Dr. DMAT by Takano Hiroshi and Kikuchi Akio

On one hand I think medical manga should be perfectly My Thing, but sometimes it takes a while to get into it. That’s what happened with Dr. DMAT.

DMAT stands for Disaster Medical Assistance Team, doctors that are sent out to the scenes of disasters and other mass casualty incidents. In the US the EMTs in an ambulance can do a lot to save your life – give drugs, maybe even intubate you. But in Japan the ambulance dudes have a very limited scope of practice, so if care is required on scene doctors need to be sent in.

Dr. Yakumo gets roped into his hospital’s DMAT team despite the fact that he’s not exactly suited for the job. He works in internal medicine, and out in the field emergency department physicians and surgeons are in high demand. As a result the first half of the volume is Yakumo’s rude awakening, seeing what a ten car pile up looks like and deciding who gets transported to the hospital first.

I read that first half back in 2018, but put the book down. I know a little bit of medicine so I could see through some of the overly dramatic moments that were being built up.

Book: This guy looks near death! Oh noes!
Me: Give him some glucose, he’ll perk right up.

I picked it back up on a whim and blew through the second half easily. I still rolled my eyes at the manufactured drama – there’s a fire at a 24-hr child care center and of course his little sister is working there at the time – but the medicine was more to my liking. There’s a fun discussion about triage, what the different levels mean, and what kind of patients need to seen to immediately. Some minor-looking symptoms can be quite serious, while some impressive injuries can be left for a few hours.

What helped the most, though, is that we see that Yakumo has a knack for this sort of thing. Even though he doesn’t know if his sister’s okay he stays calm enough to help patients and even juryrig an airway solution when things look dire. Nice.

The second half convinced me to keep my eye out for the second volume, as I’m curious what happens next. They’ve covered the most common incidents, so where will things go from here? Will they do different kinds of fire (at a chemical plant!), different kinds of traffic accidents (bus meets mountain slope!), or branch out into completely different stuff? I’ll report back, of course. 😉

Ocha no Jikan (Tea Time) by Masuda Miri

41ZtGQ-YydL._SX349_BO1,204,203,200_(jacket copy loosely translated by me)

Thoughts cross your mind at tea time.
We say there’s a “turning point” in someone’s life,
but does anyone make a u-turn?
You puzzle over it while drinking coffee
and forget everything once you leave the cafe.
Tea time is when we contemplate these
deep, unexpected thoughts.
–Masuda Miri–

“What is that group of women so excited about?”
“Aw, they look like they’re on a first date.”
“I wonder what he’s doing on his laptop.”
Looking around at others, your thoughts turn back on yourself.
The extremely popular Masuda Miri gives us these new, tranquil manga essays.

Review:

I love that there’s an indie bookshop close to my new apartment. I can stop in before going to the supermarket, on the way back from the station, just for the heck of it – heaven! I spotted this book on the new release shelf and was smitten as I read the first few pages.

Masuda Miri is a mangaka and essayist best known for her comic strip Su-chan. Her books vary, some with more text and some with more comics, and this book is 100% manga.

Most of the 5-10 page pieces start with Masuda going to a cafe, meeting somebody there, and relating things she saw or thoughts she had while there. Some are pure fun – visiting a all-dessert buffet, a cafe that serves a picnic complete with checked cloth and basket at your table. One cafe serves their drinks on a tray that looks like grass, and despite the rain outside her mood is lifted. There are funny moments in the vein of observational comedy, things that we all do but don’t think about.

Masuda gets into some deeper stuff as well, like how lives diverge and change once you have kids. One of the most touching manga essays is her thoughts when she’s stuck on a train because someone completed suicide by jumping at the station ahead. Sadly this is not unusual in Japan, and the way she relates the experience is spare, eloquent, and moving.

