Things I Like: Violet Evergarden (TV Series)

Violet Evergarden anime series poster

Despite being an “otaku”, I haven’t been as keen on watching anime and reading manga like I used to. Netflix however is stepping up their game with getting quality anime shows, instead of letting it fall into the hands of Funimation or someone else. I heard Violet Evergarden was good when it came out earlier this year, but since I was watching Shameless for most of that time, it was put on the “later” list. I will say Netflix wasted no time getting this one in English as it also came out in Japan this year as well, which is rare for anime.

Violet Evergarden recovering in the hospital Violet Evergarden anime series

The show’s main character is the obvious in the name. Violet Evergarden is a former soldier who we see recovering in a hospital. Unlike most soldiers, Violet doesn’t seem to have much humanity outside of her “orders”. She was under the care of Major Gilbert Bougainvillea, but he seems to be either MIA or deceased. Violet is never given a direct answer.

Violet Evergarden becomes a typist Violet Evergarden anime series

Glibert’s friend in the military, Lt. Colonel Hodgins finds Violet and tries to take care of her. He retired from the army and started his own postal company. Violet is given a job writing letters for people. She joins a team of women who excel at not just writing a letter, but putting them in better words that most normal people couldn’t pen themselves.

Airplane trip Violet Evergarden anime series

While Violet may look innocent, beautiful, and sweet, her past as a super-soldier and her cold demeanor doesn’t mesh well with her new job at first. But when her emotions start to warm, she soon becomes much better at it. But her motivation to be the best means she will do almost anything to achieve this.

Little girl with dying mother Violet Evergarden anime series

At first Violet Evergarden wasn’t really impressing me. The whole letter writing thing seemed rather odd and not very realistic. The story makes it unclear at first of what Violet even is as a person. After the second half it really picks up. I will say the tenth episode, “A Loved One Will Always Watch Over You” was beyond brilliant. Anime series can be rather odd as many just last one season, and I could never get a clear answer if there will be a second season. I know a movie is confirmed for Japan, but a real additional season may not surface. I’m sure Netflix will be smart enough to get the movie at least.

Things I Like: Fiddler on the Roof (1971 Film)

Fiddler on the Roof 1971 movie poster

Fiddler on the Roof is certainly a much older film than what I usually review. I’ve heard about it for years, but the only thing I knew about it was that it was based on the lives of Jewish people. I was expecting something set during the Holocaust, but this one is actually set during the Russian Empire before the rise of Communism and the Soviet Union. I actually have a small amount of Jewish ancestry, so these movies mean more to me now after my genetics test.

Tevye singing about tradition Fiddler on the Roof 1971 movie

The movie’s main character is Τevye, an aging and poor milkman in the Russian Empire. He breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience about the traditions of his local community, mainly his Jewish friends and family. He also talks about outsiders, but since most of them don’t bother him or his community, there is a “harmony” of sorts.

Fiddler on the Roof 1971 movie

Τevye will have his own issues at home. His three daughters are of a marrying age, but they don’t seem to like the idea of having a matchmaker and parents decide their spouses for them. Tevye decides to engage his daughter Tzeitel to his old friend Lazar Wolf, which causes ire between him and his daughter. She really wants to marry Motel Kamzoil who is a poor tailor with not much to offer except love and loyalty.

Russian police chief Fiddler on the Roof 1971 movie

However the world around them is changing. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia wants to inflict waves of antisemitic polices upon all the Jewish citizens in Russia. A sympathetic constable warns Tevye of what is about to happen. He can delay some evil for long, but eventually, all of their lives will change forever and ever.

Christian farmer falls in love with Jewish girl Fiddler on the Roof 1971 movie

Overall I liked Fiddler on the Roof but not quite as much as I expected. It’s got one of those strange bittersweet endings that leave a odd aftertaste. It’s also three hours long, but it kept my attention for most of that time as well, which is pretty impressive. I’m rather shocked Hollywood hasn’t ever tried to remake the film. It would probably be bad, but at least a new generation of Millennials and Gen Z kids would be able to hear the story, unless they go to a revival of the play version.

