Violet Evergarden & Special – A Letter From the Heart

Dear Reader,

I’m sure you came here expecting a review of Violet Evergarden and a recommendation as to whether or not you should watch it. In a way I suppose this will likely do that but today’s piece is more personal. It’s a letter to you, the community, and to myself. I’m not writing it as Jon Spencer, but rather as the man behind the persona, Nathan Mehlhorn.

As many of you know I have several conditions such as Cerebral Palsy and Autism. It’s not something I really keep secret. However, what you probably do not know is I don’t communicate very well with people. This, of course, is not always the case as with anyone but in person I’m not exactly an expert conversationalist. Surprised? I’ve always been much better at communicating through writing, though my spelling limits my vocabulary and I’m prone to more errors, it is generally more concise and easier to follow.

This is not so unusual for people in my position. I don’t have to track a conversation, focus on eye contact, or follow typical social conventions on the computer. I have time to process responses and am afforded ample time to think of phrasing to reply in turn. In short, writing, as a medium, is generally an easier forum of communication for me.

Hence why we are talking about Violet Evergarden today. This series is about three major things. The first of which is war, which I can relate to in that my Father was in the military but is not what I’d like to focus on today. As for the other two things, they would be about Violet wishing to learn what, “I love you” means and letter writings. Specifically, how sometimes it is easier to say things in writing than aloud.

In short, this is about the power of words.

Violet Evergarden is not unique in this exploration however. So you may be wondering why the focus on this show specifically? To which I would applaud you. That’s an excellent question. In truth, this could easily be about The Great Passage which explores similar themes through its story about creating a dictionary. Partially, I chose this series because it’s popular and more accessible. However, Violet Evergarden has one thing other shows do not, and that’s Violet herself.

A complaint often leveled at Violet Evergarden is that Violet is too robotic, she’s not quite, well, human enough for people. What an insult to people like myself. Allow me to explain. At the start of the series Violet is very much like an autistic person, she has poor communication skills. While she is excellent at conveying information and typing, she doesn’t understand people. Her quest for understanding what, “I love you” means is really a means for her to connect with others.

When I was younger, I was very similar to Violet. I just didn’t get people. I still don’t always. I’d take orders, relay information, etc… This made me an excellent student, I was smart and capable in that respect, but when it came to people not so much. I’d often misunderstand sarcasm, hidden intent behind words, and things that for many people are relatively obvious.

Seeing Violet’s journey through the series is one that I can relate to personally. Not because I have a tragic war story background but because the growth of her character is so similar to my own.

There is another thing I realized with Violet Evergarden though. My highest rated shows do one of three things well. The first being that they are technically impressive, the next being they are intellectually stimulating, and the third being they are emotionally resonate with me. Especially sad things.

You might be thinking, “So what?” because this in itself isn’t that uncommon. The focus is on the emotionally resonate stuff. I don’t experience emotions the same way as other people. I can become upset, frustrated, depressed, just like anybody else, but truly feeling something is pretty rare.

This is a lot harder to explain so let me do my best here. For a long time I wouldn’t even be phased by somebody dying, just as an example. I still don’t really because it is totally normal, it happens, just a natural phenomenon. Most people think that’s weird. I should be sad, right?

Well when it comes to anime, I feel these things really strongly. Not in every show, but things like Anohana, which I’ve mentioned, hit me so hard I can barely stand a rewatch. I seek these strong feelings out in media. Not just negative ones, but positive ones too.

Anime has been a blessing in that regard. It has helped me understand people a lot better. That’s the true value of something like Violet Evergarden and why I think it is such a wonderful show. The power of communication comes through so strongly and learning how and why people feel the things they do is invaluable to me, and others.

After watching the special episode for the series the other day I was overcome with an urge to write this letter to you. Maybe this was all a big rambling mess and you didn’t really get anything out of it, but I hope you did. Perhaps, you’ll look at anime a bit differently the next time you sit down to watch it even?

Works like these are transformative and important. I truly wish to experience many more shows that pack such a weight like Violet Evergarden does for me. If you haven’t already please give this wonderful series a watch with an open mind and heart.

Sincerely,

-JS

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41 thoughts on “Violet Evergarden & Special – A Letter From the Heart

  1. WOW! That was a powerful story in addition to the review. I’m glad you were able to pour everything out in how you related to the main character and dealing with communication issues. I’m someone who tends to be quite literal and there are some forms of sarcasm that fly over my head sometimes, so I can partially understand that. Thank you for telling me about this review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Violet Evergarden
  3. I had no idea the special was out. Will have to watch it cos Violet Evergarden is one of the best anime I have watched in 2018.

    Not sure why some people complain about Violet being robotic. Lots of other unemotional characters are popular in anime. Her difficulties in expressing herself make the moments when she breaks down feel all the more powerful.

    Anohana is an exceptional anime. The ending is a real kicker though, so I can understand you not wanting to revisit it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is fantastic, Jon. I had decided against watching Violet Evergarden before reading what you wrote, but the attention you gave to the theme and the way you compared her desire to understand and connect with your own experiences really has me wanting to give it a watch. Again, this post is fantastic. Well said, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are so right and words are such a powerful medium. Thank you for sharing your own journey with us and having something like anime really does help us feel in certain ways.
    This was a beautiful anime and I think most can find themselves sitting on the edge with her journey since sometimes we really don’t understand love as well. But it showed so many different kinds of love and that all of them are just as important as the last.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve actually not seen this show for reasons I don’t recall in not picking this up. But your post has made me curious about the lead character, so maybe its popularity will earn it a UK release.

