When I first saw Violet Evergarden pop up on Netflix I was confused while watching the trailer. The first words we get say, “Her existence was hidden from everyone. However, people who knew about her… said that she was a weapon. She was just a tool… without a heart.”
Those words intrigued me; I wanted to know more. I finished the trailer, and having been mesmerized by the animation quality (the fluid movements, the sleek artwork, the lighting, and everything else), I gave Violet Evergarden a shot. After a few episodes I got even more curious about the source material and found that it is the only grand prize winner of the Kyoto Animation Literary Awards. Naturally, I rushed to every book store I could in search of Violet Evergarden–which ended in severe disappointment considering I could have done a simple online search and figured out it’s not yet available in the United States.
While doing my searching, I also found out that there was a special episode, or an episode that had not been released on Netflix at the same time as the rest of the series.
And now it’s been released.
And I cried again.
Violet Evergarden is an emotional show; it’s heartfelt, brutal, loving, depressing, joyful, and wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever teared up as much from watching something as much as I did while watching Violet Evergarden–not even Your Name, which made everyone I know personally cry (except my mom because I decided to watch it in Japanese with her like an idiot).
The most interesting part about the show, I think, is the fact that it’s almost difficult to tell if Violet is a human or a robot. She’s been programmed to act militaristic; she’s got a sense of duty that overwhelms everything else she’s doing, but there are three words that confuse her, make her want to understand, and I think, make her question what everything in her world really means. The words? I love you.
Throughout the season that released we slowly got to watch as Violet came to understand life outside of war; we got to see her interact with others, ask questions, and learn about what it means to be human and what it means to love. However, the Violet Evergarden Special tossed viewers back toward the beginning/middle of the series.
While I thought, at the start, that this special would be an episode that came after the finale, I was wrong. This episode should (I think) be placed around episodes 4 and 5. Violet isn’t the same questioning, emotionally charged, whole person we’ve come to understand through vivid flashbacks of loss, pain, and heartbreak. Violet is more like the tool we’re told she is at the beginning of the series.
However, the theme of humanity and love resonate clearly through this episode once again, and I found myself crying again as I watched her go through the assignment she’d been given. Maybe it’s because I’m an emotional person myself and it’s easy for me to get empathetic with practically every person or every medium I come in contact with, but watching this special–where she has to write for someone who shares the same pain Violet has–broke my heart and I couldn’t help myself.
The similarities between Violet and the character we’re introduced to, Ilma, are beautiful and it creates an atmosphere of remembrance for those who’ve seen the show in its entirety. It brings everything we’ve come to know about the characters, the people they care about, the cast we’ve come to understand and maybe even enjoy, and creates something that is magical. It’s beauty isn’t the same as watching Violet become human through thirteen episodes; rather, the beauty of this episode is seeing that Violet is so similar to another human being that even though she doesn’t understand what it means just yet, even though she doesn’t quite know what she’s been asked to do, we can see that there’s something more to Violet and Ilma and the connection they have (regardless of if they themselves see it).
This was another beautiful display of animation and storytelling that brings out the emotional humanity within all of us. I teared up multiple times, I felt tears going down my face when the similarities between our two main characters hit me like a bus, and for that, this Violet Evergarden episode is going to stick with me for a long time.
I highly recommend this special to anyone who enjoys anime, and if you haven’t seen Violet Evergarden at all, I recommend that as well without any shred of doubt.
That’s all from me! Thanks for reading!