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Light Novel / Violet Evergarden

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"Pleased to make your acquaintance. I rush anywhere my customers desire. I am from the Auto-Memory Dolls service, Violet Evergarden."

Violet Evergarden is a Japanese light novel series by Kana Akatsuki, illustrated by Akiko Takase, and first published under the KA Esuma Bunko imprint in December 2015. It won the grand prize in the fifth Kyoto Animation Award's novel category in 2014, the first ever work to win a grand prize in any of the three categories (novel, scenario, and manga). It was adapted into a 14-episode animated TV series by Kyoto Animation, with the first episode premiering on January 10, 2018 in Japan, and on January 11, 2018 worldwide through Netflix. It was directed by Taichi Ishidate, with Reiko Yoshida serving as series composer, Takase returning as character designer and chief animation director, and Haruka Fujita as series director.

Violet is a young girl whose life is nothing but war, serving dutifully under Major Gilbert Bougainvillea of Leidenschaftlich's Army. After suffering injuries that cost Violet her arms and separate her from Gilbert, she is taken under the care of former army commander Claudia Hodgins who founded CH Postal Company in the capital city Leiden after the war ended. They field regular mail services and Auto Memory Dolls, who ghost-write letters for the illiterate and those who seek help expressing their feelings in a letter.


Violet eventually joins the Auto Memory Doll service team, determined to learn the Major's fate and the meaning behind his last words to her: "I love you."

The series received the Best Animation Award at the 2019 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. An original video animation episode was released in July 2018, followed by a spin-off film entitled "Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll" in September 2019. Another anime film was initially scheduled for a January 2020 premiere, but was then moved to April 24, 2020, on account of the July 18, 2019 fire at KyoAni's 1st Studio building. Unfortunately, it then had the bad luck of getting postponed until further notice due to the rise of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


Violet Evergarden provides example of:

