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Violet Evergarden – 11

「「もう、誰も死なせたくない」」 (‘Mou, Dare mo Shina Setakuni)
“‘I Don’t Want Anyone Else to Die’”

These days, most of the anime in any given season are adaptations. There are cross-promotional monetisation benefits to this: if you’ve read the manga, you might watch the anime, and if you watch the anime you might go read the manga. I get that; we’ve been writing the preview for the next season here on RandomC, and when I see a, say, Persona 5 adaptation I get hyped because I’ve played and I liked it. Now, I’m probably going to watch that show. As an anime blogger, though, I much prefer blogging shows where I’m not familiar with the source material at all. Any story is best when the experience is fresh, and writing about those fresh emotions is more fun than retreading old ground. So while ardent fans of a work may frown when an adaptation makes significant changes, I actually encourage adaptations to play around with their source. Not only does tailoring a story to the medium usually make for a better story, it’s also simply more interesting for me.

I talk about the ways Violet Evergarden has adapted the original light novel to its current form basically every now, but this episode may be the greatest change we’ve had so far. The general thrust is the same: Violet drops into a war-zone to write a letter for a dying soldier, delivers it, heartbreak ensues. But the devil is in the details. Even if you haven’t read the LN, you may perhaps have already had a taste of how this chapter goes there. Remember back to the earliest promotional materials; I’m sure they’re on Youtube somewhere if you want to look for them. Remember to a small but eyecatching scene that the first commercial showed off. A young girl, carrying a body out of a towering fire. Dramatic, no? In the LN, Violet’s rescue of Aiden was definitely much more theatrical. The young soldier had gone down, trapped in a forest aflame, surrounded by enemies. From the heavens descends Violet Evergarden, inexplicable poleaxe in hand. She is challenged by the hostile soldiers, and in Aiden’s defence slaughters them all. Whipping out pen and paper from her bag, she writes a letter for the dying boy on the spot, the trees burning around them, and when his final words are said she nobly carries his body away like a Valkyrie beckoning to Valhalla. Aaand scene. While the LN chapter was still ultimately sad and tragic, much more so than in the anime Violet got to swoop in like the big damn hero. This was one of the earlier chapters, meant to reveal that Violet was indeed a super-soldier. She got to kick a lot of butt, and was an impeccable professional while doing so. It was pretty cool. The way the LN did it would have made for the better spectacle. But would it have made for the better story?

While part of me was disappointed that we didn’t get to see that level of action animated, a larger part of me has concluded that, in hindsight, this was the right way to go about it. Violet is a different character at this point in the anime compared to at that point in the LN, and thus demands a different dynamic. She’s not a big damn hero. She has internalised the death of Gilbert. She understands grief. She had managed to, with the help of her friends, extricate herself from war, but now she voluntarily throws herself back in. This was another test. Violet is now a civilian. A Doll. She manages to avoid killing. She writes the letters. She delivers Aiden’s farewells. But, not Aiden himself. Having lost Gilbert, Violet understands that no pretty words can substitute for returning the boy alive. She did all she could as Doll, and is thanked for it, but what comfort is there in that? If anything, it is a testament to her own powerlessness in the face of death. What salvation can she offer? What warmth is in her hands? To Violet, she has failed again. There can be no heroism here.

In the first commercial, we saw Violet in the fire. We saw her improbable and frankly somewhat silly fantasy weapon. Someone in the animation production had, in the project’s most infant stages, put their mind to those things. And equally, someone had made the decision to cut them. That’s bold. No matter what one might think of any changes an adaptation makes, I think we need to respect a deliberate and considered decision to make them. It is not made lightly. Adaptation requires a clear image of the story you’re telling, an ambition to make it better, and the courage to walk an untrodden road. Many anime do not receive that level of care, so we should celebrate the hints of ambition when we see them. There has been a lot of thought put into Violet Evergarden. Thought is not always a common resource, and it is worth appreciating.

March 22, 2018 at 8:26 am
  • March 22, 2018 at 8:57 am:-)

    • March 22, 2018 at 1:12 pmPanino Manino

      This is almost straight for MGS3 opening.

      • March 22, 2018 at 5:03 pmWorldwidedepp

        If i recall, it was an Human Torpedo to infiltrate the Base in secret

  • March 22, 2018 at 9:51 amPanino Manino

    It was a ok episode, now that I comprehend how the narrative works.
    Nevertheless I think that it would be better if Violet wasn’t so much the center of the attention all the time. We didn’t need to see her travel all the way there, we could instead spend more time with Aiden, and then suddenly Violet falling from the sky like an Angel… and by the way, scenes like this one makes me remember that “forced” one from a few episodes ago. Makes me suspect more that it was really literal.
    At this point it’s irrelevant like the systems and economy makes no sense in this world, but it’s still strange to see those soldiers just walking out of the scene and not coming back to kill her famous enemy.

