Learning through Translating: ブラックジャックによろしく episode 4: 夏雲

Still true unfortunately, female doctors only make up 20% of physicians in Japan. It’s slowly improving (a third of new graduates are female) but obviously they are still way behind in terms of gender equality - not too long ago there was a scandal about a university in Tokyo falsifying women’s entrance test results to give men an advantage. “Disturbed” is a bit of an understatement, tbh :confused:

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Well, disturbed is an understatement, let’s put it this way. :slight_smile:

I looked up the date of first publication and it goes back in 2003. For some reason the tone was so conservative I thought it had been published in the 1980s.

Maybe the author wanted to be accurate in his part depiction of the “world of doctors”. If only 20% are women doctors, a case could be made that their absence could be justified I suppose.

My confusion is not actually restricted to women as doctors but women in general in the manga. They’re just… absent. You could argue kids are also missing but it’s not aimed at a kids demographic.

None of the nurses are important character, they don’t even have a name. The patients are not women either. Maybe as a man he finds it hard to write for women? I can’t explain it and I don’t want to guess his intentions.

To me, if feels sterile as fiction. I know this is judgmental, but as observer we’re allowed to comment on the art itself. I say it feels sterile because there’s this artificial exclusion of women which deprives the world of its reality. It feels like a very controlled environment.

Monster was more relatable, more human that way I find.

Were I to add to my review, I would say that the author wants to be as accurate as possible in his depiction of the “medical world” for lack of a better world. Maybe it was a personal challenge of his to remain faithful to their reality. I don’t think it brings a whole lot to the story, personally. The technical jargon ends up being glossed over as well, technical jargon, without building anything up narrative.

I find Shirotori to be the most believable as he’s torn between his idealist and practice beliefs. Saitou is so idealist that he ends up being more a vehicle to convey ideas than a believable human beings.

Again, I don’t know if this is a cultural thing being transposed in a work of fiction. Maybe family life and love life are very private so taboo in art, I don’t know.

Why is Saitou so shallow as a character? The interactions between the characters seem to act as a soapbox to debate the financial incentives of healthcare more than anything else.

I’m under the impression that the artist in manga is often the author (script writer) which is often not the case in other illustrated mediums around the world. You’ll have someone who excels at writing and someone who excels at drawing.

I think the author here excels at drawing but his writing feels amateurish at times. Sort of like Akira Toriyama with Dragon Balls or Hergé with Tintin.

Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind Akira is a master of both drawing and writing with character development and overarching plot.

Another thing which bothers me here is the bite-size stories without any overarching plot. It’s like watching a meandering tv series. There’s no end goal (well none so far).

Felt like writing about this. If other manga were released for free, I wouldn’t read this one for the aforementioned reasons. I’m doing this strictly for grammar purpose.




:speech_balloon: Help me doctor

I think I finally get the -te form!
助け→くれ: it’s used to establish a connection between the main verb and the auxiliary verb くれ!


Just snucking in to say you might want to keep an eye on this page to see whether manga you’re interested in get put up for free at any point. curiousjp had been posting about new additions of particular interest in their BookWalker Freebies thread, but they’ve been too busy recently. You can also search for free manga on Kindle.


Oh wow, that first link is a great resource, there are tons there!

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:speech_balloon:Please doctor


:speech_balloon:I don’t want to die

What is なくねえ? It’s slang for sure but of what?

The available selection changes regularly, so do keep an eye out :slightly_smiling_face:

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The only issue I have with this is I wouldn’t know where to start! Just looking at covers makes it difficult to pick one :exploding_head:

Oh yes :sweat_smile: on the left-hand side you can filter by genre (ジャンル) to narrow it down - learning some genre terms as you go! - but I’d definitely go for picking things you recognise already, otherwise it’s overwhelming.


I might end up sounding politically incorrect in the course of my reply, but please bear with me. A lot of what I know about Japanese society is sadly based on stereotypes, but I know that there are grains of truth in them based on what I’ve seen in the news.

