「自動手記人形と「愛してる」」 (Jidou Shuki Ningyou to `Itoshiteru’)
“Auto-Memoir Doll and ‘I Love You'”

Gilbert Bougainvillea is both alive and dead at the same time. He is assumed dead, but we haven’t seen the body. On the one hand, it is the way of mentor-characters to die dramatically to spur the growth of the protagonist, but on the other hand this is anime and nobody can be presumed dead until we cremate the corpse. Thus it is equally possible that Gilbert is alive or dead depending on the whims of the narrative, and until habeas corpus allows proper observation he exists in a quantum superposition where he can be considered to be in both states at once.

In seriousness, there is little reason to float a character in Limbo like that except to keep open the possibility of bringing him back. Here I will very deliberately only talk abou the anime, because I consider it to be its own thing at this point. I am very glad that the anime did not go all the way to bring Gilbert back. Sure, we already know that there’s going to be more Violet Evergarden in some form or another at some point, so the possibility is still open, but I think at this juncture I think we can consider the story we have on our hands ‘complete’. And it is a better story with Gilbert dead. No, I don’t wish for Violet to be sad. I enjoy happy endings. But narrative resurrection is serious business. For an anime in large part about coming to terms with loss, to simply undo that loss at the last moment trivialises the conflict. Losing Gilbert made Violet what she is today. The grief was real. It forged her into a stronger person. If Gilbert turned out to have been alive all along, it could cheapen his memory and his sacrifice. Contrast this with, say, CLANNAD (and if there are still those who still need to avoid CLANNAD spoilers, skip to the next paragraph). CLANNAD did not reach its ‘Good End’ lightly. It required a supernatural intervention that moved heaven and earth, set up over the course of the entire story, to reach the happily ever after. All of the protagonist’s experiences and struggles with the entire cast lead to that point. CLANNAD was fundamentally about earning that happy ending. Violet Evergarden is about finding catharsis after a sad one.

I also appreciate this ending because it, for the most part, wraps things up. The climax was actually mostly last week, and save for a bout of action-postman spectacle this final episode is mostly here to bring us down gently and tie off loose ends. That’s what makes the story feel complete. Violet Evergarden is arguably a coming of age story, and I think we can safetly say that Violet has come into her own. Meeting the Bougainvillea matriarch, being implicitly accepted into the family, proving herself worthy of her name, is as fine a way to do it as any. And we’re invited to bask in just how far Violet has come. Life may have been simpler for her when she was just taking orders from Gilbert, still childish and dependent. But after being violently forced from the nest, she makes something more of herself. Her world expands to be larger than her fixation with Gilbert, and in a neat bookend she finds a cause for which she was willing to sacrifice her arms again. She is not Gilbert’s tool, she’s his legacy. And that’s the story of Violet Evergarden.

Final impressions ~ Anime in the age of Netflix

It does seem that episodic anime are getting less popular these days, but it used to be that episodic anime were actually more the norm. While modern anime is known for its set length and disciplined narrative, it wasn’t too long ago that making a series less cohesive was actually acceptable, even encouraged. Even back in the 90s and early 00s there were still adaptations that deliberately dismantled their source’s narrative to create a more episodic sort of show, and did pretty well out of it. ‘Filler’ episodes weren’t just there to fill airtime and while waiting for more manga to be drawn, but also to make an anime less oppressive for viewers who jump in mid-way as part of their channel surfing. But that was the past, and times have changed. Now, anime profits are driven strongly by BD purchases, and have a cohesive narrative that ties the entire show together further entices the hardcore otaku to buy the entire set; no one wants to have a hole in their collection that is also a hole in the story. And now we have Netflix and the like, also changing viewing habits. Instead of casually tuning in week by week, the Netflix format encourages shows to be binged; or rather, the format works better with shows that can be binged. The simple urge to see what happens next in a story and then just reaching the end for the sake of completion can be a powerful one. The viewer becomes more likely to spend their hours on that one show, which in turn makes the show more valuable for Netflix.

Enter Violet Evergarden, a show that happily thanks Netflix for its money in its credits every week. Now, I don’t have any inside scoop on the production of Violet Evergarden, but I think it’s a safe bet that it was made at least with Netflix on the mind. I’ve talked about this at length before, but the source Violet Evergarden was a much more episodic affair than the anime. It was fairly good like that, and normally the rule should be that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yet the anime made significant changes to the structure, even writing original segments, in order to turn Violet Evergarden into more of a linear narrative. And I would hazard a guess that the Netflix format played a part in the decision to do this.

