Many anime fans will doubtless already be familiar with the name “Redo of Healer”, primarily because everyone is expecting it to be the big controversial “hot take” show of this season. But if the first episode is anything to go by, there’s the potential for a really interesting story to be told here — plus an intriguing twist on a gaming trope.
Redo of Healer explores the concept of what one might do if given the opportunity to live one’s life over again — specifically, how you might handle things if you were someone who was deeply wronged over the course of that life, and how you might take revenge for those wrongs.
Redo of Healer’s protagonist Keyaru is the titular Healer. He awakens to his skills relatively early in life, and discovers that his abilities are extremely potent. Most healers, we’re told, can only accelerate the healing of injuries the body would normally be able to fix itself given enough time, but Keyaru’s abilities allow him to do things as extreme as regrow missing limbs.
There’s a heavy price for him to pay, though; upon making use of his healing skills, his mind is flooded with the experiences of his patient, which, as you can probably imagine, tends to be something of a traumatic experience. Given that his first patient is a powerful swordswoman who has lost an arm, it’s little surprise when he collapses from the sudden mental anguish of healing her injury.
There’s a sort of upside to it all, too, though; through witnessing all those experiences in a split-second, Keyaru also learns how to make use of his patients’ skills and techniques; in other words, the more he heals, the more powerful he becomes. Unfortunately, he has little opportunity to make use of that power to escape the terrible treatment he receives at the hands of the party of “heroes” he is forced to work with; he’s forced into drug addiction and slavery, since his supposed comrades see him not as a person, but just as a source of healing to be used as they see fit.
This narrative concept actually mirrors an aspect of gaming culture in the multiplayer sphere; healing in games like MMOs and hero shooters such as Overwatch is an important job that no party will survive without, and yet it’s regrettably common for said healers to be treated poorly by the other players, especially if they are inexperienced. There’s a common joke that while healers are often perceived and represented from a narrative perspective as some of the most peaceful characters out there, beneath the surface the players in control of them are often seething with bitter hatred for those who don’t appreciate or recognise their hard work. Redo of Healer takes this concept and runs with it… to an extreme degree.
In the first episode of the show, we see Keyaru finally using all of the experience he has attained through his past healing to be the one who takes down the Demon Lord — the “final boss” of the setting. Said Demon Lord appears oddly grateful for Keyaru being the one to defeat her, and he is left clutching that always-convenient anime plot device, a Philosopher’s Stone. Using the power of the Stone, he attains the power to turn back time and live his life over; swearing revenge on all those who have wronged him, he promises to “heal this corrupt world” with his second time around — and judging by the distinctly psychotic facial expressions we see him pulling, it’s pretty clear that he’s not going to take any prisoners.
Fans of the light novel on which Redo of Healer is based will know that Keyaru’s revenge is extremely brutal in nature, with him typically making rather creative use of the experiences and skills he learned from his past patients in order to humiliate them second time around. Scenes of violence and sexual assault abound throughout the story as a whole — though there are none in the first episode — and as the audience we are invited not to condone Keyaru’s actions, but to at least recognise that the never-ending pain in his heart and the excruciating feeling that he has “lost himself” is what drives him to such unconscionable behaviour.
It remains to be seen how well the anime adaptation of Redo of Healer handles its more violent scenes — and, of course, how well it shapes up compared to our favourite anime shows of last year — but the surprisingly sedate first episode spends an admirable amount of time allowing us to get a good feel for the narrative’s setting, who the various characters are — and, of course, the background of our protagonist, who is the very textbook definition of a hero from classical tragedy.
Buckle up, y’all; I suspect it’s going to be a rough ride with this one!
Redo of Healer is streaming in the West over on HiDive.
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