Wow this is one disturbing anime. I’d heard the rumors, so I figured I should watch it and see what all the fuss was about. I found out. The sexual hyper-focus in this series destroys any effort that was put into this work. I can recognize that there are decent points in this anime, but it’s so heavily overshadowed by […]
Wow this is one disturbing anime. I’d heard the rumors, so I figured I should watch it and see what all the fuss was about. I found out.
The sexual hyper-focus in this series destroys any effort that was put into this work. I can recognize that there are decent points in this anime, but it’s so heavily overshadowed by the sex and revenge—and the combination of the two—that I can’t judge this show by anything but those elements. And since I’m a judge of anime and not that other thing that shall not be named, I can’t rate this show well, and I definitely don’t recommend it.
Maximum R-rating for this series and this review. It couldn’t be much worse. Do not proceed if you’re underage.
The characters have a handful of positives. For one, they’re not cookie-cutter characters. The girls eventually end up in the harem mold, drooling over their male lover in an obscene and servile manner, but they don’t start out that way at least. They’re all fairly individualistic until that individualism is sacrificed to Keyaru’s harem. At least, they’re not cookie-cutter for anime. Maybe they are typical for the other thing that shall not be named here, though I don’t associate character quality with those works.
The voice acting is decent. Most of the seiyuus aren’t very well known, mostly playing characters in 18+ anime and background characters in mainline anime. The only exception is Natsumi Takamori, who has played notable roles such as Mei Misaki (Another) and Azusa Murasaka (Orange). But she plays the only main group character that Keyaru doesn’t have sex with in this series, the Demon Lord candidate Eve Reese. But nevertheless, the voice acting is good. The anger, fear, passion, adoration, or disgust in their tones never feels forced. And while the dialogue isn’t about to win any awards, it’s decent and the VAs deliver it well. I even laughed sincerely at one really good dialogue moment late in the series, when Keyaru enters the home of the devilish Norn-hime and she looks at him in disbelief and asks how he got in there. He laughs and says “The normal way…through the front door,” as the camera pans over frames filled with the dead bodies in Keyaru’s wake. It was a really good dialogue moment for an anime where you wouldn’t expect dialogue to take a major role, and everyone did a notably good job in this scene, and others.
And you probably know I’m partial to the sadistic female character type. Not in a weird way, I just like their unbounded power. Though this level of sadism in these powerful ladies is too much. Still, I enjoy these kinds of characters, and there are some decent versions of this type in this show. They’re nothing to compare to the great ones in this category, but they’re good enough to satisfy. They mostly don’t end up being strong and sadistic in the end though, as most of them end up becoming Keyaru’s bitches.
But other than these few things, everything else is overshadowed by the horrific acts these characters engage in. While revenge is an understandable motive for someone who went through the horrors Keyaru is put through, it doesn’t make it any less of an evil, an evil piled on an evil piled on an evil. And so one heinous deed leads to another, and almost every character ends up absorbed in this cycle, first committing the evils themselves, and subsequently having Keyaru administer vengeful evil to them. It’s really harsh, really ugly, and really makes it difficult to judge these characters very well. They end up just serving as empty participants in this hellish tale.
I like the artwork. Even if it’s difficult to focus on little details of its quality—believe me, you’ll be focusing on the the bare skin, pulsating bodies, and ahegao faces most of the time—I still like the coloring and the styling. I don’t think any great effort was put into making the art particularly unique, but I like it still for what it is. The girls are pretty (clothed or otherwise), Keyaru’s various manifestations serve his character well, and the action is decent.
The coloring is noticeable. Or maybe I should say “lighting.” Every scene is very carefully “lit.” Sunlit scenes look like sunlit scenes. Moonlit scenes look like moonlit scenes. Scenes with candlelight really look like they’re lit with candlelight. Shadows are cast appropriately based on these light sources, adding to the effect of the scene. It works pretty well for the tenor of this show.
The coloring itself is bright where you’d expect it to be bright, and this is a big part of how the lighting in each frame plays such an important role. The girls look like fantasy world anime girls, with fanciful and colorful outfits and hair and eyes all the colors of the rainbow. But this coloring provides the fantasy feel, and no more. The firelight scenes in the many bedrooms in this show obviously display these various hair and eye colors (and outfits while they’re present) but the color is dimmed effectively by the way the artists handle the lighting.
Obviously facial expressions are a big deal in an anime like this. There’s nothing spectacular about them anywhere, but they do the job. I could complain and say that the characters’ normal faces seem a little dull and lifeless at times, but perhaps that’s just when compared to the various impassioned faces they make at other times. So I can’t complain about that too much.
It’s nice anime artwork, but it’s not much more than I’d expect. Artwork in the thing that shall not be named is usually nice visually as well, as that’s kind of the point in those situations. So it does it’s job well here as I’d expect it to, but doesn’t break any new ground or dazzle my eyes. Maybe “dazzle” was a poor choice of words here…
Revenge stories are nothing new in anime. From semi-revenge stories like Monster to whole-hearted revenge tales like Code Geass, we’ve all seen these plot lines and the kinds of characters and circumstances that go with them. What we’re almost completely unfamiliar with in anime is revenge rape. And this is one area of uniqueness that we could’ve done without.
