Evergarden 11, Yuru Camp 12 (finale), Franxx 11

evergarden11-1Violet Evergarden 11 has a civil war going on in the north, between some well-organized bad guys who have a thorough and well-planned strategy, and the good guys from “Camp Menace” who are so incompetent, just standing there and not looking for cover during an ambush, that you wonder how they managed to win the war. That was mainly what I was thinking during the early stages of the episode, as Violet goes up there to do a couple letters for a soldier named Aiden, who gets shot just before she arrives, the letters thusly written on his deathbed, or death-floor-of-a-cabin. Interestingly, she has to fight through a few bad guys (and showing us maybe why the good guys won after all) but does not kill them. Then when they stand down she turns her back on them to look at Aiden on the ground–they could have shot her right there, so I guess neither side deserved to win this war.

Violet delivers bad news.

As for where the show is going now, unless they’re going to bring back the war full-time, I have no idea. The letters and Aiden’s death was done with the same sentimentality that the other episodes have, and it’s getting a little tiresome. However, the episode does depict just how cruel and violent a battle can be. It’s well done, even if the soldiers are mainly bumbling idiots.

yurucamp12-1While Violet Evergarden keeps us guessing as how they will end things, we have no such doubts about the finale of Yuru Camp. The only question is what little problem they might have with this or that, and it turns out there’s no problems or complications at all, well, except for the camping being too cold for the dog, but they had that covered. But they do throw us the viewer a curveball at the start. Rin returns from getting gas, so we think, only she’s riding a motorcycle now, all the girls are older, and, well, it left me giggling hysterically. Apart from that it was just the night spent all together, and a lovely moment at the end when the sun rises by Fuji-san. And then back to the real world.

The Outclub, plus Rin, squinting in the sunrise over Fuji-san.

There’s really nothing more they can do with this setup, so I don’t expect a season two, but I am sorry to see Yuru Camp go. Every season needs a show where nothing much happens, the trouble is with the wrong setup they can get deadly dull. Yuru Camp was rarely dull. Each of the girls was different and complimentary enough to make interesting and funny scenes, whether it’s Chiaki’s self-mocking leadership tirades or Rin’s quiet but not unfriendly observation. In fact, Rin is an interesting character in that while she likes to camp alone, it’s not because she dislikes or is afraid of others. Other shows would treat her as an antisocial beast who needs to be dragged into the social world. Here they make it clear that there are plenty of good reasons to go it alone, if that’s what you want to do, but it’s nice to do things with others too, a little fact that Rin comes to accept. Couple that with the edcuation we get about camping, and all the pretty scenery … yeah, well, I’m sorry to see it go.

Bye girls! Happy camping!

franxx11-1Darling in the FranXX 11 has the kids doing a voluntary partner shuffle, just so we can mess with the kids even more. Mitsuru and Ikuno have had enough of each other, so perhaps out of spite, Ikuno asks to test-partner with Ichigo, which brings up a perhaps inevitable variation of the pistil/stamen relationships the kids have been forced into. On the male side, we find Mitsuru was burned long ago when Hiro forgot a promise to pilot with him. Anyway, Ichigo tries but can’t get it going, so Ikuno moves on to Futoshi, who has his heart broken when Kokoro, whom he loves, asks to switch to Mitsuru. Since he’s a one-note character (food), we don’t see him do much but shout in the cockpit as we watch the more interesting combination, Mitsuru and Kokoro, almost mess everything up.

You know things aren’t going well when the mecha shows Eva-like teeth.

Most of this is understandable. Some of the kids are tired of their partners or want to try something new. The only one that I don’t understand is Kokoro’s request to team with Mitsuru. Was it out of romantic interest, or out of pity? There is some therapy in the cockpit (tiresome since a Gutenberg-class is about to wreck the plantation) … Mitsuru should learn to trust and lean on people sometimes, that sort of thing. Then there was the rage thing, like Kokoro was about to go rogue, never mind that we haven’t seen that before, what brought on the anger in the first place? Possibly she was angry at herself for hurting Futoshi. But it’s clear that there’s more going on in her head than she lets on. As for the more stable couples, they do just fine … apart from 02’s line about being together with Hiro … until they die. She has more in hear head than she lets on too, and probably with good reason.

