The first episode of new anime Redo of Healer, an adaptation of Rui Tsukiyo’s light novel series, made great pains to set up the world, characters and background story for its brutal tale of revenge, but remained relatively sedate in terms of tone and content. From the second episode onwards, however, it’s clear that the series is done holding back — though the heavily censored broadcast version found on streaming sites lessens some of the impact.
In the first episode of Redo of Healer, we were introduced to protagonist Keyaru, and the fact that despite being a healer — an essential member of an adventuring party by any definition — he was treated terribly by his supposed comrades. The series’ concept is that he has managed to rewind time by four years, and plans to systematically take revenge on everyone who wronged him — before things escalate to the point where he became a completely ruined human being. The irony, of course, being that he is already ruined beyond redemption and repair; nothing is going to heal him at this point.
In Redo of Healer’s second episode, we see more detail about what happened to Keyaru after he was initially recruited by the supposed “hero” princess Flare. After refusing to use his healing skill after learning of the physical and mental anguish it causes him, Flare imprisons him, forces him to become dependent on drugs and even allows the castle knights to sexually violate him on a nightly basis.
But on this second time around life, he has planned ahead; not only had he made an effort to develop a strong resistance to narcotics prior to his recruitment by Flare this time around, but he also had the foresight to absorb some useful abilities from others through the quirks of his healing ability. The result of all this is that he is able to escape from his imprisonment — and this time take his revenge on Flare.
Said revenge is brutal and violent. He begins by posing as one of Flare’s trusted knights and slaughters her attendants; he then proceeds to break all of her fingers, using his healing ability to start over every time he gets near the end. Finally, he rapes Flare — after giving her the choice between being violated by him or a red-hot poker — before erasing her memory, changing her face, kidnapping her, framing his former captors for her “murder”, and trapping her into an abusive, manipulative relationship with him.
As revenge goes, it’s pretty comprehensive, and in some respects it mirrors how we’ve seen Flare treat Keyaru in both episodes of Redo of Healer to date. His use of healing during his abuse of the princess, coupled with his offering of unreasonable “alternatives” or unattainable ways for her to “win” and escape the situation, reflects how she initially presented him with the illusion of kindness and understanding, but subsequently revealed herself to think of him as little more than a worthless “dog”, in her words.
It’s shocking and it’s violent, to be sure, but Redo of Healer as a whole is clearly a work of fiction intended to create complex feelings in its audience. Keyaru is an irredeemable monster for what he does to Flare — but at the same time, Flare is also a foul human being, made even worse by the fact that she has very obviously taken great pains to hide her true nature over the years. Keyaru’s revenge is designed to be all-encompassing — after overhearing her describe him as having a “stench”, he notes that the actions he takes are intended not only to cover her with said stench, but also infuse her insides with it, so that she can never escape from the revenge he takes.
And he means this both literally and metaphorically; indeed, as we see her effectively brainwashed into thinking she is someone else after the fact — and forced to become dependent on Keyaru in a dark reflection of how she drugged him — it’s clear that he was successful in his efforts. The episode ends without any doubt that he has completely and utterly destroyed the princess Flare and left something totally different where she used to be; he even positions it as her being able to have a “fresh start”, even if it is under his control.
More importantly, though, with every piece of revenge he takes over the course of Redo of Healer’s complete narrative, he’s also destroying a little piece of himself. It’s hard not to think back to his relationship with his adoptive mother, wholesomely depicted in the first episode, and think about how she might feel if she knew what he was up to. And it’s hard not to question if, at this point, he would even care about this.
It’s worth noting at this point that the broadcast (and legal Western streaming) version of Redo of Healer is heavily edited, not only in terms of the sexual content (which is completely cut out, or covered in a thick black fog where it is unavoidably required for context) but also when any violence is depicted. A significant portion of the main revenge scene in this episode consists of absolutely nothing more than an excruciatingly slow pan down an animation of a fireplace — there’s not even any dialogue for a fair chunk of it.
While the uncensored version can be hard to watch due to its extreme violence, it at least makes it painfully clear quite how far gone Keyaru’s mental health is, even at this early point in the series — and this is arguably important to witness first-hand for a complete sense of narrative context, however painful it might be. No-one is coming into this series expecting to have a happy time, after all.
With that in mind, those interested in checking out the series may be better off waiting for the uncut Blu-Ray release, expected in the autumn of 2021, rather than struggling through such a heavily edited version. Some shows just aren’t meant for “TV” and its equivalents!
You can watch Redo of Healer right now on HiDive; just bear in mind the above.
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