Original Release Date: Septmeber 6, 2019 Genre: Drama, Slice of Life Directed By: Haruka fujita and Taichi Ishidate Based on the Series Created By: Kana Akatsuki
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll. Reader discretion is advised.***
A few years have passed since the end of the war. All this time, the once super-soldier turned Auto Memory Doll, Violet Evergarden (voiced by Yui Ishikawa), continues to live her well-earned peaceful life.
For her latest assignment, Violet must tutor a young noblewoman, Isabella “Bartlett” York (voiced by Minako Kotobuki). Having grown up far from the affluent world she finds herself in, Isabella despises this realm of wealth. And upon meeting Violet, Isabella assumes the accomplished letter writer is yet another sheltered rich girl.
However, Isabella soon learns of the hardships Violet has gone through. Slowly, Isabella’s cold hostility transforms into genuine friendship. And over the course of their relationship, Isabella tells Violet stories of her beloved little sister, Taylor Bartlett (voiced by Aoi Yuki).
Guided by her many experiences, Violet again becomes a medium for someone needing to uncloud the turmoil inside their heart.
In Japanese, this film is Violet Evergarden Gaiden, and the word “Gaiden” translates to “side story.” That cannot be a better way to frame Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll (Violet Evergarden Side Story).
Chronologically, this movie takes place after the events of 2018’s Violet Evergarden. However, narratively, this film doesn’t add much to the characters we already know, nor does it advance the larger story in any significant way. Therefore, in all respects, Violet Evergarden Side Story is an extra-long episode of its parent series. Except, I trust you realize what that means.
This was an extra-long episode of one of the best anime to come out in the last five years (this review released in September 2021). For more context, during the Inaugural Anime Hajime Highlights, Violet Evergarden ranked as follows:
Needless to say, Violet Evergarden Side Story had quite the predecessor to follow. Despite that, this movie knocked it out of the park.
Every reason why the anime was brilliant was present in this film. It had the same stunning visuals, the same impossible-to-hate characters, and the same whelp-there-goes-my-heart story. But as I said, this film had little to no progression. Consequently, there’s not much more to add on top of what I already talked about in my original Violet Evergarden review.
Besides, if you’re interested in this film, you’ve most likely seen the show – and if you haven’t, you better, otherwise you’ll struggle to understand what’s happening here. Regardless, since you’ve likely seen the show, then you’re already fully aware of this franchise’s most enduring aspects.
Thus, for the purposes of this review, there is only one thing we can focus on, the story of the Bartlett sisters. Fair warning, if you have a loving relationship with a sibling or someone you consider a sibling, you best have tissues at the ready.
Violet Evergarden Side Story splits itself into two distinct halves, focusing on a particular Bartlett sister – first Isabella, followed by Taylor. Although both stories are powerful in their own right, one might hit harder than the other depending on if you’re the older or younger sibling. Then again, if you’re quick to tear up like I am, then this whole movie’s going to smack you down no matter what.
In addition, Violet Evergarden Side Story provided a far more well-rounded look at Benedict Blue (voiced by Kouki Uchiyama). I’ll be honest; of all the things I remember about the original series, Benedict is not one of them. I am not doubting he was present; he simply didn’t leave as big an impact as other aspects of the show did.
That was not the case in the film. Benedict’s interactions with the young Taylor Bartlett were particularly heartwarming.
With all that said, there is only one more thing to discuss.
Saying a Violet Evergarden story is a tear-inducer is as much a no-brainer as saying the Sun is hot. Be that as it may, there was one scene in this movie that was incredibly beautiful. I suppose we can call this moment the film’s climax, but it didn’t have anything in the way of high-energy excitement – which it didn’t need.
Nevertheless, this scene was the most touching interaction in Violet Evergarden Side Story. I know it was the place that had me crying the hardest. While I won’t go so far as to suggest this was the best moment of the franchise, I would place it in the top three.
Violet Evergarden knows how to deliver real gut wrenchers, and many of its most potent examples aren’t even sad. They are just so damn moving, so much so it’s difficult not to clutch at your heart.
Or, in other words, Violet Evergarden Side Story was phenomenal. I can only imagine what an actual continuation movie can do. Oh, would you look at that? One exists. But that’s a review for another day.
I was afraid this might happen.
In my original Violet Evergarden review, I found a few details to nitpick during its Negatives section. Granted, when I say “found,” I mean I clawed and scraped to think of something to say. I can’t do that twice.
I suppose if it bothers you, Violet Evergarden Side Story is technically a throwaway narrative, then, sure, that is a point against this film. And if you are a person who thinks along those lines, let me know in the comments. While you’re there, please also explain why you’re such a buzzkill.
Violet Evergarden Side Story is on the same level as its television series predecessor. A major difference between the two is their respective runtimes. Accordingly, if you only have ninety minutes but still want something incredible, then this film will satisfy you immensely.
As a result, what else can I say here? To put it as simply as I can:
This movie was great, and even as a reviewer, nothing about it bothered me. I apologize if you’re dissatisfied with that; it is what it is, though.
At the time of this review going live, September 2021, plans are in place for Anime Hajime to cover Violet Evergarden – The Movie. I don’t know an exact date, but I would expect sooner rather than later.
And unless something horrific happens, like this series dropping the ball, I am treating this film as a slow but glorious return to this remarkable franchise.
If you love the TV anime, there is simply no possible way you won’t love this movie in equal measure.
Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this film? How would you advise Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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