Isabella, the daughter of the noble York family, is enrolled in an all-girls academy to be groomed into a dame worthy of nobility. However, she has given up on her future, seeing the prestigious school as nothing more than a prison from the outside world. Her family notices her struggling in her lessons and decides to hire Violet Evergarden to personally tutor her under the guise of a handmaiden. At first, Isabella treats Violet coldly. Violet seems to be able to do everything perfectly, leading Isabella to assume that she was born with a silver spoon. After some time together, Isabella begins to realize that Violet has had her own struggles and starts to open up to her. Isabella soon reveals that she has lost contact with her beloved younger sister, Taylor Bartlett, whom she yearns to see again. Having experienced the power of words through her past clientele, Violet asks if Isabella wishes to write a letter to Taylor. Will Violet be able to help Isabella convey her feelings to her long-lost sister? [Written by MAL Rewrite]
A young girl struggling in school, soon to be sent to marry an unknown man, suffering physically, mentally from a starkly different past – memories that seem otherworldly considering where she is now. Her existence is defined by her name, but there were days where it was defined by her ‘sister’. This is the life of Isabella York, Violet’s next client.
This movie is not a direct sequel to the main series and is different from the other movie to be released in April 2020.
Violet Evergarden Gaiden: Eien to Jidou Shuki Ningyou is a movie which adapts Chapter 2 of the Violet Evergarden Gaiden novel. For those who didn’t know, Chapter 1 of the Gaiden has already been adapted in the main series (Episode 5: the letter exchange between the prince/princess).
As for when this is set in the main series’ timeline, it is definitely after Chapter 4 (Leon, the astronomer) and Chapter 10 (Lux) but before Chapters 11-13 (flying letters and train hijack) from the novel. So essentially between 10 and 11. Therefore in the anime series it would be between Episodes 6 and 13.
The movie has a similar format to Violet Evergarden’s adventures throughout the main series, except that it’s much longer.
Since there is still no synopsis included in the main page, I will give a short one here. The movie is essentially divided into 2 parts:
Violet has been called to a special school for girls to spend 3 months with the daughter of a major noble family. The girl she has to take care of, Isabella York, is struggling to adapt into her school environment and its demands, as the movie hints her past.The second part focuses on Isabella’s sister and her experience working for CH Postal Company. The 2 parts are obviously related, but I won’t go beyond this.
Most of the focus is on Isabella and her sister, rather than Violet. It seems this movie was not made to entirely focus on Violet’s development. She is already presented as an experienced AutoMemories doll, so the focus is more on the clients. I suppose this is better since some viewers complained about the lack of character development of the clients in the main series.
Its main message is one that is mentioned frequently in Violet Evergarden: “Letters can connect people”. Another example of the recurring themes of relationships between people and how letters can facilitate/enhance them.
This time the adventure is about the relationship between siblings and their unique circumstances, the rekindling of a lost connection and the barriers against them. It seems there is a strong sense of separation between the siblings (physically) compared to other episodes, which emphasised the hopelessness of the siblings in being able to reunite. Violet’s role was quite different in this movie – she seemed more open in putting herself in the clients’ shoes, and helping out Isabella’s sister work in CH postal mirrored scenes of herself being cared by Hodgins, showing a new side of her mature character.
The story as a whole is structured well with flashbacks for viewers to understand Isabella’s past. The two parts are incorporated well enough so they don’t feel too detached from each other.
The main flaw in the story is the chain of events that link Isabella to the York family. It is rather sudden and feels like it comes out of nowhere. This is indifferent from the novel and although without this detail the story would not exist, there may have been better alternatives for the reasoning.
In addition, I also had mixed emotions about the time gap between the 2 parts: 3 years. I understood the purpose of it, however it does extend the main plot’s timeline a lot, which may affect the development of CH postal workers but more importantly Gilbert. In other words, this may be another obstacle to overcome for KyoAni if they attempt to explain Gilbert’s whereabouts or absence from the main plot. But this is just speculation – more like me hoping Gilbert gets more screentime 🙁
The relationship between Isabella and Violet is the best feature of the movie in terms of character development. Violet’s understanding of a client’s past was at its best out of most of her experiences. Her growth from the initial stages of the main series has been immense. What looked like a typical client-doll relationship eventually led to something more than friendship. Events in their past, although different, forged a strong connection between them. The changes were clear – lessons were easier (or more bearable), communication became more relaxed and most importantly Isabella was able to open up to Violet about her past. Overall, their bond is unique and it is one that has not been explored in other episodes. Indeed, some scenes were more intimate than usual, which is unexpected considering the usual protective and reserved nature from Violet towards her clients. Yet more evidence of her growing emotional intelligence, you love to see it.
And let’s not forget Isabella’s sister – simply adorable. KyoAni really impressed with their attempt to give more of a story for Isabella’s sister, which was one of the major flaws of the original novel chapter. Her importance was balanced perfectly with her older sister, and the ending was a perfect finale.
One other positive was the appearance of Benedict Blue – a well known postman at CH postal – and his direct involvement in the second part of the movie. Not only was it enjoyable to see one of the original company workers from the novel, this movie could also be a sign that there is potential for Benedict and Cattleya to get the screen time they deserve in future works.
Some areas could have been developed more: Isabella’s thoughts on the purpose of the school – essentially preparing young girls for arranged marriages – may have been interesting. Her suffering from her past was overpowering almost everything else. Indeed, Isabella’s relationship with her sister is memorable, but other aspects of her character seemed to be ignored, which was slightly disappointing. Assigning one event which defines his/her life can make a character boring sometimes, if you get what I mean.
As a side note, I enjoyed Luculia’s appearance in the movie!
Amazing visuals as usual, the highlight was the dancing scenes between Violet and Isabella. Landscapes were excellent. At this point you start to wonder if anything’s not going to be bright and pretty in Violet Evergarden.
Most of the songs are the same as the main series bar the ED. The music during the dance was the highlight. Voice acting was great from everyone.
Another tearjerker for VE fans, but maybe not the cup of tea for those disappointed by the main series.
Great as a side story and a nice addition to the Violet Evergarden works as a whole. Some minor disappointments but KyoAni did their best with the content they had from Chapter 2 of the Gaiden novel, as well as recovering from the tragic event that happened before the movie’s release in Japan.
I look forward for the new movie in April.