Episode 5: The mystery of the disappearing body
Together with Saki, Jin frantically treats Ohatsu, who sustained serious injuries while playing with her origami flying squid. However, he vanishes right before Saki’s eyes and in that moment, he sees a succession of images: the marriage ceremony between Ohatsu and a man called Minakata, a lady carrying a baby on her back while hanging out the laundry, and in the present day, a young boy emerges from the house where Jin was born holding a bag with the name ‘Minakata Jin’?!
Meanwhile, there is massive bleeding from Ohatsu’s abdomen as a result of disseminated intravascular coagulation. Saki frantically calls out Jin’s name. In the next moment, he reappears but there is nothing he can do. Ohatsu loses her life …
Jin is overcome by a feeling of hollowness and wonders if Ohatsu’s life was taken in exchange for his own birth because he cannot comprehend why the disseminated intravascular coagulation had set in. Maybe God had wanted to make him realise that there is nothing he can change.
When Jin arrives at Jinyudo with Saki, Katsu is waiting with news of Ryoma’s narrow escape from the attack at Teradaya in Kyoto. Jin’s relief is tempered with alarm at Ryoma’s looming assassination … … His painful awareness of his own powerlessness is in striking contrast to the earlier confidence he had had in his ability to save Ryoma.
Then, Tanosuke visits Jin at Jinyudo to entreat him to examine his senior apprentice, Bando Kichijuro, a talented actor who had risen from obscurity to become a chief actor in kabuki plays. Kichijuro has been bedridden as a result of illness which Jin determines to be the result of lead poisoning. Lead is an ingredient in the face powder used in kabuki and a large quantity of it could have been absorbed together with the steam from the bath when the powder was being removed. Because his fingers and toes have become ulcerated as well as numb, they have to be amputated in order to prolong his life. However, his final wish is to stand on stage and perform the role of ‘Asahina’ one last time.
Tanosuke pleads with Jin to let Kichijuro recover his mobility for the play next month. Jin’s insistence on the impossibility of the task provokes an angry outburst from Tanosuke, who demands to know what sort of doctor Jin is if he will not even attempt to make the impossible possible. These words seem to get through to Jin and although he has his doubts, he decides to respect the wishes of Kichijuro, and takes him to Jinyudo, accompanied by his young son, Yokichi.
Jin works hard together with Saburi and the other doctors at Jinyudo to ease the illness. A chelate agent is usually used to treat lead poisoning but its production is not possible in the Edo era so they have to try to search for a natural remedy.
In the midst of this, Kichijuro’s condition begins to show improvement through dietary therapy and he is soon able to stand up. But Jin recalls Ohatsu’s sudden deterioration when he thought she had been saved, and he cannot take genuine pleasure in the progress achieved. Moreover, the dietary therapy only supplements Kichijuro’s mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
Saki worries that Jin has become too obsessed with curing Kichijuro and has not had sufficient sleep since returning from Kawagoe. Not content to settle for only being able to prolong Kichijuro’s life by a little, he wants to completely cure him.
Then, they discover Kichijuro raising his fist at Yokichi because the boy appears to have discarded his kabuki book ‘Kotobuki Soga no Taimen’ which features the character ‘Asahina’. Saki remembers seeing Yokichi move a stone in the garden and suspects he had hidden it there because he wants his father to concentrate on getting better. A bitter Kichijuro says that his son hates him and wishes to stand in the way of his appearance on the stage. Yokichi, who has not betrayed any emotion or spoken since he came to Jinyudo with his father, remains silent … … Kichijuro orders him to gather their baggage and return to the theatre.
Worried that Kichijuro may kill himself from overexertion, Jin asks Tanosuke to persuade him to reconsider appearing in the play. Tanosuke tells him that Kichijuro had chased his wife and infant son out for being a nuisance. Then, his wife found a man and Yokichi, who had no other place to go, came here to live with them and work as a servant. By that time, Kichijuro’s health had deteriorated and he did not have long to live. He tried to give Yokichi an opportunity by making him practice plays because it was the only legacy he could bequeath. But Yokichi stubbornly refused and stopped talking when Kichijuro hit him in a fit of anger.
Now, Kichijuro wants to let his son see the craft that he has devoted everything to and to know that even his good-for-nothing father has one redeeming virtue. Tanosuke notes that life for Kichijuro would be worthless if his fingers and toes are amputated.
It takes this conversation with Tanosuke for Jin to realise that he had allowed his own emotions to blind him. The value of a person’s life is not measured by length alone.
The day of the performance comes, but Kichijuro’s condition prevents him from taking to the stage. He is overcome by a pain so intense that nothing can be done, but to bring him back to his room and let it slowly subside. Nevertheless, he manages to stand with the aid of gear which Jin had made, and deliver the greatest performance of his life for his son. Saki brings Yokichi over to watch what his father is trying to convey through his character, that he has not been able to honestly say to him. When Kichijuro can no longer tolerate the pain and collapses with a groan, Yokichi tearfully calls out his stage name …
At Jinyudo a few days later, Saki adds distilled water to concentrated alcohol in her routine to make surgical alcohol. To her confusion, the solution turns white … … It is because she had mistaken penicillin for distilled water. Jin and the others, who have been trying to make powdered penicillin, are thrilled to discover that concentrated alcohol has dehydrating properties which can be used to crystallise penicillin!
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