Whenever you hear the name Kyoto Animation, people would likely remember the anime shows The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, and more recently, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Most of the shows produced by KyoAni usually involve either Slice-of-life or School themes, but their latest work is something really different, and I believe that Violet Evergarden would be their best one yet.
Just to give everyone a brief overview of the series, Violet Evergarden is a light novel series created by Kana Akatsuki with illustrations by Akiko Takase.
The novel was awarded the Grand Prize in the Novel Category at the 5th Kyoto Animation Award in 2014, which was the very first on any of its three categories, Novel, Manga and Scenario. The novel was eventually published in December of the following year by the same company, under their KA Esuma Bunko imprint.
It’s quite apparent that Kyoto Animation is banking on the upcoming series, because they have already included one of its characters as a part of the visuals for the recently-concluded Kyoto Animation and Do Fan Appreciation Event last October.
After that, the company had a “World Tour” where they screened the first episode to event attendees, started in Anime Expo in the United States last July, followed by AnimagiC in Germany last August, then back to Japan at KyoAni & Do Fan Appreciation Event, and lastly at C3 AFA Singapore 2017 last November.
With all the hype that is surrounding the popular studio’s newest creation, we have decided to see it for ourselves when it landed in Singapore.
As previously mentioned, KyoAni is mostly known for Slice-of-Life or School-themed anime shows, but Violet Evergarden is set on a fictional place called Telesis, which is being rebuilt after a long civil war, where infrastructures had collapsed and everyone is forced to go back to basics.
Unlike almost all of KyoAni shows they produced, it is quite obvious from the first look that Telesis is not a part of Japan. From structures, vehicles, and clothes that people wore, it somehow reminds me of England in the 19th century, with some interesting quirks including mechanical hands.
The first episode is devoted to the show’s titular character, Violet. She is known as “The Weapon” because of her experience as a soldier, but she has struggled to find a purpose on her life after the war ended, which eventually landed her a job in the postal service as an Auto Memories Doll”.
That is where she began her journey to look for the meaning of a word last spoken by someone very important to her, “love.”
There are still some plot holes that need to be filled, particularly the backstory of the characters and how they would be given a coherent story line that will tie it to everything. I’m speaking as someone who has not read the light novel it is based from.
Let me stop there before I give away too much, so I will focus mostly on aesthetics moving forward.
After KyoAni took over the animation production of the Full Metal Panic! franchise in 2003, they became one of the most recognizable names in the anime scene. Since then, they have greatly improved their style on their recent titles, particularly with Beyond the Boundary, Sound! Euphonium, and Free! Iwatobi Swim Club.
In my opinion, Violet Evergarden surpassed all expectations, which feels like the visuals are coming to life but not to the point of diverting its focus to the story. The illustrations look like they came straight out of the 19th century, particularly the look of the buildings and the scenery.
The thing that really impressed me the most are the character designs. Yes, they look quite similar from other KyoAni works, but I’m most impressed by how the light shines on the characters, which give the character design a vibrant effect to the point that they stand out on each scenery, whether it’s the daytime or during the night.
My personal favorite though is definitely the eyes, because I could feel the character’s emotion (or even lack thereof) gets amplified by just looking into it. The lead character may have a stoic personality, but the eyes give something else, which adds to the mystery of Violet.
The show’s soundtrack is amazing as well. It is definitely different from the Anisong themes we usually hear from a Kyoto Animation show.
The first episode of the anime does not have the opening & ending theme sequence, and showed a credit roll at the end instead, but the song is like the icing on the cake of the episode.
I must admit, when I heard the song “Sincerely” by TRUE (Miho Karasawa) after the episode, which is the upcoming anime’s opening theme song, I was trying to hold back my tears. I’m sure that I’m not alone on those sentiments, because I hear a lot of compliments about the episode.
In addition, Violet Evergarden panel attendees during C3AFA Singapore were given a special treat, because TRUE and Minori Chihara performed the opening and ending theme songs on stage.
Right now, my main concern about the upcoming anime is its streaming format on Netflix. Viewers in Japan will get to watch the show starting this January, while viewers elsewhere will have to wait until spring to watch it.
While I am glad that Netflix will be streaming the series worldwide, I find it problematic they will release the episodes all at once, or as they call it “bingewatching”, just like what they are doing with their original live-action series.
We will discuss this issue in more detail some other time, but I personally believe that anime fans prefer to watch their shows weekly, especially if it is simulcast with Japan.
Watching the show on a weekly basis gives me time to digest its story, and also adds to the anticipation whenever a new episode comes out.
Since it’s just the first episode, I don’t think it’s right for me to give the upcoming show a rating. I will say though that Violet Evergarden has a lot of potential when it comes to its visuals, music and story. I hope Kyoto Animation plays its cards right.
There is undeniably a lot of hype surrounding the show, mostly coming from people’s expectations since it is produced by Kyoto Animation. I’m absolutely excited to be part of Violet’s journey in searching for the meaning of “love.”
Violet Evergarden premieres on January 10. Streaming exclusively on Netflix starting January 2018 in Japan, and Worldwide starting in Spring 2018.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].