Ah medical dramas, something that the more I watch them, the more I realize I do not have an affinity to them. So as you can anticipate, there was indeed an actor in this series that made me watch it weekly.
Before that actor though, let’s talk about the premise of the story. “Please Don’t Chant to Buddha in the Hospital” is a drama adaptation of a popular manga of the same name. Matsumoto Shouen (Ito Hideaki) is a monk who was deeply scarred by witnessing the drowning death of his childhood friend. That event sparked him to become a Buddhist monk, but on an even larger scale, inspired him to save people in their last moments, thus becoming a doctor. He often recites final rites for dying patients, and funeral rights for those who have passed at the hospital, but then will be paged in to help the emergency staff. He’s very loud about his beliefs, often chanting before of after procedures, but is honest and sincere in his work.
I honestly thought that I would be more drawn into the premise itself, being that I am Buddhist. While it was not poorly executed, it came off to me, as what I perceived as fairly standard Japanese medical drama formula. Of ten episodes, the first two or so were individual cases that set to establish working dynamics between the emergency room co-workers, and the hospital’s dynamics as a whole with backstory for the particular cast. It would introduce our concluding arch character, but not to front focus. Episodes 3 through about 5 set up a contrasting surgeon, Hamada Tatsuya (Muro Tsuyoshi), who Shouen often clashes with but grows to understand. Episode 6 I had to watch muted due to a trip, but seemed to continue this plot line. Episode 7 through 10 was the main conflict, and conclusion arch.
None of which is a bad thing, I would like to point out. The premise was the standard, with a bit more philosophical content given that Shounen is a monk. However, those moments tended to be under utilized, often being distracted from by extraneous circumstances. While many scenes would start with more philosophical content, would inevitable turn to focus on doctor-patient relationships, and medical conflict. Again, there can only be so many types of medical emergencies, so I wasn’t mad that I had ‘seen these circumstances’ before.
About the only thing that made this series stick out to the Japanese audience was the original inclusion of Karata Erika, as an actress. On January 23rd of this year it was revealed that she was in a three year long affair with married actor Mashiro Higashide. Which tainted her reputation, having her withdraw from the show, her scenes being cut out, and her disappearing from the public eye. To be honest, I hadn’t even noticed her character when she had been in episodes 1 and 2, so it’s safe to say she didn’t have much of an impact on the story itself.
What I did care about and pay attention to, was the 100% a side character in the series, Tanaka Reiichi, played by Katayose Ryota. Absolutely none of you are surprised by this, but here we are. Seeing him take on something completely different being a young emergency responder was a solid change of pace. While his acting didn’t take center stage, he did get to explore a more serious role, often intervening with small but valuable input. I believe around episode 7 or 8, he deduces that an unidentified victim is perhaps a single mother, with a child whose whereabouts are unknown but precarious. Again, this was nothing drama or scene stealing, but it’s nice to know that Ryota is being considered for a variety of roles.
Again, if there’s anything I’ve learned from this series is that I just don’t particularly have any affinity towards medical dramas. They just don’t do much for me, and with world circumstances as they are now, I’d rather not watch them. Even with a bit of casting controversy that didn’t impact the series, it’s a solid watch. Not something to rewatch, but enjoyable for what it is.