Music in anime can be so much more involved than the soundtrack you hear in the background, and its versatility is only increasing. Of course, idol shows are the main culprit of this, as well as shows who have branched out to use the “music competition” format in different ways. “Paripi Koumei” used music as a catalyst for Kongming’s strategies; the focal point of the series. “Senki Zesshou Symphogear” used its music as a plot device that fueled the characters’ weapons.
Most recently, “Healer Girl” introduced an entirely new concept of how music can change someone’s daily life. In this anime, healing is the process of using music to heal wounds. Note that it doesn’t replace traditional science and medicine, but instead acts alongside it. There’s a somewhat specific methodology to how healing works by involving certain songs for different ailments. The usage of healing is also dynamic, as it can both simply soothe the nerves of the afflicted or outright heal injuries.
In this strange world of vocal medicine, Kana Fujii has strived to be a healer since she was a child. On an airplane, she was treated for an asthma attack by another healer and it immediately became her goal. She is joined by fellow apprentices Reimi Itsushiro and Hibiki Morishima. Reimi idolizes their tutor and will do whatever she can to be close to her. Hibiki is calm, naturally gifted and selfless. Her natural abilities come through in the most surprising of moments; proving that she is quite capable herself despite how reserved she is.
The three currently act as apprentices to expert healer Ria Karasuma, who consistently throughout the show appears almost inhuman. Her remarkable abilities, how she’s talked about by other characters, and her near omnipotence when seen listening in on Kana and her friends give her an air of superiority; being so far ahead of everyone else that she may as well be a god.
Despite the almost mythical premise of healing with music, the show remains quite grounded in how it’s handled. Patients are seen by appointment and receive medical bills, as well as hospital prescriptions. Apprentices aren’t allowed to use their powers. Apprentices also have to take tests to prove their aptitude.
This is a very convoluted way to say there’s not a lot of inherent excitement in the show that isn’t generated by the characters. Healing is the main gimmick of the show but is only part of the reason that makes the show so memorable. The characters are both expertly designed and written, and the dialogue is very witty. The relaxed sub-plots paint the character dynamic in a very interesting light. You get the impression that these characters have spent years together and wouldn’t be the same without the other. What’s more, healing is approached as a very vital part of their lives, to the point that it leaks into their normal conversations; almost like a musical.
Of course, it would be amiss of me to write about the show without mentioning the actual healing sequences. They are gorgeous, both in visuals and music. Something often seen in music anime is the use of rookie voice actors, which is the same with “Healer Girl.” It would not be an exaggeration to say that Karin Isobe, the voice actor for Kana, is one of the best young talents to break onto the anime scene. Her music is surrounded by bright, soothing visuals that take your breath away.
It might not be as flashy or spectacular as a lot of other highlight shows, but “Healer Girl” is a quality watch that, despite being supernatural, still often feels very realistic. It’s wholesome and entertaining, with memorable characters and jaw-dropping music sequences. Watch it and thank me later.