I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Superfly 「Force」 theme song to 『Doctor-X 外科医・大門未知子』/"Doctor X" (2012)

Image courtesy of
TV Asahi's Japanese medical dramedy 『Doctor-X 外科医・大門未知子』/"Doctor X - Gekai Daimon Michiko" (2012) shares more than a few passing similaries to the popular American medical drama "House" (2004-2012). As with "House's" brilliant yet cynical, curmudgeon Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), Dr. 大門未知子/Michiko Daimon (米倉涼子/Yonekura Ryoko) is a rebellious anti-hero whose unconventional behavior and cold demeanor sets her as an outcast among her peers but whose incredible surgical skills are an absolute godsend to those patients she is tasked to save.  

Dr. Daimon (unflatteringly referred by her colleagues as the "Daemon" - a word play on her name) is somewhat of an enigma with a cloudy past that is veiled in mystery and legend. She is rumored to have gained her extraordinary surgical knowledge and skills through harsh and rigorous training abroad (having served as a field doctor in various military conflicts across the globe and in numerous Third World countries).  She is the daughter of another famed surgeon, Daimon Hiroshi who operated a small clinic in Northern Japan but who died under myseterious circumstances (his clinic was closed down due to unknown and somewhat questionable factors). Dr. Daimon is rumored to be the ominous "Doctor X", an enigmatic doctor who is said to sell their surgical skills to the highest bidder and who would often use unconventional and even unorthodox medical procedures on patients. 

Leggy Yonekura Ryoko portrays the beautiful but aloof Dr. Michiko Daimon - Image courtesy of
As a condition of her contract work with the prestigious帝都医科大学病院/Teitou Medical School and Municipal Hospital - 3rd Division, Dr. Daimon has a number of stipulations in which she absolutely adheres to: (1) she will only work during normal business hours from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM and will charge exorbitant overtime fees if she has to work outside of those normal hours; (2) She will not perform any duties which do not require a Medical/Surgical license (She will not participate in Doctor Rounds; She will not write research papers or assist her colleagues with their Medical Research and (3) She will not participate in or help with any outside activities such as marketing, promotion, meeting with wealthy donors, attending company sponsored events or covering up for her colleagues extramarital affairs.  

The principal cast of Doctor X - Back Row - L-R - Hayashi Tantan, Shibuki Jun, Muroi Shigeru, Kishibe Ittoku, Suzuki Kosuke,  Series Writer - Nakazono Miho;  Front Row - L-R - Danta Yasunori, Uchida Yuki, Yonekura Ryoko, Tanaka Kei & Ito Shiro - Image courtesy of
What is indisputable however is Dr. Daimon's miraculous surgical skills in which is able to perform intricately complex, extremely difficult and sometimes near impossible surgeries with unbelivable efficiency.  Dr. Daimon often boasts that "she never makes mistakes" and true to her word astounds her colleagues with her steady "god hands".  Dr. Daimon's often quirky and unconventional behavior (in the place of normal scrubs, she wears revealing mini-skirts, sexy high fashion tops and Louboutin high heel shoes) frequently gets her in trouble with the University's "Ivory Tower" of pompous and bureaucratic elitist doctors which include the corrupt Dr. 毒島隆之介/Ryonosuke Busujima (the great 伊東四朗/Ito Shiro) and his assistant medical director and lead researcher Dr. 鳥井高/Takashi Torii (another memorable villainous role for 段田安則/Danta Yasunori).  While Dr. Daimon has few allies at the hospital, she does find grudging respect from the idealistic young fledgling doctor Dr. 森本光/Hikaku Morimoto (田中圭/Tanaka Kei) who is in the midst of his residency program at the hospital and Chief Anesthetician 城之内博美/Hiromi Jonouchi (the always fabulous 内田有紀/Uchida Yuki), a single-mother who admires Dr. Daimon's independent and self-assured attitude.

