Violet Evergarden Ep. 5: Drop the pretense

Gross. Basically, Princess Charlotte of Drossel is just 14, and she’s about to marry Prince Damian of Flugel, a man ten years her senior. They first met when she turned the ripe, old age of 10. In fact, that is the only time they’ve ever met. Just look at them in the screenshot above… don’t those two just look adorable together? Pardon me while I go throw up. Yeah, yeah, I get it — back then, girls were typically in their teens when they got married, and the boys were in their twenties. Plus, these marriages were largely political arrangements, so if anything, at least Charlotte got to demonstrate a little agency. Apparently, Damian is the only eligible bachelor who has ever shown her genuine kindness, so she choo-choo-chooses him to be her lucky husband. If you gotta get hitched, at least do it with someone you like! But c’mon, you didn’t come here thinking that I wouldn’t complain about their age difference, would you? This is Moe Sucks. Alright, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can now talk about the rest of the episode.

Apparently, when the royalty get married — or maybe just Drossel and Flugel — they must publish their love letters in the newspapers: “Our public love letters are defined by how beautifully they express one’s love and establish the wedding in people’s minds as something to celebrate.” Not only do you have to marry for convenience, you have convince your people to feel good about it, privacy be damned. And although you can safely assume that princes and princesses are among the most well-educated members of this society, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a way with words. And even if they do, that doesn’t necessarily mean they express romantic feelings in a way that captivates the public. And that’s where Violet comes in.

It appears as though quite some time has passed since we last left off. Violet is no longer a trainee who struggles to write beautiful, heartfelt letters. Rather, she has become extremely adept at what she does. Extremely is no exaggeration. She is perhaps second only to Cattleya — maybe even better. After all, Claudia entrusts her with this job, and it is no simple job. She’s not just writing for the illiterate and uncultured; she has to become the voice of a demure and elegant princess. In a way, our dear Violet is a representative on behalf of an entire nation. There are serious ramifications for the entire continent if Violet fails at her job: “Drossel and Flugel, two enemy nations, will be entering a marriage of happy convenience. This ceremony has the distinct aim of proclaiming the end of the War to the neighboring countries.” Also, Charlotte had to do her research in order to convince her father to accept this marriage: “…I studied up on all the benefits a marriage between our countries would bring to Drossel.” Assuming that the princess’s research is sound, people would suffer if this marriage fell through. Are we sure we can put everything in Violet’s hands? Yes, apparently.

Just listen to (or read) an excerpt from her first letter:

“If I were to say that simply saying your name out loud, or writing it out like so, makes my heart race, how would that make you feel? Every happening in this city of flowers reminds me of you, leaving me to spend every day sighing endlessly.”

Blah blah blah, it goes on and on like that. It’s very flowery. It’s very… generically poetic, if that makes sense. It’s not a bad letter. But it’s a letter that clearly doesn’t speak from the heart. It’s a letter that looks good on the surface — a letter that puts on a pretty, smiling face — but you know it isn’t genuine. I’m not trying to denigrate Violet’s skills at all. She was asked to write a letter that would impress the general public, and she did her job perfectly. So instead, she should be commended. She got her mission orders, and as expected, she fulfilled them with top honors. Naturally, the princess gets an equally flowery letter in return. But the prince’s written words do not match her memories of him. He is not the grandiloquent sort, and that is precisely why Charlotte fell in love with him in the first place. This frustrates the princess, because she (correctly) assumes that the prince is also relying upon an Auto Memoir Doll. Well, I mean, she started it… how can you expect your lover to be honest with you if you aren’t honest with them?

So Violet convinces Charlotte to take a massive risk: why not write to him yourself? Why not speak from your heart if you wish for him to speak from his heart? Of course, Violet will coaching the girl every step of the way. Writing from the heart, though? Well, this makes sense to us, because in our day and age, we are expected to marry for love. Some cultures still practice arranged marriages. Some couples still marry for convenience. But for the vast majority of the developed countries — especially the Western ones — people marry for love. As a result, the idea of writing from your heart makes us think, “Well, duh… why wouldn’t you do that?” But when so much is at stake — the people of both nations, easing of war tensions, etc. — do you really want to gamble on a 14-year-old girl’s heart? Do you really want her to tell her future husband — a prince, no less — that she’s a crybaby, but she can probably kick his ass in horse racing? I mean, some guys like that. Damian likes that. But she’s only met him once. By suggesting this gambit, Violet has to hope that Charlotte isn’t a poor judge of character when her 10-year-old self got swept off her feet all those years ago.