Yuru Camp and Evergarden 10, Gagashi2 9-10

yurucamp10-1In Yuru Camp 10, Rin faces her GREATEST CRISIS! But it is OVERCOME with the assistance of Nadeshiko and Chiaki, who sends her a Line message suggesting that the closed road really wasn’t closed, but they forgot to take down the barrier. Then she battled GREAT WINDS to set up her tent. But she TRIUMPHS and drinks tea and grills a steam bun with a lovely view after all. Truthfully, I was a little worried for Rin, but not because of any danger, but because she might not have as much relaxing fun as normal. As for the goofier girls, they sit around being goofy as usual, though as usual it’s refreshing for goofy characters to actually successfully accomplish things like go on camping trips. Oh, Toba the drunk camper/teacher’s secret it out, but I doubt it’s going to make a difference unless she brings a lot of alcohol to the Christmas trip. Next week, the epic final story arc, i.e., the girls’ last trip of the series, begins.

evergarden10-1Just when you think Violet Evergarden is going to further explore its still unsettled world in a broader scope, maybe get the war going again in some fashion, episode 10 gives us instead another personal, emotional story involving individuals undergoing the types of grief and loss that everyone undergoes, and has been told countless times to boot. This time it’s Ann, a little girl whose mom is dying. Violet arrives to help Ann’s mother write a big letter or something (I guessed a will, and I was wrong) that takes a week, during which Ann can’t spend time with her. To ramp up the bathos, the mom keeps collapsing. Now, while I’m annoyed by this sort of emotional manipulation the show puts us through, I’ll say again that the production is so well-done that it’s next to impossible NOT to be affected. On the other hand, I’m not sure of the trade off. All those future letters written to Ann was time spent not playing with this obviously lonely and confused girl.

Kokonotsu and Hajime’s first stab at a store website.

Dagashi Kashi 9-10 spins its wheels and doesn’t do much. We’ve seen plenty of Hajime in the past few weeks and while she has her moments, I’m getting tired of watching her all the time, especially with solo work; luckily Kokonotsu is around for the first half of episode 9 as they develop a website for their store, and the second half had her making her own super balls, though I wish they had gotten more specific with the recipe. It was the closest thing to explaining dagashi the episode ever got. #10 is better. We see the dad again, though I’m more worried about disappointing the actual customer who made the order. And we learn about Monjiro Squid, which I wish I had some of now. And, thank heavens, we actually get some trivia about the product as well. The show has finally remembered that it’s supposed to be educational. But no Hotaru until next week. Well, at least we know she’s coming back.

Nines: Evergarden, Tiny Life, FranXX

evergarden9-1The story in Violet Evergarden 9 is as predictable as they come. We start with the end of the flashback, with Gilbert dying and the suddenly armless Violet determined to pull him out of there with her teeth if need be. Pretty much everything we expected. After that we get scenes of Violet dealing with both grief and guilt in ways that, again, could be predicted, and the beginning of the slow climb out of it … the concept that there are people who are happy she’s alive dawns on her. They bring up the concept of writing and delivering letters, helping people come closer, as an antidote for sins committed in the past, for the second time. In a nice touch, Iris and Erica write their own letter to her, and Violet realizes just how valued the act is, fine and dandy, she’s healing.

A letter!

