Violet Evergarden (2018) Review: The Doll that Learned to Feel Emotions

Some years ago, I spent a lot of time reading people’s blog post about this anime. People said it left them with teary eyes and recommended those to watch it with a tissue box. It’s just that emotional. Not only that–a friend from work told me how good the show is stating how beautiful the animation was, it reminded her of Japan’s countryside. But more importantly, the show revolves around the strongest emotion: love. What does I love you mean? Violet became a part of the Auto Memory Doll, writing letters to help express people’s innermost emotions so she could understand Major Gilbert last words to her. (Hmm…how poetic. My very own father used to write love letters as a side job.) So out of curiosity, I caved in and watched the anime but never bother to write a review until now–simply because I wasn’t impressed as I thought I would be. More than anything though, I felt it was hyped.

Before I start with my little annoyance towards this anime, I do want to mention that this anime is eloquent and poetic. It uses dolls to convey a certain message of perfection. They are perfectly hollow, perfectly beautiful, and expressionless. But more prominently, they show no emotions on their face. Her discovering the phrase, “I love you” through writing letters for Auto Memory Doll, helped her come to term with her human qualities and her emotions towards Major Gilbert, the man who is always on her mind. Violet Evergarden is a story of becoming human. It’s a beautiful concept. And yet, I am not impressed. What’s the deal with this anime? Why is it so emotional to some people? And why didn’t it sit well with me? Am I as lifeless as Violet that I might need to enroll in a writing course which will help me explore my feelings? Did my bias get in the way from appreciating this anime? I learned it’s not the case.

It’s the way how the story is presented. It’s theatrically unnatural in a way where it doesn’t flow well. I love symbolism but this one sticks out like a sore thumb. Violet is purposely made to be doll-like to indicate how precious she is to the Major. At the same time, her doll-like features subtly imply to the audiences how contradicting her “true” nature is to her innocent appearance. I kept thinking should I sympathize with this character? Time again and again through flashback, she is mentioned for being a war tool–a killer who killed people without remorse, entirely devoted to the Major. She was the perfect soldier. Despite being human, she shows no sign of having any desires of her own other than to find out what “I love you” mean (I am beginning to sound like a broken record in this post because that’s exactly what is wrong with this anime. How many times I have said Violet needs to find out what “I LOVE YOU” mean?!). How could she not understand her own emotions? It just doesn’t add up.

When so many people start googling the following, it just shows how misleading the character Violet is:

So I will answer the highlighted question above. Violet is human, but she is uninterestingly robotic. To make her relatable character, she is made into one size fits all. And so this brought me to conclude why so many enjoyed this anime. They enjoyed discovering their own hidden emotions through Violet. Like Violet, most of us don’t really understand what we feel and most often, we are not entirely honest with ourselves and with others or know our life’s purpose. Many of us are just moldable obedient dolls to the society at no fault (Ouch it sounds rather harsh, but it’s just my opinion.).

To summarize this anime series, it really is just an anime about reading between the lines. Violet has to learn how to read people which is why I think she is a relatable character to many. After all, humans are complicated. Miscommunication often happens when we fail to express ourselves properly. People tend to hide their true feelings behind words and so that’s where Dolls come into play. They are refined and eloquent in mannerism and speech. They are perfect people and perfect people are kind of scary if you ask me.

As for my final thought, one positive thing I got out of this anime is that I could learn a few tips and tricks from Auto Memory Doll. I know some of my reviews can be blunt. The last thing I want to do is offend some poor soul out there. But on a second thought, that’d kill my voice. I don’t get paid to write flowery words; I write with honesty. It’s just the critic in me. Overall, Violet Evergarden is decent, but not great. There was not one single teardrop coming from me.

My Husband Won’t Fit Review (2019): Let’s Talk about Sex

I’m a few days late like usual. Valentine’s Day has passed. I could learn how to prioritize my blog posts to sync with the holiday, but I guess I missed the opportunity. In my mind, I thought reviewing Cuties was more important. But at least I got my punctuality right. Punctuality is a great trait to show people we care. On a second thought, I don’t know. Throwing panties at any sexually starved man will make any man punctual. Okay, maybe I am stretching a bit there. You can blame the media for my bias views. Enough exposure in the media will make anyone believe that all men are hungry wolves who jump at any piece of meat they come across.