Anyways, like every episode we’ve seen thus far, everything works out in the end. Every story gets a perfect ending, and if not for Charlotte’s bittersweet departure from Alberta, the court maid who may as well be the princess’s own mother, this episode would be entirely fluff. But instead, it’s about 90% fluff. It’s fluff I can enjoy — notwithstanding the age differences — but it’s still fluff nonetheless. Violet Evergarden is still a good show in my eyes, but its shine is starting to dull a bit. There isn’t enough balance in its saccharine-sweet resolutions. And maybe this is why this week’s episode decides to end the way that it does: upon returning to Leiden, our heroine bumps into Dietfried Bougainvillea. Gilbert’s older brother is not at all happy that Violet now appears to be living a happy, fulfilling life as an Auto Memoir Doll. As a child, she had killed many of his men before he eventually captured and gifted her to Gilbert. Perhaps Dietfried intended for her to die in the war in place of his younger brother. After all, he did advise Gilbert to treat her without any mercy or compassion. Following that logic, Violet should’ve suffered in Gilbert’s stead. And yet, not only did she survive, she’s bringing happiness to others. No wonder Dietfried is unhappy.

But c’mon, are you really going to hold a grudge against a young child for killing your men? Especially if that child was taught only to fight and murder? The anime needs a little more pathos, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. Then again, in this universe, children can get married to men, so it shouldn’t surprise that those same men would hold a child soldier equally culpable as an adult when it comes to war crimes. By the way… when Gilbert told Violet that he loved her, how old was he? On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know. Or at the very least, maybe he simply loved her like a younger sister.

Misc. notes & observations:

— Bit early to start drinking, don’t you think? Anyways, we learn from this scene that there are still war agitators out there. But on the plus side, Claudia’s company is doing well. I wonder if this means his competitors are doing poorly as a result.

— If Violet has improved this much, what about Erica and Iris? I guess we won’t find out this week. I’m especially curious about Erica, since we learned a bit about her back in week two, but we haven’t revisited her character at all since then.

— Yep, the princess sure does look like someone who is ready to get married.

This one maid looks like a Doll too with the vacant expression on her face.

— Violet’s only 14? Eh… I would’ve assumed at least 17.

— Violet: “But through reading a wide variety of literature, I have been able to compile a statistical analysis. My conclusion is that there are many examples of couples with a substantial age difference.” I see someone’s been reading Koi wa Ameagari no You ni. Also, you’ll find that the age difference is predominantly in one direction… unless of course, Violet has also read “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” But this is neither here nor there… I’m just rambling.

— Charlotte says she wishes to speak to someone close to her in age. I imagine that this is probably why Violet is sent to Drossel and Cattleya to Flugel.

— Oh, Violet can crack jokes.

— Drossel is so lusciously verdant and flowery… KyoAni definitely went all out in designing these backgrounds. What would this place look like in the winter, though?

— I honestly wish these stories could take up more than one episode just so we can explore Violet’s writing process. How did she go from not understanding people’s basic feelings to being able to craft such flowery love letters? This is why I wish the show would let us into Violet’s inner world and listen to her thoughts as she composes one of the princess’s letters.

Gathering in the town square to listen to the princess’s love letters must be the equivalent to our daytime soap operas…

— “My dear, I want to touch you as soon as I can.” Gross. Also, Violet is suddenly lost in thought when she hears this line. This is more than likely the exact moment she realizes that Cattleya is on the other end of the letter. After all, she does say that she recognizes the prince’s Doll’s prose.

This is why you don’t marry children.

— I wish we could’ve explored the relationship between Charlotte and Alberta a little closer. It must be painful to be in the court maid’s position. She wants to console a girl she has raised like her own daughter, but due to culture and tradition, all she can do is adamantly stand by Charlotte’s bed: “I shall stay right by your side.” In a sense, she can’t. If Charlotte marries Damian, then Alberta can no longer stay right by her side. And yet, she’ll always be in the girl’s heart. They are so close and yet so far. Their mostly unspoken bond is actually the most interesting and strongest aspect of the entire episode.

— Charlotte: “And Violet, could you also forget about being a Doll, and listen to me as the person you are?” There’s a pause as we zoom into Violet’s face. Her eyes waver a bit before she furrows her brow. I like to think our heroine is thinking, “But this is how I always act.” But going against her propensity to speak her mind like in previous episodes, Violet eventually utters a simple “hai.”

— Essentially, the princess is young and insecure. Hell, she’s still going through puberty.

— Oh yeah, this is the first episode where nobody makes a big deal about Violet’s artificial hands. I guess members of royalty have too much manners to bring it up.