I’m not sure I like the idea of mail delivery to counter sins of the past, but I do understand how just the act of doing a good dead, or even working, can aid the healing process. But what happens now? Violet isn’t yet where she wants to be, but she’s turned the corner. NOW what is the show going to do? Many more scenes of Violet getting through it all is going to get repetitive, but there are at least three more episodes to go. Are they going to crank up the war again? They’ve been hinting at it for a while, this week being some “Anti-peace” activists causing trouble, but is there time to introduce a whole new war, or maybe Violet and her friends will get caught in a smaller struggle, and she will have to make choices in order to save her friends, which would be interesting since she will not be following orders this time, but also kind of predictable. So it will probably happen.

hakumeimikochi9-1The first half of Hakomei to Mikochi 9 has one of the oddest situations I’ve ever seen in fiction, let alone anime. The girls, along with Sen and Konju, explore life underwater in an airtight sphere, powered by the skeleton of a fish named Simon, which gets its rhythm through a wire connected to a tambourine Konju plays. As they descend deeper and deeper, all we can hear is a tambourine beat and some underwater noises. The concept is so individual and odd that no creative committee could have thought it up, and the anime creators knew to keep it simple and basic, and let the situation speak for itself. Well, I suppose that for all the bright colors and details in the series, you could also call it subdued. Alas, we don’t see many wonders down there but fish. The story focuses more on Sen and Konju squabbling about this and that, and another moment of life and death. The second half, where Mikochi designs Sen a new outfit, feels more like a “how-to” show, what with all the talk of dyes, but remember these are three-inch tall girls doing the design work, using only basic tools and things found in the forest.

Gorou gets it.

Darling in the FranXX now turns from Hiro and 02, mostly, and begins to pay attention to the troubled side couples. First up is perhaps the dullest, Gorou and Ichigo. “Dullest” because there’s nothing much anyone can do about the situation. Ichigo loves Hiro, who is taken. She is trying to accept it, but hasn’t gotten there yet. Meanwhile, Gorou loves Ichigo, repeat the above … All they can really all do is keep working to accept what they can and can’t have, and find something of value there. Which they do, thanks to Gorou and his Franxx being eaten by a Klaxosaur but still alive after Ichigo gets ejected.

franxx9-2I suppose there’s your weekly metaphor right there, Ichigo getting pushed aside so that Gorou can do the heroic thing at the cost of his life. Ichigo and Gorou know each other well enough that she knows he’ll try something heroic and get himself killed, even though the others have a plan to rescue him, also he’s totally forgetting their line, overused in this episode, that he’s too weak to do anything alone, but with her they can win. And so together they manage to save the day (well, the others help too) and reach an understanding of just how important the other is. Gorou even confesses and gets Ichigo cutely flustered. Probably things will get better for them now. Meanwhile, I still wonder if the show is going to sacrifice any of these couples, or pieces of them. Not this week. Not that I’m rooting for such a thing–I don’t really like it when regular characters die in a series, but right now it all seems a little tame. Well, maybe one of the other couples will spice it up. Or they’ll start questioning their roles as saviors with no choice …

FranXX 7, Evergarden 7-8, Slow Start 8

The inevitable beach episode.

Darling in the FranXX 7 is, of all things, a beach episode. Well, they do more than that. They introduce that blond kid and apparently he’s going to be surveillance, but what he’s surveying is unclear, 02 and Hiro of course, but I think he ought to keep an eye on these other kids as well. Ichigo is still pining for Hiro, and the suggestion comes out that the person you kiss might not actually be the one you love. Even 02, earlier talking about being together forever, seems to get this. Meanwhile, the rest of the boys work out their frustrated and unrecognized adolescent yearnings, asking Hiro what a kiss is, ogle the girls, etc, while the girls seem oblivious, apart from 02 and Ichigo. Mitsuru and Ikuno, meanwhile, display the mutual indifference that makes you wonder how they manage to pilot their Franxx at all. God only knows what’s going on in Kokoro and Futoshi’s heads.

