Violet Evergarden Ep. 13 (Final): That’s all she wrote

Oh right, the last episode airs today… but it never really ends, does it? Sigh, you’ll see what I mean. For now, let’s start from the top.

— Last week’s Mission Impossible isn’t quite over yet. The enemy leader manages to pull himself back up, so he continues taking shots at both Violet and Dietfried. Our girl steadfastly defends Gilbert’s brother with her arms and ends up losing one of them in the process. Eventually, the bad guy tries to jump off the train, but Violet prevents him from doing so. Sorry, but I don’t really understand what happens here. How do we go from this… to this?

— Ah, whatever. Violet’s precious brooch goes flying from the bad guy’s grip, so she tries to reach out for it. It somehow finds its way into Dietfried’s hands, but he gives it back to the girl. This means he no longer hates her. Cool, I guess.

— But they’re not out of the woods just yet! The bad guy reveals that he and his boys still have one last trick up their sleeve: bombs have been planted on an upcoming bridge! Okay, what are you doing? No, seriously, what are you doing? The bad guy calls Violet and Dietfried naive, but here he is, telling them all about the bombs. If he had just shut his damn mouth, our heroes wouldn’t have even known that the bridge had been rigged to blow up. Not only that, why did the anti-peace faction even bother infiltrating the train in the first place if they already had bombs in place to derail the train?!

— Naturally, the train won’t stop in time. Of course it fucking won’t. That means Violet will have to leap off a moving train, race to one of the bombs, and try and pry it off before it blows up.

— But what about the other bomb?! Benedict finally gets to be useful. He also jumps off a moving trainjump-kicks the other bomb off the bridge, then manages to cling to the bridge at the very end. Amazing! And by amazing, I mean nice shoes, bro.

— Meanwhile, poor Violet-chan is trying to yank the other bomb off with her one remaining arm. First, her some of her fingers get torn off, but the girl gets right back to it! Eventually, her last arm goes flying off as well, but she manages to pry the bomb loose! She gets it done in just the nick of time! The bomb goes boom in midair because… well, because we just couldn’t end this scene without an explosion, I guess. Benedict also saves her in the nick of time.

— Oh yeah, the bad guy decided to commit suicide at some point. Shrug. Who even cares about him anymore?

— The next day, we see Cattleya and the special envoy at the peace talks. The war is officially over as all sides agree to the treaty. Not only that, Leidensuperlongname will even commit to aiding in the north’s recovery. All this thanks to Violet! If the special envoy hadn’t made it to this summit, these wonderful things would’ve been tabled completely! Can you believe that!

— Also, how ridiculous is it that Cattleya is still dressed like that during some super important meeting between several heads of state? Like c’mon, she doesn’t have any sort of formal wear?

— Outside, people are throwing a celebration with confetti and everything because we finally, finally have peace. I guess the anti-peace faction is no more.

— But I mean, why couldn’t they have just flown the special envoy via air? Wouldn’t that have been faster? Didn’t a postman literally just fly through a warzone without issues? Didn’t a postman literally just deliver Violet to her destination also without any issues? Even if this special envoy had died, couldn’t some pilot have “airmailed” another representative overnight?

— Plus, if you’re going to set it up so that Violet is the superhero who saves the day, then why not go all the way and shower the girl with commendations? She literally gets nothing for all her efforts. You’d think the girl would get medals or some shit, but nah. She just gets another set of arms.

— Anyways, some air show is fast approaching, Cattleya encourages Violet to participate. You can do so by submitting a letter, but the girl confesses that she has yet to write a letter for herself. Clearly, her letter would be addressed to Gilbert, but the girl suddenly finds it difficult to find the right words. She can transfer other people’s feelings to paper, but not her own. She still has a mental hurdle left to overcome.

— She thinks back to that night before the final battle. She wanted to know why Gilbert didn’t want to issue orders to her anymore. We finally get to see the rest of the conversation. It turned out Gilbert got really incensed by the girl’s refusal to live on her own without orders. He raised his voice and wondered if she really thought that he saw her as nothing more than a tool. He then told her to stop lying about her emotions, because he could clearly see that she had them. Eh, I can’t really blame either of them here. On the one hand, you have a little girl who had been forced to serve as a child soldier. Taking orders was all she ever knew, and at the time, she mentally could not process her own feelings. On the other hand, Gilbert was frustrated and the stress of war didn’t help. He only wanted the best for the girl.

— The next day, Violet tells both Cattleya and Claudia that she couldn’t write her letter. All of a sudden, she gets a visitor: a Bougainvillea has come looking for her. The girl rushes downstairs and clutches her brooch, because she still clings onto the hope that Gilbert is alive. Of course, it’s just Dietfried.

