[From October Issue 2013]
Doubutsu no Oishasan (The Animal Doctor)
“Doubutsu no Oishasan” (The Animal Doctor) is a manga for girls serialized from 1987 to 1993 in the magazine “Hana to Yume.” A comical portrait of the lives of students studying in veterinary school, it was a big hit. The action takes place in the veterinary department of H University, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The main character is NISHINE Masaki – nicknamed Hamuteru. He is a quiet young man who lives with his grandmother, Mike the cat, Hiyo-chan the rooster, a Mongolian gerbil, and Chobi the Siberian husky dog.
The story begins when Hamuteru and his pet dog Chobi meet for the first time. One night, lost on the grounds of H University, high school student Hamuteru stumbles upon Chobi the puppy. When Chobi’s owner, Professor URUSHIHARA, decides to hand the puppy over to Hamuteru, he makes a strange prediction: “In the future, you will become a vet.”
Hamuteru, of course, does not believe in the prediction. However he begins to believe that if his pet got sick, “Curing him myself would definitely be quicker and in terms of costs, it would be economical.” He then makes a decision to become a veterinarian. After entering the veterinary department and embarking on his student life, he surrounds himself with unique individuals such as his best friend NIKAIDO who hates mice, and the graduate student HISHINUMA Seiko who does things at her own pace.
One of the unique aspects of these comics is that it depicts the rarely seen world of the veterinary department. Despite the comedy, the story is moving, being a realistic portrayal of veterinary students; their worries about the future and difficulties with exams.
Part of the work’s charm is the lively descriptions of the animals that appear one after another. In addition to Hamuteru’s pets, his encounters with horses, cows, pigs, flying squirrels, and various birds are depicted. Siberian husky dogs became popular after this manga became a hit.
In manga, lines spoken by characters are usually written in so called speech bubbles, but in this series, while dialogue spoken by humans is written inside speech bubbles, animal dialogue is written outside the speech bubbles. This technique gives the reader the sense that animals and humans are actually talking to each other.
Besides writing this story about a veterinary department, the author SASAKI Noriko has also published detailed and humorous works about restaurants, nurses and newscasters. Adapted into a live action TV drama in 2003, the work was also published in electronic form for the Kindle this year.
Text: SHIBATA Rie