What passes for plot in this episode comes when they discover a way off their secluded beach and discover an abandoned city (you know, the plantation runners really do a shit job with keeping an eye on the kids, or maybe it’s intentional). They are astonished and confused, and Kokoro finds “Your New Baby” guide (maybe THAT’S what going on in her head) while Ichigo finds a poster showing, gasp, kissing. Apart from that, they mostly reject this fascinating old town in favor of their shut-in, restrictive existence, but I’m sure they’ll playing with this metaphor again in the future, when adolescence gets the better of them. So nothing much this week, really, just some plot-seed sowing, but that’s what I expected after the craziness of episode 6.

It looked like in episode 7, Violet Evergarden would follow the same dull but beautiful-looking path where a quick-learning automation touches the hearts of the humans she works for, and for almost the entire episode that’s what happens. Oh, there is the concept of “living with my sin,” written by a drunken playwright Oscar Webster, our troubled person of the week, a line she reads early on, somehow touching her, but it’s forgotten in Oscar’s story. He wants to write a final play to celebrate his dead daughter, and Violet looks a little too much like her. But they talk through it, Violet commits a miracle (an amazing scene, combining the story with KyoAni’s matchless animation), and the story wraps up with a scene of Violet becoming overcome by her murderous past. Or so I thought.

I was hardly prepared for Violet finally learning the truth about Gilbert’s death, it was slipped in so suddenly and without buildup, and now we finally have the story you might argue should have started in episode 1. I myself think they were waiting too long. Every time Gilbert didn’t tell her when he had the chance he looked weaker and weaker. But now that we know I wonder if the delay wasn’t necessary. Week by week Violet had subtly displayed more emotion, both in her actions and her voice. Maybe the show was waiting for her to gain enough knowledge of her own self (with that reprise of the “burning up inside” line that she now accepts, and this was before she learned about Gilbert) so that she could react to the knowledge the way a human might, with disbelief and guilt that she had survived him. On the other hand, how would she have reacted had she not had all of these encounters before? Well, whatever, I just hope the show doesn’t cop out and bring Gilbert back to life.

Meanwhile the next episode appears, so here we go. And so goes Violet, into the flashbacks, where we watch her grow from a cute, biting thing that can’t speak into a merciless, puppy-eyed instrument of murder, while Gilbert, the only one she pays attention to, gives a lot of guilty, pained looks, tries to connect to her on a more human level, and probably falls for her. And of course Violet has always been devoted to Gilbert even if she didn’t understand what the feeling was. It’s completely predictable, but as usual the animation and art are so good that I didn’t care. However, they left out the last “I love you bit,” so we got no clue as to the nature of his … disappearance. When not in flashbacks, the episode had Violet running around looking for Gilbert–her natural, human, healing process beginning to work, but still in the denial stage

I have almost no idea why Hana is saying this.

It appears I missed an episode of Slow Start. No matter. The point of this show is not its story arc. In episode 8 Hana tries to overcome her crippling shyness, well, Eiko and the others do, by introducing her to a number of her classmates, who politely come on, act eccentric for about a minute, and leave again, making me wonder if we’ll ever see them again apart from a line or two. I think my favorite was Sachi, the latest to be sucked into Eiko’s web of … whatever she’s got going for her that she seems oblivious to. Sachi gets too close then runs in a panic, and we learn a little about salmon, too. Elsewhere the girls buy swimsuits with the usual swimsuit-buying bits these shows have. And again, an incredibly odd line will just pop out, for no reason.

Evergarden, FranXX, and Hakumei/Mikochi up to 6

Hey, look! She’s kind of smiling!