What I've heard about problems with sexism in Japan

First of all, MNCs (foreign or Japanese) aside, many companies apparently still have discriminatory policies in place. Even if men and women are hired on an equal basis, there are often concerns about what will happen when a female employee gets pregnant since women are traditionally mothers first and employees second. Similarly, there was this rather ridiculous debate over the need for women to wear high heels in the workplace some time within the past year. Unfortunately, the woman at the centre of the movement against high heels in the workplace had a history in certain types of modelling, so she was accused of hypocrisy since she had, in a sense, profited from sexism. Nonetheless, her point stands: even if a company can set standards for minimum levels of ‘formal dress’, it’s not right to force one group of employees to wear something that is potentially very uncomfortable while calling it ‘proper etiquette’ just because they happen to be women. Another stereotypical/traditional division of labour along gender lines in Japan is the idea that in a household, the wife manages the budget even though the husband is the one responsible for funding it. On that note, it’s apparently fairly rare, even now, for women to go to university. Why exactly? I have no idea. It could be that based on traditional gender roles, they don’t really need that education. Of course, there still are women in university, but it’s not uncommon for them to do the equivalent of an ‘associate degree’, which is a two-year programme as opposed to the usual 3-4 years bachelor’s degree equivalents in other nations. Thereafter… who knows, maybe they go to work while looking for someone to marry? (I’m sorry if this last sentence sounds very sexist, but we have to acknowledge that some of them might have that mindset.) They can’t really be blamed though, because Japanese companies (at least, the corporate ones that don’t require too much technical knowledge) are traditionally only interested in the university someone graduates from, and not necessarily in the domain that they studied. There’s usually quite a lot of internal training done by companies after all.

What seems to be signs of change

However, of course, things are changing, what with Abe’s push (however sincere or effective) to recognise the value of women in the workforce. The Japanese government’s Facebook page has been highlighting female CEOs in various sectors. Also, it’s increasingly necessary in Japan, as in other developed nations, for both parents in a household to work in order to provide sufficient income. Plus, companies are being forced by labour shortages to reconsider how they hire (and fire) employees. Certain municipal governments have also been trying out childcare programmes that will help new parents get back to work. Fathers are also being encouraged to play their part in child-rearing. (You might have heard of the 育メン Ikumen initiative, which is a pun on イケメン=a handsome guy?) Finally, even if all official/top-down initiatives fail… young people want change. Fewer and fewer young people are willing to put in long hours if they’re unproductive, and it’s becoming more acceptable for fathers to return home early… in essence, at the very worst, we’ll just have to wait for the younger generation to make their own demands and take the reins. (One example of what can happen: the Japanese Self Defence Force improved the Wifi routers on their ships in order to encourage more hyper-connected young people to join up. It sounds ridiculous, but recruitment problems were severe enough to make it happen.)

Returning to this manga though… honestly, I don’t think it’s unlikely that the author just didn’t know what he would do with a female character. If he put a female character in, he would probably be expected to give her a different dynamic from that of the male characters, especially since there aren’t many female doctors in the medical sector to begin with. Plus, correct me if I’m wrong, but none of the characters we’ve seen so far are particularly developed yet. They’re still mostly whatever they seemed to be like in the beginning. They haven’t broken out of their moulds yet. My view is this: this manga is a coming-of-age story involving an idealistic young doctor facing up to the reality of the medical industry while revealing the problems within it. Saitou is shallow because he’s immature. It’s fairly common, at least in anime and dramas, for young characters to be portrayed as ideal-obsessed. They often have a very specific idea of what the world ought to be like, and of what is good or bad. As someone who’s fairly young myself, and who’s had quite a lot of disillusionment lately, I can empathise with that. One of the big struggles of growing up in these stories is learning to accept that reality isn’t as perfect as we hoped it would be. It’s quite clear that Saitou became a doctor because he wanted to ‘save lives’ and ‘help people’. He thought it was noble. Don’t forget that a lot of his medical school flashbacks involve ideas like the great responsibility that doctors must bear and how their country is counting on them. Thus, at least for now, he’s going to have to deal with the somewhat uglier and more complex reality of the medical sector. On that note, I feel that it’s possible that the author created this manga as a means of commenting on and revealing the problems with the medical industry. He clearly has fairly decent knowledge of medical terminology, so perhaps he also has ‘insider knowledge’ thanks to friends or investigative news reports. If Saitou continues to fail to develop as a character… well, it’s possible that he’s meant to be the reader’s eyes and ears, offering a window into the ugly side of the medical industry.


I agree that your first paragraphs are mostly stereotypes and I’m not sure how they represent reality. You might be right, don’t get me wrong, but I’m wary of stereotypes in general, they sometimes shoehorn simplicity into things which are nuanced and complex.

Regarding women at university, it’s improving but is it significantly improving?

I really enjoyed reading your take on the manga. I don’t agree with some parts but it’s fun to read your interpretations.

But, as mentioned, women could still be present although not as doctors. Also, there would only be single sex characters in written fiction if you could only write about your own gender. This doesn’t invalidates that might not feel comfortable writing female characters.

… which after four episodes is a shortcoming by my standards and expectations.

