.

    In a serious matter, I like how it was written like Violet became Anne’s kind of other mother of sorts. Anne is already around 7 or so, the time when girls would kind of outgrow dolls, but she kept it because she needed an outlet for companionship and attention, something her busy and ill mother couldn’t adequately provide. A kid mistaking Violet for an actual doll is a great story addition to this show, and Violet is the pristine ideal image of a childhood doll dream.

    … man wouldn’t it have been horrible if Anne’s life after her mother’s death turned out to be crap?? *_*

  4. The Japanese Feels Truck has claimed another victim.

    Finally! This is the story I was looking forward to the most from the Novel. I was afraid that it wouldn’t make it. But Alas, it did! While the theme was almost similar to Oscar, how it was used was the essential part.

    The story becomes much better when it comes into contrast with Oscar’s story. Violet’s oblivious nature that time compared to how she is very much more aware about other people’s feelings just drives this home. Now we see that Violet herself breaking down not because of her circumstance, but for someone else. I swear her saying that she was holding back her feelings the entire time just twists the knife in my heart which was already stabbed by the particular scene where Violet was consoling Anne. The moment she spoke about her arms just made me break down.

    As far as drama goes, I consider crying children to be taboo. It’s cheating. It’s entrapment. Mostly because it’s so effective.

    It can be cheap shot to tug some heartstrings but I don’t really mind as long as it’s good. It’s the reason why Clannad AS ep 18 was still the best one for me.

    Well like I said last week, I have a hunch we’re they’re going but as proven by this week, I’m wrong. So at this point I’ll stop predicting where the story is going and let it just take my hand to where ever the hell it wants to go. I honestly did not see a back to back feels episode.

    1. I found AS 18 effective not just because of Ushio (though that was the clincher) but also because it was the summation of Tomoya’s journey. Everything he and his father went through was behind that scene. That’s a lot of weight.

      1. In hindsight, I think the criticisms I’ve read about this episode felt a bit too cruel at times. I can understand that it is not a unique scenario. It’s also nothing that is special, however just because it is something that happens to almost every person doesn’t mean that it is a tale that cannot be told. In all honesty, it speaks magnitudes to people who have experienced spending their days with a loved one living on borrowed time.

        It’s really a shame that some people seemingly put up a strong persona as if they are so desensitized with it. Personally, out of all the stories we’ve had, Anne’s earnest feelings of spending time with her mother till her mother’s last days on earth dug down deep to some personal regrets I had.

        As Violet has said, Anne was someone commendable. She knew her mother was dying but she was brave enough to not run away. To face the reality can sometimes be very hard for other people. For others it might even feel impossible.

    2. well, that’s what this age of post-modern film expectations has done to our audience. It’s made them expect everything to be revolutionary or a twist or surprise. People almost don’t care about actual storytelling anymore

    1. Yeah. It’s weird how the letters knew where they were going. It’s like the DCH Postal Company tracks Anne and her whereabouts year after year. In case she moved. Chilling thought. Actually, not so chilling. This is almost Cold War era, after all.

      Little Tangerine
      1. I think Anne has been expecting them, since her first letter. If shes been getting those letters in from her house mailbox every year then most likely she’ll be expecting them again at the same place, and probably didnt move to anywhere even after gettin married and stayed at the same house with her new family.

        Onion Warrior
      2. Maybe there is a mail forwarding service? One thing that caught my attention was that it appeared that Anne started working even though she lived in what appears to be a large mansion. Might have needed to sell the mansion for living expenses when younger.

  5. While you can guess the general plot of the episode in the first minutes, all the feelings that comes around in 90% of it make it for a solid narrative in all perspectives (we even got anti-child troll Violet), but the last part… man, KyoAni knows how to destroy it’s audience. The moment Violet starts crying, you’re done. There’s no other more destructive power than that.
    I’m not that biased of child crying being cheap narrative, as it all depends of the context. As someone said before, Clannad’s Ushio is the most lethal example, but in this case, Ann’s crying is more the catalyst of the last part. It’s not as powerful as Clannad AS ep18, but prepares you for a more definite blow (Violet in this case), and that’s a masterful use of narrative.

  6. The Kyoto Animation formula for making their viewers cry:

    (Parent or Senior + Child or Junior)one of them dying = audience crying.

    Clannad: After Story, episode 7, episode 8 & 9, and this episode.
    (I most likely am forgetting other KyoAni moments like these)

    Yes, the theme of loss is indeed terrible, but it ussully catapults a show’s rating to space.

    1. Why is the ‘theme of loss’ innately ‘terrible’ though? If it’s part of the human experience, shouldn’t it be addressed?

      In any case, referring to the theme as just ‘loss’ seems to me too general. Loss comes in so many forms, and is dealt with in many ways. In this case, Anne’s mother specifically did not want her daughter to suffer through that loss, and I think the act of love is more powerful than the loss itself.

      1. Indeed, I am way too general for my use of the theme of loss to be terrible.

        But my point is KyoAni often uses the event of a person dying as a device to try get to an emotional response from their viewers. They used it in Clannad: AF, ep 7, ep 8&9, and now this episode. Heck they even used it in Koe no Katachi on a person in an ICU.

