Maiko is visiting Kuroo’s house, eager to learn how he pulled off such a difficult surgery. All she learns is that he apparently practices on live fish and various dead animals in his spare time…and then eats them.
She hears groans coming from the neighboring apartment. The door is answered by a man named Tamura, who went to high school with Kuroo. He explains that there is a sick man in his room who he cannot take to the hospital, and begs Kuroo for help. He refuses, but Maiko accepts for him. It turns out Tamura and a woman named Aoyama are anti-war activists hiding two Vietnam deserters, both Americans, in their room. One of the deserters, Smith, is the patient – unconscious from a head injury suffered in the war.
The group sneaks into the OB/GYN clinic owned by Tamura’s family. Kuroo discovers that Smith is suffering from potentially fatal brain swelling, and is reluctant to treat him. An argument breaks out between Maiko (who insists if Kuroo performs the surgery he’ll never be able to become a licensed doctor) and Aoyama (who calls Kuroo selfish, and says that saving a life is the only important thing). Kuroo calls the group egotists for forcing their beliefs on him, and tries to leave, but Aoyama threatens him with a gun. The threat fails and Kuroo leaves.
In the hallway, Kuroo is confronted by a vision of himself surrounded by thorny vines, which insists that he return and save the man. Kuroo expresses doubt that he can save him, as he’s not even a doctor yet, but is comforted by Yabu’s words from last episode and flashbacks of a man he calls “Sensei”. He returns, having decided to operate on the man. Once again, it is Kuroo’s first time performing this kind of operation (a craniectomy) but he expresses to Maiko a resolve never to abandon any patients, just as the doctor in his childhood did not abandon him.
Once again, Maiko narrates some basic information about the procedure as Kuroo carries it out. The operation is a success, and Smith awakens. He is furious that the others allowed a medical student to operate on him, and reveals himself to have been an undercover CIA agent. Back in America, doctors marvel that a mere medical student was able to carry out such an operation. Kuroo is detained but released, though his career as a doctor is still in jeopardy.
Overall, I feel like this was a little weaker than the last episode. It followed the same basic format of “Kuroo has a moral dilemma, but ultimately makes the right decision” but in this episode the ‘right decision’ (to save the patient at the potential cost of his career) was a lot more obvious. This made some of the debate in this episode seem overdone, especially as Tamura and Aoyama are rather intense, over-the-top characters as it is. (Seriously, some of the faces on those two look like the kind of expression a creepy insane villain would make.)
Another flaw that was even more pronounced in this episode was the fact that this show’s timeline is really unclear, and a lot of plot threads get left to dangle. There was no mention of Tachiiri or Kuroo’s debt from last episode, Maiko reappeared, and the only way I could actually tell that this came later than episode 2 was Kuroo’s flashback to what Yabu said to him last episode. Just as none of the plots from episode 2 were brought up, I wonder if the plots from this episode (Smith being an undercover CIA agent, Kuroo’s career being at risk, the Americans keeping an eye on Kuroo) will be similarly discarded. I’m also curious if Tamura or Aoyama will appear again, given that Kuroo basically destroyed their philosophies and sent Aoyama into a mental breakdown. Given that next episode apparently seems to be set in Vietnam, the plot threads from this episode could potentially continue…it’s just a question of will they.
This episode did still have its strong points. The surgery was beautifully animated as always, with a return of the vines from episode 2 rather than the silver wires from episode 1. I like that, as it shows that Kuroo is more conflicted about the operations he performs than he was at first. The flashbacks to Kuroo’s past continue to tantalize, and I hope the show doesn’t dangle his secrets over our head for too long, as I could see that becoming stale.
I appreciate Young Black Jack’s willingness to ask deep questions and bring up major moral/medical issues. I just hope that every episode won’t follow the same format, as this one fell a little short compared to episode 2.
An average episode gets an average number of Dios: