Directors: Haruka Fujita, Taichi Ishidate
Production: ABC Animation, Animation DO, Bandai Namco Arts, Kyoto Animation, Pony Canyon, Rakuonsha
Distributor: Netflix, All the Anime
Platform: Viewed on Blu-ray with Japanese Audio and English Subtitles
Release Date: Out Now!
Recently, I caught up – and greatly enjoyed – the beautiful, thought-provoking anime Violet Evergarden, so I was excited to follow up with side story/sequel film Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll. In so doing, I found much of the core appeal flourished within the extended runtime and expanded production budget.
For those unfamiliar with Violet Evergarden, this film does an efficient job getting you up to speed without excessive exposition. Set in fictional country Leidenschaftlich, the franchise revolves around Violet (Yui Ishikawa), an orphan trained to be an unfeeling weapon in combat. The anime portrays Violet post-wartime, during which she suffered the loss of someone close, as well as both arms – which are now prosthetic. Violet explores a world of new discoveries about themselves, signing up to be an Auto Memory Doll; a profession of writing letters for people, helping them express their emotions.
This film meets up with Violet as they’re sent to help a new character, Amy Bartlett (Minako Kotobuki). We’re introduced to Amy’s backstory; they discovered a young girl named Taylor (Aoi Yûki) abandoned during wartime, and took it upon themselves to look after them. Subsequently, despite a lack of money, they bonded and became self-declared sisters. However, one day Amy was pressured into leaving to a wealthy royal family, severing that precious connection to Taylor. Amy is now being trained as dignified lady, but understandably isn’t keen; this is where Violet comes in, to impart life lessons on fitting into society.
To start with, there is friction between the literal Violet and protective Amy, but soon the two gradually, earnestly connect and become close friends, and it is a delight to experience. Sometimes I found the anime episodes too short for the anthology-esque meetings Violet has, and the longer 90-ish minutes here does a lot to fix that. We get the necessary time with Amy to empathise with their situation – and we get time with younger sister Taylor too, to balance out the perspectives and ensure both characters are fully developed. Violet is the endearing conduit for this, learning her own subtle lessons from the separated pair.
As with the anime, this film is visually stunning. Personally, I’m drawn towards this style of detailed, intricate, soft-coloured animation, with delicately expressive character designs and wondrously picturesque backgrounds. Combined with a glorious soundtrack (including an incredible end credits song) and sharp dialogue, and you’re onto a winner.
Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll fixes minor issues I had with the anime, in particular allowing us more time with newly introduced (and existing) side characters. An effective story of enduring relationships shines as a result, offering us intelligent perspectives of well-developed, charming characters, all playing into how Violet is growing over time. Oh, another upside of a longer runtime? More time savouring every richly crafted frame, a treat on eye and ear alike. The fantastic Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll makes me view the overall franchise in a fonder light, and that’s got to be a sign of success.