To say that Violet Evergarden was the story that brought me back to anime after a long hiatus due to university is an understatement. It revitalized the genre for me. The way this anime weaved utter magic through its gorgeous art and spectacular writing, I can’t explain how much I love it. And yet, for some reason, being the titular protagonist of the story – Violet Evergarden gets a lot of flack for being ‘emotionless’ and ‘bland’ when really, she’s a masterclass in subtle growth.
Violet Evergarden is the story of, well, Violet. She is an ex-mercenary, a child soldier who barely survived a brutal war, lost the only person that ever cared about her, and woke up in this new post-war peace that she had never experienced before. Confused and processing her own emotions, we see her go on this journey of self-discovery, where she learns what it’s like to live with trauma and regrets while still looking to the future.
Violet Evergarden is a beautiful character. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. She is gorgeous, as is on-brand for this anime but her character arc and her story are doubly so. The things she went through made her close herself up. So when she takes initiative to move past her walls, it’s a wonderful thing to see unfold.
But like I said, a lot of non-viewers are always talking about how Violet Evergarden seems so guarded, veering into almost emotionless. If you’ve watched the anime and the movie, you already know why that isn’t true. And if you haven’t, well, let’s get right into it.
A Child Of War: Nature VS Nurture?
Violet comes from a background not uncommon in warn-torn nations. She wasn’t raised as a human being, with autonomy and love. But rather, she was a tool first, a product of war to be exploited by whoever decided to buy her.
She was orphaned at a very young age, found by Dietfried Bougainvillea, and trained to become a weapon. And so, Violet is rash, easily killing without a spare glance. She has known no warmth; she hasn’t been taught any other way to live beyond survival. And being a robot is one way of doing so. She was so detached from humanity, that her keepers didn’t even bother giving her a name.
Until Gilbert Bougainvillea came along. This man taught her how to read and write. He gave her an identity, a name. Although he was the one to bring her into the military in the first place, he regrets it. Gilbert wants Violet to have her own emotions, to see a world outside of war, and finally be free. And after sacrificing his life for her, he gives her that chance.
Perhaps she was born in turmoil, but to grow beyond it was entirely up to her. And often that process is confusing. But no less impactful.
Mental Health And Disability In Violet Evergarden
Rarely do we see mental health portrayed in a positive light in anime, let alone accurate. Violet Evergarden is likely suffering from a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after Gilbert’s death, which also took two of her limbs, causing her to appear emotionless.
When we see her wake up in that infirmary bed, this is the first time Violet has known peace. Possibly the first time she has woken up without alarms blaring and gunfire. Can you imagine how disorienting it must’ve been? How hard it is to reconcile that you are no longer in danger after an entire lifetime of fear?
The mental anguish of losing the only person you loved, who made you feel anything, can lead to hiding yourself away from the world. And her now mechanical arms led her to feel even more of an outcast when compared to able-bodied people around her.
Trying to find motivation in a world you don’t even recognize, that’s a hard task for anyone. But especially for Violet.
The Lost Art Of Love And Letters:
The beauty of Violet Evergarden isn’t in its out-of-this-world visuals or some bombastic fight scenes. This anime is like watching a therapy session. You have a person come from the worst circumstances, get built up a tiny bit, only to be broken down again.
And yet, you see her pick herself up. Move, even if she’s fractured and disjointed. Even when she’s confused and still processing what words like love even mean. Even when Violet relapses, when she becomes quiet, she never really stops moving forward.
Violet Evergarden’s dedication to being an Auto Memory Doll, someone who is supposed to invoke emotion by their very writing is a direct contrast to her ‘emotionless’ state. She’s trying so hard to learn how to be more passionate, to finally recognize love and all its friends, that you can’t help but cry at the letters she writes.
The love between two blushing fiancés, the love of a father, the love of a dying mother. All of it is so different from what she shared with Gilbert. But in the end, it all comes together to help Violet find her peace.
Emotions are messy. Sometimes, you can’t predict how you react to them. And Violet is like us, going through the motions but staying afloat to see where the journey lands her.