Kyoto Animation has been traditionally associated with terrible original anime, and their best shows tended to be those more faithful to the an adaptation source. These days, though, they are more willing to fiddle with the knobs and dials on their in-house properties, sometimes to… undesirable results (the less we say about Musaigen no Phantom World the better). I think Violet Evergarden ended up rather well, and I should at least partially credit the involvement of a veteran writer. Say what you want about Yoshida Reiko, but she’s been in this business for a long time and she understands structure. If you want a story told in 13 episodes she will tell it in 13 episodes, planned out all the way. But whether it turned out well or not, it’s a big deal that there was a plan at all. Playing it safe is always easier, but an adaptation must be tailored to the medium. And the medium of anime is always, subtly changing. Today’s it’s influenced by internet streaming. In the future it will be influenced by some other business model or technological advance. Therefore any effort to do something different, to wander out of the comfort zone, should be commended. So while Violet Evergarden did start off rather slow, and was still the strongest when it stuck to its episodic roots (notably episode 05 about Charlotte and episode 10 about Anne), I look at the series as the whole and I’m satisfied with the result. I see what you were trying to do, Violet Evergarden. Good on you for trying it.

Season 2???


    1. Yeah, I do get the feeling KyoAni wants to do movies more than anything else. They just kinda got that way. If you look at the styles of their newer directors, they all seem to be heavily influenced by the big screen more than the small.

      1. There’s more money in movies, but not every studio has the money to self fund a big production like that. If you can’t get investors I don’t think your average studio would even bother.

    2. With Violet actually raking in some decent sales(Projected to sell like Hibike), I think we’ll see a season 2. There’s still a lot of things they have left out that I think can be used as back bone for 13 episodes.

    1. I’m also inclined towards guessing movie; it’d fit their pattern. I seem to remember that in one of the PVs or commercials there was an airship, and I was really hoping we’d get an airship. Most likely it was cut (I shudder to think how much Violet Evergarden ended up on the editing floor), but I do love antiquated transportation.

    1. Oh, other person who watched Shigofumi!
      I don’t remember how much better it is but surely it’s more interesting than Violet Evergarden. The drama here was so… boring. Don’t know how to explain this in a few words, but I can say that the world building was weak and “pointless”. That war made no difference, we barely see any drama that made use of the war context and in the end it served just to justify some action in this ending. Embarrassing action, it was hard to watch after the blondie jumped and kicked the bomb with his high weels.

      1. People will keep comparing Apples to Oranges. Much like how people kept comparing Your Name to Silent Voice back then. For the sole reason that both are movies…….

  1. While this didn’t make me tear up near as much as say Episode 9 or 10, I held it together until the second-to-last scene where Violet finally writes her own letter and I flooded at the exact time she did. She was finally able to express years of pent-up feelings to her lost love in a letter that will never be delivered.

    I would gladly hire her to write my letter.

  2. For Gilbert:

    – He is really Dead and someone know where he is Buried
    – He survived this all but suffered amnesia, he can not remember the time he spend with Violet (so an Soft Death)
    – he is alive but in an Wake Coma
    – he assumed that also Violet died in this War and travel far away to run from the pain (World Traveling)

    Choose your favorite, but choose wisly there is no way back

    1. – But with “Your name” Anime/Movie success.. perhaps the last point is an good “up to date” choose and they meet someday when both are old and have Grandchildren…

  3. I quite like this show. It certainly displays Kyoto Animations expertise in this genre. I don’t see a problem with the episode order or the filler episodes. The fact that these past two episodes I was hoping for Violet not to kill anyone means they’ve successfully got me vested in her. Rather appropriate for a story named Violet Evergarden.

    I think meeting this lady was the highlight of this episode. Her acceptance and in a strange way, Hodgins letter really feels like it put a close to Violets story.

    Regarding the ending, I’m quite happy they never showed Gilbert being alive. I personally feel that if they did, it would have ruined the ending. Can’t say they have a good track record for that with Kanon and After Story as examples. Never ever rewatched the final episode of those two animes. Though I still consider them highly.

  4. Episode was beautiful and was good portrayal of losing someone precious and acknowledge it, but then with that kind of open ending they left many questions unanswered, which I don’t like. I remember that in at the end of one of episodes, it was hinted by Claudia that Gilbert might be alive – cant find it now to quote it (anyone else remembers it? ). Anime is quite different from novel, so I recommend to check it out to not miss even more beautiful scenes *doesnt want to spoil anyone*

    1. Tbf, Hodgins said Violet hadn’t “lost anything”. While that could’ve been a hint about Gilbert, I think with the series on a whole that could simply point to the fact Violet still has Gilbert and what he gave her: in her heart, as Gilbert’s mom puts it.