    At first I didn’t like that Violet didn’t just found Aiden agonizing, but it seems it was intentional, with a purpose. That the author wanted to make her feels guilty for not saving him to do something with if in the next episodes.

  • March 22, 2018 at 11:59 amUlliUlli

    Bruh, she didnt kill the enemies in the LN
    she only beat the shit out of them with her war axe
    the dying soldier narrated that she didnt use the blade part of the axe, using it as a blunt weapon and thus not dealing any fatal wounds. then after she beat them up it continues

    and yeah, i really liked the story of the LN more than of the adaption
    maybe its nice for others that its less dramatic, but i have the feeling that like that many chars are shown as stupids or incompetent due to some parts

    like for example in the episode where she and the major were shot
    in the LN he told her to go ahead and he himself backed her up by intercepting the other enemies by himself, thus getting wounded critically and blablabla

    and in the anime
    standing around in an unsafe area, not watching the surroundings and stuff

    it looked to me like “hey, heres stupid who wants to be shot”
    cuz he is a major of a special force squad who has enough battle experience and stuff
    such a stupid blunder shouldnt have been made by him

    well, i wanted to rant a bit

    also i’m anticipating the following episodes and are rather exited about how it will end in this episode
    i really hope they wont give me a reason to rage cuz they alter the ending in a worse one (from my viewpoint)

    • March 22, 2018 at 9:14 pmAnonymous

      Not bad criticism. Though the absence of the axe in general was probably for the better in this adaptation. As for the ending, isn’t it a lose-lose? Show Spoiler ▼

      Pretty difficult…

      • March 22, 2018 at 10:05 pmboingman

        Please no hinting please.

    • March 28, 2018 at 12:12 ammegalith

      The military aspect suffered because of the lack of time to flesh it out. Since there’s already plans for future Violet Evergarden project, if it’s an anime then maybe we’ll get a movie. Regardless, I think the anime is a success so far that I think we’ll see more. The general reception has been very good as the show goes on. Regarding the ending, their’s going to be changes that are inevitable.

  • March 22, 2018 at 12:37 pmURGH

    Bleh, even worse than one where that supposedly veteran combat officer died like an idiot because muh melodramatic plot.

    Idiots time ago liked to proclaim various shooters “tech demos”, who knew such thing for animoo is actually possible?

    • March 22, 2018 at 9:10 pmAnonymous

      …you say this as if he didn’t supposedly die in the source material as well. And how does being a veteran save you from being taken by surprise?

      • March 22, 2018 at 11:19 pmURGH

        Veterans have experience that allows them to plan for surprises, you see, that is why they survived to become veterans.

    • March 23, 2018 at 7:27 amPasserby

      I’m not really sure where all this misdirected rage is coming from.

      • March 23, 2018 at 12:53 pmURGH

        Because there is no rage but the usual meh kyanus reaction, perhaps?

    • March 23, 2018 at 1:54 pmHURGH

      I really hope for your sake that you’re only pretending to be retarded. Because otherwise, well, life’s gonna be tough for you. If you are only pretending then congrats, I was thoroughly convinced.

  • March 22, 2018 at 4:15 pmPrivate

    Salute to the fallen

  • March 22, 2018 at 4:17 pmHenrietta Brix

    An angel descends on the battlefield. Her goggle shine made her as sinister as Tanya dugrechav.

    We had VE episode 10, #yorimoi1101 and now VE ep 11… God this week has been an emotional wreck.

    • March 23, 2018 at 6:12 pmruicarlov

      Having watched yorimoi and VE back-to-back, in hindsight I must say it was a bad idea. Was not expecting another waterwork-inducing episode after last episode’s very powerful dramatics.
      Goddamit, I’ll run out of tears at this rate.

      Meanwhile, back at Kyoani, here’s what our tears are being used for: https://im-01.gifer.com/EDFf.gif

  • March 22, 2018 at 5:21 pmqwert

    I was going to make it through an entire episode without completely breaking down, clenching my jaw as the family and girlfriend received the letters… and then the mom thanked Violet… and then she started hugging her… and then I just started sobbing all over again.

  • March 22, 2018 at 7:02 pmRenaSayers

    There were two episodes I would like to call into question.

    One episode of the screen writer depressed from his late wife and daughter.

    Second episode 11 Daughter of a wealthy Mommy, Mommy is seriously sick.

    How is it that the writer didn’t put any stock into telling viewers what they were dying of? Pneumonia, would be my best guess considering the era.

    • March 22, 2018 at 9:31 pm=_=

      I say tuberculosis.

