GAR in my Hospital Drama: Team Medical Dragon

team medical dragon 02 17 wife begging asada not to let her husband die

I have been a casual viewer of hospital dramas since the ’90s, from shows like ER, Chicago Hope, to watching the occasional episode of House; though I’ve seen all five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I can’t say I’m a big fan though, as much as I can enjoy these shows when I do watch them. When I started reading Team Medical Dragon, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, other than it’s quite a masculine work.

Well, it is!

Yeah, I’m GAR for Dr. Asada Ryutaro. In many ways he is a shounen hero: brash, daring, and talented. He is manly and has no fear of authority. He rather enjoys sticking it to the man.

team medical dragon 02 21 & 27 asada ryutaro's powers cardiac massage

I suppose in shounen manga, these hands would be given an appropriate appelation, like Azuma Kazuma’s ‘Solar Hands’ from the delightfully stupid Yakitate! Japan.

He is a seinen hero in that there is some failure in the past, and his character weaknesses also stem from that failure. He tries to live with no regrets, having quit medicine and surgery. However, his life caught up with him — coinciding with an opportunity to perform a legendary surgery, he is compelled to pick up a scalpel again.

After 11 chapters, the conflict is quite simplistic. The medical system in Japan as portrayed in the manga is corrupt; its participants are corrupt, and only the members of the ‘team’ are taking it on while alternately being victims of it. There’s a very clear we vs. them dynamic, which surprised me because I actually expected more moral complexity from a seinen title. The enemy even has a face, though his corruption is understated well.

team medical dragon 04 20 the lay of the land yamaguchi

I find the feudal representation of the Japanese medical system to be quite interesting. One wonders how doctors can maintain their integrity in such a system, and this is one of the main themes of the manga. I find it interesting too, how Dr. Tenma in Urasawa Naoki’s Monster went all the way to Germany just to experience very similar circumstances in his medical practice.

Perhaps what makes it seinen more than shonen is that the actual medicine and the overall setting won’t hold the attention of young boys more interested in battles and sports. Otherwise, it’s basic elements are straightforward shounen. I may be totally wrong about this though. Perhaps I’m just expecting way too much from seinen manga. After all, One Outs is a straightforward battle between a maverick Toua vs. a corrupt owner and corrupt teams. There is some psychological intensity that seperates it from a sports title such as Slam Dunk (alas, I am not a fan of baseball and I’ve no experience with other baseball titles). Perhaps I am completely mistaken in taking seinen to go as far in assuming that it must be highly complex.

After all, I’ve only read 11 chapters and the team is still being built. The macho surgery shtick got me interested in this title, but for it to be maintained there would have to be a lot more meat to the narrative. There are conversations discussing the philosophy of doctoring and surgery. It’s probably just things that aren’t new to me so I undervalue them.

team medical dragon 06 21 asada in a philosophical debate on the nature of patients

I did say it was manly right? I wonder when these guys go to the gym to maintain such heroic physiques. Asada’s built like a fighting game lead character. The American hospital drama will resolve an issue like this through medical examples and heart-tugging conversations. The appeal of this manga is that the conflicts will be resolved with ruthless manliness and shounen-like ‘genius’.

For now, I’m liking this a lot.


After 23 chapters I’m discovering that while the primary conflict remains: reform vs. corruption in the Japanese medical system, the story itself becomes complex in that what seem to be black and white moral decisions result in unintended suffering and consequences down the road. This makes the story far juicier than I initially gave it credit for. In stories of corruption, it’s not so much how people become malicious. Rather, we can see how people are compromised one way or another, and the accumulation of such compromises can result in a diseased morality. It’s gotten quite riveting!

team medical dragon 26 10 katou shoulders the burden of corruption

Addendum 2

After 56 chapters this manga has gotten me deeper and deeper involved. I’m thoroughly gripped and fascinated. The execution of the moral quandaries in how it plays out in the operating room is awesome. I’ve also completed watching the Iryu dorama adaptation. That too became an instant favourite with its manga/anime style direction, attractive cast, and enjoyable acting performances.

