Hope Amidst Brokenness // rambles about Violet Evergarden

June 05, 2022

Happy Sunday!

Over the past few months, I've consumed a lot of stories - some good, some bad, some funny, some sad. (This summer you'll probably be hearing quite a bit about them XD.)

Most recently, I just finished the eight-month-long process of watching Violet Evergarden, one of the most beautiful stories I think I've experienced. This is a fantastic beginner anime, so if you're looking for a good show that allows you to dip your toes into this medium, Violet Evergarden is a perfect place to start. It's got beautiful visuals and a solid storyline.

And as much as I could rave about how aesthetic the entire show is, I want to discuss the storyline today.

(Welcome back to another rambly reflection/fandom post XD. Also, beware of some spoilers ahead.)

In case you haven't seen this show and want a brief summary: Violet Evergarden tells the story of a girl named Violet, a war survivor who's trying to figure out who she is and move past the trauma of fighting on the front lines as a child. She spends the majority of the show trying to figure out what love means, since she's never been introduced to it. Along the way, she takes a job at a writer's agency, where she helps people write letters to their loved ones - and, in the process, helps her to love and heal. 

And this show. THIS SHOW made me sob through nearly every episode.

Now, usually when I sob over stories, it's because the story is heartbreakingly sad. For instance, I cried over the horror webtoon Sweet Home because it's incredibly dark and painful and physically hurts to read. Another example: Your Lie in April. Episode 22, while containing some hope, is one of the saddest endings to a TV show I've seen. 

Violet Evergarden, though, is different. Don't get me wrong - it is sad. One of its episodes is literally about a dying mother writing letters to her daughter, who she'll never see grow up. It is rough going at times. 

But I realized about halfway through the show that there was something more to this show, something that Sweet Home and Your Lie in April definitely included, but never explored to their fullest potential, I don't think. 

Violet Evergarden is a sad show. But more importantly - and more powerfully - it's a hopeful show. There's so much beauty woven into the sadness. Of course, the most obvious way it does this is through the soundtrack and the visuals, both of which are just stunning.

This song is so sweeping and beautiful. Definitely one of my favorites <3

But hope permeates not just the visuals and music, but the entire plotline as well, and there's so much beauty in every episode - even in the episodes where it seems that all hope is lost. For instance, the episode I mentioned earlier about the dying mother is incredibly heartbreaking. BUT. The heartbreak isn't the end. With Violet's help and through letters, the mother is able to show her daughter love years after she's passed away. Despite the sadness of her death, there is still hope and happiness present at the end. 

The writers could have ended that episode with the pain of the mother's death, but instead they chose to show the daughter receiving a letter every year on her birthday, show the emotion and the love that came with it - show the hopeful ending that arose out of such a horrible scenario. 

And all this hope culminates in Violet's character arc to learn what love is and move past her violent childhood. Through seeing all the ways that her writing has impacted the people she's helped, she finds hope and beauty in her own life.

The despair and bloodshed of her background could have been the end for Violet. But she moved on, kept pushing forward, and found friends and hope amid tragedy. <3

While writing this post, I was reminded of a song quote that goes, "What earthly sweetness remaineth unmixed with grief?" Violet Evergarden completely turns this on its head and asks, "What earthly sadness remaineth unmixed with hope?" And I think that's a beautiful perspective to have, one that I find lacking in many of today's stories. 

We want to focus on the darkness of the world, show that it's not all sunshines and rainbows. And that's okay - we need to show that the world has been stained by sin. If we fail to do so, we're not spreading truth in our writing, and spreading truth, to me, is one of the most important reasons to write. 

But at the same time, if we focus too much on the darkness, we can forget that there's something higher, something more powerful than despair and sin. 

We need stories with darkness, but I think now more than ever we need stories infused with hope: stories that show both the beauty and the brokenness of the world, stories that, like Violet Evergarden, show that beauty, love, and hope will always win in our lives if we let it, and they will win in the world at the end of days. 

Violet Evergarden is a secular show; no God is mentioned. But I believe that secular stories can point to God and to truth without perhaps intending to. And for us Christians, the beauty and hope of Violet Evergarden can point to the beauty and hope in our own world. Except our own is greater, because we have a God who died for us so that we can have hope and beauty. 