My idea is that being an idealist doesn’t mean he needs to be limited to Saitou=idealist character cardboard cutout. I’m an idealist myself but there’s more to me than just that. The character would have more depth if it wasn’t just an outlet to call out the hypocrisy of the medical system.

I think this is the author’s aim. We couldn’t find any interview or source indicating he had insider knowledge. Ayamatori found some info according to which his dispute with the publishing house was because the medical research wasn’t done “properly”.

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Of course, most certainly, and being able to portray characters of both sexes realistically is a sign of skill and empathy. However, well (and this is where I’ll sound politically incorrect)… I’d rather not that he put a female character in just for the sake of it. Every character in a story needs a role to play, and for now, I can’t see what other roles the author might need in the story. In Episode 3 and in what we’ve seen of Episode 4, Saitou has been quite self-absorbed, constantly thinking about what he’s seen recently, so it’s just as well that there are few other characters, male or female, to disturb his thoughts. All we need for now is a bunch of characters to drive the story forward, and we have them: the other intern is Saitou’s foil, since he doesn’t seem quite as idealistic about being a doctor. He’s just there to learn how to do his job and get paid. Shiratori seems to be a representation of a possible future for Saitou, since he seems quite principled, but at the same time, is still involved in the financial machinations of the story. ‘God’s Hands’ seems like he’s just there to get paid, and couldn’t care less what happens to patients. These characters and their actions force Saitou to think about whether or not his ideals truly have a place in the medical sector. I can definitely imagine an inspirational female character appearing somewhere down the line. She might not be a doctor. She might be a nurse, or even just someone at the hospital reception, who has learnt to deal with the sordid side of the medical world without becoming disillusioned and losing hope. However, even if that were done, it’s still perfectly possible that the writer would seem sexist, because… oh, IDK, the female character would be too ‘angelic’, or her great empathy might have something to do with her femininity… I have nothing against well-developed female characters: one of the series I’m following now is a fantasy series in which the women regularly contribute a lot more than the men, and help the men pick themselves up. However, if the author was unable or unwilling to develop even the characters we’ve seen so far, then it’s a good thing that he avoided bringing in more characters. (I don’t know the rest of the story, so I can’t say for sure.)

As for what you said about idealism not needing to be a cookie cutter framework… you’re right. I’m quite an idealist myself, but I think we may have different ways of being idealistic, and we may not always approach things using our idealism. However, well… let’s just say that disillusionment can take time to set in. I don’t think I was with you guys when you were doing episode 2, but it seems like it took the whole of episode 3 to settle the surgery and the removal of life support. As far as I can tell, there were probably 3 major events leading up to this episode:

  1. Introduction of Saitou and his life in medical school
  2. The 当直のバイト during with Saitou ‘failed’
  3. The surgery

So honestly, at least up to now, not much has happened in each episode. It’s no surprise that the characters are still mostly flat. Personally, I think this pace is OK provided that Saitou’s recent experiences push him to change his approach to being a doctor, since we can view whatever’s happened so far as a wake-up call that has shocked him deeply, meaning he needs some time to recollect himself and move forward.

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Ah yes, ok, I understand your preferences better and your interpretation about the writer’s intention.

Well, a female character wouldn’t have to be angelic. I would hope she would have more depth than that.

Honestly I hope they’re not related to the support role of “helping men to pick themselves up” because that would be pretty sexist :hot_face:. Besides, I don’t why anyone would have anything against “well-developed characters”. If something is well developed it’s by it’s very definition desirable.

Definitely. It’s not an ‘either/of’ kind of situation though. It’s not:
A. Put a female character for the sake of it.
B. Don’t put one.

There’s also:
C. Put a female because it adds to the realism of the depiction of the world.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the story more than I am. At the end of the day, it depends on personal preferences. I like deep, complex and human characters, fables have never been my thing. I’d say Tom Joad in the Grapes of Wrath is a believable idealist character.

Personal preferences are not meant to argued about anyway. You either like something or prefer something else, different stroke for different folks as they say. What you perceive as a slow-burn development I perceive as storytelling which is too stagnant for its own good. This reflects in my personality however, I like when things change continuously, I get bored quickly of routine in general.

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I don't really know what to say, because the main character *is* male, but most of the other men in the story are pretty bad at their jobs, and hey, even the main character is flawed and needs to overcome a lot of deep-seated hurt and grudges, so... Let's just say that I don't feel that's the only role of the women in the story, and they definitely have agency as characters in their own right.

