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Iryu Team Medical Dragon is a manga by Akira Nagai drawn by Taro Nogizaka, made into a two-season Live Action Adaptation.
The series follows Dr. Asada Ryutaro, a Japanese heart surgeon who spent years working for an NGO in war-torn countries. He catches the eye of Dr. Kato Akira, another cardiac surgeon who works by-the-book even in a war zone in the middle of nowhere. Years later, when Kato is working on a thesis about a promising new surgical procedure called "Batista", Kato enlists Asada to head up her star surgical team. Asada, however, lacks any faith or investment in the Japanese university medical system and only reluctantly agrees to work for Kato.
Kato is caught between a rock and a hard place. In order to secure her professorship at the hospital, she has thrown in her lot with Dr. Noguchi Keno, who agrees to support her only as long as her thesis can help him fulfill his ambition to become the head of Meishin University Hospital. Vicious interdepartmental politics takes far greater precedence in Meishin's upper echelons than any other occupation -- including saving lives and fostering the abilities of good surgeons and physicians. Nevertheless, Kato is given some leeway to assemble her Batista team... which means she leaves it up to the rebellious Asada, who is hard enough to handle on a good day. That's the rock.
The hard place, for Kato, is her rival and sometime-lover Dr. Kirishima Gunji. Unbeknownst to Kato, Kirishima is working on the same procedure -- and going about it in a far less ethical manner.
While Asada assembles his team one by one, he keeps himself busy by working in the hospital's ER. The head of the ER, Dr. Kitou Shoko, desperately wants to poach Asada from the cardiac department: his skills are exceptional and his position tenuous at best. Asada, Kato, Kitou, Noguchi, and Noguchi's rival on the hospital board engage in a delicate game, for on top of all of this, Asada wants Kitou's natural-genius anesthesiologist Dr. Arase Monji for his team.
Meanwhile, Asada must collect and keep the best and brightest people he can find. His first teammate is Satohara Miki, a nurse who worked under him in the NGO. The second addition is Dr. Ijuuin Noboru, an intern who has yet to be corrupted by the politics and shenanigans of the hospital, but lacks confidence in his skills or the ability to act independently. Dr. Fujiyoshi Keiji joins after his own heart condition requires Asada to operate on him. Kato herself is added as first assistant.
Once the team is assembled, their troubles only multiply.
Team Medical Dragon has been serialized in Big Comic Superior since 2002. It received the 50th Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga in 2005. The story uses a cast of characters and focuses on many problems prevalent in medical care, such as human error, anticancer agent treatment, hospital infections, and a troubled health care system.
The series provides examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight : Each character who joins Asada's team gets an episode revolving around them before they join.
- Anti Role Model: Asada describes himself as such.
- Author Existence Failure: Akira Nagai, the original creator of the story, passed away in 2004.
- Unsettlingly, some have suggested that his relentless criticism of the Japanese medical establishment may have been a contributing factor in his death in hospital from complications of liver cancer...
- Batman Gambit: The electoral reform plan.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Ijyuuin to everyone more senior to him.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Asada. He was fired earlier because of his Jerkass nature, but was hired by Katou because of his skill.
- Dr. Arase is a drunk and abuses anaesthetics, but his uncanny ability to monitor and maintain a patient's condition and knock out anyone precisely by the count of seven give him Ultimate Job Security.
- Character Development : Everyone except Asada and Noguchi get liberal helpings.
- The Chessmaster: Noguchi, Katou, Kitou and Asada, who manipulates Kitou into helping Katou in taking down Noguchi.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive : One of the main themes of the show is how Japanese university medicine is caught in a stranglehold relationship with pharmaceuticals companies and medical device manufacturers.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Batista operation, after a fashion. Since it's about operating on a beating heart, it is incredibly dangerous, easy to botch and in fact has a high mortality rate.
- Death by Irony: Real World case; In the first arc the characters deal with a situation involving medical complications where people can die, though "The surgery was successful". Akira Nagai died from complications resulting from liver cancer.
- Dirty Coward: Dr. Kihara.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Ijyuuin
- Dr. Jerk : Several. Kato is a borderline case.
- Drowning My Sorrows : Arase extricates exorbitant amounts of money for his services only to literally piss it all away on alcohol to drown his guilt over being involved in a drug trial that resulted in numerous patient deaths.