— Dietfried ends up taking the girl to see this frail, old woman. It’s none other than Dietfried and Gilbert’s mother. The woman wanted to see the child that Gilbert had wanted his family to adopt. She then tells Violet that she doesn’t blame our heroine for her son’s fate. At the same time, however, she won’t give up hope that her son is still alive out there somewhere. What’s up with that? Over and over again, this episode seems to hint at the idea that Gilbert might still be alive. Please don’t go there. Anyways, Violet can’t help but cry as she understands that she still loves Gilbert too. Likewise, the man will live on in her heart even if she never meets him again.

— Outside the Bougainvillea mansion, Violet prepares to leave when Dietfried tries to do her a favor. He orders her to live for his brother and eventually die from old age. So again, if you haven’t already realized it, Dietfried no longer hates the girl. As a character, however, Dietfried never endeared himself to the audience, so I find it really hard to care either way about his latest breakthrough. Anyways, the girl impresses him when she tells him that she no longer needs orders. That night, she manages to write and finish her letter to her major.

— We next see Violet hanging out with Erica and Iris at the air show. Luculia even shows up for good measure. She informs everyone that she finally managed to write a letter to her late parents. Meanwhile, Iris reveals that she wrote to her future self. She still intends on becoming the most popular doll in Leiden, but with Violet next to her, good luck with that. As for Erica, the girl who had all but disappeared completely from the story since the second episode, she tells us out of nowhere that she’s in love…

— … and it’s with BenedictWhat?

— Cattleya had already told us that she was going to write a letter to soldiers she had met during her time as a showgirl. She then pulls out a piece of a paper, which supposedly contains one of Claudia’s many drafts. The guy had written some sappy thing to his future daughter. It’s a bit cruel to read his private thoughts out loud to everyone, isn’t it?

— A plane then flies overhead and dumps a ton of letters into the air. The idea here is that you’re sending your feelings to the person you hold dear in your heart no matter where they are, but the metaphor feels overwrought. I mean, we even see those letters sparkle as they float through the sky. We get it, KyoAni. We get the SymbolismTM.

— We then see Violet depart on a trip. As she reads her letter to her major out loud to the audience, we see her visit many of the locations from throughout the series. We also get more close-ups of the girl’s face as she cries for like the umpteenth time in this episode. Yes, it’s very sad. Very, very sad. But her words feel kinda redundant. She understands his feelings now, she understands her feelings now, she appreciates life now, she’ll always believe that he’s still alive, and last but not least, she loves him. If all those letters floating in the air felt overwrought, this epilogue completely blows them out the window. Throughout this horribly tortured sequence, we see a solitary letter fly through the air. It’s Violet’s feelings, y’all! Violet’s feelings are trying to make their way to Gilbert! When she finally finishes reading her letter to us, we eventually see the letter nestled softly in a field of flowers. Her feelings have finally made it! Then we watch as a drop of water fall through the air in slow motion. Around it, the heavens are literally turning! We go back to the drop of water, and in it, there’s a glimmer of fire, representing a spark of life! The drop of water finally lands on a violet, and as the flower undulates with life and vibrancy from the touch of the water, the night sky suddenly brightens up to show that a new day has come! Violet has learned to live!!@!!

Dude… who the hell directed this? it’s like some fucking high school art project with all the SymbolismTM it throws at you.

— Finally, we see that Violet has returned home. She’s in the middle of writing a letter when Claudia tells her that she must depart urgently to meet a client. When the girl arrives at her destination, her eyes light up… but we don’t get to see who she sees. The episode — and the rest of the series — comes to and end as KyoAni informs us that a new project has been greenlit:

I’m going to laugh so hard if it turns out Gilbert is still alive.

I’m just… I’m out of words to say about this anime. I won’t ignore all of the good things it’s done, but I can’t deny all of its pitfalls either. Some of you will think that I’m being too harsh, and others will say that I’m being too lenient. Either way, I’m tired.

Final grade: B-

13 thoughts on “Violet Evergarden Ep. 13 (Final): That’s all she wrote

  1. dsprizer

    I loathe this show with every fiber of my being. Its emotions are cheap, and its writing and direction has the subtlety of a nuclear bomb. I realize that there are plenty of people who don’t mind being manipulated like this – who like it even – but frankly, if I was being tortured, I’d take the bald fan service of the worst harem or incest anime to the appalling middlebrow “artsiness” of garbage like this. Honestly, your average soap opera is handled with more delicacy than this sledgehammer of tears.

    1. sonicsenryaku

      as i’ve mentioned before, subtlety is not the end all be all to writing; you’re not always a better writer for being subtle. However, even if the goal of this show was to be a melodrama, i think there were times where it did it in excess. Subtlety can be a powerful tool, but so can blatancy. It all depends on how one uses these writing elements to stage appropriate situations and moments of character writing. Unfortunately, violet evergarden doesn’t always nail this; it forgoes tightly written characters and at times, misuses its melodrama.

      1. dsprizer

        I don’t disagree. I personally prefer my drama to be on the subtle side, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with preferring a direct approach.

