Jin: Divine (Chapters 1 – 3) – Motoko Murakami

3 out of 5

A technical medical drama isekai? Sure, I can get into that.

I can’t remember what led me to check out Jin, but a few pages in, with its realistic figurework and detailed backgrounds and sudden veering into bizarre horror, I was ready – something to complement Junji Ito on my shelf.

Then a few more pages when that horror element just became the seed that transports Doctor Minakata to ancient Japan, I realized I was reading an isekai, where that springboard concept – the good Doctor had discovered a fetus, living inside a man’s brain, which begins to psychically speak to him – will no longer matter, and the first thing on the Doc’s mind is not getting back home, but rather, “Welp, I guess I’d better figure out how to live in the 1800s with my modern medical practices.”

I’m making it sound slight, and at this point, it rather is – after the introductory episode, setting up the premise, the following two chapters are very familiar medical-maladies-of-the-week for any medical drama, with the added complexity of Minakata having to figure out solves that use his limited technology (with which he accidentally absconded from the future) combined with items available at the time – but that does not mean it’s unenjoyable, and it’s actually rather promising to see this genre done for an older audience than most of the isekai I’ve experienced.

…And calling it isekai is perhaps misguided, since it’s not like this is the only time travel drama ever, but the hallmarks of the nonsequitor like opening (though it’s very possible this will get more focus in later chapters) and immediate acceptance of the new setting are in place. I’ve also tossed out a Junji Ito reference, but Murakami’s characters are much more nuanced in their expressions, and past the fetus bits, we swap out horror for medical realism, which is “gory” but clinical, and very exciting.

It’s definitely a solid start. The cleanliness of the art and confidence with which the story moves forward very much helps to fortify it’s somewhat typical genre concept, and sets us up for an involving drama.