Truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of Asian dramas. But it was hard to resist clicking on the big yellow “X” shouting at me from the Doctor-X poster on the front page of the dimsum.my app.
So it was that I began watching my first ever Japanese drama series, and I just could not stop. It started with the first episode of S4. Then after I finished the four available episodes of that season, I went back to the beginning and watched the previous seasons in one go.
Granted, each season only had about eight or nine episodes, but with every episode just a few clicks away on dimsum.my, and the fact that I could watch it on my phone anywhere I wanted, it was just way too easy to binge-watch the entire series in one go.
One of Japan’s highest-rated dramas in recent times, Doctor-X is about Daimon Michiko (Yonekura Ryoko), a brilliant freelance surgeon whose hobby is “surgery”, and who refuses to conform to the rigid and highly political university hospital structure in Japan. She never works past 5pm every day, never does any unnecessary tasks that don’t require a medical licence (unlike many of the other boot-licking doctors she works with), and doesn’t give a damn about office politics, gossip, or anything that does not require her holding a scalpel.
The basic premise of the story reminds me of the classic Japanese manga Black Jack, also about a rogue surgeon who operates (in all senses of the word) on his own terms and according to his own moral principles. There are also similarities with American medical drama House MD.
Most of the episodes follow pretty much the same pattern – a patient with a supposedly impossible illness has the rigid, inflexible head doctors of the hospital waffling about haplessly, Daimon swoops in to offer her assistance but is brushed aside because she is a “freelancer” (or because of some silly political or PR reason), but ends up saving the day in the end because, well, because she never fails.
The formula is similar to that of House, but with a hot female doctor instead of Hugh Laurie.
Yonekura Ryoko’s performance as Daimon is what makes this series so fun to watch. As the highly skilled surgeon whose catchphrase is “I never fail”, she carries the show through its somewhat formulaic concept with a compelling yet carefree air, as adept at playing it straight and serious when the scene calls for it as she is during the show’s lighter moments.
While Daimon’s default expression is “stoic and indifferent” most of the time, Ryoko’s performance gives you the impression that there is so much more to Daimon, and she excels in bringing that out during the few scenes where the mask slips a little. Ryoko won several Best Actress awards for her portrayal of Daimon in Japan’s Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix and Television Drama Academy.
With Daimon unsurprisingly the main focus of the show, the supporting characters are given little to do beyond helping to move the plot forward (and constantly reminding us what a “demon” she is, apparently).
However, in any show, it’s always fun to see the bad guys who try to manipulate the system for their own gain get their comeuppance, or at least repent for their sins, and Doctor-X delivers such moments in spades. Whenever Daimon swoops in to save the day with yet another brilliant operation, you can’t help but feel a sense of redemption for her, despite her own indifferent attitude.
Even the fact that the entire show is in Japanese wasn’t an issue, because dimsum.my actually provides subtitles in three languages (English, Chinese and Malay). And while the stories may be formulaic and the medical procedures just a little too incredulous at times, Doctor-X is still great fun to watch thanks to its electric leading lady.
All four seasons of Doctor-X are available on dimsum.my. Get more info, sign up and watch shows on your PC via the website, or download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.