While this is a revenge tale centered around the traditional magic fighting team role of the healer, which is an interesting twist on a fantasy anime trope, the entire point of the revenge in this story is to show sex scenes, and extremely violent sex scenes at that. The pleasurable sex scenes that occur in every episode near the end of the series are PG compared to the sickening displays that occur in the first several episodes and in a few more places thereafter.
Keyaru’s role as the healer on a “hero” team in this magical fantasy world makes him an object of scorn to those in leadership or fighting roles. Why I’m not exactly sure. These are just bad people at their cores somehow, something that isn’t ever explained very well. But we also sort of get this. Healers are a forgotten class in all RPGs and all kinds of combat fantasy media. You sort of need them and you sort of don’t! We all know how this. So it’s an interesting play on that idea here. But I’d expect to see this kind of thing played on in a comedy setting. Here it’s really weird, and I actually kind of like how it’s twisted into this form where Keyaru receives scorn from the more glorious combat role heroes and he get’s mega-death butthurt over it. Think Rising of the Shield Hero or all those memes we used to see about a healer in one of those briefly popular video games.
So if this show was titled “Revenge of the Healer” people would laugh and totally get it. But that’s not what it becomes. It turns ugly. That scorn from Keyaru’s teammates takes the form of bullying and abuse almost immediately. The combat heroes, including the two princesses and their warped subordinates, use Keyaru as a toy for their demented sexual fetishes. Male and female alike drug him and abuse him, physically and verbally, on a daily basis in some of the worst ways imaginable. When Keyaru finally finds a way out of this hell and is able to exert the power he’s discovered through his suffering, he resets time back to when he first manifests as a healer (another “Philosopher’s Stone” makes an appearance in anime). But his only goal in doing this isn’t to avoid the suffering so much as to extract in-kind revenge on these monstrous combat heroes. Indeed, he travels the same path for a short time, allowing his toxin resistance to build up more quickly than before to resist the drugs these people force upon him, but he continues to behave as if they drugs are influencing him for some time. Up until he finds the appropriate moment to humiliate and rape Flare-hime in revenge for her primary role in the sexual abuse in his previous life.
From there, he exerts his power to alter memories in Flare-hime and control the flow of events around him. His revenge takes the form of humiliation, torture, rape, or murder, and more often than not all four together. Flare and Norn are lucky to survive with just altered memories, essentially becoming willing slaves to Keyaru, empty living female bodies that adore him, obey his every command, and lust for his body, lust which he happily sates for them without any particular concern for their comfort or health. The rest aren’t so lucky. The sword hero Blade, a lesbian rapist who finds men utterly disgusting sexually, is raped to death and eaten by these monstrous human male things that appear under Keyaru’s control occasionally in the course of his revenge. I seem to remember someone else being killed in a rape as well, but I can’t recall for sure right now. Blade herself usually kills her rape victims somewhere in the act, but we don’t see it happening in front of us like when it happens to her.
So that’s basically all there is to the story. By the time the first season ends (please let there not be a second season) Keyaru still hasn’t punished everyone that abused him in his previous life. His revenge on Norn is crammed hastily into the last episode, and it feels really poorly handled at that, as awful as it is already. So it wraps up fast, and now everyone is happily traveling with Keyaru on whatever adventure comes next. This story really is all about the sex after all.
The rape scenes are heinous. Anime only crosses the H-line when genitals are exposed (censored or otherwise) and an actual sexual act subsequently takes place. And to avoid crossing that line, we’re never shown genitals or insertions. But we see everything else. And we see the violence, and the hatred, and the violation. It’s monstrous and not fit for human consumption. If such a thing appears once and plays a role in a story, that’s all fine and good. But using it over and over again and depicting it in such an extreme manner is obscene, egregious, and the antithesis of art.
This is how you screw up something good. Revenge story? No problem. Sex and nudity? Given an appropriate role, I’ll give you that in limited quantities. Bloody violence? Again, if it plays a role in the telling of a tale, I get it. A single rape? Such a thing can boil the blood of a viewing audience, a powerful forbidden weapon in a storyteller’s arsenal, and can be used to good effect. But center an entire story around all of this over and over again, and you’ve exceeded the boundaries of art and simply gorged yourself on the basest parts of our humanity. It does not deserve to be depicted in art, and art should not be sullied by such depictions. Art is not a playground for base and broken human instincts, and I scorn any attempt to make it so. Particularly so in anime, an art form I love, and no one wants that which they love to be violated. Say what you will about fanservice and sexualization and violence and all the crass things that often appear in anime, at its core anime is a beautiful art. I damn well don’t want to see it sullied by crap like this.
So while individual parts of this show are decent, for one thing they’re too overshadowed by the evil of this show to have any significant artistic impact on the viewer. But also, when it’s all put together, the quality of the whole is actually less than the sum of the parts. It takes a particular flavor of shitty creativity to pull off a stunt like that. And this disgusting show manages to do it. I’d rewatch Another and call it a masterpiece before I compliment any overall artistic achievement of Redo of Healer. Let’s hope this display ends with just one season.