— The way people are reacting to these honest letters reminds me of the side characters in Densha Otoko. No one was flowery there.

— Damian: “I have a little sister, so I’m used to crybaby girls.” Great line.

— Charlotte: “He must think for sure I’m a rebellious, sassy brat now!” Hey, some people like rebellious, sassy brats! Not ones that are ten years my junior, but who doesn’t like a tomboy with a little attitude?

— Damian looks like some dude you can meet down at the tavern, but I guess that’s the point.

— This exchange:

Alberta: “Your Highness, you mustn’t poke fun at grownups.”

Charlotte: “Oh, but I’m all grown up too.”

Gross. Just look at Alberta’s reaction.

— I swear, this subplot did not get enough attention at all. For a princess to kneel to her maid

— Oh dear, our heroine can now smile.

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5 Replies to “Violet Evergarden Ep. 5: Drop the pretense”

  1. Damn, this anime already has Violet and Gilbert, right? Do it also need this one, too? Goddammit. Screw those who justify this shit with this is historically accurate. The anime tried to justify this by making their love mutual and I guess that is historically accurate as well, huh?

    “Oh dear, our heroine can now smile.”

    That one kinda comes out of nowhere I think. I know why she smiles at that moment. It’s just nothing in the previous episodes or even before that moment indicate that she has developed enough to do that I think.

    On another note, other than the animation and the visuals (I do wish that they tone the shininess down I guess? I don’t know the right word for it. I only know that this isn’t supposed to be an Ufotable anime.), this anime is just feels and it isn’t working on me. Not to mention, at this point, I also feel that the story is kinda monotonous I guess. The anime introduces a new guy at this episode, so I’ll wait a bit and see what he bring to this anime. I don’t think he’ll help that much, though, considering that his part of the story is kinda wonky.

    I’m pretty sure that Violet killed his men in self-defense because they tried to assault her or something. (This is anime. I’m pretty sure that is what happened.) Of course, this also makes his action to give (Is that legal?) Violet to his little brother kinda doesn’t make sense to me. So, she killed his men for one reason or another and he didn’t want to deal with her for one reason or another, so he gave her to his little brother, so she can die in his place? Yeah, I’m not following that logic.

    On another another note, I have a few nitpicks about this anime. I apologize in advance for the wall of text below.

    First, what is a doll really? At first, I thought it’s some kind of android due to the name and all that stuff with the typesetter robot, but it ended up as just a fancy term for ghost writers. And those dolls are just normal humans with hometown and parents and shit.

    On the other hand, the dolls are also treated differently like some sort of second-class citizen or a goddamn android. So, what the f*ck is it? I mean let’s imagine that they aren’t normal humans like maybe some sort of biological androids, they are just too similar to normal humans. There are nothing to differentiate from the normal humans. They aren’t even wearing some sort of patches to tell them apart from the normal humans at least. It just doesn’t make sense. Sure, maybe that is the point from the creators that they are the same as the normal humans, but it just doesn’t make sense in that kind of society. Not to mention, the story doesn’t focus on it that much and more onto pretty robot(?) learns to feel and love.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. I mean I don’t even know what is a doll supposed to be here.

    Second, the more I think about it. The relationship between Violet and Gilbert just creepy and it’s not just because of the age gap. I mean based on Violet’s actions like her changing her clothes in front of a stranger and a male one, too, to boot. Is Gilbert isolating her from the other soldiers and never even taught her normal social norm?

    Even if we include her stunted emotional growth, It’s still weird. If this is caused by her being a child soldier and suffering from PTSD. It’s just not cutting it. Not to mention that PTSD isn’t some kind of magical mental disease regardless of what kind of crap those animu fans say. And autism also doesn’t cut it, Autism doesn’t equal helpless or stupidity.

    The only thing that comes to my mind is Gilbert is either a shitty caretaker or a shitty human being. And I’m pretty sure that isn’t what the anime wants me to think with all the “Gilbert is totally a nice guy” spiel and understanding him being Violet’s goal or something.

    On a last note, I’m pretty sure Gilbert isn’t dead yet. Based on my experience in this kind of story so far, if the protag is a man and the dead love interest is a woman, the death is often permanent, so the man can wallow in his manpain and manrage. But if the protag is a woman and the dead love interest is a man, the man is often not dead yet and will later return revealing himself to be evil all along and then reveal himself to actually be good all along.

    I hope I’m not right, though. I mean if I’m right that is going to be so lame…

  2. Violet being 14 caught me off guard , I though she’d be around 20-25. Man, these anime designs, when it’s not a loli it’s a reverse loli.

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