It's no secret that Kyoto Animation is a feel-good studio, with amazing aesthetics and heart-warming stories. The 2018 anime series Violet Evergarden is arguably amongst the studio's gems, due to its round main character, who develops in amazing ways over the course of the show. But there is one question that the main series never answers; does the titular character end up together with her beloved Major?
First, a short overview. In Violet Evergarden, the titular character is an orphan girl in a fictional war-torn country that resembles Central Europe. Brought up as a child soldier, Violet has never experienced affection; instead, she's been conditioned to consider herself as a tool. She grows to young adulthood completely out of touch with her feelings, and the only person who ever showed her love was Gilbert, a major in the unit of whom she fought.
But this isn't your typical war show. Rather than depicting the war itself, Violet Evergarden is concerned with its aftermath; following the long-awaited peace, Violet finds herself adrift. In her last battle, she lost her arms and the only person who ever cared about her.
Having no other options, she joins a ghost-writing service and starts traveling across the country, helping various people by composing letters for them. In supporting them and hearing their stories, she slowly starts to understand Gilbert's last words to her: "I love you."
If you haven't watched the anime and the latest Violet Evergarden movie or read the light novel, you might prefer to leave it at that for now, as there will be Major (pun intended) spoilers below.
Throughout the main anime series, Violet lives in hope that Gilbert will return for her, and her wish to understand the world a bit better by the time they reunite informs her actions. Early on, when she still considers herself a tool, she thinks that the loss of her hands means she's no longer useful to him, but, having acquired prosthetics, she still writes letters and tries to locate him even though he won't reply.
As she grows, Violets comes to understand her feelings and makes friends, so she doesn't need Gilbert to sustain her as much as she used to. Even so, she still thinks of him very often and believes that her Major will come for her at some point.
In the last episodes of the show, Violet learns that Gilbert actually died and becomes devasted, but her new friends help her move on, and she resolves to live a happy life as Gilbert would have wanted. The anime ends in an ambiguous way, not really confirming whether Gilbert is alive or dead – a fact that has received mixed reviews from fans of the light novel. If you didn't heed the first warning, I repeat Spoilers below.
In the light novel – and the 2020 movie – Gilbert is revealed to have been alive all along. Feeling guilty of having used Violet as a tool, even during the war and, at least in the novel, he had work to do regarding his stunted emotional growth, and he wanted Violet herself to have grown in her own right by their next encounter.
By the time it's revealed that he's alive, Violet has indeed grown quite a lot emotionally and is finally able to understand what love means. Gilbert doesn't think he's worthy of Violet's love, but he still wants her by his side, so they presumably end up together. Although, judging from the show's habit to imply rather than say outright, the movie might not exactly tell you that.