There are a lot of parallel universes involved, and in one of them, the main ‘hero’ is actually a heroine, with most of her team being female as well. Also, if you want a particular example, there’s this girl who’s initially bullied a lot as the subordinate of one of the guys, but she’s eventually the one who helps him redeem himself. (You might still see that as a support role. I don’t really see it that way because she wasn’t his subordinate anymore at that point, and she had really matured. A lot of stuff happened in between.) The men and women in the story have rather different strengths, and I find it ultimately rather fitting that the men change because of the positive influence of the women, because they have important traits that the men don’t. My point is just that none of the characters are particularly flat, the one who’s consistently evil aside, but even for her, there’s the question of why she’s so bad, and that’s worthy of investigation. The series I’m talking about is Japanese though, so I’m not surprised to find that the men and the women tend to have certain typical ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ traits, and in all honesty (and I don’t mean to offend anyone by saying this), I would probably be quite disturbed by a series in which men and women act in exactly the same way. Men and women are different, and some traits tend to be more prevalent in one sex than the other. That of course may not be due to biological differences, but the least we can say is that a story in which there is no sexual difference is rather unrealistic. In any case, in the story I’m thinking about, the characters are quite varied, and it’s not as though (speech patterns aside, perhaps) all female characters have the same ‘typically female’ traits, just as the men each have their own personalities and flaws.

Then again, it’s possible that I’m biased, because I grew up in Asia, so I’m quite used to traditional gender roles and willing to accept them, even if I don’t think they’re all equally applicable to modern life, and I find that some of them, or the rules based on them, are frankly stupid. It’s possible that I might not see the same things as ‘sexist’. But anyhow, even if we just work with that summary blurb^, there are ways to spin this as sexist, like ‘women cleaning up men’s messes’, even though if all the characters were male, we might just see one character inspiring another character and teaching him to see how he really should act. That’s what I meant by this:

An angelic/clearly good-hearted female character in story about the sordid medical world could in fact be very inspirational for Saitou, because she might have managed to stay cheerful, keep patients at the heart of her medical practice and not lose sight of her ideals… but these qualities might lead readers to label her as the ‘angelic female’ archetype, and thus decide to label the author as sexist. Do you see what I mean?

I’m very much into analysing and over-thinking things, so I understand your desire to get a feel for the author’s intentions and why the story is progressing so slowly. I’m also not denying that the Japanese medical sector has problems with sexism: the first time I heard about the sexist entrance exams for medical school that @ayamedori mentioned, I was quite surprised. That’s not at all right. Why should women’s commitment be questioned just because they can get pregnant, particularly when we recognise the value of doctors who have experience as parents? However… well, first of all, I’m not really paying attention to the story. I’m just making inferences from all the translations that I’ve reviewed or done myself, so I’m not at all invested in this story. That may be why I didn’t pay attention to the lack of female characters in any capacity other than that of a nurse. :sweat_smile: Secondly, I haven’t found anything I particularly dislike in the story so far (I may feel that Shiratori was intentionally drawn to look unpleasantly stern, or that Saitou is a bit melodramatic, but these are minor issues), so I prefer to suspend judgement. The author’s intentions should become clear with time, and all the decisions he made could have been a result of his target audience: in shoujo manga (which are mostly romantic), men are often just ornaments. In shounen manga, the same is true for women. We’ll ultimately only know what the point of this manga was when we get further into it, and that’s when I’ll decide whether it’s really worth reading, or if it’s just something we should stick to for grammar. :stuck_out_tongue: For the moment, I’ll admit that I don’t find it very interesting, but I’m just here for the translations and to see if anything meaningful happens next.

~たい is a suffix that attaches to the 連用形 (i-form) of verbs and gives a nuance of “to want to (verb)”
死ぬ + たい -> 死にたい, I want to die.
たい (like ない) conjugates as an adjective;
so 死にたくない, I don’t want to die.
(and ない -> ねえ is accent)




Do something for me, doctor...

なんとか (何とか) : something (I feel it more emphatic than just 何か)
してくれよ : する in て形 + the 助動詞 (helper verb) くれる, that gives a nuance of “to do for someone”. くれる being an 一段動詞, it makes the imperative form with よ


A doctor is called "master" because he is excellent, isn't he?

偉い (えらい) : great, admirable
呼ぶ (よぶ) is to call, invoke, summon; The verb is in passive form (よばれる), and continuous state ~ている (with “i” slurred). In passive the verb is used (like in English too) to tell the name given to someone.
Then nominalized with の, and sentence ends with だろう (shortened); which is like “it seems that”, or requesting confirmation (a form of the coppula implying doubt)

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I think it’s likely maternity leave which essentially cause problem to some employer more so than their potential investment into the actual work. I mean, speculating here.

