Known in Japan as ‘Eien to jidou shuki ningyou’ and directed by Haruka Fujita and Taichi Ishidate, ‘Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll‘ is a spin-off from the anime television series Violet Evergarden. The movie premiered at the AnimagiC 2019 convention in Germany and was released widely in Japan in September 2019. SDI Media did the English dub, but it was Funimation who released it to theaters during January 2020.
Auto-memory doll Violet Evergarden (Erika Harlacher) arrives at a debutante school with orders to help Isabella York (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the daughter of a prominent family, with her studies. At first, Isabella is jealous of Violet, who is getting all of the attention at the school, but once Isabelle learns that Violet is an orphan, she warms up to her. Isabella opens up, revealing she was an orphan who raised an adopted sister Taylor (Sandy Fox) during the war. Her birth father arrives and sent Taylor to live at an orphanage and formally adopts Isabella, who now asks Violet to write a letter to her. CH Postal deliveryman Benedict (Ben Pronsky) delivers and reads the letter to Taylor at the orphanage where Isabella’s wealthy family sent her to live.
Three years later, Taylor escapes the orphanage and arrives at the CH Postal office, asking to become an apprentice deliverywoman, At first hesitant, the owner Hodges (Kyle McCarley) agrees to until they can contact the orphanage. As Taylor trains, she and Violet bond over their connection to Isabella and being orphans raised during the war.
Similar to the series, the movie does a good job of pulling your heartstrings. As you hear these stories of how the war, which the show takes place immediately after, you learn how it has affected everyone. That is incredibly moving and emotional, especially connecting it to Violet’s own story of being an orphan trained to be the “perfect soldier” and now works at writing letters for people.
Likewise, the animation is amazing. Art director Mikiko Watanabe and the entire team should be applauded for the character designs, the backgrounds, and the vivid colors that bring the story to life.
My main complaint with the movie, similar to the series, is that it focuses too much on the “guest” characters and does not move the main characters’ story-arcs forward. While watching Violet connect to Isabelle and Taylor is enduring, I would like to see more connections with her co-workers and more exploration of her search for her love Major Gilbert, who barely gets mentioned in the movie.
That being said, I do want to praise the voice cast. Erika Harlacher shines as Violet and performs the character to perfection. Likewise, newcomers Sandy Fox and Colleen O’Shaughnessey add a great deal of talent. Naturally, series regulars Cherami Leigh and Reba Buhr as Violet’s co-workers are spot on as usual.
Bottom line, Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll is a charming, heartfelt story involving the war orphan turned writer Violet Evergarden. While I would have liked to have seen more of the original story-arc move forward, I still felt moved by the story and was impressed with the performances and the animation.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Brief innuendo, Minor Language
FAVORITE QUOTE: A postman delivers happiness.
Check out the trailer below:
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