  • Action Girl: The title character is shown brawling with soldiers twice her height like it was a day job in a flashback.
    • This is shown in the novel as well, in chapter 3, 6 and 13, where she defeats countless armed soldiers, usually either unarmed or with an oversized axe, despite said soldiers carrying rifles.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime expands on Violet's early days of working in CH Postal and her interaction with its workers that aren't found in the two main novel volumes.
  • Adapted Out: It remains to be seen (considering that Kyoto Animation has an upcoming follow-up film), but the Utopia cult chapter as well as the final 2 chapters of the novel were cut from the anime (which contains the actual ending of the novel instead of The Stinger shown in the final episode).
  • Adult Fear:
    • Watching soldiers returning from war trying to reintegrate into civilian life and failing, especially when the soldier in question is a child.
    • Fear of your business falling apart, as is the case with Hodgins.
    • Seeing your own daughter slowly dying of incurable illness.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Episode 5 of the anime featured the Perfectly Arranged Marriage between Princess Charlotte (14) and Prince Damien (24). To put in context: Charlotte was 10 when she first met Damien. She was struck by his genuine care for her feelings as a person instead of a potential bride, and decided that she would marry him out of all the royal suitors presented before her.
    • Violet and Gilbert clearly had feelings for each other when they were in the military. This was back when she was about 12 and he was in his mid-twenties.
  • Almighty Janitor: A slightly down-played example with Claudia Hodgins. He is just the president of a Postal Service (and a former soldier); but in Chapter 13, where he goes through all the legal procedures required for buying a privately-owned train station and sends his employees to blow it up, all within a time-frame of less than 2 hours. Apparently, he still has enough influence in Leidenschaftlich to speed up the procedure, which could normally take days. Bonus-points for getting it done in the middle of the night, when everyone else ought to be asleep.
  • Artificial Limbs: Violet lost both of her arms during the war, and by the time she woke up in the hospital, she already got replacements made in adamant silver. She has trouble writing with them, so she settles for typewriting, although in the Light Novel, she does write with a pen and ink on some occasions where bringing a typewriter is impractical.
  • Ascended Extra: In the anime, Violet herself becomes this, compared to the Light Novels, where she is a supporting character in all chapters except 8 and 13. This is due to the anime centering primarily around Violet, rather than her clients, although Episodes 5, 7 and 10 did focus more on her clients.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Gilbert is only put in charge of Leidenschaftlich's Army' Special Offense Force because he's the only person Violet obeys. Violet herself is the only member of said Special Offense Force, who gets away with questioning Gilbert's strategies and suggesting different ones, all of which revolve around her killing every single enemy soldier by herself before the rest of the SOF arrives.
  • Attempted Rape: After Violet was found on a deserted island as a child by Dietfried and his men, Dietfried's soldiers tried to rape her, but she killed them all but Dietfried.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: "Witchcraft", an axe that's big enough and sturdy enough to double as a shield against bullets, with a chain weapon in the handle that seems to be remote controlled somehow is awesome. The fact that it is described as having a handle as thick as Violet's waist makes it practically impossible to wield even remotely decently (not that this stops Violet from kicking ass with it). And then there's the fact that it's made entirely of solid metal, which makes it so heavy that only Violet has the strength to carry it.
  • An Axe to Grind: In chapters 3 and 6 of the Light Novel, Violet wields a custom-built axe, named "Witchcraft", which Major Gilbert Bougainvillea had made for her, which is bigger than her body. It doesn't appear in the anime.
  • Badass Normal: CH Postal Service in Chapter 13 of the novel. Within a span of two hours, CH Postal manages to go through all the legal procedures required to expropriate a privately-owned train station, hire everyone in the village said station was located in, completely destroy the train station and railroad, and launch a rescue operation spearheaded by Benedict, all because Violet, the most requested Auto-Memories Doll in Telesis, happened to be onboard a train that had been hijacked by Northern soldiers. It does help that many of the employees are former soldiers and orphans, who were conscripted during the war, and left to work for Hodgins because he offered them a, to them, better job.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: The promotional materials for the movie show Violet and Isabelle in rather ... intimate poses. They do get very close in movie, which even includes them sleeping in the same bed, and it all culminates in a spectacularly animated ballroom dance that just brims with romantic overtones. Alas, after Violet leaves Isabelle to her graduation the movie switches gears to Isabelle's life story (with her even getting married off to some noble), and the two never meet again.
  • Bait the Dog: Isidor seems a bit more agreeable than his bloodthirsty comrades in the extremist faction at first, bowing out of a confrontation with Violet and generally coming across as the general's Noble Top Enforcer. When he appears next, he insults a sympathetic dead soldier's memory and indulges in some Evil Gloating before trying to kill off Violet and Dietfried with a Psychotic Smirk.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Colonel Gilbert Bougainvillea in Chapter 13.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There are a couple german words used for political entities. Prominently: Leidenschaftlich, the name of the country, means passionate, but due to a quirk in etymological developments its capital, Leiden, translates to suffering. Other countries like Drossel and Flugel are similarly named.note 
