Violet Evergarden The Movie acts as a beautiful finale for the series, which is also able to supply itself as a touching story for newcomers to the series, but the movie isn't entirely perfect. With this new feature-length film acting as the final chapter for the previous television series, the movie is able to bring viewers up to speed with what transpired in the past while also painting a gorgeous picture for the world of automatic dolls that can be used as both tools for the military and tools to assist in positively affecting the lives of those around them.
For those that might not be familiar with Violet Evergarden as a franchise, the titular Violet was originally a soldier for her land, falling in love with her "higher-up" Gilbert. During the war, Violet lost her arms while believing that the subsequent explosion had also killed her love. Using her status as an "Automatic Doll" and her new mechanical arms, Violet set to work with a new task: writing letters for those who needed to deliver poignant, touching messages to their loved ones.
First and foremost, following the brief primer, the true strength of the final chapter of Violet Evergarden is in its animation, with the characters' facial features and backgrounds for the environments popping off the screen. It's clear that Kyoto Animation has some serious talent in their hands as they've refined their ability to animate over the years, with Violet Evergarden The Movie definitely being one of their slickest productions to date. Their animation works particularly well in selling the emotions of certain characters, as the movie is bursting with tear-jerking moments that Kyoto can capture perfectly, hammering home just how heart-rending the franchise can be when it wants to.
The film isn't difficult for new fans of the franchise to wrap their heads around, as the feature-length adventure does a fantastic job of working flashbacks and past storylines into the film without making it feel forced or shoe-horned in. While there are definitely several characters that fans of the franchise might feel don't get the proper amount of screen time, the final chapter is able to deliver a powerful story that utilizes the majority of characters well, while also giving fans of the series some rewards for following along with the original episodes.
One of the main downfalls of Violet Evergarden The Movie is that, while each of the stories is a tearjerker in their own right, they feel disconnected from one another. Violet herself is struggling with the idea that her lost love might in fact still be alive but is also employed by a young boy whose illness is giving him a limited amount of time before he wanders into the great beyond. On top of these two storylines, the film is also bookended by a trip to the future that is set up to paint a picture of how Violet eventually finished out her days.
The stories themselves are powerful, which makes it all the more frustrating that they almost feel as if they are three individual episodes smashed together, but it ultimately is a minor complaint as each of these tales can hit their emotional strides. The movie primarily follows Violet through the film, giving viewers a better idea of how this "Automatic Doll" is struggling to find herself while also discover a path to the future.
The strength of the animation is able to go a long way not simply in conveying Violet's emotions but showing off her status as a "Doll," primarily using her mechanical hands to type heartfelt messages to deliver to her clients' family and friends. Her hands are similarly off-putting while intricate, telling us more about her character than perhaps anything else.
The main motivation of Violet is one where she is attempting to discover whether the love of her life, Gilbert Bougainvillea, actually managed to survive the war that lost the doll the use of her arms. While there is a moment or two where this main arc can drag, while also feeling a tad predictable if this isn't your first rodeo within the medium of anime, it is luckily pushed forward by the animation and character beats.
Violet Evergarden The Movie is a love letter to fans of the anime franchise and does an admirable job of placating both followers of the series and newcomers alike. Though it can be rough around the edges, it is a movie that is definitely worth your time, whether you've heard of the series before or not.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Violet Evergarden The Movie Will Hit Select Theaters on March 30th In North America.