Violet Evergarden Episode 1 Review: 'I Love You' and Auto Memoir Dolls

Violet Evergarden is by far the most expected Winter 2018 anime series and in the last month, the hype about it has been nothing short of intense. Amazing previews have been circulating the web like hot buns and finally, the first episode is out. Enjoy!

Japanese Original Episode Title: 「愛してる」と自動手記人形


The episode starts by giving out very little information about the protagonist, Violet. According to rumors around her, she is a weapon designed to fulfill orders, but she is now hospitalized after the war. Her nature is ambiguous; she doesn’t seem to be human or robot, but rather a fusion of the two, as she has had a childhood, and she needs to rest, recover, and eat, and she gets injured like humans do. She is referred to as a ‘doll’. Violet has sworn fealty to her superior in the army, a man going by the name of Gilbert, who seemed to be having significant affections for her, as in their last encounter, where he was severely bleeding and possibly about to die, he set her free and confessed his love to her. His fate remains unknown. Claudia Hodgins (no idea why it’s not Claude but let’s ignore that for now), his military friend, refuses to discuss Gilbert’s fate with Violet and takes her in, offering her a job in his lettering and posting company.

After being exposed to the skills of other ‘dolls’ performing letter-writing duties and being able to express and understand human feelings such as love, Violet decides to take up a job as one to find out what her superior’s last words meant.

Themes & Trivia

Violet Evergarden’s hype is not without good reason. The original, a light-novel series by Kana Akatsuki and Akiko Takase, is the first ever work to win a grand prize in any three categories in the Kyoto Animation Awards. It is produced by Kyoto Animation, an animation studio showcasing plenty of highly popular shows with a successful tradition spanning over a decade, including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, and K-on!!. It also features the voices of some Japanese voice-acting superstars such as Yui Ishikawa (Attack on Titan’s Mikasa Ackerman), Daisuke Namikawa (Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Gantz, One Piece, and the official Elijah Wood dubber), Aya Endo (Lucky Star) and Koki Uchiyama (Kingdom Hearts, Soul Eater). Apart from the name of a successful studio and a celebrity casting, Violet Evergarden comes with some of the most popular themes in the anime industry: artificial intelligence and humanity (Ghost in The Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, and recently Inuyashiki) and World War II (Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and a plethora of Ghibli Studio movies).


So how was the first episode? First of all, it is a visual wonder. The illustrations and animation are the best ones I have seen in a very long time, and their quality is one that you’re more likely to find in movies rather than TV shows. The use of light throughout the episode is exemplary, and I believe very innovative for Japanese animations, whose best-known light works usually consist of cool futuristic neon (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop). Violet Evergarden uses darkness and sunlight in a way I have never witnessed before in anime.

The character design is also something worth commenting on. Unlike the usual polished look anime characters usually have, most people in the show (including the protagonist) look quite scruffy and tires – as if they have actually been through a war. Casual bouncing boobs still appear here and there for no apparent reason, but I guess we can’t have everything, can we?

The story, at this point, appears promising, as does any intense love story that makes people like myself cry their eyes out. The pacing of the first episode was just a tiny bit more rushed than I’d like it to be (I do enjoy some long shots of pondering and flaunting of graphics), but I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.

Seems like it was worth the hype

A good start for what is definitely the most visually compelling work of this season. I haven’t yet gotten very engaged with the story, but I believe it is but a matter of time. Must watch!

What did you think of the Violet Evergarden’s first episode? Did it live up to your expectations? Let us know in the comment section! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Winter 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!

Violet Evergarden

Winter 2018 | Anime Info

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