So let’s talk about the birds and the bees because that’s what love birds do during Valentine’s Day, right?! I heard in Japan, many couple are in sexless marriage. If you are asexual, this is probably the perfect type of relationship you want to be in. After all, for some folks, there is more to relationship than just sex. But for the majority of people–sex is important in a relationship. This quirky Japanese TV show explores the concept of love, relationship and sex. What does it all mean? I found this show amusingly fun to watch and I think you should give it a try too.

There are 10 episodes total, which is the perfect length for nowadays shows–not too short, but not too long. The amount of content in this TV show is decently covered. I found myself binged watching the show because it was entertaining enough even though I did not agree with its content. As a westerner, I find the relationship between the couple quite unique. They successfully separate sex from love making. So cheating is not really considered cheating if feelings are not involved. Do you agree with that? Now that is hot discussion for couples! We all know that most women don’t like their men having secret affairs behind their back. But the protagonist in this TV Show has no problem because her husband simply doesn’t fit! She just wants him happy. She is the perfect wife for those men who have big appetite for variety of women. Who can say no to a sweet timid, considerate wife who does not object to her husband’s external affairs? She’s always thinking about her husband’s happiness. How honorable…not! I hope you could tell I was being sarcastic! For most women, it’s a deal breaker that sex is out of the equation and there’s is a lack of respect for the marriage when one seek others to fulfil sexual needs. Not being able to satisfy our significant other sexually could cause a severe blow to one’s self-esteem. In fact, this is what led the female protagonist to seek comfort from other men. In this show, both husband and wife are guilty.

So this brought up many questions about relationship: What is love? Isn’t love about the other person? Think about it, does that sound rather heartless and harsh if people get into relationship to fulfil their sexual gratification only? This show explains how unique one marriage can be between a couple. It’s biggest argument in this show is that sex is not everything for a lifelong partner. Clearly, both main characters are always thinking of each other’s happiness.

Well, I hope I’m not the opposite of cupid. Hope I did not spark a heated debate between lovers. I just thought this show is worth watching. I like its lighthearted approach to asking tough questions on what marriage and love is. I found myself experiencing different emotions–shocked, anger, happiness, and sadness for the couple. Isn’t love supposed to make us feel like we can be our true selves and our partner is always having our interest in mind and vice versa? It’s a sweet little show.

As my final thought, the only love we need is self-love if you ask me. Once we love ourselves, we can love others in a healthy way. So pop those self-loving pills and Happy belated Valentine’s Day. And if no one loves you, Halsdoll loves you. So come back again for some more insightful reviews!


Jane Eyre BBC (1983) Review: A Romantically Crazy Love Story

After watching so many quirky Japanese shows, I decided I need a switch, so I watched Jane Eyre. In fact, I’m feeling very English. I’m anticipating for fall so I can drink hot tea, but at the same time, I’m not looking forward to the horror of what Covid-19 (the reaper) will do to more lives and the economy. All we can do is tread on until we get out of this dark period. But as an introvert, I sort of enjoy this solitude because most of my hobbies are in door. I just wish the world is not so much in chaos.

My newest obsession goes to Jane Eyre BBC series. This show is superb and romantically crazy. I felt like a little girl all over again, dreaming of Mr. Right who is fictional and who only exists in a woman’s world. The attractive man is mysteriously brooding and sullen. He is a philanthropic, but denies it by behaving coldly. His speech is harsh and short. He is demanding like a child. But underneath his gloomy visage–is a man who is afraid of abandonment. Yes, I just described the male protagonist, Edward Rochester. It must be biology because it was so easy to empathize with Jane and why she fell in love with such a man. She is direct, restless and outspoken; yet she is frail, naive and forgiving. She is realistically feminine, but strong. It was an enjoyable experience to watch Jane grow and watch the dark plot unfold. There was not one moment I find the show dull.