    • March 23, 2018 at 7:26 amPasserby

      I personally didn’t find it very important what they were dying of. This isn’t a medical drama, and whatever terminal thing they were suffering would have the same effect for the purposes of the story.

  • March 22, 2018 at 7:23 pmstarss

    If you live in the United States and have to deal with DAY-LATE SUBS, I am so sorry.

  • March 22, 2018 at 8:16 pmzztop

    The recently released Violet Evergarden sidestory novel is teasing “a new project in the works”.

  • March 22, 2018 at 8:53 pmzztop

    Vol 1 author’s afterwords:

    “I fail and cry often. I had thought I would wail less once I grew up, yet I only became even more of a crybaby. The only difference in the way I cry now from how I used to cry as a child is that my current self wipes the mud off her knees on her own, stands on her feet again with a tearstained face and resumes running at full speed, using her suffering as fuel. The fact I did not slow down, the fact I took notice of the people who were watching over me as I ran on and remembered to show them my gratitude…everything I felt was poured into Violet Evergarden. It’s not a very happy story, because life is hard.

    I don’t want tomorrow to come. Still, in this cruel word, I am moved to tears whenever occasional moments of wonder happen. I believe that’s beautiful. If a story like that was ever allowed, I wanted to write more of it. If there is anyone who has read up to this point that does not wish for tomorrow to come, please don’t give in. I’m cheering for you. I also really want to be cheered on, so let’s both make things work out somehow and do our best.”

  • March 22, 2018 at 10:01 pmboingman

    Another sad episode, but after last week’s episode I have no tears left.

  • March 23, 2018 at 12:57 amChris

    “From the heavens descends Violet Evergarden, inexplicable poleaxe in hand. She is challenged by the hostile soldiers, and in Aiden’s defence slaughters them all.”

    So in the novel she kills them? It doesn’t fit much with the way the character has developed so far.

    • March 23, 2018 at 1:01 amChris

      Did it happen in a much previous time in the novel? Otherwise it’s really out of place.

    • March 23, 2018 at 7:23 amPasserby

      Well, she didn’t kill them, but did thrash them soundly. The novels are a bit achronological, but we could say that this chapter took place ‘earlier’ there.

  • March 23, 2018 at 6:25 amminxy

    I heard somewhere that benedict and violet have hinted moments in that novel is that true and if it is why was it cut?

  • March 23, 2018 at 2:26 pmIncognito

    “In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.”
    - Herodotus

    While this kind of story is nothing new, the constants are still there: The tragedy of loss, and those left behind gathering the fortitude to overcome that loss and continue living.

    Man, after mentioning that the previous episode hit me in the feels with the precision of a sniper, this happens:
    Damn. Also, Aidan’s CO gets shot earlier by that same sniper and his squad doesn’t even spread out and find cover? I’m guessing they weren’t finished with training when the deployment order came. (Green as green can be.)

    I see Cattleya’s also the C.H. Postal poster girl… (Or the inspiration for the poster girl.)

    Aidan’s last (silenced) words meant for Maria are “I love you,” isn’t it?

    After becoming an Auto Memory Doll to find the meaning behind those same words uttered by Gilbert, and after seeing that tragic scenario repeat itself with Aidan, Violet finally understands the emotional depth of those words.

    However, if the anime catches up to the latest light novel volume… Let’s just say that Violet might be in for a surprise. ;-)

  • March 23, 2018 at 3:37 pmSeorori

    Seriously, Violet should stop crying, because every time she cries…I would cry with her as well.
    I also agree with your thoughts as well. The changes were quite suitable and signify Violet’s growth as a character,

  • March 23, 2018 at 6:52 pmonion warrior

    I almost thought Violet gonna give him a kiss on the lips! im so guilty! please forgive me Violet X(
    that said, i still cannot help but to think Violet might wanna kiss him, as she kept on staring his lips urghh…why am i like this lol

    I think KyoAni did the right thing. i was wondering how the hell Violet gonna find one huge axe in the middle of nowhere. though i was a bit relieved at this part, i did somehow feel they should animate Anne hitting Violet and where she looks like she doesnt know what to do and gave her a hug instead, plus the Oscar’s part…i so wanna see Violet in that white dress though

  • March 28, 2018 at 12:08 ammegalith

    I was really late to watch this. Looking back at the changes done, reminds me why I’m glad they got rid of Violet’s Ginormous Axe.

  • July 18, 2018 at 12:31 amKurik

    Loved this episode. You would think by now you know what’s gonna happen but even though you know the emotional impact is still high. Yes, I welled up a lot for this one. Well written and well animated.I haven’t read the light novels but the changes you highlighted were definitely for the best.