    But this is incidental as to why you made this post. As you know I am also on the Autism spectrum and share a lot of the traits you mentioned, including finding the written word an easier mode of communication than speaking.

    That you’ve found a kinship so to speak with an anime character that has given you the confidence to reveal these things about yourself publicly must be oddly comforting for you, because I shared something similar with the character Saga Noren from the Swedish/Danish TV show “The Bridge”, whose Autism was never formally diagnosed but enough of her personality were recognisable to me a those I also share.

    Honestly, I doubt I could be that brave and I tend to only speak about my Autism under certain circumstances as I fear some people will think I am hiding behind it to excuse my behaviour. So, kudos to you for this post and for sharing your feelings with us, and after all you’ve been through, I hope it is onwards and upwards for you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you MIB, I appreciate you also sharing yourself here as well. I’m surprised this isn’t on Netflix for you? I would love a physical release but this still has a movie to come out so it may be a bit. Hard to say.

      Anyway, I just felt like this was the kind of thing I should put out there. The theme of letters made it a convenient vehicle for this sort of post so I just went for it. I had serious doubts that it would be well received but I guess all the positive response proved otherwise.

      I can relate to you about not bringing up Autism or other things of that nature because a lot of people do think you are just making an excuse. However, that’s a pretty messed up way to see it because if nobody talks about stuff then nothing changes. People are pretty rude about stuff and that’s just wrong…

      Thanks again for the support and kind words. I hope things can only get better for me. I need things to get better. Glad you enjoyed the post and I’ll see ya around 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love love love this post! Thank you for giving everyone a little more insight on your personal life Jon. As someone who has gotten to know you online and IRL I am so happy to call you my friend. This has definitely inspired me to write a post like this now! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! I was curious what you would think of it especially since you have met me IRL before. Thanks for being an awesome friend to me 🙂 I look forward to reading the post you do, so please let me know when you do that!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s always awesome when there’s a good anime, but it’s even better when a series really touches you, one that speaks to you. And then in turn you write something like this beautiful letter that touches other people like me!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I always say that I don’t need validation, but damn, it’s nice to read something like this. The examples you used, even to your reaction to death, could have been taken from my life. For example, I was just talking to my wife tonight about how my father’s death last year didn’t affect me like I expected it to — or like everyone around me expected it to.

    Some of my own family are convinced I’m a monster. Grrrr?

    Even your example of Anohana hit home. I don’t know how to react to my own father dying, but “You… found me!” is like a thermo-nuclear strike right in the heart. Even typing that line, I had to pause to collect myself.

    I still don’t understand the mechanisms that result in such behavior…

    I chose the same path that Violet did — try to power forward and figure it out as I go. To be candid, I’m not sure it was the right choice. I fear that I’ve left too much pain in my wake because I couldn’t recognize my own sharp edges. But that’s why I loved Violet Evergarden: She was a hero I could relate to and who I intensely wanted to succeed. If she can do it, maybe…?

    “When I was younger, I was very similar to Violet. I just didn’t get people.”

    I still don’t. I usually say it as “I watch humans from high Earth orbit,” not in a condescending way (I hope!), but in the sense that it’s all so far away and indistinct. I see the patterns; I understand that certain actions trigger certain events. But I can only relate to those things through the emulators I’ve built over time.

    Anyway, thought you’d like to know your article evoked a strong reaction!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really appreciate you sharing this and being so candid. Truly I don’t really understand why I can engage with a story the way, “I’m supposed to” vs actual interactions but it has been very helpful IRL. While it’s true, I very much emulate, at least I can have actual conversations with some people, which is more than I used to be able to do.

      I’m very glad that this post was able to resonate so strongly with you and that it was also relateable, I know that I’m the only one who has these experiences so having you share that was important. Also glad to know that I was able to convey myself properly, I was concerned that this wouldn’t reach people correctly.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Rather than a review, I love reading these kind of posts more. That a series made its mark and left a deep impression enough to relate to your story. In my opinion that’s a recommendation in itself and says much more than a typical review ever will. Thanks for sharing this ^^

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wow Jon…this post left me pretty much as speechless as when I watched the show itself 😊 I could personally relate to this series as much as you. There were so many things that I recognised in Violet, so many things that I could relate to. I am definitely not one of the people that found her robotic…because…I understood her. I knew where she came from. And it’s an amazing character. It’s no secret that I just simply love this show. In fact it’s pretty much the best anime that I have seen all year. I’ve seen it twice in a very short time. Because I wanted to share it with my mother as well, and she loved it as much as I did (and cried at pretty much the same moments that I did). Which is why I loved this post so much! Great job as you captured what this show is about perfectly 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you very much Raistlin, I really appreciate it 🙂 I agree that this is one of the best series of the year, it is sitting comfortably in my top 3 anime ever watched even. I’m glad you enjoyed the post so much because I didn’t know if I did a good enough job explaining things. Thanks again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love Violet Evergarden ! ! ! ( and wrote about it on my anime/manga blogsite) . I re-watched it 3 times…and I hope Part 2 comes out soon…. I want to know who that person is at the end of the show.. ( I have 2 guesses )

    Liked by 3 people

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