There are two things, however, I didn’t enjoy about the show. One, is knowing the fact Edward is old enough to be Jane’s dad. He is 20 years older than she! It’s biologically impractical to pursue someone twice your age, but most girls yearn for a father figure who will make them feel safe and wanted. Realistically, falling in love with an older man is a tragedy. He will surely die before her and leave her as a heartbroken widow. Most lovers do not survive after their significant other pass away. Unless she is an ambitious woman. Then I can see Jane remaining a widow for the rest of her life.

Another thing that disturbed me about the show is the idea of love and unity. It’s sweet to hear such talk of merging oneself with a lover–to be part of his flesh and belonging to him. It’s romantic, but eerie. Who in the world would want to fuse in with another human being like conjoined twins? The quote below sounds like a horror story!

I am my husband’s life as he is fully as mine. We are bone of each other’s bone and flesh of each other’s flesh.

Despite my pessimism towards everlasting love, I enjoyed Jane Erye very much. It is clean, romantic, dark, and innocent. Watch it if you want your heart to be captivated with beautiful dialogue. What is the harm to romanticize some love into your life? Love can feel like a scary thing especially when emotions take over.

Netflix Series Atelier: It’s Not Just About Underwear

My mother once said, you can tell a lot about a person’s personality based on the shoes he or she wears.  From looking at the picture below (yes it’s my shoes), that’s not far from the truth.

I’m plain, practical, and environmentally conscious.  Rain or shine, I love to walk. I’ve had these shoes for over 12 years! The more I wear it, the more comfortable it feels. As much as I adore my beaten-up shoes, I do feel self-conscious about it, especially around other women.  Not everyone finds my shoes adorable, especially my mother who often scolded me for my unkempt appearance.  They might even associate it with the lack of funds in my bank account after seeing me wear the same shoes every day, or what is worse, they might see me lacking in confidence as a woman. Unfortunately, women do care a lot about their appearance and there is a good reason why.

After watching a chic Netflix show called Atelier, the concept can’t be more true–women often choose clothes to express their inner beauty.   In this case, the show uses lingerie and not shoes to illustrate this point.  Lingerie is a metaphor for beauty.  After all, lingerie is not meant to be displayed because real beauty, according to the show, is hidden and each woman defines it differently.

You are probably thinking it’s just a show about women. Not entirely true.  It’s about creators who wish to express themselves a bit more freely apart from doing business.  Making money and creating art are two different things.  The show clearly pointed that out.  If you are an artist, or a creative person, I think you can empathize with the characters very well. We often struggle with creating things we don’t always want to do, but we do it because there is a market for it. It’s like a show that cheers all the creative people in the world: “You can do it as a struggling artist! Make money with your art!” I was so moved by the scene where one of the characters subtly insulted businessmen and their mass-produced products. Businessmen/women have the tendency to follow what is popular—they research a product just to secure a profit. I get it. Money is the backbone of a functioning society, however, starving creativity, kills the human soul. We begin to ask ourselves what’s the meaning of our existence if we can’t create the things we want.

Another thing I liked about the show was watching the main character (Mayuko Tokita) and the side character (Mayumi Nanjo) interacting like mother and daughter. They don’t always agree with each other. The mother-like character was always scolding the unruly daughter.  Overall, I thought the show did a great job with characters development. They all grew and as a result, I learned something very valuable along with them.  Maybe it’s time for me to have some self-confidence. Get a new pair of shoes and run after my true passion (sorry ancestors if my passion brings you shame).

I am surprised how much I enjoyed the show. I didn’t expect much from it.  I recommend this show, especially to female audience or if you are one of those people who are in tuned with your creative side.

Note: Originally posted on Mar. 29, 2019, revised Jul. 20, 2020.

How to Connect with Friends

If you want a friend just connect to Lain. Place the cursor over the email icon. Then click twice to open link. Do you have a message? Who is it from?

“It’s me.

I am just conscience

without a body.

