How would you rate episode 5 of
Healer Girl ?
Community score: 3.7
It’s time for that most time-honored tradition in anime: the beach episode! Technically the characters are just going to a river in the mountains, not an actual beach, but they crack open a watermelon and all the girls wear swimsuits, so I think it counts under the tenets of the Second Anime Ecumenical Council. Granted there’s approximately one (1) shot that could really be considered fanservice in the whole episode, but this episode definitely feels as aimless as an unprompted beach trip would in any other show, and it leaves the whole thing feeling kind of empty.
I know that sounds weird. It’s not like Healer Girl has ever been an especially plot-driven show. But the previous episodes generally have had a central premise or character to structure themselves around, be it introducing Sonia, the girls fretting about their exams, or their first real job as Healers. Here, I’m not even really sure what prompted this trip to Hibiki’s hometown. They say it’s for “training purposes” but it looks a lot more like a vacation as our heroines traipse around the backroads and woods of the countryside while their mentors get day drunk. Maybe you can extrapolate that this is a reward and a way to relax after their stressful first assignment, but it never really feels that way, and the climactic character moment is just Kana being thankful she got to know more about Hibiki during the visit. That’s a perfectly sweet little character moment, but it’s too thin to build an entire episode around.
Really, the only major development in this episode is one I figured we’d be waiting ages to resolve. On the one hand, I’m glad we got Kana’s full Healer-origin story and immediately revealed that the mysterious Healer who inspired her was, in fact, Ria. It’s just…odd how quickly and matter-of-factly it’s all resolved – even Kana is kind of confused about what to make of it now. There are enough hints from Ria that there’s more to the story than she’s letting on (for instance: the completely different hair color of the woman in the flashback, plus how cagey she is about why she left so quickly) and the detail about Hana being able to see her Image without any training will assuredly come up later, but it’s still just a strange way to handle a pivotal character detail and I’m not sure what to make of it. Perhaps this will make sense later with more context or development, but for now it makes an already scattered episode all the more head-scratching.
All that said, there’s still plenty to enjoy about the episode, if only for pure hijinks value. Reimi is again the MVP, bringing all of her smug and chaotic energy to liven up the countryside – and grab the attention of Hibiki’s preteen brother, who’s nursing a crush that’s as obvious as it is embarrassing. It’s a funny twist, contrasting Reimi’s fangirl crush on Ria with the kid who’s only able to express his feelings by challenging her to races (and getting his ass kicked). Shoko, of course, is a total shit-stirrer and takes to the whole thing like it’s second nature, and it’s still sweet to see just how MarriedTM she and Ria are. It’s also rather cute how jealous Reimi gets over both her fellow apprentices having some pre-existing tie to her idol, and I wonder if they might develop that idea further. And of course I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot during their impromptu musical hike – it’s the exact kind of silliness that keeps this show engaging even during weaker episodes, and I’m glad the production seems to be keeping its head above water. That’s no small accomplishment in the current TV anime industry.
For all this episode’s faults, Healer Girl‘s baseline presentation and infectious energy still shine through plenty, to the point where it almost feels silly to lament its weaker focus. But at the same time, I know this show is capable of better. It’s the difference between a rich slice of chocolate cake and a chocolate bar. Both are sweet, and you probably wouldn’t complain about getting either for dessert, but one is definitely more satisfying than the other.
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