It is very different from the medical dramas I’ve followed, which usually focuses on the career travails and romantic entanglements of the ensemble cast. Here it goes into the very heart of what it is to be a human among humans. Recommended!

Further Reading

There’s not a lot of action that will inspire GAR feelings, but the rhetoric and its presentation will be the primary hook [->]

The Animanachronism, via ani-tations (屮゜Д゜)屮, extensive discussion and analysis of GAR (lelangir2008/12/22).

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, first impressions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to GAR in my Hospital Drama: Team Medical Dragon

  1. maAkusutipen says:

    You finally got to discover this eh… Yeah its one very good seinen manga without the overemphasis on sexual themes. If you are interested there is a dorama to this manga. It ran for 2 seasons. It keeps the main overarching theme but being a dorama format it is more “mass friendly” and some things were toned down.

    My favorite character in this story for the first 30 chapters or so is the intern that becomes part of Team Batista! hehehe… I like how his character transformed from being so angst ridden to someone who has developed self confidence to be part of a specialized team.

    Also one thing I want to point out is that this manga among others is another showcasing of Japan’s collective awe of “Tensai” characters. It is really interesting how they portray them in stories like this but treat them with suspicion and contempt in their day to day lives.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Ijyuuin is awesome. I love the character and the role he plays in the narrative. If there’s anything that the dorama didn’t do as well, is to make Ijyuuin more contemptibly sniveling. In the dorama he was far too likable and far too difficult to doubt.

      My favorite character is Katou. Oh my god she is awesome, both in the manga and in the dorama.

  2. maAkusutipen says:

    sorry! I did not read through the end of your post… You had watched the dorama… hehehe…
    This was actually part of a trend in Japan… though I am not knowledgeable of the other titles, there have been other similarly themed manga/books/movies on medical drama around Iryu was at its peak. If memory serves me right another memorable title has a name to something like “White Tower”… Also Black Jack yoroshiku is another interesting piece of medical drama story.

  3. Seinime says:

    Hmm…sounds awesome. HEALING TOUCH!

    • ghostlightning says:

      The wonderful thing is how Asada practices surgery not unlike a martial artist. I mean, he does kata under the moon with his shirt off for crying out loud. Believe me, it’s awesome. Both in the manga and in the dorama, Asada reminds me of Ryu. After all, the dorama is named Iryu – Dr. Dragon apparently. Which Ryu? THIS RYU:

      • maAkusutipen says:


        When I first saw that I was floored. I know that image training is important but doing it on top of the building with your shirt off under the light of a bright full moon with evening haze is just overkill.

        I guess the director did it because the actor playing the tensai doctor is one of the few beefy popular actors in Japan. Famous Japanese male actors are mostly scrawny. So displaying that actor’s ‘assests’ draws all the female viewers. Hehehe

        Anywho you compared the doctors hands to Asuma right? If I can remember correctly, there was a situation where some other Doctor gave Asada’s hands a title. heheh.

        I guess you have not watched the second season. There are more new interesting doctors the good doctor will encounter. I also like Katou but something happens in the second dorama season to her… Hehehe

        Also tomorrow BTW is the Japanese Embassy’s Jmusic competition. Will you be coming?

        • ghostlightning says:

          I don’t think I can make it but you can take photos and video and what not and you can write the article and post it here on We Remember Love as our very special guest writer ^_^

          I’m wary of the second season because I didn’t see Katou’s name in the credits. I think I might RAEG.

          Btw, the manga had image training and Asada was indeed naked a lot on the hospital roof hehehe. Beefcake Ryutaro LOL.

          Btw, I thought the performances were real strong. I love the actor and performance for Dr. Noguchi, who seemed more dangerous and wicked in the dorama. However, as much as I like the actress for Miki (who also played Miki Kiyora in Nodame Cantabile later on lol, who also had a boyfriend named Ryutaro there lol), she’s on the skinny side. Miki in the manga is Ms. Fanservice, but I suppose they’d have to cast an AV idol to match the look.