Nice to meet you.”

scribble

If you iron your thoughts,your reality will appear to make sense. Put words in a dress and yet the meaning is still hidden. Eyes can see everything and yet still blind.

Just delete bad memories if you don’t want to remember. Just delete yourself if you don’t want to exist. Even if we delete ourselves, we are still connected. 

This is a free verse/doodling for the animated series Serial Experiments Lain. What possessed me to watch it? Somehow, I remember an old chat friend telling me this was his favorite anime. He once said, “All you need is one person to believe in you.” I disagree. Actually, the only person you need to connect with is yourself. Once you are in tuned with yourself, then you can connect with others in a healthy way.

Note: Originally posted on Aug. 21, 2018 from my old blog

Netflix Series Beastars: Is the Rabbit Really a Slut?

Disclaimer: For mature audience. Not for children. Please watch show before reading this article. This is just my interpretation of the show.

Oh my virgin mind tainted by the innocent schoolboy and schoolgirl stuffed animal-like cartoon. How did a show managed to fool me into thinking that I was watching a show about an innocent high school drama? It looks so cute and adorable, so I added the show to my watchlist on Netflix. Oh my, so naive of me!

Beastars starring a slutty rabbit, is no ordinary slut you might envisioned. She is not the scantily clad type. She is a nice girl, a flower girl–small, petite in stature; soft and sweet. The type of gal you would probably find at a church. Her name is Haru. She is so cute that if I were a guy, I would ask her to marry me. With her, I know for sure there would be guaranteed sex. Don’t rabbits love to breed?

Haru_Anime

Then we have Legoshi, the main male character who is timid and soft-spoken. To most girls, he is the ideal type of guy we want for a life partner–sensitive but strong. But underneath his polite demeanor, is a terrifying strong beast.

Legosi

To most people, I might just have described these two main characters as typical, boring and cliche which can be found in most popular literature. But that archaic, plainness character is what makes the show so powerful. It seems so innocent on the outside, but it is far from innocent. They are the well-behaved civilized citizens we often find among us in the society. Underneath the human’s politeness, is raw animal instinct. Legoshi struggles with his instinct to devour Haru while Haru uses sex as a tool to survive, fighting against her instinct to be eaten by a carnivore (if this concept sounds strange I can point you to the scenes where I came to conclude this notion. Just ask in the comment section). She knows she is a prey and he is the predator. It’s a show about the power struggle between the weak and the strong told from a food hierarchy perspective.

Ironically, what I find so fascinating about submissive Haru is that she is actually a feminist. She does not refuse her male counterparts if they want to sleep with her and even admits she might enjoy it too if they want to be rough. But there is one thing she cannot accept: she refuses to be pitied by them. There is a scene where Louis tries to give her money, but she refuses, wanting his heart instead. Does that sound kind of virtuous? Sadly, from the patriarchal perspective, it’s kind of depressing having to use sex to get around in the society safely, but it’s the only weapon she has. Think about it, Haru is a dwarf rabbit. She is small, soft and cute. She is an easy prey. Can you imagine if she rejects all the guys that approach her? The result would be harassment and worst, be killed. Her action may be frown upon in the society but she’s smart about it. Unlike her female peers, Haru pulls her own weight emotionally, turning her weakness into a strength. This is why guys tend to flock towards her. How empowering is that? What I find so enlightening about this anime is that Haru is deceptive. Think twice if you think she is weak. Unlike her female peers, she does not run from her predators or tries to turn them into her loyal pets like Juno, the ambitious gray wolf.

Juno(anime)

So I have a question to female readers: who is the real damsel in distress here? And to the male readers, do you prefer that ambitious bitch Juno, who uses manipulative tactics to tie you down? Hmm…I think I know the answer.

I find it delightful that this show brings forth the struggle between the Madonna and the whore in such a way to expose the dirtiness in human nature in a twisted way. No one is a saint undernearth the orderly, civilized society that we so hope to achieve. There is no such thing as a perfect world and there’s definitely no such thing as the good girl.

Picture credits: Haru, Legoshi, Juno.