REVIEW: ‘Violet Evergarden: The Movie’ Tells a Beautiful, Bitter-Sweet Tale

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Violet Evergarden: The Movie

Violet Evergarden: The Movie is a drama anime based on the light novels and is produced by Kyoto Animation. Violet Evergarden was made to fight in a terrible war at a very young age. During the conflict, she lost her arms, as well as the one person who had shown her kindness. Now, with the help of prosthetic arms, she works as an auto memory doll writing letters for people who cannot write what they feel for themselves. But even as she helps others express their feelings, she clings to the hope that she may one day get to express her own feelings to the person who has always mattered the most to her.

When the tv series—Violet Evergarden—first came to America, I was intrigued by all the praise about it. When I started watching the series on Netflix, I was immediately struck by the heavy emotional weight of the show. Despite the strong impression it had on me, I ultimately never finished the series. Not out of lack of interest or any inherent flaw with it. Instead, because I felt like I couldn’t handle the emotional wringer, the show would pull me through. And if it punches as hard as Violet Evergarden: The Movie does, I was probably right.

The first thing to be aware of when approaching this film is that it is intrinsically tied to the series that came before it. While many anime movies serve as stand-alone, one-off adventures, Violet Evergarden: The Movie delivers the closing chapter to the story of what came before it. This makes the movie a must-see for long-time fans of the series. For those who are not familiar with the previous content, I would highly recommend you watch that first. Even though I haven’t seen all of the previous stories, knowing Violet’s background and recognizing previously introduced characters made my time with this movie go much smoother. There is still a ton of emotional value to be felt, even if you were to go in blind, but the full effect requires some measure of foreknowledge.

The film’s story is split between three different plot lines. The two main plotlines follow Violet as she helps a dying boy take one last opportunity to let those he loves to know how he feels. Additionally, it sees her follow up on a possible lead that may guide her to the person she has missed ever since they were separated during the war.  These plots are couched by a secondary story about a young woman in the future who discovers some letter Violet once wrote to her recently departed Grandmother. As the movie delivers Violet’s story, we see the young woman in the future trace Violet’s steps. This gives the viewer a further glimpse into the character’s legacy and the impact her work has even beyond those it was originally done for.

Violet Evergarden: The Movie manages to create a tale that breaks your heart while also causing it to swell with warmth. It is a beautiful sadness that uses the pain and trauma experienced by its characters to highlight how much beauty, kindness, and love in their world truly matters. Each character’s struggles are dealt with in a way that feels fair and unaccusing. We all have moments when we can’t do the things we need to and instead push them away. The movie doesn’t scold or accuse its characters of being lacking in these moments. Instead, it simply holds them up as examples of what can be lost if we are unwilling to take those painful steps.

Violet Evergarden: The Movie‘s emotional narrative is delivered through a gorgeous visual style that paints every tear-soaked scene with an expressive brush that only enhances the tale every step of the way.

When all is said and done, Violet Evergarden: The Movie tells a powerful tale about sorrow, regret, love, and hope. It is not an easy watch, but the payoff of its story is well worth the tears.

Violet Evergarden: The Movie is streaming now on Netflix.


Violet Evergarden: The Movie
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Violet Evergarden: The Movie tells a powerful tale about sorrow, regret, love, and hope. It is not an easy watch, but the payoff of its story is well worth the tears.