  5. Another happy end. Though it might not be as jovial as SpraYori, it’s still a happy ending.

    Next up, Steins;Gate

    Tuturuuu~~~ Mayushi-des~~

    El Psy Congroo

    Henrietta Brix
  6. I’m sure Gilbert is a strong character, but with him and Violet in a scene I am not so sure the plot will be as persuasive as it is now. Ignore Violet for a moment, the story is contingent on letting Violet use life skills she learnt from Gilbert. Then there is personal experience something Violet won’t have depending on Gilbert. Lets face it the story can’t grow with Gilbert alive.

  7. I think the story ended where it needed to end for now. The core arc of the series has been Violet’s development as a person and learning to understand emotions and love. It would’ve soured all of that if they suddenly rushed to bring Gilbert back to begin with, even if it was something like “he got amnesia!” or “he’s in a coma!”.

    A second season could be fun, just to adapt the stories they didn’t before, but it’s hard to see imagine where they’d go for an overreaching plot unless you went the approach Kekkei Sensen did for their second season (which was mostly anthology stories). You could do a The Search for Gilbert plot but I think it’d also run into the problem of detracting from what the series does with the client stories expressing the themes of the series and aiding Violet’s development.

  8. ” – She is not Gilbert’s tool, she’s his legacy. And that’s the story of Violet Evergarden. ”

    Well said Passerby-san. <3

    After 13 weeks of airing, we have now reached our finale. Im so grateful its no dramatic end but instead, a heartwarming one to wrap everything in a humble piece of letter. I know some fans were kinda disappointed with how Kyoto Animation handled the resolution because it did kinda felt a bit anticlimax there (well honestly i think they just wanna see Violet's full mechanical arms and her skins underneath that torn sleeves if you know what i mean), but instead we only get to see Cattleya's nice beautiful mole on her b—


    Anyways, Im glad Violet finally get to move on forgiving herself after what happen to Gilbert. Yes, we know how she came to term about his death in episode 9, but we also know she hasnt forgive herself for that. After last week's confrontation with Diethard, it seems like Violet was still seeking for redemption in things she did like taking military orders from her ex captain. She needed to be forgiven, but not by Diethard nor Gilbert or even the people she harmed during the war, but from herself. Those who are left behind are the one who will continue to suffer. Both Violet and Diethard suffered the same pain after Gilbert's loss. It was hard for them to let go but after this week's episode, they finally come face to face to understand Gilbert is no longer alive and they need to forgive each other so that they can genuinely move on.

    My favorite part definitely the near ending scenes. When Hodgins' tasked Violet to write a letter to Gilbert, it was the best wrapping this series can ever give. The letters scattered all over the continents, panning to all the places Violet has been for the whole series, gorgeous landscapes then finally to a field of violet flowers. When Gilbert finally smiled and fading away from her memories, thus we know, its a good goodbyes. :')

    Her burning flame from her past finally extinguished for good

    [The Auto Memory Doll and "I Love You"]

    Violet Evergarden has truly given me a beautiful experience to follow with ever since its first release. It was a trippy journey, a little angsty and sometimes a tad of uncertainty, but after rewatching few episodes back before waiting for the last episode today, i was then finally manage to see the bigger picture of this magnificent series has been offering. It was a gambit…some LN readers were even doubting if KyoAni really understood the source materials and their adaptation. But personally after episode 10, it took me a while to finally trusting the studio but i gotta admit, this IS how adaptation is done right. Bravo!

    Thank you for the amazing Violet Evercrying anime, thank you Netflix for streaming this, thank you Kyoto Animation, thank you Evan Call for composing all the beautiful soundtracks, thank you Kana Akatsuki-sensei for the orignal novel, thank you seiyuus for the amazing performances, thank you to the production commitee, thank you Winter 2018 for this brilliant anime and thank you Passerby for blogging this every week!

    A suitable ending that fits its name, Violet Evergarden is definitely a remarkable work of art that Kyoto Animation has to offer.