          • maAkusutipen says:

            Hahaha… yeah my thoughts exactly. I was really disappointed that Katou was not included in the second run…. But I did continue because Harry Potter intern is getting new character development. Hehehe. I found out that it’s because she got a role in another Medical Dorama during that time.. Wahahaha…

            Well see if I can write something (or have the motivation to write something). hehehe But i will definitely keep you posted on how it went.

            Oh is there that image training in the manga? In the second season there is another of that scene but he is not nekkid anymore.

  4. I like doctors, and I like GAR. Can’t not read this now.

    Black Jack by the way, he’s the most GAR doctor I’ve ever seen. He’s so GAR he can operate on himself in the outback, while surrounded by hungry dingoes. He’s so GAR he made a living, breathing being… OUT OF A CANCER CYST. So if you feel like reading/waatching more GAR doctors (which, being Tezuka, is also chock-full of Cultural ducation Points), Black Jack might be your friend. (Sadly the 2003 anime gave his female sidekick about as annoying a voice as it gets, though. Can be hard to watch– er hear.)

    • ghostlightning says:

      I should check out the manga then. I only saw a few dubbed eps on Animax so it didn’t leave that good an impression. Thanks for the rec, and I don’t doubt that you’re going to enjoy this one.

  5. tremble says:

    GAR doctors, indeed. After reading this and watching Taken its nice to see guys going full out and kicking ass instead of waiting!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Kicking ass indeed, Asada is kind of perfect but difficult to resent for being so. This is probably because he’s more like a demon who happens to save lives through surgery rather than a beatific saint.

  6. I see this as GAR since chapter one xD LOLz. Man, I should catch up on this . . . someday x_x

  7. B-Mecha says:

    This story opens my eyesight about hospital, especially the “money” part. Most ppl forgot that hospital is not a charity place, it is “business” and it is all about earning “money”. This is must read manga let us realize the reality of hospital!

    Btw, check out the dorama version. The story is different but the epic-ness remains the same! If you shed your tears for the manga version, please prepare tissue for the dorama 😉

  8. blkmage says:

    I’ve recently started Team Medical Dragon too, but I found your aside about Yakitate Japan hilarious, because Yakitate’s author is doing what is essentially a shounen version of this. It’s called Saijou no Meii and features a young genius pediatric surgeon who’s trying to form a pediatric surgery department.

  9. DonKangolJones says:

    First, I was reading this post until I got half way down & saw your addendum after chpt 23. I was on chpt 22, so I said, “oh sh*t!” Ran back & caught up, then I get near the end & you tell me your on chpt 56. I said f*ck it at that point and finished reading anyway.

    When I first read your post on this series, I couldn’t believe it. The japanese will turn anything into a manly action fest. But it didn’t compute. I work at a hospital. No one punches down doors or screams at another doctor (in front of patients at least) not to administer THAT drug. But I was wrong, it succeeds. Probably by the third chpt I was hooked.

    There is something appealing about seeing the perfect man take on a system seemingly built to defeat him. It really makes you care, especially in this situation, and want to cheer for his victories. Hopefully, I’ll come off this high soon enough and I’ll be able to talk about this show without gushing like a fanboy.

    • ghostlightning says:

      That’s okay. We’re all still pretty high on Team Medical Dragon. We gush like fanboys whenever we talk about it, especially the J-Drama with all its awesome lulz.

      There is something appealing about seeing the perfect man take on a system seemingly built to defeat him. It really makes you care, especially in this situation, and want to cheer for his victories.

      There is something appealingCOMPELLING about seeing the perfect man take on a system seemingly built to defeat him. It really makes you care, especially in this situation, and want to cheer for his victories.


      Enjoy yourself my good man!

  10. Batcher says:

    Nicely said, ghostlightning. Iryu was awesome. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Even after two seasons.

  11. Pingback: Frontier of Hot-Bloodedness: It ISN’T Manly (DUN DUN DUN) | We Remember Love

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