        The thing is, Violet Evergarden went well beyond bluntness and straight into bunker busters. And not just with the main character, either. The side stories where she went around doing her Jesus act performing miracles were pretty uniformly over-the-top tearjerkers.

        And if we’re to be honest, the whole conceit of having letter writers for people unable to communicate their own feelings is just an incredibly obvious and clumsy tool to advance the plot.

        I’m glad many people enjoyed this show, but for me, it was just pure, unadulterated garbage.

        1. sonicsenryaku

          As Sean already implied, a narrative should always aim to be dynamic, to present its drama and plot in ways that are ever changing so as to avoid large refractory periods of engagement due to habituation. If a story relies on the same mechanic over and over (or repeats the same bits of information), you become fatigued by it and lose all interest. It becomes dull; an exercise in tautology. No one wants to read a paper that reiterates the same point in 10 different ways; that’s no fun. Something that is exceptionally well-written posits new angles, ideas, and arguments to bolster its main thesis. Violet evergarden narrative suffers from being very repetitive with its prose not because it’s not subtle.

      2. Sean Post author

        Yeah, subtlety isn’t the problem here. It’s the redundancy of information. We see letters being dumped into the wind, and that’s fine. But then Violet follows up and tells us directly that the letters represent people’s feelings (no shit). Then in the final stretch of the episode, Violet monologues the crap out of us and lets us know that she now has the will to live on her own without orders. Fine. But it doesn’t end there. We tend see a tortured metaphor with water and a violet flower. By nature, the storytelling in anime series must be economical. You only have around 20 minutes every week to tell your story. Most shows thus opt to take the lazy route and rely on voiceovers. A small percentage of shows render themselves painfully obtuse, but this allows the anime blogging community to circlejerk themselves silly over them (see: Ikuhara series). Then we come to this finale, which falls flat on its face precisely because it wants to blast us with both voiceovers and shameless symbolism.

        1. Advaris

          Uhh… is there a difference between not being subtle and bashing you in the hammer with the sledgehammer of information again and again? Either the anime thinks it’s much smarter than it actually is or it thinks its viewers are all morons who need cue cards.

          Ikuhara is indeed overrated btw.

          1. Sean Post author

            The symbolism in Darling in the FranXX isn’t subtle, but it’s not blasting me with information either.

            1. Advaris

              I guess I should say the difference between being too blatant and in your face, and bashing you in the hammer with the sledgehammer of information again and again in my previous post, but I see your point. Thanks for answering me.

  2. Advaris

    And here I thought that the anti-peace faction guys can’t get any dumber. On a more serious topic, this episode manages to combine the worst aspect of the two previous episodes. It has the glurge from episode 11 and the stupidity from episode 12. No amount of visuals can save this episode.

    Blatancy has its own merit, but I think this anime and anime in general should learn a thing or two about being subtle. It’s especially more true for emotional anime like Violet. People in general don’t like being told what to do. The more you tell them to be emotional and cry, the less they want to do it. It turns the last moment of this anime into a joke. Best comedy anime of this season.

    The strange thing about this anime, though. For all the effort to be emotional, it forgets its own characters, not just Violet, all of them. I mean all those last second revelations about those side characters are just mind-boggling. If you haven’t lay out the foundation, none of these emotional moments and developments are going to amount to anything.

    “I’m going to laugh so hard if it turns out Gilbert is still alive.”

    Obviously, he is going to still be alive. Being predictable is one of this anime’s forte. Not to mention, all those foreshadowing that hit you in the head like a goddamn sledgehammer. I think I was wrong about him being evil, though. This anime don’t have the balls to make him evil after I give it another consideration. I’m sure that he “sacrificed” himself, so Violet can have a normal life because he is such a nice paedo.

    I have no problem with the grade. This anime deserves it from its visuals alone, considering the quality of visuals of recent anime. This anime better find itself a new and better director and writer, though.

  3. Yalu

    I’m speechless at how horrible this finale was. It’s even worse than the previous episode.

    Also, what does a B- rating equal on a scale from 1 to 10? 7.5? I’m just curious.

    1. Sean Post author

      C is a 5. I give the show props for its technical merits. Also, some of the initial episodes weren’t bad.

  4. Anonymous

    The point of the envoy going by train was alluded to many times in passing in prior episodes. Doesn’t make the villains actions make more sense, but it does explain the importance of the train, and by extension the importance of going by train.

  5. Anonymous

    The whole train plot is basically fanservice. Pacifist fanservice. The plot is heavily reminiscent of events leading up to the Fifteen Years War. TLDR: rogue elements of IJA twice bombed trains to further their imperial ambitions. The second one succeeded, and largely against the government’s wishes the army used the railways to conquer a big chunk of Northeast China, escalating the conflict rather than limiting it. Low end death toll is in the tens of millions.


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