    • The town where Gilbert buys Violet the emerald brooch is called "Mächtig", which is German for "mighty".
  • Body Horror: The Light Novel makes a lot of effort, when it comes to detailed, vivid descriptions of practically everything. This includes how people have their skulls crushed by Witchcraft, the injuries Violet suffers during the war, how Violet's arms fall off while she's trying to save Gilbert, and how Gilbert has his eye ripped out.
  • Book-Ends: The first episode has ""I love you" and Auto Memory Dolls" as the title. The last episode places the "I love you" at the end of the title, then trades the word "Dolls" for just "Doll."
  • Break the Cutie: Violet does not have it easy. In Episode 9 of the anime, she is so broken that she attempts to commit suicide.
  • Call-Back: Episode 9 in the anime is full of those. Every single character from the anime whom Violet has helped in the past up to that point shows up again.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: In the anime, many of the male characters are rather good-looking. This can, of course, be due to the show generally having really good graphics. In the novel, Leon, Benedict and Gilbert are all described as being good-looking guys.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Shown in many of the episodes in the anime. In episode 3, all of the 10 Auto-Memory Doll aspirants have completely unique character designs, even though the episode only really focuses on Violet and Luculia. The guests in episode 4 also have unique designs and outfits. This becomes even more impressive in episode 6, where 80 Auto-Memory Dolls appear simultaneously, all looking completely different from each other.
    • Episode 8 has a scene where Gilbert and Violet are walking through Mächtig at night, with only the light from street lamps to navigate by. Every single citizen who appears looks completely different from the rest, and to top it all off, the lighting makes it all look even more impressive.
  • The Catchphrase Catches On: An in-universe variation; "Auto Memory Doll" is a small mechanical doll that types out messages, an invention of Prof. Orland made for his blind novelist wife that became the basis for typewriters in Violet's world. This term eventually turns into a 'symbol' of amanuensis industry in general. Nothing about android robots as Oscar found out the hard way in the novel.
    • Violet's introductory speech quickly ends up becoming Violet's standard greeting whenever she meets anyone, as displayed in Chapter 9.
    Violet: "Pleased to make your acquaintance. I rush anywhere my customers desire. I am from the Auto-Memory Doll service, Violet Evergarden... I apologize for this mistake. I always end up saying my introductory speech. It is an occupational hazard."
  • Central Theme:
    • The importance of communicating things clearly to the people around you.
    • Everyone has scars, and it's important to move on.
  • Child Soldier: Violet served in the military ever since she was a child and knows next to nothing about being anything but a weapon.
    • Ale in chapter 3, "The Soldier and the Auto-Memory Doll", is described as being under 10 years old, but volunteers as a soldier because his family will be generously compensated for it.
  • Close on Title: Title cards for most of the episodes are shown either before or after the end credits.
  • Clothing Damage: In Chapter 13, Violet's dress gets more and more damaged as the battle goes on. This is the only time that her clothes are ever damaged.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The main premise of episode five is Princess Charlotte's emotional journey as the wedding arranged by her kingdom closes in. She starts out a Royal Brat, but with Violet's support, she gains the dignity and patience of a queen and the strength to say goodbye to her Old Retainer, Alberta.
  • Continuity Nod: Several are given, both in the anime and the light novel, such as Luculia and a few other minor characters from episode 3 showing up in Justitia in episode 6 and catching up with Violet.
    • Chapter 5 has Chaser mention Violet being the basis for the protagonist in Oscar's latest play.
    • Chapter 10 ends with Lux being saved from Utopia and offered a job at CH Postal. In Chapters 11-13, she is working as Hodgins' personal secretary.
    • Chapter 13 starts and ends with mentioning Oscar and Leon, describing what they're up to.
  • Darker and Edgier: For Kyoto Animation, even more so than Beyond the Boundary. After about a decade of light-hearted anime works, Violet Evergarden presents a much more cynical story that deals with human cruelty front and center.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Given that the setting is in somewhere around 19th century, this is inevitable. Child soldiers, heavy-handed political decisions, arranged marriage at young age (with age gap between the couple at that) for example...
  • Despair Event Horizon: Violet briefly crosses this in episode 9. Her Heroic BSoD eventually leads to her attempting to commit suicide. She gets better, after receiving her first letter ever.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The ending theme is sung by Erica's voice actress, Minori Chihara.
  • Driven to Suicide: Violet, in episode 9. After a nightmare in which Gilbert says the exact same lines that Dietfried said to her in episode 5, she attempts to choke herself to death.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The War is obviously one for The First World War, lasting for four years and embroiling many countries into it in two distinct sides. The weaponry used in battle include British Lee-Enfields and German G98s, along with the distinctive Luger P08 and 1911 pistols. Uniforms worn by the troopers bear noticeable resemblances to those used by British and German forces. The war's murky reasons and grey-on-grey morality are very much inspired by the horrors of the Great War.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Most of the characters incorporate a flowering plant in their name somehow — Violet Evergarden, Gilbert Bougainvillea, Cattleya Baudelaire, Iris Cannary, Erica Brown, Ann Magnolia, Leon Stephanotis.
