It’s a bit of a surprise seeing no reviews when this thing’s been out for 8 or 9 years. I've marathoned through the currently available chapters in English (scanlation in process), and decided to make a quick review since this manga's review section is empty.
But before going on to the main chunk of the review, I think I’ll give a… uh… “slightly” elongated introduction to my personal exposure to Team Medical Dragon.
Team Medical Dragon’s been a very different experience for me, someone definitely not well versed in seinen anime/manga. I used to be a more avid anime watcher, and most of the stuff I preferred was that good old spunky shounen rom-com actions. It started with Naruto, transitioning to Bleach and eventually to the less known series. Up the top of my favorites are the ever epic Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and the less well-known Eureka Seven.
The point is that I was that I've never really had a great exposure to seinen anime/manga. There’s a multitude of possible reasons for why I didn't watch it, though none of them are really distinct. If I had to give my most solid reason, maybe it’s because I feel seinen anime/manga was just much more “involved” and gut-wrenching than shounen. Instead of a focus on an episodic/arc-based action plot, there’s instead a focus on a concrete, serious story. I see it kinda as the blood boiling shounen fights versus the serious seinen storylines.
In order to avoid that “deep” nature of seinen, I probably opted to just concentrate on shounen series, and for the first couple years of watching Naruto/Bleach, shounen seemed to be a great answer. As time progressed, however, my attention span for shounen grew thinner and thinner. Series began to dull and I began to lose interest, failing to continue on series and simply dropping them. My anime list… and now growing manga list… are perhaps testaments to that, where I’m currently watching/reading a hundred series at a time—99% of those in which I’ve probably dropped though I’m too stubborn to admit it. So... after a while, with my shounen fetish dwindling, I began to branch outwards, still usually looking for something new, experimenting with other genres. There's been some shoujo exploration, which has given me some up and down satisfactions but more importantly, I've started on the genre that pertains directly with Team Medical Dragon, seinen.
And what an invigorating experience it's been, TMD, a rewarding experience that I decided to pick up and marathon through the night.
Really, in many respects, I think in many ways Team Medical Dragon could pass off as a shounen. Hell, it’s got plenty of slicin’ action, it’s got some side romance, it’s got the comedy and drama action. You’ve got your bad ass main leads and supporting seconds within his band of warriors, or “medical team." And perhaps most comparable between TMD and shounen is the desire to fight against evil, fighting against the evil ruling lords that have taken over society.
But as happy dappy as I try to make it sound, TMD sure as hell isn’t some hope-riding adventure story. At its core, it’s an involved, gut wrenching series that delivers powerfully. It isn't a simple 2000 chapter joyride that ends up in absolute victory. While there’s definitely hope, happiness, and positivity, there’s always an impending sense of hopelessness, cruelty, and negativity lurking closely by the sides.
And, I'll be honest, I love it! As much as I espouse my love for shounen and its crazily hope-hope nature, the edge of bleakness that TMD offers creates an amazing balance between good and bad. I've always been well acquainted with the goody-good natures of anime, but never have I really been buckled down and forced to acknowledge evil like TMD's shown me.
This contrasting nature provides and nurtures so much more than a simple good or bad series can. The people, characters, the interaction, the dialogue, heck even the setting, feel much more alive. It isn’t a single black and white color of “I’M-THE-BAD-GUY” or “I’M-THE-HERO” going on, there’s a lot more gray spread out. And this gives birth to a much bigger sense of realism ever-present within the pages, showing the reader not just a communication between characters, but more importantly, a communication between real people.
Clever and realistic interactions are the end result between these characters. While characters are built off general archetypes, not a single character is a bland stereotype. The main characters, the secondary characters, the villains, the heroes, they're all shaped from both good and evil. They’re not characters simply crafted out of thin air, but characters crafted from their past experiences with good and evil. And through these developments, we, as the readers, are handed these great characters, presented both originally and realistically. Nobody’s a solid good guy or bad guy, all these characters have the sense and capability of both good and bad within them.
Now, imagine putting a large cast of these characters within a story, a medical story at that, and the result is the well-furnished Team Medical Dragon. Worried about knowing medical terms? No sweat. I’m no doctor; I’m hopeless in medicine; I just read manga in my spare time; but I not much prior knowledge of medicine is needed to understand the story. TMD presents the medical arena in such a way that everyone--or at least me--can understand.
I mean, for one, it’s not even heavily focused towards medicine. The main conflict is about corruption, not about learning medical jargon. Don’t understand the complicated maneuvers/words going around in the surgery room (me included)? Who the hell cares, just look at all that kinky slicing shit going on with that body on that table.
The emphasis is more so within the plot progression, character interactions, and personality developments, not so much about the medical aspects. It’s not that big of a problem. With lengthy footnotes accompanying the reading, good old Google, and of course the outstanding visuals, you’ve got an army of resources to march off of.
And I’ve gotta really hand it to the artist for their great drawings of the body/organs. Being somewhat of a drawer myself—outrageously skilled of course—organs have been something I've never attempted, and they're one of the more distinct features I noticed within the story. Expect to see a lot of organs guys; this is a medical series after all. But in addition to recreating great anatomy, the details of the extra blood vessels and of course BLOOD, make a pretty in-depth drawing for all readers to both understand and enjoy. Bottom line is, if you’re a medical junkie, you’ll probably feel at ease with this manga, or, if again, you’re like me, no sweat, just look at the sharp knife things doing their sexy work.
In conclusion, TMD has been a great, refreshing experience for my shounen-loving self. I think that it’s really changed my genre preference, and in the future I’ll be looking forward to reading more TMD and seinen stuff. I love the sense of evil that TMD, and probably other good seinen, strikes me with, giving me not only a more realistic and engaging storyline but also a realistic and original cast. And let’s not forget about all the medical stuff involved though. While some parts are confusing—though I’m sure if you do some quick research or read the footnotes, you could figure out everything—the visuals do an absolutely amazing job of supporting whatever the hell is going on.
Really, really, really good job, I enjoyed my current read a lot.
As for my score, I am leaning very heavily toward a solid 10 because of how well done, in-depth, and life changing the story is. However, because of my incompleted reading, a few chunks of beef with medical jargon, and a couple bites of beef with plot (for sake of spoilers I won’t say why), I’ll leave my score as a 9 for now.
As for my current plans with this manga, I’m thinking of letting it sit for now so scanlations can catch up, then I’ll recommence my marathon.