Doctor X ~ Gekai Daimon Michiko
Review by David Cirone
Surgeon Michiko Daimon (Ryoko Yonekura) breaks from the pack in Doctor X.
The opening shot of of Doctor X shows Ryoko Yonekura as the detached, haunted surgeon Michiko Daimon standing beside a desolated seaside clinic. The solitary whistle might recall a bit of Spaghetti Western Clint Eastwood, and that’s no accident. Just like the Man-With-No-Name, Daimon says little and works alone, and she carries a rather large chip on her shoulder.
There’s a crisis in a top university medical hospital. Long hours and hospital politics have caused a flood of surgeon resignations, forcing hospital administrators to turn to “freelancers”. Daimon’s agency claims she can do the work of 3 doctors, but she has her own rules: she doesn’t socialize, she doesn’t do anything that doesn’t require a medical license, and she doesn’t work a minute of overtime.
Right from the get-go, Daimon openly challenges the hospital director Kubo’s outdated methods (he’s so proud of his reputation, he even has his own name-brand equipment), and later dives in to a botched surgery to save the patient from the incompetence of the surgical staff. She’s a clear-cut rebel, and she struts in to work in high boots, refusing to step aside in the hallway for her superiors.
Young doctor Morimoto (Kei Tanaka) thinks Daimon has some talent, but he’s too timid to speak up for himself. Professor Torii (Yasunori Danta) is bucking for the director spot himself, and a loose cannon like Daimon can only get in his way. There’s some obvious philosophical differences in the opening episode’s dialogue about young vs. old, new techniques vs. time-tested procedures, and it seems the series is set up to preach to the choir of the young, educated generation in Japan that’s losing its patience with the stubborn older class.
No accident, either, that the series’ theme song is “Force”, a girl-power anthem from Superfly.
Daimon is an unusual name, and the characters remark on the name’s similarity to the English words “Diamond” and “Demon.” It’s a contrast that matches Michiko perfectly. She’s sexy, smart, and confident, but she’s definitely not a team player. She won’t shake hands (“That doesn’t require a medical license.”) or even engage in friendly small talk with her co-workers. I’m interested to see if she can make a difference in a hospital while keeping up her lone wolf approach. Yonekura has the leading-role charisma to keep things interesting, but I hope the supporting cast gets to put up a fair fight once the series gets going.
When Daimon pulls a man’s pants down on the dance floor in order to save his life, it’s instantly one of the most daring female character introductions in Japanese TV.
Daimon and Professor Torii’s assistant Ayi (Tantan Hayashi) give each other the stare-down as they both show up to an appointment with the same handbag. Torii’s got a little something going on with Ayi, and I’m betting that Ayi has some Lady Macbeth plans to help her man reach the top.