  • Great Offscreen War: The four-years war on the Telesis continent in the past that divided it into the North and South, which the nation of Leidenschaftlich took part in.
    • Episode 8 in the anime shows a few flashbacks to the war. Chapter 6 and 7 in the novel both take place during the war, with Chapter 6 being from Gilbert receives Violet until he says "I love you" and Chapter 7 being Gilbert's life flashing before his eyes.
  • Heroic BSoD: Violet goes through one in episode 9, after revisiting Intense, where she last saw the Major. She gets better, though.
  • I Call It "Vera": In the light novel, Violet owns a huge, custom-built battle-axe that's bigger than her own body, which the Major gave to her, named "Witchcraft".
  • In Medias Res: The novel version starts with Violet, already a famous Auto Memory Doll, taking jobs from the client. We don't learn about her origins until later in the first volume.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Violet, because she has No Social Skills. When she is given a work uniform to wear she immediately begins stripping down, right in front of a (very flustered) boy.
    • In the Light Novel's first Chapter, Oscar walks in on Violet while she is completely naked, and the only person who appears to be bothered by it is Oscar himself. Possibly because she reminded him of his deceased daughter, who would have been the same age as Violet, and looked very similar, had she still lived.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Violet herself, who is adept in military duties but knows next to nil about civilian life. When meeting the Evergarden family for the first time, Violet proclaims to their face that she doesn't know what a 'family' is and doesn't need one. This causes problems on the job, ranging from her bluntness being off-putting to some of her co-workers to taking a client's words at face value and writing her response to a love letter as negative and materialistic instead of coy.
    • To some extent, Benedict, Hodgins' old friend with uncaring demeanor who works at CH as a mailman. For example, when Hodgins slowly informs Violet that the Evergarden family is willing to be her guarantor but changed their mind about letting Violet live with them...
    Benedict: "That part hit a snag, huh."
    Hodgins: *Kicks Benedict's shin* "Come on, I was trying to break it to her gently!"
    Benedict: "Why should I care?"
    • Iris' mother. She simply couldn't understand why Iris was upset over her inviting a number of boys to Iris' birthday party as a means to get Iris to marry one of them and settle down in their village. She also didn't understand why Iris was uncomfortable with one particular boy who Iris specifically asked her not to invite (but her mother did so anyway). Iris later reveals to Violet that Iris had confessed to said boy who turned her down, which is why she left for the city.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Violet. Apparently, dropping into the middle of an active battlefield to visit a client, while wearing her typical fancy outfit, is not out of the question. The same goes for fighting off a group of train hijackers, not knowing that the Army is already planning their own rescue operation. Kicking ass and wearing pretty dresses are not mutually exclusive.
  • Lighter and Softer: The animated adaptation is much more reserved when it comes to violence and cynicism than the light novel. For instance, where Gilbert's eye is described as being ''ripped out'' in the Light Novel, he merely gets shot in the eye in the anime. Additionally, in the light novel, Violet practically single-handedly takes out the entire enemy army stationed in the cathedral in Intense using Witchcraft, with quite detailed descriptions of how the enemy soldiers are mutilated and their limbs crushed by the giant axe, while the anime merely shows Squad 1 charge into Intense with rifles.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: The world of Violet Evergarden is set in an early 20th century European-like setting with a bit of Culture Chop Suey and minor Steampunk thrown in. In addition, as per the anime, the climate and plant life of a good part of the setting hearken more to southeastern Asia, rather than typical Europe.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Everyone. Violet is the character who goes through most outfits in the anime, but after becoming an Auto-Memory Doll she only wears her iconic white dress and Prussian blue jacket. The only other characters seen wearing more than one outfit are Hodgins and Iris, both of whom are shown wearing two different outfits, and both only on one occasion. This becomes slightly jarring in episode 6, where Luculia and two other unnamed extras from episode 3 appear wearing the exact same outfits as they wore in episode 3.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In the Anime, Gilbert names Violet after a flower growing just outside the training area, unlike the novel, where he names her after a flower goddess.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Violet's emerald brooch, gifted to her by Gilbert. It went missing during her stay in a hospital.
    • In the Light Novel, she says that she worries about losing it if she wears it in battle, so the Major tells her to just wear it during their time off. After the battle in Intense many things went missing, including most of Violet's belongings (since practically everything she owned was actually property of Leidenschaftlich's Army, save for a few dresses, the Brooch and Witchcraft). As a result, the brooch ended up on the black market after the war, and Hodgins bought it for Violet out of his own pocket.
    • The brooch becomes this again in Chapter 13. During the battle against the leader of the hijackers Violet loses the brooch (which had already been hinted could happen if she wore it in battle back in Chapter 6). She quickly manages to recover it, though. When the Major comes to rescue her, he finds out that the girl who didn't care about material things at all during the war held on to the brooch for all those years.