        For me, it sometimes works, and sometimes not. I personally am not fond of this kind narrative, but it usually catapults a show’s rating higher.

        That said however, I won’t be surprised if KyoAni pulls a Nagisa on Gilbert.

      2. @XiV
        Perhaps you generalise overmuch about Kyoto Animation as well, treating it as a single monolithic will and reading into that assumption a cynical subtext. CLANNAD was written by Maeda Jun. Violet Evergarden was written by Akatsuki Kana. Koe no Katachi was written by Ouima Yoshitoki. And they are three very different stories.

        In any case, why should be it noteworthy that death is impactful? Death is one of the most difficult ideas that all of us are called to grapple with at some point. The loss of a loved one is a big deal in life as is in fiction. Consider this: there are many moments in many KyoAni shows where nobody has to deal with death at all, and that is the vast majority of their content. Yet, you still have this idea that death is common. It just goes to show, it sticks with you, as it should.

      3. I see it as a thread on the KyoAni shows that I choose to watch.

        I see it as a formula that is used to bring upon an emotional response to an audience. It does not matter if the formula has different variables as long as it is the same formula.

        A formula that exist does not mean it is always used. But, to get similar results, as in to get an emotional response from their audience, this formula is what I observe KyoAni always uses. I do concur that my use of the theme of loss is vague, however I was just having a laugh at my observation and thought about sharing it.

  7. It was an episode “to cry”, but I didn’t get much emotional because of it.
    Even so it was a good episode, well made. And as always, very good looking, especially those night scenes under lamp light.
    I think that the purpose of this episode was to show that Violet learned to live without Gilbert, right? And I’m glad that she can perform maintenance on her hands by herself. What I can’t think is what’s more there’s to see in this story? Will Gilbert really prove to be alive somewhere? But that would make all this suffering and learning a bit pointless.

  8. https://randomc.net/image/Violet%20Evergarden/Violet%20Evergarden%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2042.jpg
    Boy, this is definitely my best Violet Evergarden’s episode ever.
    –The episode director this week was Ogawa Taichi, bringing his experience in creating unhappy children while working on Koe no Katachi to inflict on us in Violet Evergarden.

    No wonder i feel this episode was a bit different from the rest of the previous ones. It didnt feel forced at all, it felt just right in all the emotional ways and somehow, very natural. No wonder its easy to follow and i am currently overflowing with tears watching this.

    I never cried so badddd watching KyoAni animes ever since Clannad After Story. Boy, dang, even reading everyone’s comments here is making me crying as well. Its kinda funny how after Magus’ Bride last week episode about Chise’s mother, now this…are you guys competing who makes the most tearjerking episode ever huh??? Even YoriBasho is killing me with Shirase’s mom.

    And that ending, Violet…<3 surely a poker face master consider how she was before this. I was kinda surprised when i see she got not much reactions at first after last week's episode, but when she broke down at the ending, i was like, suffocating in tears. Well done.

    My personal favorite so far, then Charlotte's, Luculia's, and finally Oscar's. <3

    onion warrior
  9. I made some thoughts…

    What would if…

    the last scene, where these letters arrive on her Birthdays and Violet’s tearful breakdown, would be switched?
    first we see Violet in tears, and then the visual proof that the Letters will arrive her over this all years?. Would it damper the effect of Violet tears? or is it the other way around, we know of the Letters and then her tears, that make her tears impact us “stronger”?

    Well, played mr/mrs Script writer.. With just an little change of they can make the “tears” stronger or weaker…

    I bow my head. Timing is also important

  10. Good Lord, this was the largest waterworks I’ve seen this side of Clannad After Story. My waterworks, mind you, but impressive nonetheless.
    At the rate things were going I was almost expecting to see pet who lost his owner just to make a “check” on my weakness list.

  11. https://randomc.net/image/Violet%20Evergarden/Violet%20Evergarden%20-%2010%20-%20Large%2041.jpg
    Damnit KyoAni, why are you so good at pulling my heartstrings like that?

    (*cue inelegant blubbering while having flashbacks of the K-On!! finale, Clannad: After Story and–to mention non-KyoAni anime works that have similar amounts of pulling at one’s heartstrings–SukaSuka and Little Busters*)

    Heck, Yorimoi may have its fair share of heartwarming moments filled with ocular gushers (and I still love it for that), but this episode of Violet Evergarden manages to hit me right in the feels with the precision of a sniper. Even though attentive viewers could easily deduce that Mrs. Magnolia’s letters were ultimately meant for Anne, it doesn’t lessen the emotional impact of the scenes later on. Especially with the eventual reveal of the letters’ purpose and that Violet tried to keep her stoic composure throughout the whole thing until her return to the C.H. Postal office. Damn.

  12. I don’t know how I would have gone through this episode a couple of years ago, but nowadays I just can’t hold back the tears following the parting of a loved one.
    Which is also why I wasn’t able to watch the 2nd half until later today.

    First losing the father in the war and then later the mother. That small girl is so unfortunate. But sending those letters, such a beautiful idea…:(

    Last time that an anime episode got me like that was the final episode of “Made in Abyss”. Still have yet to watch “Clannad”. Honestly don’t know if I ever will.

    “Loved Ones Will Always Watch Over You”



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