Friday, March 30, 2012

Iryu 2 Review (2007)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

As part of Dr Noguchi's reformation plans for Meishin, he recruits medical reporter Kataoka Kazumi to run the newly affiliated Hokuyou Hospital. As a political side effect, the best medical staff are transferred to Meishin to help reestablish a leading position for the hospital while misfits among the former staff are transferred to Hokuyou as a dumping ground. In the process, Team Dragon is deliberately split between the two in an effort by Dr Noguchi to destroy the team.

*Spoiler warning*

Iryu 2 picks up shortly after where Iryu left off as Meishin is now affiliated with Hokuyou Hospital. The political machinations and calculations of Dr Noguchi and Kataoka Kazumi lay out the general plan for this second series by introducing a number of new characters and diversifying the types of surgeries seen. This inserts a breath of fresh air as the writing expands on what teamwork really means. The main issue I saw with this series was the general interactions between Zenda Hideki, the director of Hokuyou, Kataoka and Dr Noguchi. The creation of the first two characters felt a little contrived in order to create disharmony and form the basis of the second series.

A number of new medical staff join the series thus injecting Iryu 2 with some new blood (pardon the pun). Sato Jiro's Dr Matsudaira, Takahashi Issei as Dr Toyama, Nakamura Yasuhi as the ME Nomura and Otsuka Nene's Dr Kodaka all give great performances worthy of their characters. Having the storyline focus on the rehabilitation of these characters was an excellent idea to diversify the drama away from just surgeries. Sakaguchi Kenji continues to be a resilient Dr Asada aided by the gradually maturing Dr Ijyuuin played by Koike Teppei. Drs Kitou, Arase and Kirishima are all given less time than before as the focus shifts to the new characters. As pointed out earlier though, the script makes a somewhat weaker rationalization for Shiga Kotaro's wimpy Dr Zenda Hideki and the crafty Kataoka Kazumi, played by Uchida Yuki, who inexplicably harbors an initial grudge against Asada.

To keep continuity with the previous series, Iryu 2 retains much of the same soundtrack with some variations on the themes introduced in Iryu. The general atmosphere given off by the music continues to give off a nervous, suspenseful energy.

Rather than a sequel, Iryu 2 felt more like a continuation of the original series with regular appearances by the original cast plus a number of new characters to beef up the drama's developments. The music keeps its original flavor intact thus also making my previous comments about the series overall atmosphere apply here as well. Overall though, not a bad drama but you may start to feel some Iryu exhaustion after a while, especially if you watch this end to end with the other series in the sequence.

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