  • Mentor's New Hope: Taylor Bartlett for Benedict in Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll. The trope is Played With, as Benedict is not the archetypal Old Master, but Taylor is so passionate about delivering mail that he rediscovers his passion for the job he had grown bored with by training her in postman work.
  • Narrative Filigree: A large chunk of the Light Novel consist of nothing but descriptions of the scenery and various characters, which really doesn't contribute to the story, aside from creating vivid images of the scenes and characters in the reader's mind.
  • No Social Skills: Violet lived her entire life as a Child Soldier, and thus has no knowledge at all about how to live in society when there is no war going on.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: The focus of episode 5, between Princess Charlotte and Prince Damien of allied nations. While it's played straight as the royals get to know each other better and look forward to the marriage, it is also exploited — their correspondence (actually initially written by Dolls at first) is published, making the public believe in the strength of their union and the alliance.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Some events in the anime adaptation happen in a different order or are changed compared to the books.
    • In the anime, Hodgins gives Violet the plushies in the carriage on their way to the Evergarden mansion, but in the novel, he gives her the plushies in the hospital, right after she wakes up from her coma. Similarly, in the books, Violet works with Oscar, the playwright, in chapter 1 and works with Leon Stephanotis, the astronomer from Justitia, in chapter 4, yet in the anime, those two "stories" are episodes 7 and 6 respectively.
    • In the anime, both Gilbert and Violet make it to the top of the tower in Intense, where Gilbert launches the signal flare. In the book, Violet is ordered to abandon Gilbert on the stairs, surrounded by enemies, and runs to the ceiling to fire the signal flare herself. The manner in which Gilbert loses his eye is also slightly less brutal in the anime (instead of having it ripped out like in the book, he is merely shot in the eye in the anime).
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: In Chapter 10 of the Light Novel: "Challengers, come forward. I, Violet Evergarden, shall take you on."
  • Protagonist Title:
    • The series is named after its eponymous protagonist. Ironically enough in the Light Novel, Violet is only a protagonist in 2 chapters, 8 and 13. In both of these, she shares the spotlight with other characters as well, such as Claudia Hodgins, the employees at CH Postal Service, and Major/Colonel Gilbert Bougainvillea. In every other chapter, Violet is only a supporting character.
    • Many chapters in the Light Novel also feature this to a lesser extent, such as chapters 1-5 and 9-10 using the formula "The (something) and the Auto-Memory Doll", chapter 6's "The Major and the Automated Assassination Doll", chapter 7's "The Major and his everything" and chapter 8's "The Doll and her everything". The first referring to whom the chapter primarily focuses on, and "the Auto-Memory Doll" referring to Violet.
    • Played perfectly straight with Chapter 13's title: "Violet Evergarden".
  • Secondary Character Title: The first 4 chapters in Volume 1 don't focus on Violet at all, giving the clients more attention, while Violet works as a secondary character. Violet only becomes the protagonist for real in Chapter 5.
  • Serious Business: Writing letters, to the point where the correspondence between two royals arranged to be married is displayed for the awed public to discuss, letter by letter.
  • Schizo Tech: The technological level of this world is about that of early 20th century Europe, but they have prosthetic technology going beyond anything our 21st century has to offer (e.g. Violet's "adamant silver" arms).
  • Skilled, but Naïve: This was Violet's initial problem with writing letters. She was the only one in her class to attain perfect scores in grammar and vocabulary, as well as having excellent typing skills, but she lacked the social skills to accurately decipher a person's true feelings and express them properly in a letter.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Despite Gilbert's brother's name being pronounced as "Dietfried" ("Dietofuriido"), the subtitles in more than one language of the anime on Netflix write his name as "Diethard", which is an entirely different name, while some fan translations actually use the name "Dietfried".
  • Title Drop: With the exception of Episodes 1Title , 7Title , 8, 12,Note  and 13 Title , all titles are dropped at the end of each episode.
  • Title Drop Chapter: Episode 9, considering it is the point where Violet finally recovers from her Heroic BSoD.
  • Traintop Battle: Happens in Episode 12.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Leon, in the novel, has light green hair (but black in the Anime), the Bougainvillea brothers both have dark blue hair, Lux Sibyl has silver hair with a touch of lavender... And Violet is described as having golden hair, rather than just blonde.
  • Wanted a Son Instead: Claudia's Gender-Blender Name is the result of his mother hoping for a daughter, and apparently being very insistent in the throes of labor.
  • Weapon Tombstone: In Episode 11, Violet buries Aidan and uses his rifle as a grave marker.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: One of Violet's driving questions and what ultimately convinces her to join the Auto Memory Dolls service.
  • Write Who You Know: In-Universe, Oscar Webster bases the protagonist of his latest production on his late daughter. Completing the play is his last hurdle in overcoming his grief.


Video Example(s):


"Live and be free..."

Expiring from his wounds, Gilbert professes his love to Violet. However, she cries about the meaning of said word and begs Gilbert to tell her about it.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove

Media sources:

Main / WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove