Violet Evergarden’s final episode is an episode largely of catharsis, and it is one that I, and many others, have wrestled with. In many ways, it brings us to the logical conclusion of the show, or rather to the stopping point for this portion of Violet’s story that we receive. In truth, I have watched this episode numerous times over, mulling its events over in my head, and it has been a process of numerous revisions to how I have come to finally view this last piece of Violet’s story (for now, anyway). Through this, I have found that my thoughts have changed significantly in more recent viewings. This final episode, depending on your reading of events, can be quite clear-cut on the surface, or somewhat more muddied as you dive deeper into it. It does give Violet a great sense of closure, a lifting of burdens, a renewed sense of self and purpose, and a renewed vigor to live her life. But that vigor for a life that she has fought tooth and nail for over the course of this season, again, depending on your reading, can manifest as either a genuine sense of moving on, or it can be somewhat tainted, if it is read as a vigor to live her life for Gilbert; no longer in pursuit of him, but to live life waiting for him, should he be alive. I want to talk about the two as we go forward here, because through my viewings of this final act, I have come to see both.
(After publishing edit: After reading, be sure to check out the comments below as there are some corrections about characters’ ages that should be considered.)
Well, with an intro as damn good as that last episode was, I dove into this episode head first, ready to devour any and all that it could give me. I just couldn’t stop drooling over that teaser for the end of the series that had my jaw drop back in episode one. The show is definitely still keeping its tone and wonderfully paced story and as things slowly unravel about this world, I’m enjoying the characters more and more.
Picking up right were the last episode left off, our main character, Willem, ponders how these children could be weapons as he begins to acclimate to his new job. Not an easy thing to do when all the kids are scared of you as the new adult in town but luckily, as has been hinted at before, our protagonist has worked with kids before and knows a thing or two about winning them over. i. e. The fastest way to a child’s heart is through their stomach.
There’s a decent amount of time spent in this first half showcasing Willem working with the kids and watching over them, very quickly adopting the role as their guardian. Meanwhile, the teenagers are together making fun of Ctholly because she seems to be crushing hard on Willem. All light-hearted antics and fun so far, though hints have continuously been dropped that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to these girls. While no single kid really sticks out besides the three teenagers, the group as a whole feels very much like an adopted family, all very cute and happy. So it’s all the more dramatic when this suddenly and twistedly changes in a single moment.
A brief note – I have gone into this show completely blind. I have not even read a summary of the show’s main plot. Everything I relate in this post should be taken as such.
This Spring anime season, there’s a surprising number of shows that at least look pretty promising – though as we all probably know by this point, there are a lot of series that look and seem fantastic from their PVs, which show off cool animation sequences, try to entice you with their (hopefully) endearing characters, attempt to seem like they could bring something new to the table, or some combination of the above. There’s a lot to wade through, so let me pitch a show to you for this season. It’s a LN adaptation set in a fantasy world with- hey wait, stop, I’m not done yet! Let me finish!
For those who may not know and need a strongly-paraphrased summation of the show’s premise, Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?, or as the anime community at large has mercifully deemed it, SukaSuka, is a fantasy/sci-fi Light Novel adaptation taking place in a world of sky islands, where humanity was wiped from existence. In this story, we follow young Willem Kmetsch, who has taken on the job of being a military caretaker for a warehouse of advanced weaponry. What he doesn’t know, however, is that the weapons are, in fact, young girls. While the show might sound on the surface to be a groan-fest of typical fantasy isekai trappings and other tropes that tend to make shows less-than-enjoyable experiences, SukaSuka actually delivers in its first episode a surprising amount of good reasons to give it a chance – and by god, do I have high hopes for this one.
And now we reach that wonderful halfway point in the series. In my experience, it’s when things start to make sense or it’s usually when I drop an anime. Luckily for our adorable little salary man, this show has grown and developed significantly since that first episode, with episode five definitely ending on a high point. Tanya has risen through military ranks and has combated hardships brought on by a controlling deity to now be in charge of her own battalion. With their first taste of action in their last battle (although you could call it a slaughter), Tanya and company are off to where the real fighting is, ready to show the world who the hell they think they are.
If previous episodes have been any indication, Tanya has had a bit of a rough time trying to balance out world events in her favor. Being X is definitely not doing her any favors, and Strategy and Operations Vice Director Hans von Zettour has been making sure that Tanya is advancing through the ranks in the way that is most beneficial to the Fatherland, not necessarily in the way that she would like. With her being placed as the head of the Rapid-Response Mage Battalion, which some might consider being tantamount to suicide, Tanya’s plan to spite Being X by surviving in a safe administrative position seems to be flying further out of her grasp with each passing episode. With this simultaneous advancement of position and wresting of power from Tanya seeming to be the show’s running theme for the last four episodes, I entirely expected episode 5 to give us much the same, and in some ways, it does. However, it also shows us a view of Tanya at the most powerful that she has been for this entire span so far, with no intervention from military or metaphysical forces.
Before I began writing these episodic articles, I never realized how much a show could change over just the course of a few episodes. From episode 1 to episode 4, Youjo Senki has gone through an unbelievable transformation from a show with a disorganized lack of information to a more thrilling show about politics, religion, and morality. Some of the original complaints I had in episode 1 were only those of that episode, and others weren’t really relevant to the upcoming story, if only because I had no idea what kind of story this was. While I think the show’s themes are still a bit mixed, episode 4 has started really delving into Tanya’s personality beyond the fact that she’s an evil militaristic girl that just wants to follow the rules.
Episode 1 of Youjo Senki introduced us of Tanya the Evil through the eyes of Viktoriya Serebryakov. We saw her battle prowess as a hardened Lieutenant for the country of the Fatherland, and we also saw her ruthlessness in terms of management and her drive to do whatever is most in line with efficiency for her country. However, we had no idea how Tanya got to this point, and the mysterious backstory of Tanya as a reincarnated salaryman was only briefly touched on. All in all, while the episode itself was solid in terms of hooking me into the show, it didn’t give us a strong frame of reference to base anything off of.
In the first post in this series, Owningmatt mentioned that “The underlying issue with this episode’s focus on characterization [. . .] is the massive amount of exposition being done about various events taking place in the setting, yet none of it really seems to explain the details needed for the viewer to really grasp the workings of the world itself.” This is a fairly unsavory issue for a first episode to have, to be sure – an unsteady flow of ideas and information about a series and the world that it attempts to build can be greatly detrimental to grabbing and holding the attention of viewers. Although this is the case for the series premiere, episode 2 of Youjo Senki corrects this janky world-building with a far more in-depth history of Tanya’s time before and after her transportation to this new world. And there aren’t any vague, unhelpful maps, either.
Japan, are you doing okay? You wanna talk about something?
This is the second season in a row where we’ve had an anime about a “European” conflict involving both magic and standard military technology. From what I read in the synopsis, my perception was that the setting would be more modern than it was historical, and that is partially my fault from not looking at the PV close enough. Just from looking at it, you can tell the weaponry is not fully modernized, and the stylistic designs of the uniforms are not modern at all. I will also fully admit that mixing militaristic ideas with fantasy elements is not really something I’m innately interested in. Although, what I am interested in is looking at a non-realistic portrayal of the less glorified aspects of war. Using fantasy elements as a way to emphasize the physical and mental destruction caused by war is something I’d love to see from this show.
Every time a new season of anime rolls around, I take some time to look through the season’s offerings and decide what shows I’m hyped about, what I might give a look, and what I will more than likely pass altogether. Generally speaking, I check out most shows’ available PVs and do some digging into the creative teams that have been working on the show. These factors are most often what inform my choices of what I decide to check out, and what to perhaps get excited about. What acts as a preliminary informant to me before I even get to that stage of digging, however, is the simple survey of show genres–in contrast to the great deal of digging I do for shows that I follow, I often don’t pay much mind to shows that don’t seem even remotely interesting to me as far as their purported genres indicate.
Usually, I tend to breeze past shows that are tagged as ecchi, for example. If a show is branded as “action, comedy, ecchi, romance,” more often than not, you can bet that I am not going to be following that show in the slightest. That being said, I don’t have anything against the ecchi genre–I know many people that are fans of shows within the genre as a whole, and I know that, in some senses, it can be fairly diverse in how it appeals to different audiences within the genre fanbase through various modes of sexual fanservice. There’s all sorts of arguments that people can make about the genre with regards to, for example, how it might appeal to a male gaze, which, if you really want to get into that, seems to ignore the existence of any alternative gazes (lesbian gaze, bisexual gaze, etc.). But that’s not a discussion I’m going to get into here. Everyone has their own opinions as far as genre goes, and they’re entitled to those opinions. Some people don’t like mecha anime; some people don’t like slice of life; I myself generally don’t like ecchi.