Thursday, March 29, 2012

Iryu 3 Review (2010)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Team Dragon returns in this 3rd season where Meishin University Hospital is faltering due to lack of patients and amidst an outflow of talented physicians and surgeons. When Dr Kitou takes the helm of the hospital, she immediately calls back Team Dragon and various other experts to help revive the hospital. In the process, and upon Dr Noguchi's advice, she ends up hiring a catheter expert Dr Kuroki who seems dead set against the cardiac department and its surgeries. Will his catheter procedures and antagonism toward cardiology lead to the demise of Dr Kato and her colleagues?

*Spoiler warning*

Iryu 3 takes another shot at giving further meaning to the word 'teamwork'. Like the second series, Iryu 3 attempts to explain the continuation with the recurring theme of saving a faltering Meishin. Additionally, the story attempts to insert some tensions by introducing Dr Kuroki and his catheter procedure to make up for Dr Kirima but this effort felt somewhat half-hearted. Medical cases continue to be driving force of the series with the drama being featured in a somewhat brighter (lighting and atmosphere-wise) context than before. Most of the original cast is back so there is less character development than in the second series.  It would have been better to hold fewer surgeries in this last series and spend more time creating deeper subtexts and creating more realistic and logical plot developments.

Given the focus on Sakaguchi Kenji previously, it made sense to shift some of this away as one can only reiterate his 'brilliant' skills so many times before it really starts to wear thin. This shift ended up putting more of the spotlight on developing Dr Ijyuuin's character. Koike Teppei clearly looks more experienced and feels far more confident than in the first series which worked out well due to the maturing of his character. Imamori Izumi was given less to work with in terms of the script so the sharp, no-nonsense Dr Kato was less evident here than in the original series. Natsuki Mari's Dr Kitou and the ever more eccentric Dr Noguchi were left to handle the political arm-wrestling which was a shame as Dr Kitou was a great addition in the original series. Similarly, my favorite performance from Dr Arase still came from the first series where his character definitely has more texture. As for the new characters, Endo Kenichi's Dr Kuroki never felt like much of a rival, unlike Kirishima, but his story did contribute somewhat to the main storyline. Tanimura Mitsuki's Dr Magara was rather superficially developed and her character felt quite underused in this drama.

This drama continues in the Iryu tradition of using the synthesizer pretty often.  While the music is comparatively less dark than the first and second series, the musical content followed the general musical direction established in the first series. In addition, a new theme is added for Dr Kuroki, an interesting Gregorian chant-like monophonic melody which seems to suit him pretty well.

Though it was fun to see familiar cast members returning to their roles, the drama begins to feel a bit too formulaic. As before, the drama begins with the hospital crumbing, requiring new management to shakeup things up. Top specialists around the world (including Team Dragon) are rehired to breathe life back into Meishin. Highly difficult surgeries are then attempted one after another to attain national/internation recognition. In the meantime, rivalries arise as various specialists vie for influence and power. While Iryu 3 doesn't stoop to the level of say Gokusen 3 as a sequel, it certainly didn't bring much originality or creativity to the mix. On the flip side, I suppose this series wasn't done to shabbily and still makes some worthy attempts to further character development. But unless medical dramas really excite you or you're an Iryu otaku, I would say there really isn't anything you haven't seen in the first two seasons already.

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