War is a brutal beast that continuously ensnares people in its claws. It is merciless, unforgiving, selfish, and most often than not unwanted. Violet Evergarden opens up to what seems to be a past memory of Violet’s, maybe even a dream she is having. Violet stops at a street market booth claiming to see “Gilbert’s eyes.” It is a stunning emerald brooch that is the same color as Gilbert’s eyes. This is when Violet goes on to say she feels some type of emotion but she doesn’t know how to describe it. The audience can tell that this brooch will symbolize importance to Violet throughout the series.
We then move to a scene of Violet waking up in a hospital, her hands and arms bandaged. She proceeds to write a letter to Major Gilbert stating her time spent in the hospital and wanting to be put back to work immediately. Her letter is then blown out the window and it is whisked away in a flurry of beautiful town scenery/images. This is when we really get a sense of the time period. I am guessing somewhere around the 1800’s.
Enter Colonel Hodgins. He talks about Violet being a weapon of sorts, a tool who didn’t have a mind of her own and would fight whenever ordered to. Almost as if she wasn’t really human. He goes to the hospital to pick up Violet. Violet immediately ask what Major Gilbert is doing and where he is. She remembers Gilbert was gravely injured and wants to know if he is still alive. As Colonel Hodgin’s is about to answer the nurse interjects and says that Violet can be discharged from the hospital. Red flag number one!
While Violet couldn’t remember Colonel Hodgins’ name, she did recognize him from the night before the final battle. Violet then goes on to ask about Major Gilbert again. You can tell from Colonel Hodgins’ subtle movements and responses that Gilbert did not survive his injuries, unlike Violet who did. In order to put Violet at ease Colonel Hodgins tells Violet that Gilbert asked him to come to the hospital. This, of course, puts a temporary stop to Violet’s inquires. We viewers then hear that Violet’s country has won the war.
As Violet is discharged from the hospital the nurse hands her a suitcase of some of her belongings. This is when Violet opens up the case to search for the emerald brooch. The brooch is missing amongst the other items. This puts Violet in a small panic, saying she must search for the brooch since it is missing. Here is another hint at the importance of the brooch. Violet tells Colonel Hodgins that is was a gift from Major Gilbert. Ah! That is why Violet cherishes it so much. Colonel Hodgins then promises Violet he will find it for her. Colonel Hodgins and Violet then make their way to Leiden by car/boat, due to the railways being destroyed by enemy bombings.
Port City Leiden:
Colonel Hodgins explains to Violet that Gilbert was worried about her life after the war was over. Gilbert wanted to leave Violet in the care of the Evergarden family, the relatives he trusted the most. Mr. and Mrs. Evergarden were contacted immediately and agreed to take Violet in. Colonel Hodgins and Violet meet with Mrs. Evergarden over tea, and this is where we viewers see Violet’s hands for the first time. They are made from adamantine. Violet can not feel heat, and I suspect she can’t feel pain with these new arms either.
Mrs. Evergarden then gives Violet a pair of gloves she used to wear when she was younger.
Colonel Hodgins proceeds to tell Mrs. Evergarden that he must get back to the office and makes his way to leave. This is when Mrs. Evergarden tells Violet that she can think of their family as her own. Violet retorts back that she has never had a family and that she doesn’t need a new one. This is a small insight to Violet’s past and family background. Mrs. Evergarden tries to move the subject of family along by saying they used to have a son but lost him in the war. Violet interjects that she can’t be a replacement for Mrs. Evergarden’s late son. Violet’s answers are almost stoic in a way, like she has no concept of emotion behind the answers she gives. You could consider her personality icy and hardened, most likely due to the war. Colonel Hodgins tells Violet that Gilbert wanted her with the Evergarden family so she could lead a happy life. Cut to Colonel Hodgins leaving the Evergarden residence.
Violet burst out of the front door to ask Colonel Hodgins why Gilbert wanted her there.
More questions of “why” from Violet. I guess this girl just has to know! The Colonel proceeds to tell Violet that the war is over. There is no need for her to continue working as the Major’s weapon. Violet then turns this into self doubt, saying if she can’t be the Major’s tool anymore then she should just be disposed of. Someone should cast her aside and dump her somewhere.
A new mission for Violet:
Colonel Hodgins and Violet make their way over to Hodgins’ company. It seems to be a post office/ghostwriting service for people who cannot write yet. Which is a pretty neat thing if I do say so myself! Not everyone could read or write back in the 1800’s. Colonel Hodgins was helping a lot of people by providing written letters. Colonel Hodgins and Violet enter a small room (which seems to be a mail room). Here he tells Violet she can still serve a purpose, she can work for his company. Enter Benedict! (Totes my favorite character out of the series so far! I just love his witty repertoire towards the Colonel).
After a brief introduction from the Colonel, Violet learns her duties from Benedict. He gives her a uniform and Violet gets to sorting the mail immediately. Benedict then leaves Violet to her own devices. Violet works through the whole day without taking any breaks. Benedict then suggest the next thing she can try is a delivery run. Violet questions the word “delivery.” Benedict explains it as taking the mail to the addresses written on envelopes. Benedict leaves for the evening, and we cut to the Colonel on a street cart. He sees someone through the cart window delivering mail at night. He makes a comment about how he wishes his company was at that level, only to realize it’s his own company. He hurries off the cart to see Violet delivering the letters.
