This movie just screams KyoAni.
Not 100% sure what to say about this. If you are not familiar with Violet Evergarden the anime, this movie will require a steep learning curve.
TLDR: Violet was a war orphan trained to fight against enemy soldiers. She was found abandoned on a battlefield and adopted by Gilbert Bougainvillia who showed her compassion and care. He and Violet are trapped in a bomb attack and he dies while she loses both of her arms, but he tells Violet something before he loses his life and she Carrie's that with her into her future. Violet now works as an auto memory doll, a person who writes letters from others who don't know how to express themselves.
This movie is essentially a check in on past characters from the series and the OVA from whenever. A lot of it is just feel good moments interwoven with two major plot lines:
Daisy attends her grandmother's funeral and while her neglectful parents go to work for the day, she finds a box of letters for her grandmother written by Violet on behalf of her deceased great-grandmother. Daisy becomes interested in Violet's story.
Phones have replaced letters and now the Postal company has closed. In the past we learn about why Violet left the postal company.
I felt like the little vignettes were so disconnected from the main plotline and really only served to hype up how great Violet is and how much she's grown as a person. When we check in with the past characters they've all achieved their dreams thanks to Violet and she goes on to help other characters. We meet these people in one or two scenes before they have a major emotional revelation and we are meant to empathise with them.
What really took away from these scenes is that the anime tropes were laid on so heavily. There are many scenes in this film where there is just no animation. Like still frames and single shots. It was meant to be poignant but they went on for too long. In particular when Violet remembers the day the Major died, she sits in the chair not moving for almost half a minute.
There are many many major close ups of eyes and wide shots to show the background artwork more.
With how gripping the main plotlines are I felt like these side stories were just there to pad the runtime and make the audience emotional. The movie really didn't shy away from showing graphic and traumatic content. Like dead children, or Violet's severed arms falling off. (At least those things don't move; you don't need to animate them.) Which I really appreciated, honestly. Maybe they censored the series for Netflix.
The conclusion gradually comes along and in a way I sort of didnt expect. Spoilers ahead beware.
Old mate Gilbert is alive and he is living on an island helping the locals. When he sends a letter on behalf of the children to someone but messes up the postal address, their mailing company intercepts it. Violet and the captain head to the island to meet Gilbert but he refuses. Through some very emotional scenes, Violet decides to leave but not before sending her letter to Gilbert. The letter is enough for him to change his mind so he races after Violet who is already on the ferry. She leaps off into the ocean, destroying her robotic arms and meets Gilbert on the beach. He confesses his love for her again and holds her while she cries, telling Violet he wants her by his side.
I honestly felt pretty disgusted by this revelation. I can't believe they went there and Japan's sick fascination with this never ceases to disgust me. I loved the mystery of the anime series and how much Violet grew as a person but that same draw isn't here in this movie. They just cram feel-good/feel-bad moments down your throat until they made a 2-hour long movie.
Overall this movie doesn't have any development and is based on a light novel that collects a bunch of short stories about Violet. I am disappointed it ended this way but I liked the flash forward into the future. Good for fans of the series but I think I can't stomach anime anymore.