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Well… I’ll admit that’s the argument that came to mind the last time I discussed this with a friend.

Random 'economic benefits vs social benefits' rambling by a non-economist

Economically speaking, from a short-term, ‘amount of work done’ perspective, it makes sense for employers to say that women will potentially ‘produce less’ if they get pregnant. (No offence meant to any of the women on this thread, who have been making valuable contributions. I’m saying this from a very cold, calculating, numerical perspective, with no human element.) It’s the same sort of logic that makes employers hesitant to hire people with chronic health problems. Anyone who cannot commit fully to working as much as possible for the company is a potential ‘waste of salary money’. This was undoubtedly the sort of logic that motivated employers in Europe and America in the era where twelve-hour work days at factories were common, before massive protests and the like forced reform.

However, a substantial amount of work done by a capable employee is better than passing up on that employee because of a ‘risk’ of absence, and even if it might make economic sense to pay employees less when they’re on leave (be it sick leave, vacation leave or parental leave), making concessions for parental leave helps buy employees’ loyalty, since they’re assured that company policy will support their freedom of choice, which might motivate them to work harder. It’s of course also ‘family-friendly’, since having parental leave with a minimal loss of income makes having children more economically practicable. Also, while women are physiologically obliged to bear the brunt of the effects of child-bearing, we might find that balancing parental leave between men and women allows a quicker return to work (it’s hard for a parent to keep up with work if he/she has to handle most of the child-rearing alone), and that it avoids putting women at an unfair disadvantage when looking for employment, since the company will be expecting to give a person of either sex the same amount of parental leave.

The short version of my argument is that even if it makes numerical, economic sense (in the short term) to pay someone less if he or she is unable to commit as much, generosity and balanced parental leave might help buy employee loyalty and encourage equal sharing of childcare responsibilities. Also, it allows more people (particularly women) to be recruited on the basis of their talents, which enlarges the labour pool. (Part of why Abe’s government has been pushing for more women to enter the workforce is because it would greatly boost Japan’s economy, possibly by 15% if all eligible women returned to work, if I remember correctly.)

Now then… I’ll translate 33, if no one’s done it yet…

@ayamedori PS: I happened to see you starting to type a reply before going off. I hope none of us has said something to offend you. It’s not at all ideal that we’ve been discussing issues affecting women in the workplace without women participating, so I hope we didn’t say anything insensitive.


たとえ 意識 を 回復 する 可能性 が 1% しか なかった として も……
even-if consciousness [object] recovery do possibility [subject] 1% not-more exist-not-past consider-TE [inclusion]

Even assuming that the chances of recovering consciousness were no more than 1%...

たとえ: ‘even’ or ‘even if’. I’d say it’s used to strengthen the contrast between the condition that comes after ‘if’ and the main clause. It’s working together with the ~ても at the end of this clause.
可能性: ‘the character of being possible’=the possibility/chances/probability
~しかない: a structure that indicates that what is considered does not exceed ~
として: て-form of とする, which means ‘to take as/to consider as’. I translated it as ‘assuming’ because ‘to take as’ wasn’t as clear here, and ‘considering’ would make it sound like the ‘1% probability’ was a fact, which is something I don’t know.

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Woman in the workplace is a delicate topic so I think it’s better not to delve too much into so I won’t comment any further on that subject. It’s not that it’s a “wrong” topic but it’s getting closer and closer to politics and those never, ever end well :sweat:.

It was an interesting conversation to have about the peripherals of the manga (for me anyway!), it’s a nice change.


I might have mentioned this show before, but in Doctor X the main character is pretty much the opposite of what you describe - she’s a very skillful female surgeon who hates the system and is only in it to save people, not to be nice to them. It’s a good watch, but that aside haha.

It’s not a literary masterpiece at all, but I think Black Jack is quite fun as a quick read - after all we’ve only worked through half of the first volume maybe? While usually I’d read one manga volume in maybe an hour. The main thing that bothers me is how Saitou does feel a lot like just a vehicle (and a very melodramatic one at that), like @Zizka mentioned. I know where the story is going and I understand why he’s written that way, but he could’ve done with a little subtlety…

Oh no not at all! I went offline because I didn’t want to let my dinner grow cold :sweat_smile: to be honest I don’t even have much to add because I’ve never experienced sexism-related problems - 75% of my med school is female and I’m lucky to live in a very liberal environment in a big city in northwestern Europe. I know the situation is much different in Japan and I’ve had a few lengthy discussions about that with Japanese friends, but when I lived/stayed there myself I was always able to pull the foreigner card so I don’t think it’s my place to talk about it. And with that said, let’s stay away from politics indeed.

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