Episode 1: The hands of history now start moving again
“It has been almost two years since I came here.
I’ve met a variety of Edo people by giving medical care.
Historical heroes and maybe even the ancestors of loved ones.
I’ve managed to make it as a doctor through their help and support.
But I often wonder how long I’ll be here.
From where I am, I’ll create a future in which your tumour can be treated.
I thought I came of my own accord.
But if this is the work of some god, there should be some use for me.
Am I here to serve a purpose?
Chances are, I may not be able to return until this is achieved …”
On a day in the summer of 1864, Jin visits Saki’s family home after noticing that she has been in low spirits. He is told by her older brother, Kyotaro, that their mother, Ei has beriberi (a nervous system ailment caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1). According to Kyotaro, Saki, who has been worried about their mother’s health, had visited the Tachibana residence a few days ago and advised Ei to consult a doctor. However, Ei would not even allow Saki to set foot in the Tachibana house and turned her away because she still has not forgiven Saki for breaking off her engagement.
An examination reveals that Ei has neuroparalysis and her pulse is fast. Heart failure could set in at any moment. Hoping to help her in some way, Jin hits upon the idea of administering treatment by making a kind of confection since she is fond of sweets. The result is the donut which uses unpolished rice, brown sugar sesame oil, wheat flour, egg and soy milk as the ingredients. At Kyotaro’s suggestion, they enlist Kiichi’s help to pass the donuts off as a new confection by Daikichiya. But Ei notices something when she takes a bite, and refuses to eat more. Kiichi is undaunted and resolves to bring the donuts everyday until she eats it.
At that moment, Ryoma comes up from Kyoto to enlist Jin’s help. Katsu Kaishu’s mentor, Sakuma Shozan, has sustained injuries in an attack and is on the verge of death. The attack is thought to be the work of Matsushiro which had pinned it on the anti-foreigner faction, the Shinsengumi, as Shozan was a passionate advocate of opening Japan to the world. Ryoma is troubled by the infighting in the country as a formidable enemy is about to approach from across the sea.
Jin goes to Kyoto with Ryoma as he agonises whether he will radically alter history by saving an important person who would have an influence on the period. There, he sees Shozan who is so seriously injured that it would be a miracle if he lives. A small pouch hanging around Shozan’s neck draws Jin’s attention. It is made of a stretchable material which does not belong to the Edo period, but is instead a sort of net bandage for medical use in the present day!
Shozan somehow escapes death through Jin’s frantic treatment and perseverance. Then, he regains consciousness. Seeing the intravenous drip above him, shocking words come out from his mouth.
“You’ve come from the future?
I’ve been there before when I was 10.
I tried to get a little closer to the world I had seen at that time.
I learnt everything and tried to promote ideas,
but there are still many things I don’t understand.
I envy you.
You probably have vast knowledge and skills.
You can look ahead to the future and save this country.
You were sent here to change history.
You’re scared of changing it!
To put it the other way around, you think you may be able to change history?
That’s quite conceited.
If God doesn’t like what you’ve done, he will mercilessly undo it!
God isn’t easily fooled!
So save people with that heart!
While Shozan and Jin were talking, samurai of Choshu including Kusaka Genzui, had tried to force their way into the Kyoto Imperial Palace through the Hamaguri Gate. They were repelled by forces from Satsuma, and Kusaka committed suicide. However, during the battle, a fire was started in the city and began destroying houses.
Jin, who was forced to flee without Shozan, remains in Kyoto and concentrates on treating people who have sustained burns as a result of the battle between the Choshu and Satsuma domains. Ryoma carries in Higashi Shusuke, a Choshu warrior who has a bullet lodged in his thigh, for medical attention.
One day, members of the Shinsengumi appear out of nowhere and forcibly take Jin away from the treatment centre to some place. His demands to be allowed to return to his patients go unheeded, and he finds himself brought to the residence of Saigo Takamori of Satsuma, the supreme commander of the garrison for the imperial palace’s guard posts.
Saigo has been vomiting and suffering from abdominal pains since two days ago. Jin determines that he is suffering from appendicitis and needs to be operated on immediately or his life will be in danger. However, Saigo tells Jin that the morale of his men will be hurt if his stomach is cut open for surgery, and asks him to leave.
Seeing Saigo in agony, Jin is unable to let him be. If he stands by and watches him die, he will be no different from the Satsuma troops who discriminate against lives. So he drops to his knees and implores Saigo, who would later be a key figure in the Meiji Restoration, to let him save him for his own sake, even as he wonders what God has in store for him and how history would change if this operation fails. Jin is momentarily interrupted by the infiltration of Choshu assassins who are swiftly killed by Saigo’s men, but the surgery goes smoothly.
When they return to the treatment centre, an anxious Ryoma is waiting. Still shaken by the memory of a Choshu warrior that was cut down with a sword before his own eyes, Jin is visibly upset to see his patients die one after another over the next few days. He is overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness, but there is nothing they can do without the penicillin, which has run out. This does not escape Ryoma’s eyes and he tells Jin as they make their way back to Edo, that the only thing they can do to repay the departed is to make Japan a country which these people would want to be born in again.
Knowing that Ryoma will soon die without fulfilling his life ambition, Jin attempts tell him in the hope that he will be able to avoid the assassination with this knowledge of his destiny. But that severe headache comes back to attack Jin before he can mention it, and he wonders if he has to send off yet another person who is important to him … …
Before long, they arrive in Edo. Jin, who had dreamt that Ei was dead, rushes straight to the Tachibana residence. He is greatly relieved to find her alive and healthy, and even the usually stern Ei appears touched by his concern. She had lost the will to live, but was moved by Kiichi’s unflagging earnestness and perseverance.
Ei and Kyotaro accompany Jin out off the Tachibana residence. They hear something drop with a crash and notice Saki and Kiichi standing a short distance away. Saki seems about to say something, but abruptly turns her back and starts to walk away. Her mother calls out that she will not permit Saki to lose. Since she has chosen this path even though it has sullied the Tachibana family name, she has to win for the sake of the family and to pave the way for females in the world.
Sometime later, Jin realises that there is a 10 yen coin inscribed with Heisei 22 (2010) – the year of the mint – inside the small pouch he had taken from Shozan. Recalling Shozan’s words, Jin sets out to do what is in his heart: to save the town of Edo from beriberi … … with the an donut (fried donut topped with red bean paste).
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