I’m sad that Masuda’s work hasn’t been translated into English as far as I can tell, and at the same time I’m selfishly glad that I get to enjoy it in Japanese. It’s not profound, it’s not on the pulse of pop culture, but it was a fun, at times deep read that I’d like to share with more people.

Chi’s Sweet Home (#1) by Kanata Konami

Di18Y8mU4AEq278Chi is a michievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Seperated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

Review:

I love my neighborhood used book store.  It’s kinda dingy on the outside but climbing up to the second floor lifts you into paradise – shelves of books that reach ten feet high, with bins on the floor to hold the overflow.  Novels, non-fiction, manga – any book that’s had a tiny bit of popularity (and many that haven’t) are guaranteed to be here.

So when Meonicorn recommended Chi’s Sweet Home it was the perfect excuse… er, reason to make a trip.  It doesn’t hurt that the bookstore is close to my favorite breakfast place, either.

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I was good and didn’t get the fancy toast.

The manga is originally written in Japanese, which I read, and has been translated into English.  Chi is a kitten that becomes separated from her mother and is taken in by the Yamadas.  They’ve never had a cat before – and their apartment doesn’t allow pets – so they try to take care of Chi on the downlow.  If you’ve ever had a cat, especially a rescue, you’ll identify with what they go through.  Will Chi know how to use the litter box?  Will she try to run away?  And how can I buy back my kitty’s love after traumatizing her at the vet? 😉

The manga is in full color and is completely adorable.  Chi looks just like my cat when encountering a new toy:

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And I’m tickled by this depiction of a cat nightmare:

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It’s a quick read and not taxing in any way, but that’s kind of the point. If you like cats and need a pick-me-up Chi’s Sweet Home is just the thing.

Kokoro Button (Love Button) #1 by Maki Usami

9533185I finally stopped in a used bookstore I pass on my commute and, oh my.  Every hardcover is less than four dollars US, some paperbacks are less than a buck, and the manga.  My goodness, the manga – full sets impeccably shelved, calling to me.  And it was 10% off day.

~ded~

I browsed for an hour and settled on a nonfiction book by a 911-esque dispatcher (old habits die hard) and the first volume of Kokoro Button (ココロボタン).  In it a guy (Koga) and a girl (Kasuga) meet at high school orientation – she is smitten, but he is not looking for a relationship with anyone.  She says how about a trial period to see if we could like each other?  His reply:

You don’t know much about me yet… are you sure?

It turns out Koga-kun is a “little bit S”, or a little bit sadistic, so she doesn’t realize how loaded the question is.  She says she’s sure, and the series is off and running.

Fear not, there is no BDSM in this high school manga; in fact, it’s purely PG.  This “little bit S” is the reason I picked up the book – what does that look like?

Well, it’s basically teasing in the form of misdirection.  He’d tell her one thing, she’d get worried or upset, and he’d enjoy that reaction (there’s the S).  Then he’d say no, actually it’s this other thing, and turn into a sweet boyfriend until it was time to tease her again.  It’s hurt/comfort, but with both parts from the same person.

I can see this working if Kasuga-san a) realizes what’s going on or b) gives as good as she gets, but she worries and laments about every little thing.  For example, one night Koga-kun doesn’t call and she’s reduced to a sobbing catatonic mess.  I’m okay with not-strong heroines (huzzah variety!) but this is a little much for me.

20171124_080951.jpgEven so it was a quick read.  The style is typical shojo with lots of white space and wispy lines, and while the art is average some frames stick out as particularly well framed or comical.  I love Kasuga’s reaction when Koga sees a beetle in her hair:

When I freak out I shout in squiggles, too.

All in all I’m not a fan, and can only recommend Kokoro Button if a “little bit S” is your sort of thing.


This is my first manga review on Always Doing, yea!  If you’d like to see more reviews like this let me know in the comments, and if you’d rather I didn’t review books I read in Japanese let me know that, too.  I feel bad that this series isn’t available in English (at least officially…) but my thoughts were overflowing and I couldn’t resist.