Well I THOUGHT Violet Evergarden was going to expand the story now, have some unpleasant wartime experiences rise and and bite her, but episode 6 gives us just another stand-alone featuring an emotionally messed-up young man that is shown the way forward from an AI. It’s not all that good a story, either. We’re told why Leon is like this, but I for one had no emotional connection with him at all. At least Violet got to figure out what loneliness is. And so Leon the boy moves on, while Violet, emotionally, cannot. I was more interested in the comet, and the legends they were transcribing of all the doom and horror might be some kind of foreshadowing, but I’ve said that before in this series and nothing seems to change …

Darling in the FranXX 6, on the other hand, gives us what could potentially have been a disastrous mission for our Squad 13, and for Squad 26 as well, since everyone in the show has an issue of some kind or another. And stuff indeed goes wrong, but it only does so because there were more Klaxosaurs than expected, including a gigantic “Gutenberg-class” variety that can morph into all sorts of shapes and do it on a huge scale. Well, also our heroes are still new at this. That everyone succeeds, mostly, might have come partly because Squad 13 now has a chip in their shoulders about being considered dead weight, and they can also see the other squad’s excellent teamwork and don’t want to be left behind. The only personal issues that interfere comes from Ichigo, who not only thinks Hiro is dead and also that she failed somehow. Really, she has to get her act together if she’s going to continue to lead this team.

Before the realization

But the good guys win with no casualties, but that’s not even close to the main story. It hits me with hindsight that Hiro’s reasons for fighting, at least the ones he spouts this episode, have to do with defending his people, and how he’s raised to do nothing else. It’s only when he supposedly dies that he says the right lines, the ones he’d been repeating before now: he wants to ride Strelizia with 02, and nothing else matters. This realization comes after an amazing, intense series of events where it looks like he and 02 ought to be crushed by now, followed by a dream sequence where he’s preparing to say goodbye to the world, until he wakes up, sees 02 still desperately fighting, … and the turnaround when they reconnect is huge fun to watch.

After the realization.

But why did he get to this point in the first place? Why did he keep himself from the truth like he did? It’s interesting that when he got inspired again, his physical ailments faded away and he became completely healthy again, as if lying about his true motives was the thing making him sick. It makes you wonder about the other pilots, the ones whom 02 supposedly “killed.” Is fighting out of duty or obligation what actually killed them? I guess we’ll get more answers soon, maybe even next week. Anyway, a supposedly disastrous situation is managed triumphantly for everybody.

Hakumei with her new haircut, Iwashi with his cool jacket, and Mikochi just smiling.

Finally, Hakumei to Mikochi, where for two episodes there are no brushes with death. Instead we watch the eager assistant Hakumei do anything she can to help his weasel (in a good, furry way) boss Iwashi and his trade organization rebuild a stone wall … and she helps. With other shows this would be turned into a major point of a person’s life, but here they just build the wall and drink. Next episode Hakumei (Mikochi is pretty much a bystander these days) gets her hair cut and they take Iwashi out for a day in town … and that’s about it. You know, I like shows where nothing much happens but everything’s good anyway, but I can’t help but feel the show is in a rut. Maybe the wonder of their world is wearing a bit thin. I’m not asking for crises or those brushes with death … maybe we’ve been spending too much time with Hakumei on her job.

Evergarden, FranXX, Dagashi, and Takunomi up to 5

The Princess’s letters get more interesting when she writes them herself.

Violet Evergarden, with episode 5, looks ready to break out of its recent standalone stories where she writes letters and heals hearts. At the end of the episode we meet someone that she met in battle once, and he is NOT happy. In fact, he wonders, aloud and spitefully, how a murderous war machine can be capable of writing letters to bring people together like she does now. It looks like the show is finally confronting this issue, and we’ll be seeing more of Violet’s violent past in future episodes. As for this heartwarming standalone, it looked all right until we learn that the 14 year-old princess set to marry an older man for political reasons actually LIKES the man. It feels like a lost opportunity to examine a person who might not ever get the love she wants. While the actual replies the two start sending was a nice touch (not to mention the citizens of both kingdoms reading them), I had kind of hoped someone would botch everything up, leading to political fallout. Well, I believe we’ll have more fun in the future. Meanwhile KyoAni sidestepped an issue by having Violet become good at her job when we weren’t looking. Maybe they figured machine learning isn’t the most interesting of subjects, but I would have liked to see them try.

