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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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).