I love the series Violet Evergarden to death and blogged about it. Well, not literally “to death.” But figuratively? Sure.
This is the next installment of the story of the child soldier trying to discover what life and love are all about.
The images here are all PR shots from the movie or from previews. Obviously, I’m not going to try to get screengrabs in a theater.
A young girl lives on her own on the streets in poverty. Her name is Amy Bartlett. She sells flowers and barely survives. Along the way she befriends an abandoned toddler and “adopts” her, giving her the name of Taylor. Life is even harsher with two mouths to feed.
A miracle happens. A man shows up from the royal family. It turns out she is really Isabella York, the illegitimate offspring of a member of the royal family.
She is whisked away to an all girl’s finishing school where she does not do well. The little girl is taken to a high-end orphanage. Amy/Isabelle is happy that the little girl will now survive but despairs at any hope of seeing her again or of becoming the elegant lady the Royal family demands.
In a different anime, perhaps Amy would have demanded to keep her adopted stray or she would refuse to cooperate. Maybe that would work or maybe they’d end up back on the streets. This isn’t that anime. She accepted what fate had offered without a fight, knowing that Taylor would be well cared for. Probably more realistic for the time. It is not an era where women get to triumphantly wave the banner of feminism over the dying remains of the patriarchy.
Her future is to be married off to some important personage. She will live her life as a different kind of doll, one that Ibsen would recognize, but with even less freedom. A wife living in luxury, yet kept in velvet chains. Violet is hired to make this street urchin into a lady, a variation on the Pygmalion theme. Dolls generally do not teach etiquette for a living but the normal methods are not working. When the Royal family commands, the citizens cannot refuse.
And so begins another chapter in the life of Violet. This is based on a side story to the main manga route, Gaidan.
Violet still wears her green pendant for her lost Major Gilbert. Isabella wears a similar one in red for her lost Taylor who she is forbidden to ever see or speak of. Taylor is of the common folk. Also, no one can know of Isabella’s illegitimate origin nor of her abandonment or her impoverished beginnings. Such things do not happen to Royalty.
Isabella is jealous of Violet’s freedom to travel and communicate. Her life will be cloistered and lonely. At first, she is hostile but as she discovers the hard life Violet has endured she opens up and friendship ensues.
There’s a scene where Isabella convinces Violet to take a bath with her. They sleep in the same bed together. Nothing fan service-y here, it’s real plot advancement. If you want fan service, there are a couple of shots of Cattleya’s bosom but not much else.
Is this yuri? Well, I think that yuri is in the mind of the beholder. Certainly, it could have gone in that direction. My take is that Isabella is trying to recapture her life with Taylor. These are things she would have done with her long lost little girl. Things that many parents or older siblings would recognize.
I think it is the first time we’ve seen how Violet’s prosthetic arms meet her amputated natural arms.
Violet’s 3-month assignment is complete. Isabella can now dance and understands basic etiquette. Beyond this, the relationships are pursued through letters.
It is a beautiful movie. There were individual scenes that were truly magnificent. But there was also animation that just felt oh… ordinary. It is a feature-length movie and I expected it to exceed the standards set by the previous series. There were moments where I was thinking that the pace dragged. Enough of the scenery. Enough of the magnificent orchestration. I get the pathos, I don’t need to drown in it.
Violet – Eternity was a very good two-hour movie that would have been totally awesome at 90 minutes. Though I still don’t get where “Eternity” in the title comes from.
There’s an earlier Episode 14 that followed the series titled Surely, Someday You Will Understand “Love”. The animation was uniformly good and the plot did not feel slow. An opera singer looking for the right words to say goodbye to her lover lost in the war. She wants to incorporate it into her opera, an opera whose intent was to help the ordinary people move on after the loss of so many loved ones. Violet is contracted to write the letter. Much better pacing.