Darling in the FranXX 5, plot-wise, is a big buildup for a battle that will break out when two of the domed things “kiss” (refuel) and attract a ton of klaxosaurs. Everyone is unhappy for one reason or another. Mitsuru, unable to cope with his fun time with 02, is popping pills he miraculously got from somewhere. Ichigo is messed up because she’s worried her role as leader and about Hiro. Gorou, her partner, is beginning to show signs of jealousy, and worse, he sees the physical changes that Hiro is undergoing, like a fever, chills, elevated “yellow cell” blood count, and a blue-green growth on his chest, caused by riding with 02. Plus, a veteran parasite team is brought in to help, and they’re all surprised at our groups’ nicknames, how the franxx’s are all different from each other, and they’re shocked that 02 is going to be there. She’s too wild in battle. It all adds up to a possibly disastrous battle next week. We, meanwhile, wonder if Hiro’s going to survive, and like Ichigo, I’m appalled at 02’s cavalier attitude toward it all. Hiro, when not doubled over with whatever he’s got, is confident and reassuring to everyone, like he’s ready to die if it means dying with 02. I think he’ll live but get transformed farther, however, I wouldn’t put it past the show to kill off a main character soon. Finally, the sexual metaphors are kept to a minimum this week, replaced with romantic-emotional ones.

I absolutely love Saya’s expression in this picture.

Now that I’ve taken care of the season’s minor shows it’s time to catch up with Dagashi Kashi, the only show that matters! I can’t believe I let three episodes slip by! Let’s see, episode 3 is a cheery, routine one about beigoma, where Saya again demonstrates why Hotaru calls her “Master.” We also get a flashback to the elementary school Hotaru bugging a dagashi vender, and then we learn that the shop has gone out of business. I didn’t realize at the time that this was foreshadowing …

Then in episode 4 we get … plot! I know there’s a setup to this entire series, Hotaru trying to get Kokonotsu to take over the shop so his dad can develop new dagashi at Hotaru’s company, but the show is just fine when it ignores it. But the show decides to get a little sad on us, as Hotaru has a nice time alone with Kokonotsu with fireworks going and all, then she says “Sayonara,” and we know something’s up … But even now they slip a little dagashi in, with Hotaru’s winning Home Run Bar stick for bewildered Kokonotsu to remember her by.

Which leads us back to where the season started, a cold, late fall and the dagashi shop falling to pieces, because Kokonotsu is still mooning over Hotaru. But with his idiot dad’s help, and Saya’s he gets the store back together, except for an unpleasant surprise at the end, and I suspect we’re going to soon meet the other people in the opening credits. It’s about time. Plus we learn about a snack called “Get a Move on, You Cod,” but alas, Hotaru does not give us the background that the snack deserves with a name like that. A rare slip-up for the show. Hotaru’s absence is still being felt.


Finally I catch up with Takunomi, and learn about Suiyoubi no Neko beer, Kyoketsu … beer, I suppose, and red wine with ginger ale. While this show is as educational as Dagashi Kashi, the characters and situations are generally not as interesting, though I do like Michiru’s enthusiasm for the sophisticated Tokyo lifestyle. On the other hand, sometimes one of the girls gets plastered and does something embarrassing …

FranXX and Evergarden, up to #4

Now that we’ve been introduced to the basic, absurd world of Darling in the FranXX in episode 1, #2 starts to fill in the details, starting with the side characters, and they’re the usual lot. We’ve got the asshole, the nice guy, the fat kid, the girl with a thing for the main character, the genki girl, er, a couple of others without much personality yet. Once again, nothing you haven’t seen in other series. So we watch as they interact with Hiro and 02, and each other. The girls are shocked at 02’s behavior, while the boys are obviously put off but titillated at the same time. You expect this from a bunch of kids who don’t even know what a kiss is, and considering the show’s mecha piloting as sex, maybe that’s the point.

