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Excellent Medical Drama but also addresses actual ethical issues concerning disclosing information by Japanese doctors
This was Fuji TV's 45th anniversary drama special and an all-out effort was made to create a memorable epic mini-series, twice as long as the usual series. Goro Zaizen and Shuji Satomi are doctors at Naniwa University Medical school. They were classmates in medical school and now work at the same hospital, though in different disciplines and departments. From a humble background, Zaizen through his giftedness ,discipline and ambition, has become a star surgeon in the elite 1st Surgical Dept. He has craftily married into a medical family, and his father-in-law runs a maternity clinic. Though he has a faithful wife, Zaizen has a mistress on the side, who is a bar hostess. Satomi is equally intelligent , but is more interested in research and the human side of medicine. He is an idealistic family man. The first 10 episodes deal with the power struggle and politics of choosing a successor to the professorship position held by Dr. Asuma, who has reached retirement age. Zaizen is seen as the natural successor, but Asuma is concerned about Zaizen's ethics and naked ambition, and throws a wrench into the selection process for his successor. Episode 10 ends with Ziazen indeed landing the prestigious Professorship of Naniwa University Medical School. Episodes 11-21 deals with a lawsuit from a patient whom Zaizen operated on and ultimately died. Though the patient had terminal cancer and would have died regardless , the family is upset that Zaizen was not more forthright in giving them options for treatment. Through many twists turns and consequences, colleagues are pitted against each other with stakes being high. Careers and reputations are on the line.
This is a pure drama, with very little light or comedic moments. The actors are superb and the plot is very tight, with each episode introducing a twist which leaves you waiting breathlessly for the next episode.
In addition to being a highly realistic medical drama, the mini- series address the real life issue of doctor disclosure which has not been very open in Japan. Patients are often not told of terminal diagnosis, and the authority of doctors is unquestioned. Things have become more transparent and open more recently, but Fuji TV showed some courage in addressing this very real but hidden secret regarding Japanese medicine. I particularly enjoyed the performance by Yosuke Eguchi (Tokyo Love Story, 101st Marriage Proposal, Under the Same Roof 1& 2) Who shows he can do drama as well as comedy. The ambitions Goro Ziazen is played superbly by Karasawa Toshiaki as well as the rest of the cast, whose roles become more central as the series progresses. Unlike a lot of US series, it did not have the abundance "over the top moments" just to shock. As is the case with many Japanese dramas, some scenes do pull on your heartstrings, but in a sensitive way.
Copies of this drama are available on DVD from Asian outlets or through some download sites.
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