    9/10 i am fully satisfied.

    side note:

    Oh Claudia, you know you like it lol XD

    Been rooming around in some Reddit discussions, i really want them to touch both Cattleya and Hodgins' relationship before the series ended. I am still not satisfied with Cattleya's one line background revelation (i was a str—dancer) :(( i was like, aw man, thats it??? And "to my future daughter" does this mean,…o___o masaka??? well some joked it saying Catty is preggy with Claudy's baby in Reddit but idk lol

    Benedict and his super heels! XD Just give up on him Erica, he called Hodgins "Papa"

    And whoever Violet's upcoming client was in that ending, i personally dont care. It kinda frustrate me when people keep on asking if its Gilbert or whoever it was. I think its just another similar client Violet had before, thats why the soft expression. so thats that okay.

    onion warrior
  9. It’s not a groundbreaking ending, but it is neat. And neat is good.

    The latter parts of this season definitely smelled like they were setting it up for future projects. It wasn’t the grand finale, but rather a closure to an arc. With how much they have changed Violet(IMO for the better), it’s going to be interesting to see how they will handle the left out parts. There was a particular character that a lot of people were waiting for to show up but sadly did not make it.

    Will the future projects show us a much more mature and grown up Violet? Who knows! By now readers should have thrown away every damn thing they have for comparing the books. The anime is very different. Some will call it butchered, some will call it a job well done. I lean more on the latter since I do care for the anime Violet more compared to when I was reading the LN. Show was not perfect and definitely would have benefited from the two-cour approach.

  10. My impression, after having binged the series today, is that the show is excellent through the first nine episodes, except the crisis in ep8-9 comes too early. That left 10 and 11, although perhaps the best episodes in the show, feeling like a letdown because of their return to the earlier episodic format. And 12 felt like a manufactured crisis inserted into the show; it was easily the low point of the show. So very good, but weak toward the end.

    I didn’t think this was a coming of age story; I thought it was about a soldier and civilian recovering her humanity after having been dehumanized by war (Violet’s apparent origin as a refugee put her in the later category as well as the former). The implication at the beginning that Violet was an android or some such was intended to emphasize how much she had been dehumanized, that war turns humans into tools. It was a sort of Pinocchio story, except the puppet was originally a human in the first place.

    1. Ah, here’s an example of the point I make in the post, that there is a shift away from episodic formats for anime in part because binge watchers don’t like them. Thank you for sharing.

      As for whether it was a coming-of-age story or something else, I don’t think there’s actually a huge difference between what you’re describing and what I’m describing. Notably, the story of Pinocchio was a coming-of-age story in itself.

  11. On my part, this is among of the most beautiful anime this year had, and I was heart wrenched just enough. Violet Evergarden is divisive, but at least from POV, what it set out to do, it did mostly well, and that’s good enough for me. It was a very good experience that I won’t soon forget.

  12. Theres the bittersweet story, the downright heartbreaking sob story, the war drama.
    All with very beautiful and consistent art.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this anime.

    Have not read the original literature, wonder how close is the anime to it?

    I don’t mind episodic if the story is good to me.
    I think episodic is also easier to get people onboard.
    But if there is a very obvious structure to each episode then it could get boring.

  13. “Thus it is equally possible that Gilbert is alive or dead depending on the whims of the narrative, and until habeas corpus allows proper observation he exists in a quantum superposition where he can be considered to be in both states at once.”
    Schrödinger’s character? Sounds about right.

    Well, my tears were already running on empty after episode 10 of this show and episodes 12 & 13 of Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho, so I didn’t mind a bit of respite from the tear-jerkers by going back to the additional worldbuilding for this series back in episode 12. (Even though said worldbuilding felt placed at a relatively late point of the show.)

    OK. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t adapt that LN spoiler, as part of me really wanted to see that LN spoiler animated. (Complete with the waterworks and heartwarming moment that would surely ensue.)
    Show Spoiler ▼

    But for those wanting a twist different to the LN, I guess Violet meeting with the Bougainvillea matriarch was just what the doctor ordered in order for Violet to fully accept that Gilbert is gone (even if they never found the body) and find forgiveness. Of course, I can’t discount the possibility that the upcoming movie might involve an anime-original variation on the aforementioned LN spoiler, so might as well wait for that. I do hope the OVA and movie gets shown on Netflix as well, even if those are long shots, TBH.

    That being said, Violet Evergarden was still a beautiful show from start to end, with the highest points being episodes 7 to 10. Besides episode 13 being set up as a sequel hook, nothing else about this anime–from the gorgeous animation, to the cast, to the music, to the generally solid storytelling–felt cheap. (Sasuga KyoAni…)

    And I can finally dry my tears after the effective “one-two” combo of this show and Yorimoi…as well as cool down from the temperature-raising, nosebleed-inducing appearances of Cattleya. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


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