That hope is what made me cry. Not just the sadness, not just the heartbreak, but the stunning visual realization that there is more to life than just pain and grief.

There is beauty.
There is healing.
There is Love.

-Nicole <3

Have you seen Violet Evergarden? (If not, you really should - I'd recommend it to everybody. :D) What are some other hopeful stories you've experienced? Let's talk!

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  1. Can I just print this post out and put it in my pocket and keep it forever? Because YES!!! YES YES YES. This encompasses e v e r y t h i n g. Absolutely everything I love about this show. You put it into words so well!

    I am a FIRM believer in stories about hope. In stories of overcoming and finding beauty beyond the grief. In making waves of light even when our world seems so dark. And just-- *sobs* This show DID THAT. It did it in such a beautiful, powerful way. It is one of, if not THE, most beautiful series I've ever seen in my life.

    I, too, cried and cried just from the sheer amount of HEART and beautiful themes. I love how there are not really any filler episodes. Yes, the majority of the episodes are their own storyline BUT the overarching plot is the growth of Violet and discovering the meaning of love and finding hope through it. I loved how every. single. episode. took such care in watering that plotline and letting it grow and blossom so naturally.

    It just-- GAH. It was perfection! You said it all perfectly. We NEED stories of hope. We need to show that darkness is not the end. And Violet Evergarden did that in such a powerful way. I JUST LOVED THIS SHOW SO MUCH. *sobs*

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it! I hope to do a post myself because, SERIOUSLY, this show needs to be talked about! I will never stop screaming about it. Ever. <333

    1. Ahhhhh, thank youuuu!! (And your post about it was PERFECTION! :D)

      YES, I loved the lack of filler, yet individual storylines within each episode! I love your metaphor that it "watered" the plotline; that's such a perfect way of putting it.

  2. Oh, I haven't seen that show! I've seen a couple Ghibli films, but I never went further into anime. Although now I'll have to find the soundtrack which sounds amazing!
    Thanks for sharing about this show, Nicole. Hope you're having a great start to your summer week :)

    1. The soundtrack is incredible - I'd highly recommend even if you don't watch the show!
      Aw, thank YOU for reading, Lily! (And I apologize for responding so late!)

  3. When I saw this post was about Violet Evergarden, I freaked out. It's one of my TOP favourite stories ever. And has been a HUGE inspiration for my main project, FHE. It means so much to me, and I'm so so happy that more people have seen it!
    I cried in EVERY SINGLE episode. Not once did I had a break (the episodes' endings especially were killers to my heart and soul). My best friend was a little concerned when I told him about how much I was crying XD (he was the one who lent the show to me).
    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this. Your post explained Violet Evergarden SO WELL that I am crying again. <3 <3 <3 This is such a gem that I will treasure it always. *hugs it close*
    ALSO thank you for showing me that the soundtrack is now on Spotify. I LOVE it heaps, but at the time when I finished the show the soundtrack wasn't there. *cries* I am so excited to listen to it again, though I know I am going to cry more. Oh well, at least it's good emotions. :)

    1. Oh my goodness, you were one of the ones who convinced me to watch the show!! Thank you so much for the recommendation <3
      SAME HERE. Every episode was so touching! (And oh my goodness, yes, the ENDINGS.)
      Thank YOU for reading!
      Oh, yay, I'm so glad you were able to find it there! *confetti*

  4. This sounds like a really amazing show! I don't know that I'll have time to watch it (but I might MAKE TIME because someone helping people write letters to their loved ones to try to heal, herself??? YES. And I did just put it on my list) but I loved hearing you talk about it!

    Hope in the midst of sadness is something that I think is less common in modern film/tv shows than it needs to be, and it's awesome that's part of this show!

    "What earthly sadness remaineth unmixed with hope?" <<Beautiful! You're so right that, while we can't write worlds without the stain of sin, we need to showcase the love and hope as well.

    Beautiful post, Nicole!

    1. Oof, I feel you on the time needed to watch TV, especially in college. :( but I'm glad you enjoyed reading!

      AGREED - it was so refreshing to watch that aspect unfold!


  5. ive been yelling at people to watch this since i watched it over a year ago (and sobbed every single episode) the story is just so beautiful and hopeful as you said and ugh i love it so much. Also i really really need the Major to be alive because i love him lololol

      (okay but SAME - just curious, have you seen the movies??)


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