Which leads us to the episode’s other task, playing around with the sex metaphor. Again, not new, Aquarion and Simoun did it before (and really, the APE people ought to bring some Simoun girls in to demonstrate the kissing), but so far FranXX is doing a good job of using it to further establish the characters. Basically, Hiro, a boy hitting adolescence, falls for a wild, older, sexually experienced woman who takes a liking to him and is happy to teach him a few things, and the sex is great. The others are, as I said, shocked, especially Ichigo, who, out of jealousy, tries to do the same thing, though she’s already partnered with Gorou, the nice guy who has no problem with it–for now. The sex is, as Ichigo announces “terrible.” Okay, now that they’ve flogged us with the metaphor a little too much, let’s see where they can take it.

Episode 3, at least, offers a new wrinkle on the relationships. Taking the pairs piloting the FranXX we of course assume them to be couples, which means they have their own personal issues that come out in the show as piloting teamwork. So Ichigo can’t get Hiro, and their bad sex, out of her head, and even though her partner shows support it’s not helping much. Zorome, the asshole, redeems himself somewhat by showing great concern and compassion when his partner Miku is hurt, even if they don’t always get along. But this time the focus is on Mitsuru and Ikuno. Ikuno can’t perform, so Mitsuru immediately turns to 02 and offers his, er, services. After all, if that flaccid loser Hiro can ride her, then surely he can do better. This was so well set up, I was so worried about the monster crisis and the thought of Hiro losing face (not to mention poor Ikuno, rejected by her partner), that I completely forgot about 02’s tendency to injure and kill her partners. … still working on the metaphor for that one.

An actual action shot, for a change.

And look, while I was dallying, another new episode came out. So episode 4 plays less with the sexual metaphors, though they’re certainly still around, and gets to the story part, in this case, getting Hiro and 02 to prove they’re a viable team. This is done with 02 being led off by guards to go back to the front while the novice team is getting slaughtered. Hiro shouts to her that he doesn’t give a shit about Franxxes but wants to ride with her. It’s pretty much a declaration of love, or lust, and it’s passionate enough that 02 decides not to leave. That only leaves the thrilling rescue, and it IS thrilling. With so many Trigger folks involved it’s hard not to be. On the metaphor front, Papa doesn’t want his precious girl to see that boy she likes, but she does anyway. But now that it seems to be settled that Hiro is going to ride with 02, where will the metaphors go from here? Will they start watching the other couples?

I’m so far behind now that I will have to cut out writing about a few episodes of some shows, but I’ll keep up with Violet Evergarden for a while, even though my interest in it, at least after episode 3, is beginning to wane a little. Oh, it looks fantastic, but it’s KyoAni, “fantastic” is a given. I’m just not in love with the source material. Episode 3 is partly told by Luculia, a doll school classmate with a brother who is drinking and getting beaten up a lot because he blames himself for their parents’ deaths during the war. And the episode’s theme, if there is one, is that it’s hard to communicate how you feel sometimes, oh, and short letters are good, too, which is how Violet finally graduated from doll school, thanks to the harsh headmaster who, frankly, acts out of character here. And now Violet gets to be a doll, even though she has learned absolutely nothing about human behavior, and it’s all on top of a maudlin stand-alone story. Well, the show LOOKS great …

Here’s Iris, being upset.

Episode 4, another standalone, isn’t much better. We get to learn about Iris through a visit to her remote village, the people wearing a hodgepodge of colorful holiday garb and peasant clothes, all looking generically ethnic. Violet learns more about how subtle language and emotions can be while she amuses the locals with her blunt replies. And now I don’t know what to think. The bad news is that it’s the second standalone in a row, the second that has Violet save the day by writing a heartwarming letter to someone. But what I find interesting is that both episodes are framed as someone else’s memory of violet, in other words, something more interesting might happen in the future. I can only hope that we don’t have to wait until the last couple episodes …