Episode 8 – Healer Girl

How would you rate episode 8 of
Healer Girl ? Community score: 4.2

I feel safe saying Reimi has been the MVP carrying this show. Kana’s a perfectly nice protagonist and Hibiki functions fine in a group context, but outside of Sonia, it was the blonde-and-blue disaster girl providing the necessary energy to keep this musical raft afloat. So I was pretty excited to get a full-on, no caveats Reimi episode. There’s a lot that’s been hinted about her family, and especially her maid/family friend Aoi, and I thought digging into that could be pretty interesting. What I didn’t expect was what is easily Healer Girl‘s best written episode so far.

It’s remarkably efficient at it too. Before now we’d had what, 30 seconds of screen-time for Aoi total, and a couple of lines establishing how she and Reimi know eachother? But in just a few scenes of the two co-habitating the show is able to establish a friendly and familiar rapport that really does feel like two close friends who have known eachother for ages. It’s effective enough that I mostly forgot about the weird fact that Aoi wears a full-on maid outfit in an otherwise totally modern house. Like that seems weird to other people, right? I get that anime maids in modern settings are entirely there for the aesthetic, but at least the rich characters they serve usually live in comically opulent, old school mansions. But Reimi’s in a two-story suburb. And also her family personally knows Aoi and seemingly hired her as an excuse to help out a close friend’s daughter. Are Reimi’s parents weirdos who made this woman they’ve known since she was a teenager dress like character from Emma: A Victorian Romance?

They’re certainly weirdos who spend seemingly years touring overseas, to the point where Reimi basically only hears from them through scheduled video calls. That loneliness – and the comfort Aoi represents as Reimi’s closest family – is what really makes this episode work. On the surface this is a pretty simple conflict – Aoi thinks she needs to stay with Reimi, and put her own ambitions on hold in doing so, which only serves to make Reimi feel guilty. But the way both are characterized, Reimi too proudful and stubborn to properly talk it out, Aoi too self-effacing to admit she’s sacrificing something to stay with her, makes this a genuinely compelling problem for them to face. The show ultimately decides it’s better for Aoi to follow her to study piano rather than stay with Reimi, but there’s an emotionally why compelling argument for she’d want to stay — Reimi may have her mentor and fellow apprentices now, but it’s obviously still heartbreaking to send off the only constant in her home life. Her farewell song is genuinely affecting, and the moment she broke down after Aoi left for real was bittersweet in a very powerful way.

Which is why it’s kind of a bummer to see the post-credits scene immediately pull a full 180 on the whole thing and wrap up the problem without any real negative consequences. It’s not so bad that it invalidates the drama that came before – both Reimi and Aoi have matured some from the conflict and their relationship has grown to be a more equal and reciprocal one – but it definitely undercuts the drama of the resolution. Like you could have done something a lot more effecting here, or at least saved Aoi’s return for an episode or two later! Then you get the sadness of their separation, knowing it’s ultimately for the better, before eventually getting the joy of their reunion after the first feeling has had time to sit. As-is, it’s just a bizarre, unnecessary way to tidy up the only character conflict that wasn’t 100% positive for all involved.

That sucks, because otherwise this was easily the most grounded and relatable drama that Healer Girl has delivered so far. And maybe I’m just a weirdo who likes to have a little sadness or bittersweet ambiguity to go along with this kind of sentimentality, but the post-credits backpedal can’t help but feel cheap to me. It’s still overall a solid episode, and cements Reimi as my favorite by a country mile, but I can’t help but grumble all the same.

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Healer Girl is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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