How would you rate episode 11 of
Healer Girl ? Community score: 4.3
With the new goal of becoming C-Rank Healers before them, it’s sink-or-swim time for our trio of heroines – literally. Well, figuratively literally. Sort of. I dunno. The point is, when they’re conjuring their Healing images, our girls suddenly find themselves interrupted by mysterious monsters that devour them up just as they’re getting started. This being a hallucinatory visual metaphor, it’s just vague and cryptic enough that none of the apprentices can actually figure out the root cause, and because they have an enigmatic witch as a teacher, they can’t get a straight answer in either direction. Instead Kana, Reimi, and Hibiki go on a good ol’ fashioned Training Arc in the mountains, where they’re basically left to their own devices with minimal guidance.
What follows starts out as a typically lackadaisical field trip, but slowly grows into a more contemplative and confrontational episode than Healer Girl has ever had before. I was initially thinking along the lines Kana was, expecting this unusually chill training camp to secretly be a way to bring the girls out of their comfort zone and bring new experiences to their image. And it is partially about that, but as things start to spiral it becomes clear this isn’t some secret Mr. Miyagi-esque training regimen that will covertly teach the girls a lesson. Instead it ‘s a lot more simple – by isolating them from the constant safety net of her guidance her, Ria ‘s leaving these girls to fix this issue themselves.
At first that might sound like she’s setting up her fledglings to fail – after all, guiding them through all this is kind of her job, yeah? But the show makes a good argument for why this is a necessary part of the girls’ growing process. They are, eventually, going to be working as medical professionals, taking the health and lives of others in their hands. They need to be able to solve problems without a helpful adult hovering over them to guide their gaze, and better to let them struggle and potentially fail now rather than keep the training wheels on until they have a license to practice. Sonia makes an especially poignant point: failure here might be deflating, but it would ultimately just mean Kana and the others have more work to do before trying again. That’s a remarkably healthy way to approach this kind of anxiety, and along with Aoi’s message about the value of fear, there’s a lot of solid advice in here.
It all culminates in perhaps the kindest angry argument ever. It’s a strange but fascinating scene, as the three girls each try to prove they’re the weak link and the other two are better off without her – a three-way competing pity party that only fuels the others on. As silly as it is, I do like that it lets all three of them come clean about their own insecurities, and highlights how easy it is to zero in on your own failings. Kana has obvious talent, but is insecure about being so far behind her fellow students her. Hibiki has a supportive family behind her her and a whole lifetime of inspiration from growing up with Ria, but she takes the former as a given for everyone and the latter as evidence she ‘ll never be as good as her cousin her. Reimi has an extremely privileged upbringing that ‘s allowed her to hone her talent for music, but she is anxious about how narrow that ‘s left her horizons. It’s a kind of tunnel vision that the threat of failure, and especially the threat of failing others, can cement in your brain, and the way it manifests into jealousy towards each other adds a lot of texture to the trio’s relationship. It’s all well and good to support each other, but having a deeper understanding of one another’s uglier sides can be just as important in building a friendship.
I also like that this venting session is what allows them to finally get past their own internalized doubt. Anxiety and fear have a way of making you feel isolated, and can convince you that you’re the only one with doubts or things about yourself you don’t like. So by embracing and expressing those feelings, our girls not only let off steam, but find newly forged camaraderie in how they each see the best parts of each other. The visual metaphor of those piranha plants that were devouring the girls turning into flowers/cocoons that allow them to grow is perhaps a busy one, but it’s the kind of fluid imagery the Healing Images were basically designed for, and I really hope our remaining episodes allow for more flourishes like that.
Though on that topic, my eyebrows definitely lifted at that next episode preview. The thought of our apprentice Healers not just leaving Ria’s nest, but seemingly taking up residences overseas is a pretty startling thing to pull with just a couple of episodes left, not to mention Reimi’s haircut raising questions about a possible timesskip. The show has been hinting for a while that something is up with Ria, so I imagine that will factor into her decision her to “expel” her students her, and seeing the trio in action on their own her could be a cool way to end this series. On the other hand, it’s also a pretty big shakeup to dump at what is presumably the end of this show. For now though, I’m just thankful we got the developments that we did here, and I have to hope Healer Girl knows what it’s doing.
Healer Girl is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.