Winter 2018 anime is possibly one of the best seasons I’ve ever had the chance to experience. It’s so fresh, not only from an idea point of view but production as well, featuring several animes that are being funded by Netflix in order to get the English dubbed version out quicker for simulcast.
Specifically, Violet Evergarden was something that was not only highly anticipated by me but by the general anime audience also when it was announced. Studio Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) have put out some of, if not the, best looking and most consistently high-quality anime in the past couple of years. KyoAni really got grounded when they did The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and haven’t slowed down since.
Violet Evergarden is a testament to the fact that fantastic anime doesn’t need to lack in any one aspect. The animation is gorgeous, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the attention to detail is amazing and the story is refreshing.
Without giving away anything crucial, Violet Evergarden’s story follows a young girl named Violet having to change her lifestyle and adjust to a world similar to old England (pre-electricity days) and adapt to the new social norms and industry changes after a major War. While the idea sounds simple, its execution in just two episodes is far beyond exceptional.
Violet Evergarden doesn’t have any major story exposition to shove down the viewer’s throat, so forceful understanding takes place. The little details on each character that make them stand out are just great; their interactions really highlight the contrast of character trying to be shown without being too polarizing.
If people are familiar with Full Metal Panic, an example worth citing is that we have two main characters: Sasuke, a high-ranking military person who was a child soldier and has only known war all his life, and Chidori, a very loud and opinionated High School Student. The idea behind this pairing is to show how some views just take the time or simply can’t be understood without experiencing them, but they unfortunately overcompensate and it becomes distracting to the immersion.
Violet Evergarden balances that out in a similar scenario, only with additional characters to create more dynamic but they’re all intentional. Nothing feels like it was put there for some random purpose or to fill a checkbox.
The animation goes as far as to have little mannerisms, not only in hand gestures and body language but facial movements and eye movements. KyoAni also makes use of the focusing and blurring out of scenes to create a depth of field effect that isn’t seen used in anime all that much. This technique creates gorgeous and emotionally impactful scenes. Something as small as someone gripping their clothing out of a hectic emotion is portrayed so well because of the intensity shown in the grip.
The music is a much-needed addition and constantly tugs on one's emotional strings. Taking a more classical approach to fit the setting, there is a lot of piano, violin, and other classical instruments used.
Voice acting is something worth noting due to the fact that all the characters, which could fall into anime archetypes, have the attention to detail added to them to separate them from the stereotypes. Violet herself is a quiet character resembling Rei from Evangelion. However, Violet has moments where she breaks this shyness for all sorts of reasons helping cement the idea that this isn’t a sale template but a character with real emotions and agency. This goes for pretty much all the characters thus far and it’s a breath of fresh air, to say the least. This is taken from the Japanese dub, however, not the English.
Overall I’m extremely curious to see if KyoAni has a worthwhile conclusion to this beautiful anime and how the story is going to develop further.
It's only later that I realised why I love anime and games. It's just how many ways one can express an idea.
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