- Face Death with Dignity: Explored with a terminal lung cancer Patient of the Week.
- Face Heel Turn : Faked handily by Ijuuin to secure a reliable line of information from Kirishima on the hospital's dicey political situation long enough for the Batista team to execute the third procedure.
- Freudian Excuse : Kirishima is all but unredeemable now, but when he was a toddler his mother threw herself to her death from a roof right in front of him.
- The Fettered: A few of the characters, especially Asada.
- Gentle Giant: Fujiyoshi in the manga.
- George Jetson Job Security : The characters spend the entire series working under the looming threat of being fired or exiled to branch hospitals even as they perform successful surgeries, save lives, and expose dangerous negligence and malpractice.
- The Glasses Come Off : Ijuuin quietly pulls this on Kirishima in the second to last episode.
- Gonk: A visual cue, inserted to let you know who to root for.
- Hard Work Hardly Works : Completely adverted with Ijuuin.
- Hard Work Montage : Done to show the team practicing for their third, highly unusual Batista case.
- Hello, Nurse!: Miki, literally. It even gave her trouble in her Backstory, with her brother.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Asada, although he deserves the reputation.
- Hidden Depths : Arase's Backstory reveals the reason for his drinking and drug abuse.
- Hospital Hottie: Miki and Dr. Kato.
- Informed Attribute : The Batista procedure is described as defying even the exquisite skills of only the topmost genius surgeons, but the actual surgeries end quickly and experience only peripheral complications.
- The Intern : Ijuuin is "the intern", but rather than being bright, naive, and ambitious, he's paralyzed by the terrible atmosphere of the hospital's ruthless politics and plagued by doubt in his own skills.
- Internal Reformist: Dr. Akira Katou is trying to reform the Japanese medical system by getting on the board of directors of their hospital.
- Jerkass: Every major character except for Ijyuuin and Miki.
- Miser Advisor: Arase, the anaesthesiologist. In fact, he's only on the team until the next Batista operation because Asada paid him to do so.
- Also, Asada himself.
- Mood Lighting : Noguchi's office. Averted in the operating room, which is suitably brightly lit.
- Nakama : The Batista team, occasionally called "Team Medical Dragon".
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Noguchi and the rest of the hospital board. The board is outright stated to be democratic in name only, as it will vote for whomever Noguchi cares to nominate for a professorship. In fact, hospital politics are possibly the main focus of the story.
- One of Our Own : Fujiyoshi and his daughter have congenital heart defects. At first, Fujiyoshi refuses to let Asada operate on his daughter because he considers it medically unnecessary. Naturally, it's Fujiyoshi himself rather than his daughter who collapses on a sidewalk and must be operated on by Asada and Ijuuin.
- Patient of the Week : There are three Batista cases, but Asada et al get night shift emergencies every once in a while. The Batista cases are pretty much forgotten as soon as their operations are over. Each of Asada's team gets their own POtW: Ijuuin takes charge of a terminal lung cancer patient being abused for drug trials, Kato must decide whether to take on the hospital's former head nurse as a Batista case, Arase has to save the life of the bartender at his usual joint, and Fujiyoshi is a twofer, being himself the Patient of the Week and having a daughter with a heart condition.
- The Rival: Miki's brother
- Rule of Drama : The actual Batista procedure is more of a stop-gap to keep a patient alive until a suitable heart transplant can be found. In the series, the procedure is talked about as a miraculous substitute.
- Science Marches On : Not only did it march on, it marched on before the series was made. The Batista procedure became popular in the mid-1990s but was discovered to be less than effective in 2000. The series was made in 2004.
- In the manga, however, it is explained that Batista is indeed treated as merely a stop-gap procedure while a suitable heart-donor is found.
- Take That: Massively, on the Japanese medical system as a whole.
- Technician Versus Performer : Ijuuin would go by the book if it weren't for Asada browbeating him into doing things in increasingly improbable but necessary ways. Also, Asada and Ijuuin are able to detect the diseased parts of a heart by touch, but Technician Kato can't and completely derails her original thesis topic towards finding a method that doesn't rely on intuition.
- The Beautiful Elite: Kitou.
- Trope Telegraphing : Some of the foreshadowing, such as the exposition in Fujiyoshi's episode in the limelight, is a little obvious.