Three episodes in, it sure is purdy.
What I find equally purdy (funny) is the amount of praise this series is getting in the anime world. On MyAnimeList, it’s currently within the top 100 based on average rating after three episodes. Does it deserve that hype? I’d say no, but also the potential for a yes later down the line.
At the heart of Violet Evergarden is the ability to empathize, to cherish, and to love those around you, as a reminder of what we take for granted in everyday life. Each episode thus far has had a poignant emphasis on finding what gives our hearts peace of mind, as contradictory as that sounds. Dealing with loss, the ability to grieve, and coping with a life with regrets unsettled provides the benchmark for an anime that tries to provide more for the audience to think (and feel) about as they’re watching. This in and of itself makes this series better than about half of all anime ever, but that’s from the mind of someone who prefers substantial quality of mental stimulation (also known as “2deep4u”) than anything else.
At the same time, the way this central motivation is framed provides some issues with predictability in the plot of each episode and the overarching narrative of one Violet Evergarden. Someone is dealing with regret. They don’t know what to do. Let the music drown the viewer in said character’s wallows as Violet or any other character teaches them about how to live happily again by touching their heart. In the meantime, Violet exhibits grade-A kuudere characteristics as she very, very gradually gains back her humanity through interacting with other human characters dealing with immense psychological and emotional problems, things with which Violet lacks. Isn’t it just so i-r-o-n-i-c that Violet’s official title is “doll,” considering she’s as empty as one? Look at her shiny robot hands! If the anime derails from this path, I would be absolutely stunned.
Still, it’s enough to say that this series is trying to portray a thought-provoking and emotionally-stimulating story the likes anime doesn’t portray often. The atmosphere is on-point, the animation and aesthetic is very good, and the characters, if one is willing to excuse their slightly one-beat personalities, are cheery in their dispositions. The major thing to keep an eye on is how they intend to carry out the story; if it goes as I expect it to, it’ll likely be a decent, if not enjoyable watch that’s typical of KyoAni when they want to go all out. Otherwise, it could be truly great or a true waste of potential. The “yes” still has a chance to see the light of day ahead.