Review: Dr. Coto’s Clinic (Live Drama)

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…Originally aired in 2003 and 2006 (two seasons), Dr. Coto’s Clinic is based on the manga Dr. Koto (the letter change is due to the dialect used). It’s the story of Dr. Kensuke Coto, who comes to the remote Shikinajima Island from Tokyo to start over as a doctor. The islanders are distrustful of the new doctor at first but over the course of the first season they come to accept him as a part of their community. Dr. Coto is invaluable to the island because he is able to perform operations in the island’s clinic. His first operation actually took place on a fishing boat where he performed an emergency operation.

Dr. Coto’s clinic is a heartwarming series and came about at a time when in developed nations, patients were viewed as little more than statistics and casework As Dr, Coto learns during the course of the first season, patients are more than their medical conditions. They’re people with their own lives and people who care about them.

Dr. Coto’s mysterious past comes the light at the end of the first season. It’s revealed Dr. Coto–real name Dr. Goto–allowed a high school student to die due to medical negligence. He prioritized another patient and the high school student died as a result. The patient’s brother, who is a journalist tracked him down and exposed his past to the islanders.

The islanders’ trust in him is shattered when Dr. Coto is suddenly put into a similar situation and must prioritize two critical patients: The journalist and a child., who are both injured in a landslide. Even though both patients are saved, the child’s father is outraged Dr. Coto prioritized the journalist’s life over his son’s. In the end, Dr. Coto manages restore the broken trust between himself and the islanders.

 

Dr. Coto meets a variety of interesting people whole on the island:

  • Ayaka Hoshino: The Clinic’s Nurse and daughter of the island official who brings Dr. Coto to the island.
  • Wada: A town hall employee who helps out at the clinic.
  • Takehiro Nara: The son of a local fisherman and the first patient Dr. Coto saves. Dr. Coto performed an emergency operation to treat his appendicitis on his father’s fishing boat. Takehiro and Dr. Coto become good friends and he decides to become a doctor when he grows up at the end of the season.
  • Takehara Nara: Takehiro’s father. He became distrustful of doctors after his wife died because of a negligent doctor. After Dr. Coto saves his son’s life, he opens up to him bit by bit and learns to trust doctors again.
  • Mariko: Owner of the restaurant Mara’s Cafe. It’s revealed mid-season she has a son around Takehiro’s age.
  • Shige: The president of the fishing co-op. He’s a bit of a gossip and his a short fuse.

 

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The second season takes place three years later in 2006. The focus is a bit more on some of the other islanders. Specifically Ayako and her parents, Takehiro, Takehara and newcomer Mina. Two years earlier, Ayaka’s mother suffered a stroke. Ayaka decides to study physical therapy in Tokyo so she can better help her mother with her recovery. Ayaka’s mother suffers from paralysis in her right arm, partial paralysis in her right leg and slurred speech due to the stroke. Her father, who’d gotten drunk the day of his wife’s stroke blamed himself for being too drunk to rush her to the clinic and quit drinking.

The season begins just as her replacement, a nurse named Mina arrives on the island. Ayaka is revealed to have breast cancer shortly before she leaves for Tokyo. At the same time, Takehara and Takihiro have both moved to mainland Japan. Takehiro is furthering his education at a private school while his father sold his boat and took work in construction to cover his son’s tuition. An accident on the job puts Takehara in debt and he ends up moving back to the island.

Mina moves to Shikinajima islands for reasons similar to Dr. Coto’s. Her inexperience puts her at odds with the more experienced Ayaka and at first, the islanders are wary of her. After helping a young new family overcome their issues, the rest of the islands accept her as one of their own. Everything Dr. Coto believes as a doctor are challenged on two separate occaisions. The first is when he treats a young mother whose baby he helped deliver three years earlier. The young mother has stomach cancer and he gives her months to live. After undergoing treatment, she makes an miraculous and full recovery.

The second is during the finale. Dr. Coto travels to Tokyo to personally operate on Ayaka.He meets the doctor who’d been taking care of her and is reminded of a certain area doctors she could be wary of. Dr. Narami has reservations about Dr. Coto’s emotional commitment to treating Ayaka because of their bond. Dr. Narami had been in the same position himself several years earlier with a family member. It’s an unwritten rule that doctors not operate on loved ones because of the emotional attachment. It’s believed this attachment will add an extra level of stress and effect their ability to objectively operate on the patient. Dr. Coto developed a close bond not just with Ayaka but everyone in the island.

Japanese Filming Locations of dramas and movies.

I did some research and it turns out Dr. Coto’s Clinic was filmed on Yonaguni Island, which is the westernmost island in Japan and is a part of the Okinawa Prefecture. It’s actually next to Taiwan. It is the furthest island from the mainland Japanese Islands and apparently takes almost two full days to reach from Tokyo by plane and boat.

The Clinic was built for the tv series. It is a popular tourist destination for fans of the Medical Drama. It is also being preserved by the people of the island in case it’s needed for a third season (!). It’s now been 10 years since the second season was filmed on location. Yonaguni Island is easily recognizable to it’s fictional counterpart but is bigger from what I’m seeing on Google Earth. Based on the pictures I’ve seen so far, it was definitely shot on this island.

Overall, I give Dr. Coto’s Clinic a 10/10.

Like most of the other Live Programming I’ve seen on Crunchyroll, the acting is top notch. The beautiful locations where the series was filmed was just icing on the cake. Having loved the series, I have to give props to the people of Yonaguni Island keeping the possability of a third season alive. You can’t help but appreciate the dedication.

It’s been 12 years since the series was first filmed. You can be sure it brought in much-needed money from the film crew during both seasons.  Given the island’s distance from Tokyo, the availability of the original cast and travel logistics, I’d expect a year and a half of planning before they started shooting a Season 3.

 

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