[Review] Healer Girl…Might Just Soothe Your Heart if You Let It

Where it all began

It’s time to say farewell to our musical of the season, one I’m sad to see go but from which I hope many other works take inspiration. Healer Girl was not without its many flaws (see my other post), but it showed us the possibilities for a more music-driven narrative, one that blends song and dance into the storytelling.

The concerns I discussed previously stand through to the final episode of the series, but I’m still able to enjoy the anime regardless of those discomforts largely due to the genuine kindness I feel from their music. If their songs lacked emotion and skill, I probably wouldn’t have continued with the show, treating it more as a novelty than as anything of substance. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here.

As much as the story focuses on the girls and their training under the careful instruction of Karasuma Ria and other professionals, there’s an equal amount of time spent on the patients. One of my favorite arcs shows Kana, Reimi, and Hibiki attempting to pass their C-rank exam and hitting a wall in the process. The lesson learned here is one that’s been discussed in earlier episodes, but it bears repeating given their growth since then and increased comfort with their abilities. They’ve improved, yes, but they’ve also seen each other grow and compared themselves in unconstructive ways. The coupling of their self-criticism and focus on themselves rather than the patients ends in failure. Only when they themselves and remember the true purpose of their song can they succeed and continue improving.

I also loved how Reimi’s hair becomes a kind of representation of the life changes that we all experience. The art and character design of Healer Girl has been solid since the beginning, and even something as seemingly trivial as a hairstyle means something. Her long hair mimicked her role model, Karasuma, but after she acknowledges her fears and strengths, she signals a change by cutting her hair short. When those around her express surprise and regret at the loss, she reminds them the importance of change, as well as its impermanence. Her hair will grow back. She, too, will continue to grow as an individual and as a healer. Change is only as big a deal as we allow it to be.

As the novelty of the singing wore off and more time was spent on their studies and hands-on training, I wasn’t sure how the story would end. Would they all graduate and move on to new locations? Would we end with them all reunited at Karasuma Clinic continuing their work until life beckons them elsewhere? We ended up with some combination of both, first with short residencies separate from one another, then together with Kana on her way back home. The flight home bookended the beginning flight of Kana’s childhood where a young Ria helped her and inspired Kana’s future as a healer. Now, Kana pays it forward, along with the help of her peers, to another young girl. The symmetry is simple but effective.

These past few years dealing with COVID and our increased time alone have been hard, even for a homebody like me. Now, more than ever, I appreciate a feel good story that lifts the spirit and reminds me of the possible good in people. Healer Girl is straightforward in its positivity and almost has me believing in the fantastical healing of song. I hope this is the start of a trend in more musically-driven works.

Rating: 1 dango


*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.
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2 thoughts on “[Review] Healer Girl…Might Just Soothe Your Heart if You Let It

  1. I thought this was a great show and was easily my favorite show in quite a while. I thought that they dealt well with a lot of the question you had in your earlier essay about the possibly quack nature of the Healing vs medicine by continuing to show and emphasize that so much of the effectiveness of Healing was in the way it helped people relax, accept, de-escalate, etc. It wasn’t ever a replacement for medical treatment, but more of an enhancement to it.

    I might have liked the ending a little better if there had been maybe a bit more growth toward their individual selves at the very end. Maybe Kana *does* stay in the US, really finding herself there, rather than return to the relative safety and comfort of Karasuma. Surely there’s still room for that in their futures, but I kind of felt like that would have been more right for the characters (both Kana and Ria).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m surprised that you rate it highly enough to note it as a favorite–that’s awesome! And you’re right, while I’m still uncomfortable with the whole idea of natural healing, the tone of the show definitely didn’t lean that way and gave proper kudos to conventional medicine while being completely legitimate on its own.

      I agree with you on the idea of the students staying separate at the end, particularly Kana, at least for a feeling that gives you a sense of true growth. I wonder if the manga brings them all back together after their studies, or if the producers just really wanted to bring everyone home for that bookending I mentioned.

      Like

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