The Colonel, Benedict, and Violet talk amongst themselves during a delicious looking dinner. Benedict tells Violet when he said she should try a delivery run he meant it as tomorrow and not the same night. I love the fact that Violet takes everything SO literally. It is just ingrained in her since her military days. The Colonel then tells Violet she can eat. Violet proceeds to cut the fish in front of her, but you can tell she is struggling to use her newly found arms. It was almost cringey to watch this scene. I wanted to help her so badly!
As the Colonel is walking Violet back to the office he asks her what Gilbert’s last orders to her were. This is when Violet says, “Run away and live free.” My heart totally dropped at this moment. She then says, “Also…I…” This is the exact moment you know Gilbert told Violet that he loved her. THE FEELS! OH THE FEELS!!! You can see in the Colonel’s face he knows this as well. He then proceeds to tell Violet that she no longer has to live a life of war, that she can expand her horizons and learn many new things. The Colonel uses fire as an analogy to describe what Violet has done so far and this is probably my favorite part of the episode.
Of course Violet doesn’t understand this so she says she isn’t on fire. *Insert literal tendencies here* The Colonel goes on to admit his guilt for looking the other way when it came to Violet, so when Gilbert left Violet in his care he saw it as his moment to make amends with these feelings of shame. The Colonel knows that Violet will understand what he is saying one day and for the first time she will notice all her burn marks. I interpret this as Violet becoming a phoenix and rising from the ashes. A phoenix always leaves its mark wherever it goes, and once it dies it is reborn from its own ashes. Violet is a phoenix, rising from a path of destruction into a life full of happiness. In order for her to do so she must face her past and make amends with it.
Ghostwriting, Auto Memoir Dolls, and the concept of love:
The next morning while Violet is cleaning the office windows, a man comes in acquiring about a ghostwriting job. He cannot write but wants to send a letter to his childhood friend out in the country. His friend on the verge of getting married to another man so he wants to send a letter of love. As the letter is being typed up we get flashbacks of Major Gilbert and Violet’s relationship. We see images of war, Gilbert and Violet battling for their country and their lives. My heart clenched with anticipation as these final scenes were laid out in front of me. As the woman reaches the climax of the letter she ends it with “I love you.”
Violet recognizes these three words and we see a small reaction in her eyes to this phrase. She almost looks bewildered and worried in a sense.
After the man leaves the lady typing the letter asks Violet who she is. Violet (being her curious self) doesn’t respond with a name but rather a question:
The story then cuts to the Colonel and Violet speaking in his office. Violet wants to work with the Auto Memoir Dolls. The Colonel wants to know why Violet wants to work with them. Violet immediately says back with a pained expression on her face:
AND THE BIG REVEAL! Violet goes on to tell the Colonel that Major Gilbert uttered those words to her after his final orders. BE STILL MY HEART!!! It was the first time Major Gilbert ever said those words. Violet (if you haven’t caught on yet) doesn’t understand what state of mind this refers to. She does not have the concept to process love or any other emotions it seems. She even states, “I can’t understand it.” The Colonel expresses that is what the Auto Memoir Dolls do. They express love for those who cannot or don’t know how to, but Colonel Hodgins decides to let her join anyways. Finally, after following Major Gilbert’s orders for so long, Violet has finally made a decision of her own. The girl they called a tool without mind of her own wanted to know what “I love you” meant.
A tearful and bloody ending:
In the final fifty seconds of the first episode we see and hear Violet’s arm snapping off. She has lost both her arms in the war. She turns to the Major and claims she will not let him die. She bites at this uniform in what seems to be an attempt to drag him out of wherever they are. Gilbert tells her to stop and give up. He exclaims, “That’s enough!” through tear stained eyes. He says to her that she must live on and be free.
AND THEN THE MOST DEPRESSING PART OF THIS EPISODE HAPPENS:
I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING! Who left this onions out?! WAAAAAAHHHHHH. God, this episode hit me right in the feels. I haven’t teared up on a first episode EVER. This premier was so so so GOOD! It was everything I was wanting and more. I hope it continues to exceed my expectations. I don’t doubt this will be my favorite anime of all time. I am a sucker for bittersweet anime. I love anything that makes my heart break into a million different pieces. Overall, this first episode gets a 10 out of 10 from me. I hope all of you guys get to experience this roller coaster of emotions with me. The music, the art, the small details, the emotional scenes, all of them were top notch! I highly recommend this to anyone who likes being punched in the feels, like myself. You won’t regret it! Thank you for joining me on my first episode review! Sorry it was kind of long. I didn’t want to miss any details. Maybe over the course of the series I’ll learn how to shorten these post a bit XD
If you have seen the first episode of Violet Evergarden what are your thoughts, opinions, emotions of it? Let me know in the comments down below! ❤
Disclaimer: All imagery and photos come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them.