by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Healer Girl ?
Community score: 3.8
How would you rate episode 2 of
Healer Girl ?
Community score: 3.9
How would you rate episode 3 of
Healer Girl ?
Community score: 4.2
On paper, Healer Girl isn't all that exceptional. Its premise of healing through the literal power of song is novel, if only for how it's very much not a metaphor – these girls have to study pharmacology and physiology alongside singing in order to get their license to practice – but its basic story of high school girls working, training, and laughing together is a pretty familiar one in anime. But who cares about on paper, really? Unless you're an extreme form of music nerd you don't experience a song by looking at the sheet music – you listen to it and let the sound speak for itself. In the same way, this show comes alive through its presentation, both visual and audio, to be an infectiously charming watch.
It can't be overstated just how endearing it is to watch this show in the moment, and how much of that is down to its buoyant animation and music. The character designs pack in a ton of appeal despite their animation-friendly simplicity, with details like the main girls' two-toned hair helping them stick out without ever feeling too busy. In motion, every character is lively and expressive, pulling out a truly impressive range of faces with every episode that makes their simple personalities feel larger than life in just the right way. While the musical “Image” scene in the premiere felt a bit simple, the one we see in episode two is genuinely inspired, bringing the entire sequence to a fantastic climax that sold me on the premise of healing song better than I ever expected.
Speaking of the music, if you're going to enjoy this show you will need at least a healthy tolerance for sappy ballads. That's not usually my scene, but I can't deny that the music here, especially in the climactic Healing segments, is super well-produced. Every instrument comes in at just the right moment to complement the actress' singing, and when they're allowed to really belt I'll admit to getting swept up in the moment. But really, it's the way the show implements that music that really sticks out. Episode three opens and closes with full-on Recitative musical numbers, first as the main trio quiz each other for their upcoming exam, and again when they're racing at a neighborhood track meet, turning what could be perfunctory exposition and a typical foot race into incredibly fun moments of song and animation. It's just not something you see in anime, where musical moments are typically in-universe performances or non-diegetic insert songs, and it gives Healer Girl something to really stand out from its Cute Girl anime peers.
Though just because the characters are simple and familiar doesn't mean they can't be plenty fun on their own. I like that Kana, while very much the bright-eyed genki girl, has kind of a mischievous side to her with how she's constantly trying to weasel her way out of the more tedious parts of her training. Reimi steals the show whenever she's around, and while her mentor-crush on their teacher could get old soon, she offers some much-needed drive to our main trio. Plus her ongoing roller-coaster relationship with the clinic cat is the single best gag in the entire show. Hibiki is definitely the weakest personality so far, but she offers some necessary grounding to keep the other two from totally running off course. They have a solid rapport, and combined with the musical presentation and lively pacing of each episode, they're a ton of fun to follow.
Though right now my favorite is the musical gremlin known as Sonia. What can I say, I like tiny girls with big egos and the determination to defeat all challengers, imagined or otherwise. I'm glad the show is able to undercut her for comedy without undermining her very real skills as a Healer – that's an important balance to keep this kind of rival (in her mind, anyway) funny without being unduly meanspirited. I also have a soft spot for Shoko, if only because somebody who drinks a highball in the middle of the day while on chaperon duty is a woman after my own heart. Ria is a more straightforward mentor right now, but she's a nice enough teacher and obviously an accomplished Healer in her own right. Personally my favorite moment with her was finding out even her snoring sounds like singing. That's just good comedy right there.
Overall, even if Healer Girl isn't reinventing the wheel (or the record), that doesn't really matter in the face of just how much fun these opening episodes have been to watch. My only real hangup is that I don't know how well any of these characters will be able to carry drama, assuming there will be some heavier moments in the future. This is still essentially a medical drama underneath the magic and music, and that leaves room for some real tragedy. For now though, I'm more than happy to hum along to its tune.
Healer Girl is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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