Things I Hate: The Book Thief (2013 Film)

The Book Thief 2013 movie poster

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how I heard of this one. It’s a movie set during World War II and the Holocaust, so I guess that’s why it ended up on my list. I wasn’t quite sure how critics and regular folk seemed to like it, but eventually I got to see it for myself.

The Book Thief 2013 movie

The movie’s main character is Liesel Meminger and she is a young German girl who ends up being “adopted” by Hans Hubermann and his wife Rosa Hubermann. Hans is kind hearted while Rosa has a temper unlike many others. But they take her in and shelter her after her actual mother could no longer care for her. It doesn’t take long for anyone in town or her foster parents to notice that Liesel cannot read. She soon learns how and becomes fascinated with books, something that can a touch subject in a radical Germany.

The Book Thief 2013 movie

Hans ends up taking care of Max Vanderburg, the son of Hans’ war buddy during World War I. Max is Jewish and he learns that he will have safe refuge in Hans’ home. However since this is the literal worst time to be Jewish in Germany, the Hubermann household will have to keep Max a deep secret for a long time.

The Book Thief 2013 movie

Which will prove difficult for Liesel as she’s not exactly mature enough to handle a secret with the gravity it requires. She’s not a popular girl at school either, as there’s one boy named Franz Deutscher who would more than enjoy watching her fall from the grace of society. Even her best friend Rudy Steiner notices things about Liesel that should not be the case, and she’ll have the most difficult time keep the information from him.

The Book Thief 2013 movie

Overall I wasn’t too impressed by the movie. It’s based on a popular book, so I want to same things probably got lost in translation. While the movie does many things right, it’s somewhat boring which is quite odd for the type of movie it’s suppose to be. It also has an odd way of handling the way people say things, as the characters speak English but often use German words randomly. I know basic German so I understood, but others probably would be a little confused. In a sea of World War II movies, this one will be lost in the water in the decades to come.

Things I Hate: Year One (2009 Film)

Year One 2009 movie poster Jack Black Michael Cera

I sort of remember hearing about this movie years ago. The thing about comedies is a lot of them are too stupid and too silly for their own good. And frankly a story about “cave men” (as the poster would make you assume) wasn’t interesting to me. A co-worker (a religious one) mentioned the movie to me as I’m non-religious and he thought the movie was a big tribute to atheism as it makes fun of Bible characters.

David Cross Jack Black Michael Cera Year One 2009 movie

The story is mainly about two pre-historic men named Zed and Oh. Oh is a simple and fragile young man. While the macho men hunt, he gathers berries and makes tools. Zed is strong enough to hunt, but he’s not very good at it. They end up getting kicked out of their village and they run into Cain right before he murders his brother Abel. Things get awkward when Cain is super sensitive about it and tries to get the two friends to convince others that he isn’t a murderer.

Jack Black Michael Cera Year One 2009 movie

Zed and Oh eventually run into more folks. Like seeing Abraham right before he tries to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. What they really want to do is to find and save their crushes who end up being slaves in a city they’ve never been to. After almost being slaughtered many times, the duo end up being guards for such a city.

Olivia Wilde Year One 2009 movie

They end up causing enough attention to be noticed by Princess Inanna, who is the King’s step-daughter. Unlike the rest of the royal family, Inanna cares about the needs of the poor. She doesn’t eat much because the people are starving. Like anyone though, she would do almost anything to help her people.

Michael Cera Year One 2009 movie

Overall Year One was not that great of a movie. I do appreciate the parts that do make fun of the Bible stories, as the the biblical tales really are silly and make zero sense. But it’s hard to say if it’s advocating for atheism, or just making fun of Abrahamic religion in general. The plot wasn’t very good, and the jokes were about as flat as an open soda left forgotten on countertop. It is a bit of a shame really.