Image courtesy of
It's little surprise that "Doctor X" has been called a female version of 手塚治虫/Osamu Tezuka's classic ブラック・ジャック/"Black Jack" character.  Just like Osamu's iconic "dark" doctor, Dr. Daimon is an edgy hero who has somewhat less than noble characteristics and questionable morals but whose life saving skills help save countless people who would otherwise be unable to survive their particular ailments and medical disorders. While Screenwriter 中園ミホ/Nakazono Miho crafted the series using many of the same melodramatic beats of other similar medical dramas such as 「 コード・ブルー ドクターヘリ緊急救命」/"Code Blue" (2008/2010),  「救命病棟24時」/"Kyumei Byoutou 24-Ji" (1999/2001/2005/2009), 「医龍」/"Iryu: Team Medical Dragon" (2006/2010) and 最上の命医」/"Saijou No Meii" (2011), the strength of this series clearlly lies with its absolutely alluring star, the stunning former model turned actress Yonekura Ryoko. With her gorgeous looks, tall lanky frame (at over 170 cm/5.7 Ft. she towers over most of her co-stars) and explosive personality she is an absolute joy to watch. 
The amazing Yonekura Ryoko - Image courtesy of
While Yonekura does tend to be typecast in the same "ball-busting", modern woman with a cool personality and rebel attitude role, she still manages to make each role interesting with her dynamic and energetic performances.  Yonekura is one of my favorite actresses and I always look forward to seeing what she does next.  "Doctor X" ends rather ambiguously with Dr. Daimon leaving Teitou University for parts unknown, presumably traveling abroad again to hone her skills.  The true "Doctor X" (of the title) it turns out is actually Dr. Daimon's contracting agent and mentor 神原晶/Kanbara Akira (the always amusing 岸部一徳/Kishibe Ittoku) who is himself a former doctor/surgeon and who had given up his practice amid scandal inorder to sell out his skills as a mercenary doctor.  
TV Asahi has recently announced that a sequel will air this Fall that will follow the further adventures of Dr. Daimon as she establishes herself at yet another morally corrupt hospital.

Promotional image from the sequel (set to debut this October) - Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of
Appropriately Superfly's 「Force」(フォース) was selected as the theme song for the series.  The song was the lead track for their 4th album release "Force" (released 9/19/12).  The single was released the following month and charted in the Oricon Top 100 for that month reaching No. 9.  Written by elusive songwriter and Superfly founding member 多保 孝一/Tabo Koichi and frequent collaborator Music Producer 蔦谷好位置/Tsutara Koichi, "Force" has the signature Superfly sound - retro 70s Psychedelic rock coupled with lead singer Ochi Chiho's dynamic vocals.  
Taking their name from the Cutis Mayfield theme song for the 70s Blaxploitation film "Superfly" (1972), the band was formed by Ehime country girl and tiny vocal dynamo, 越智志帆/Ochi Chiho and 70s classic rock enthusist and guitarist 多保孝一/Tabo Koichi while both were attending Ehime's Matsuyama College's Music Department in 2003. At first they mostly covered songs from 70s pop idol group Finger 5/フィンガー5 and the Rolling Stones but they soon began producing and arranging their own music (with Ochi writting most of the lyrics) which caught the attention of music producers with Warner Music Japan.  
Tabo Koich and Ochi Chiho are "Superfly" - Image courtesy of

As Ochi's vocal style clearly indicates, she is heavily influenced by the late 60s-70s rock singer Janice Joplin as well as other 70s power vocalists such as Carole King, and Maria Muldaur. Ochi also lists Mick Jagger and Sheryl Crow as musical influences. With their retro 70s psychedelic rock inspired sound and style, they were certainly a breath of fresh-air in the Japanese Music scene and quickly made a name for themselves with their various single hits such as 「ハロー・ハロー」 (2007) ,「 マニフェスト」 (2007), 愛をこめて花束を」(2008),   「How Do I Survive?」 (2008), 「Dancing On The Fire」, 「Eyes On Me」 (2010) and  「Beep!!」 (2011). 
「Force」isn't the first time one of Superfly's songs has been used as the theme song for a Japanese drama. Their songs 「Wildflower 」(2010) and 「Alright!!」 (2007) were used as the theme songs for the series 『GOLD』(2010) and 『BOSS』 (2009) respectively. 

Superfly's next single  「Bi-Li-Li Emotion」 (ビリリエモーション) to be released 9/25 has already been tapped to be the theme song for the sequel to 「ドクターX~外科医・大門未知子~」Doctor X sequel (to air in Japan in October). While it seems that Ochi is starting to distance herself from the 70s retro sound that made them famous, gravitating towards a more contemporary sounding pop/rock sound (although her 70s styling is still there).  I hope that Superfly continues to stay with their signature rock sound as it really does make them standout from the crowd and being a child of the late 70s/80s I really appreciate their nostalgic rock sound.

Flower Child - Ochi Chiho - Image courtesy of

1 comment:

  1. Hi, JTM.

    I learned about Superfly a few years ago when my student, who's a big fan of hippie culture (even made a pilgrimage to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco), introduced me to the band. Although I think sometimes bands have to stretch out into more mainstream fare to survive, I would agree that it would be a pity if Superfly totally abandoned the early 70s sound that put it on the map.


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